“We are planning a global event on Wednesday, March 10, with our UC Davis players challenging UK's Cardiff University,” announced organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May will deliver the welcome address.
The three-game virtual event, to begin at 11 a.m., Pacific Time on Zoom, will first pit UC Davis vs. UC Davis, and then Cardiff vs. Cardiff to determine the players in the championship game. The public is invited to view the event by registering here: https://tinyurl.com/dmnftsuj
“I am absolutely delighted to provide this opportunity for our students to learn biochemistry, have fun, work as teams, and build international ties,” Leal said. “Yes, remote learning is challenging, but it also creates new opportunities.”
Students comprising the Ironic Bonds Team are Catherine Rodriguez, Jiaying Liu, Kelly Brandt, Aly Lodigiani, and Efrain Vasquez Santos. The Gibbs Team: Brandon Matsumoto, Tina Luu, Yasi Parsa, Esha Urs, and Kathryn Vallejo.
The format of the game will be three questions per team, alternating one question for each team. “In the event of a tie,” Leal said, “each team will be asked one question at a time until we break the deadlock.”
The Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes, memorializing a noted plant biochemist known for his research and teaching, drew fundamental biochemistry questions. (See event on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Y9T9ayRXyYE)
“This time,” Leal revealed, “we will focus on a theme of protein structures, emphasizing two proteins of public interest--specifically, hemoglobin, the carrier of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. As I said in class, this protein makes FedEx envious. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other cells, drops the load at the destinations, and picks up carbon dioxide and protons to take back to the lungs. It is a multitasking protein. It is never idle unless a person gets COVID-19.”
The SARS-CoV-2, the virus-causing COVID-19, needs a human cell to replicate, and they get access to the cell with a protein named spike, Leal explained. “When spike binds to a human receptor called ACE2, the virus gains access to the cell, replicates, the cell is destroyed, and the mucus formed in the lungs make it difficult for oxygen to reach hemoglobin.”
The UC Davis students have been studying the structures of hemoglobin and spike, Leal related. “Let's check their knowledge.”
And, in a fun exchange, the UC Davis players will exchange university hoodies with Cardiff.
The Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes drew more than 300 attendees, who heard such questions and answers as:
- "Why do hairdressers use thioglycolic acid for permanent hair treatment?”
Answer: To break disulfide bridges.
- "What was Eric Conn's favorite amino acid?”
- "Why is the spike protein called a glycoprotein?"
Answer: Because it is decorated with sugar.
- "When you get ivy poisoning, where do you expect that the active ingredient (urushiol) will accumulate?"
Answer: In the cell membrane.
- "Who was the scientist at the Genome Center that came out with the idea of using papain protease to reduce saliva viscosity?"
Answer: Lutz Froenicke
(See recap on https://bit.ly/3stHa6c)
That's when UC Davis will celebrate the "bio" (life) in both biodiversity and biochemistry with special events open to the public.
Biodiversity? Three presentations sponsored by the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month are slated for 11 a.m. (ants), 12:15 (bees), and 1 p.m. (plants).
- Professor Phil Ward of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present a program on ants from 11 a.m. to noon.
- Christine Casey, manager of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, will talk about bees from 12:15 to 12:45.
- Ernest Sandoval, collections manager of the Botanical Conservatory, will discuss the conservatory's program in Spanish
To obtain the biodiversity Zoom links, access this page.
The 10th annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month program is all virtual this year via live talks and demonstrations, and pre-recorded talks and activities. It's being celebrated throughout the month of February. The science-based event traditionally occurs on only one day--the Saturday of Presidents' Weekend, when families and friends gather on campus to learn first-hand about the UC Davis museums and collections. The 2020 event drew more than 4000 to the campus. To donate to the UC Davis Diversity Museum program in its crowdfunding efforts to continue offering free programs, click here by or before Feb. 28.
Biochemistry? Sixty UC Davis undergraduate students, divided into 12 teams, will compete in the first-ever Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes at 4 p.m., in a Zoom event memorializing the legendary UC Davis plant biochemist. The public can register to view the event by logging in at https://tinyurl.com/y33eyc4v. See more information about the event here.
- Twelve teams, five on each team, will answer quizzes while organizer/coordinator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will post videos and live messages dealing with the life of Conn; best student-loved places on campus; and public messages on COVID-19 and diabetes
- The first eight teams to register: Green Team, Amigo Acids, Proline Pros, Drop the Base, Krebs Cyclists, Gibbs Team, Attack on Titration, and Ironic Bonds.
- Due to overwhelming response, four other teams were added (A, B, C and D) and will play "off tube" or off camera, Leal said. "But they will play simultaneously with the other teams."
- Each team will be given three questions and will have one minute to confer.
- The spectators are encouraged to cheer for their favorite team.
The event promises to be both "fun and educational," Leal wrote in his Twitter account, @wsleal2014.
