In announcing the Horizon Team Award on June 8, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) applauded the 47 worldwide collaborators “for the development of multidimensional click chemistry, a next-generation click-technology that extends perfect bond creation into the three-dimensional world, opening doors to new frontiers in biomedicine, materials science, and beyond.” (See list of winners. See Horizon Team award winners)
K. Barry Sharpless of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, who won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Sharpless epoxidation, led the team. “His magic is like the click- chemistry he invented,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The scientists from UC Davis also include researcher Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab and Seiya Kitamura, who completed his doctorate in the UC Davis Pharmacology/Toxicology Graduate Group working with Hammock and Morisseau before starting a postdoctoral position at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.
Morisseau described click-chemistry “as such a ubiquitous tool in multiple aspects of science that kits are sold and the chemistry utilized without even recognizing where it comes from. Many of the beautiful and informative fluorescent pictures of cells on journal covers are based on click chemistry.”
The list of the team members reads like a Who's Who of modern organic chemistry at multiple stages of their careers, Hammock noted.
Hammock said his involvement in click chemistry started when he was on sabbatical leave at UC San Diego. “Barry explained to me how one could use the SF bonds of SOF4 and related compounds to make additions one at a time and create a defined three-dimensional molecule with high precision. The potential of these reagents to design new pharmaceuticals and agricultural products was really exciting. Thus, our contribution was being there at the right time to show translation into the real world.”
“Seiya did amazing work showing the utility of this reaction,” Hammock said. “He is continuing to work with Drs. Wang and Morisseau at UC Davis on using another concept in modern medicinal chemistry called PROTAC to investigate cell biology.”
“Click-chemistry and particularly the copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne-Huisgen cycloaddition (CuAAC), has had a profound impact on drug discovery (for which it was intended),” the team wrote in the award packet. “It is now the 'go-to' technology in every corner of molecular science. The introduction of Sulfur(VI) fluoride exchange (SuFEx) in 2014 opened up a whole new world of possibilities for reliable bond-forming technology, particularly for chemical biology applications where the fugacity of sulfur-fluoride functional groups are primed for selective covalent bond formation with active protein sites.”
The team will receive a trophy and each member will receive a certificate. John Moses of the Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, submitted the nomination on behalf of the team.
The RSC Horizon Prizes “highlight the most exciting, contemporary chemical science at the cutting edge of research and innovation,” according to its website. “These prizes are for teams or collaborations who are opening up new directions and possibilities in their field, through ground-breaking scientific developments."
The mission of the London-based RSC, founded in 1841, is to advance excellence in the chemical sciences. The organization includes physicians, academics, manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Dialysis inventor Thomas Graham served as its first president.
- Bruce Hammock: Lifetime Achievement Award from Chancellor
- Why Science Is Fun (feature on Bruce Hammock)
Spider wasps belong to the family Pompilidae, and are aculeate (stinging) wasps. Most spider wasps (also known as spider-hunting wasps) capture, sting and paralyze their prey. The worldwide family is comprised of some 5,000 described species in six subfamilies.
“A U-Haul was needed to transport the collection from Brookings to Davis last weekend,” said Bohart Museum director and UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey.
Wasbauer, who died in the spring, was a global expert on spider wasps and a scientific collaborator with Kimsey. He was a member of the Bohart Museum Society and a strong supporter of the museum.
“The donation consists of a diversity of aculeate wasps but 95 percent are spider wasps (Pompilidae), an estimated 50,000 specimens from all over the world, in 180 drawers, in 13 24-drawer cabinets,” Kimsey said. “This is material he had been accumulating since the 1960s.”
Wasbauer studied entomology and biosystematics at UC Berkeley, where he received his bachelor's degree and doctorate (1958). “Like many entomologists of his generations,” Kimsey said, “Marius was an instructor in preventive medicine in the U.S. 7th Army Medical Service at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.” He joined the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as a systematist in September 1958. His CDFA career spanned 34 years.
Wasbauer was a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences; president and secretary of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society; research associate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), a member of Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society; a member of the Biosystematists Society; and a research associate at UC Davis.
“He was generous with his time, and worked with many scientists and students around the world,” Kimsey said. “However, aside from his family and wasps, his other greatest love was fishing.”
