- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Water balloons, water guns, super sprayers, and buckets prevailed when dozens of scientists participated in the 15th annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle on the Briggs Hall lawn at the University of California, Davis.
The July event, also known as "Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs," proved to be an international soakfest. That's because the 28 researchers in the Hammock lab hail from seven countries: the United Stares, China, France, Ukraine, Lebanon, Japan and Korea. They include postdoctoral scholars, researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, visiting graduate students, visiting summer students, short-term visiting scholars and student interns.
The annual battle amounts to 15 minutes, or "15 Minutes of Aim." That's how long it takes for the some 40 water warriors to toss 2,000 water balloons. Joining in were scientists from the Aldrin Gomes lab, UC Davis Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; Frank Zalom lab of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and the UC Davis Department of Mathematics, plus family and friends.
Hammock, a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, hosts the annual event in mid-July when triple-digit temperatures strike the campus. It's an opportunity for the lab members--who work hard throughout the year and play hard for 15 minutes--to engage in a little fun and camaraderie. The thirsty lawn benefits, too.
First the water warriors fill the balloons in an assemblyline procedure, and at exactly 3 p.m., the soakfest begins. As the H2O dwindles, they empty buckets at unsuspecting targets. The last part: picking up every single balloon remnant from the lawn.
Hammock, trained as a entomologist, chemist and toxicologist--and who now focuses his research on human health, is recognized for his work on using natural chemical mediators to control inflammation and intractable pain. He co-discovered the soluble epoxide hydrolase, and many of his more than 1100 publications and patents are on the P450 branch of the arachidonate cascade where the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) degrades natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Hammock, an alumnus of UC Berkeley with a doctorate in entomology, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. He is the founding director (1987-present) of the UC Davis NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) Superfund Research Program and is a founding member (1990-present) of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has directed the UC Davis NIH/NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory for 25 years.
Highly honored by his peers, 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 is the first McGiff Memorial Awardee in Lipid Biochemistry. The Eicosanoid Research Foundation recently honored him for work on oxidized lipids.
But on one day in July--for 15 minutes--noted academician Bruce Hammock leaves his Briggs Hall office and transforms into an elite water warrior. He's practiced for 15 years, 15 minutes at a time.
"Bruce has a good aim," said Christophe Morisseau, a Hammock lab researcher who coordinates the annual battles.