- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The 14th annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle that took place on the Briggs Hall lawn, University of California, Davis, amounted to “fifteen minutes of aim” as academics and their families gleefully tossed 2000 balloons in 15 minutes as the temperature soared into the 90s.
When the water warriors depleted their supply, they drenched their fellow warriors with excess water from the buckets and other containers.
Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, managed to drench colleague Aldrin Gomes, associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, in a one-on-one soakfest.
“That was me losing Aldrin's friendship,” Hammock quipped of his four-year friendship. Hammock's office is headquartered on the ground or “garden” level of Briggs, and Gomes, on the first floor.
“Aldrin is one of our UC Davis star scientists,” Hammock said. “He works on heart failure and heart mitochondria. He's a very good guy. He has just been funded as part of the UC Davis Superfund Program (which Hammock directs).”
The water balloon battle usually draws some 50 fun/camaraderie seekers, including professors, researchers, graduate students, staff, students and family members. Hammock lab researcher Christophe Morisseau, who coordinates the traditional event, said participants first fill the water balloons near the Briggs loading dock, or “they BYOB” (bring your own balloons).
The thirsty Briggs Hall lawn benefits as do the fun seekers. The participants pick up the balloon remnants before returning to work.
The international Hammock lab and office includes personnel from Canada, Ukraine, France, China, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Korea, Uruguay and the Netherlands, besides the United States. They are post docs, researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, visiting graduate students, visiting summer students, short-term visiting scholars and student interns.
Highly honored by his peers (but a target at the annual water balloon battle), Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.