Marius and his wife, Joanne, longtime supporters of the Bohart Museum, frequently offered annual challenge grants of $5000, matching donations of other donors up to $5000. They hoped to inspire others to give.
The Wasbauers participated in a Bohart Museum Bioblitz to Belize in 2017, a trip led by entomologists David Wyatt, a professor at Sacramento City College, and Fran Keller, now a professor at Folsom Lake College. Keller, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is a Bohart Museum research associate.
A trio of entomologists—Lynn Kimsey and her husband, forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Bohart Museum research associate Brennen Dyer—prepared a space in the Bohart for the large donation. They unloaded the truck with Kimsey friends, retired Placer County Sheriff Mike Whitney and his wife, Becky.
The Bohart Museum, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. The Bohart Museum also inclues a year-around gift shop stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, books, jewelry and insect-collecting equipment.
Temporarily closed due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, the Bohart is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Nguyen received $1000 in the competition, which recognizes undergraduate students whose research projects entail extensive use of library resources, services and expertise. Another student in Carey's longevity class, La Rissa Vasquez, a neurology, physiology and behavior major, won the third prize of $500 in the SEM category for her paper, “Surviving COVID-19: Variables of Immune Response.”
This is the second consecutive year that a student in Carey's longevity class has won the top prize in the SEM category. The awards program, launched in 2017, memorializes Norma J. Lang (1931-2015), professor emerita of botany.
In his longevity classes, Carey requires a term paper and teaches his students how to research topics, use style sheets, and structure the document.
Said Nguyen: “My paper discusses the biological process of allostasis, a stress response much like homeostasis, but instead of maintaining the body's internal conditions within narrow ranges, allostasis makes changes to the body's internal parameters to appropriately meet external demands. In other words, homeostasis revolves around a set mean value while allostasis deviates from it. Repeatedly activating this process over time can actually damage the associated physiological systems itself and lead to brain damage. This malfunctioning state is a characteristic of Allostatic Load, a state that describes the negative effects caused by a damaged Allostatic process.”
Allostatic Load (AL) can be utilized in the discussion of mortality across social classes, Nguyen related. “For example, by using educational years as a means to measure social class, scientists found a relationship between social classes and AL. Specifically, higher AL measurements were prominent in lower social classes. In the same study, mortality rates were also seen much higher in lower social classes. Taken together, a higher AL measurement may confer a higher risk of death.”
Nguyen, who grew up in San Rafael, expects to graduate from UC Davis in 2023. He describes himself as a “a student exploring interests in the biological sciences and seeking opportunities in the medical setting.” In March, he joined the John Morrison laboratory at the UC Davis California National Primate Research Center as an undergraduate research assistant with the Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (ADAR) program, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Nguyen is currently investigating HIV associated neurocognitive disorders.
Nguyen is active in the UC Davis Biology and Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP), and is the founder/president/CEO of VN Give, a non-profit organization that assists underserved communities in Hue, Vietnam. He is also a junior editor of The Aggie Transcript, an undergraduate life science journal; and a trustee of Aggies Helping Aggies.
La Rissa Vasquez
In her paper, Vasquez provides an in-depth synopsis of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), focusing on its innate and adaptive immune responses. She analyzed diverse sources, ranging from autopsy reports and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to peer-reviewed journals.
“In the beginning of the (longevity) course, I was asked to address any topic related to aging, survival, health span or longevity,” Vasquez wrote. “I chose to discuss COVID-19 because it is currently one of the most prevalent threats to our global survival and remains at the start of every conversation. I learned to think about longevity as not a conversation about aging and death (but as) discrete occurrences that happen at certain stages in a person's life. Death is not a single grim reaper but more like a pack of devils constantly at work to hinder and eventually terminate function.”
Vasquez sought to touch on innate and adaptive immunity “because they are the pack of devils contributing to death. I then looked for sources that actively discussed causes of death in the form of autopsy reviews of COVID victims.”
“The way I pursued the topic was genuine because of family members I lost to COVID. Writing about the virus became less desensitizing and more personal.”
