A discovery by a UC Merced biophysicist has moved science a step closer toward fine-tuning cell functions and combating certain diseases.
Professor Jing Xu found that a cell's nanomotor can be activated by a cellular cue often lacking in people suffering from neurodegeneration.
"What we see is quite dramatic," Xu said. "There's a significant increase in the population of active nanomotors."
While many people may think of a cell being like a soup with genetic material, Xu said cells are very organized and more like a city. In this metaphor, nanomotors are cars that shuttle material between the cell and its membrane. The ability to tune motor function could be important for tuning cell function.
Fidel Cervantes found the right fit for his university education 25 miles down the road from home.
A native of Delhi in north Merced County, Cervantes selected UC Merced when he made his college choice two years ago.
“It was a logical option,” Cervantes said. “I would get a UC education while saving on room and board.”
For Cervantes, however, staying close to home is about more than economics. The UC Merced political science major is using his community as a learning laboratory for his field of study.
Just two years out of high school, Cervantes serves on Delhi Unified School District’s school board. He was 19 when the district appointed him to fill a vacancy, and he plans to run for a seat and serve a five-year term.
UC Merced held its seventh commencement exercise with its largest class to date.
The campus conferred 750 bachelor’s degrees, six master’s degrees and 20 doctorate degrees. Former California Lt. Gov. and campus advocate Cruz Bustamante inspired the Class of 2012 with his keynote address.
A redesigned valve that may reduce blood sediment during intravenous therapy won top honors Wednesday at UC Merced's inaugural Innovate to Grow competition.
A team of four UC Merced students worked with Children's Hospital Central California to design a better control valve for when blood is being taken from babies. The current shape – a T – causes blood sediment to form, posing potential health hazard to the young patients. The buildup can put the babies at risk for blood clotting, heart attacks, strokes and even infection.
The students – Gabriel Avila, Adrian Garcia, Hein Lu and Sheena Truong – identified why the blood was leaving sediment and designed a Y-shaped valve that should significantly reduce sediment buildup.
Innovate to Grow featured fourteen teams of UC Merced engineering and management students pitching their solutions to real-world problems faced by local, state and international organizations. Projects included installing turbines in the canals on campus to generate electricity, storing and recycling the city's treated wastewater for municipal use, and reducing noise in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Truong, a senior who's graduating Saturday with a degree in mechanical engineering, said addressing real issues through the competition was a great way to use what she's learned in class.
"Applying my skills to something like this makes it that much more meaningful," she said after the event. "It's a good motivator."
The team plans to further develop and test the design. The group, along with two others, has filed patent applications with the United States government.
The projects were judged by a seven-member panel that included a local lawyer and councilman, a Southern California Edison engineer and PG & E director.
The second place prize went to a team that developed a three-pronged approach to reduce noise in the neonatal ICU at Children's Hospital Central California. Studies have shown that excessive noise can hinder a person's recovery time.
Third place went to a team that developed a system to transport and store excess wastewater from Merced's treatment plant. By reusing the water, the city could avoid using potable water for lawns and fire hydrants. It would also reduce the need for drilling a second well in South Merced, according to the team.
After four years at UC Merced, political science major is preparing to graduate May 12. Fausto is heading to graduate school — she’s been accepted to the Columbia School of Journalism — with the prospect of a career in journalism, communications or public relations.
Fausto is a big fan of UC Merced, where she worked on her natural shyness as a reporter and gained greater appreciation for teamwork. She also stayed busy with a tough academic schedule and other activities, including a recent lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., and a regular column in the Merced Sun-Star.
Jesse Anaya, who is set to graduate on May 12, said UC Merced has been the “perfect incubator” for his research interests.
Anaya, who is majoring in earth systems science at UC Merced, has earned entry into several prestigious programs where he can pursue his dual interests in science — particularly microbial ecology — and public policy.
Recently, he learned he was accepted to the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program at Princeton University for summer 2012.
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