That prompted this response from UC Davis Professor Jonathan Eisen who directs the UC Davis Microbiome Special Research Program and holds joint faculty appointments with the Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences; Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine and Immunology; and the UC Davis Genome Center:
"And who ever said Biochemistry Quizzes weren't fun. Silly people. They are fun."
(Editor's Note, Feb. 21: The Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes may now be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Y9T9ayRXyYE)
Sixty UC Davis undergraduate students, divided into 12 teams with such names as "Green Team," "Amigo Acids" and "Attack on Titration," will compete in the first-ever Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes, which will get underway on Zoom at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20.
“This will be a fun activity and one that memorializes the legendary plant biochemist Eric Conn (1923-2017), renowned in his field,” said organizer and coordinator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of molecular and cellular biology and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Conn, a UC Davis emeritus professor of molecular and cellular biology, "was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his leadership at UC Davis helped establish the academic spirit of the College of Biological Sciences as it exists today," Leal said. "He strongly believed that a university professor should excel in both research and teaching.”
The public can register to view the event by logging in at https://tinyurl.com/y33eyc4v. It may become an annual event.
Initially, 40 students registered to compete—five per team—but the response was so overwhelming that Leal added four more teams. The first eight teams to register will compete on camera, while the other four teams will play “off tube.”
“I created the word in reference to the old TV set (a tube) to say that they will not be on camera,” Leal quipped. “These teams will play simultaneously with the teams playing on camera. We will have a scorekeeper, Radek Abarca, who will keep track of their response in real-time.”
The initial teams sport such names as Green Team, Amigo Acids, Proline Pros, Drop the Base, Krebs Cyclists, Gibbs Team, Attack on Titration, and Ironic Bonds. The other teams are named A, B, C and D.
“Team A will play along with the Proline Pros, and Team D will play along with Drop the Base,” Leal said. “Next, Team B will play along with the Krebs Cyclists,” and Team C will play with the Gibbs Team.”
The first 40 students to register introduce themselves, their majors and their hometowns in videos posted on Leal's Twitter account, @wsleal2014.
The first game pits the Green Team vs. the Amigo Acids and includes Almas Khan, Christopher Yun, Max Fallejo, Kathryn Vallejo, Alvin Kim, Caidon Iwuagwu, Jeffrey Toman, Karsen Culverhouse, Matthew Kim, and Sudev Namboordiri. On Leal's video, each also names his or her favorite amino acid.
In the second game, it's the Proline Pros vs. Drop the Base. Participants are Alyse Lodigiani, Anthony Weidner, Aaditi Gaikwad, Banin Alofi, Jennifer Kang, Rachel Levan, Anish Wadhwa, Ian Guzman, Viraj Deshpande and Yu-uki Onda.
The third game stars the Krebs Cyclists vs. the Gibbs Team. Participants are Joseph Morrison, Addison Ali, Alan Santana Cortez Molina, Shiwani KC, Frances Gross, Natalie Six, Yasamin “Yasi” Parsa, Brandon Matsumoto, Tina Luu and Esha Urs.
In the fourth game, the Attack on Titration will clash with the Ironic Bonds. Participants are Charlize Mitra, Kelly Kim, Maya Mysore, Lizeth Macias, Suzanne Quiroz, Natanie “Tonie” Leech, Jiaying Liu, Catherine Rodriguez, Lauren Hartwell and Kelly Brandt.
Participating students are from as far away as the City of Pune (India), Yokohama (Japan), Nanjing (China), and as close as the City of Davis. Other students hail from Cupertino, Los Angeles, Redwood City, Santa Monica, Palmdale, Irvine, Redding, Sacramento, Fairfield, Cupertino, San Jose, San Diego, San Ramon, Elk Grove, San Lorenzo, Lincoln, El Centro, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Roseville, Tracy, and Martinez in California, and Long Island in New York, among the many other municipalities.
“Each team of five players will be given three questions,” Leal said. “They will have one minute to confer while we hear stories about Eric Conn; see videos from staff, faculty and alumni and UC Davis friends; and watch public service messages on health topics such as COVID-19 and diabetes.”
College of Biological Sciences (CBS) faculty will ask questions via video. Emeriti Professors Clark Lagarias and Charles Gasser will judge the competition. The schedule also includes CBS Professor Judy Callis delivering a brief remembrance of Conn, and CBS Dean Mark Winey offering a message of encouragement to the students.
In her video, Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. Also planned: footages of favorite campus sites that students miss the most, and “even accounts of how departments were named in the old days,” Leal said. Plant pathologist George Bruening, professor emeritus, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will be among the faculty featured in the clips.
Conn, a member of the UC Davis faculty for 43 years, was the third recipient of the UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. Described as an excellent teacher and researcher, Conn received the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1974 and the Academic Senate's highest honor, the Faculty Research Lecturer Award, in 1977. He won the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement in 1989. See https://youtu.be/TdwJkcjQvbw.