Vasquez, who is from Stockton, expects to receive her bachelor's degree from UC Davis in 2023. At UC Davis, she is an undergraduate research assistant in the Bliss-Moreau laboratory of the California National Primate Research Center; a member of the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program; and a junior editor of The Aggie Transcript. She also volunteers for the Brain Exercise Initiative, a non-profit organization that uses simple math, writing and reading loud exercises as an intervention to improve cognitive functions in Alzheimer's patients.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor James R. Carey
Carey, a member of the UC Davis faculty since 1980, is an internationally recognized teacher. He won a 2018 global award in the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching Program, an academic competition sponsored every two years by Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He won the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA.
The UC Davis Academic Senate honored him as the recipient of its 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching. Carey is globally recognized for his research in insect demography, mortality dynamics, and insect invasion biology.
Another 2020 prize winner, Vincent Pan, a student researcher in the lab of ecologist Rick Karban, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won the $750 second-place award in the SEM category for his paper: "Recent Advances in Elucidating the Function of Zebra Stripes: Parasite Avoidance and Thermoregulation Do Not Resolve the Mystery." At the time, Pan was enrolled in the University Writing Program.
Sales, on track to receive his bachelor's degree in biotechnology (with an emphasis on plant biotechnology) in June 2022, submitted his successful research application on “Toward a More Resistant Plant: Uncovering Plant Host Targets of Novel Plant Parasitic Nematode Effectors.” He is one of only four students to be awarded the summer fellowship.
“Ado is a highly gifted student with a strong interest in agriculture and plant biology,” said Siddique. “I have really enjoyed one-on-one interaction with Ado and I have observed him growing academically and intellectually. He has a level of maturity in his research, including contributing ideas for troubleshooting, that I had no hesitations about giving him the space to continue his project independently. The IIFH fellowship program will add to his personal and professional growth and contribute to the experience of first-generation immigrant students like himself.”
ILFH awards Undergraduate Research Center Fellowships (URC-IIFH) to faculty-guided undergraduate students who perform research related to food, agriculture and health. Each fellow receives a summer research stipend, and funds for travel and/or research supplies. The fellows also will participate in professional development and entrepreneurship training, including the on-campus Entrepreneurship Academy. They will present their research results at the annual IIFH Innovator Summit in spring 2022, with opportunities to participate in the UC Davis Little Bang poster competition and the Big Bang competition.
His research involves RNA extraction, cDNA synthesis, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and gel electrophoresis, as well as GreenGate Cloning of plant parasitic nematodes genes. His skills also include seed germination and nematode hatching for plant-nematode assays, and the microscopic evaluation of nematode damage on plants.
Sales' journey to the Siddique lab began in May 2019 when he was selected a research scholar in the campuswide program, Research Scholar in Insect Biology (RSPIB), launched by UC Davis Entomology and Nematology faculty Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Louie Yang to provide undergraduates with a closely-mentored research experience in biology. Students join in their first or second year and are placed in a faculty mentor's laboratory where they receive ongoing training and career guidance in research and scientific writing. They also learn how to present their research results at professional scientific meetings and to prepare applications for graduate or professional schools.
When Sales learned that Rosenheim, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, also co-leads RSPIB, “I knew that I should apply to this program to gain more research experience and valuable connections with professors in campus.”
Sales said he chose the Siddique lab because “I found his research impactful, engaging, and unique. As someone who has always been fascinated by agriculture and plant biotechnology, I found plant parasitic nematode research as an important field of research that is underestimated and unexplored. I wanted to be part of this research because I think I would have more room to grow as a researcher and a student.”
He initially worked in the Siddique lab with postdoctoral researcher Henok Yimer. “At first, I had zero lab experience and knowledge, so I had to be intentional and attentive when it came to following lab procedures and lab experiments such as PCR or gel electrophoresis. Gradually, I became familiar with the basic assays and techniques and when Fall 2020 came, I was given my very first independent research. My research involved the identification of plant host targets of plant parasitic nematode effector proteins using cloning and microscopy techniques.”
With assistance from Siddique, Sales learned of the URC-IIFH summer fellowship and submitted a research summary, innovation statement, and letters of recommendation. An interview followed. “I was fortunate to be awarded this fellowship,” he said, “and continue my research in Dr. Siddique's lab to learn and do competent research.”
Born and raised in Manila, the Philippines, Sales moved to the United States as a teen and is a graduate of Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon. He serves as a student intern at the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies to help preserve the oral history of Filipino-Americans in the Greater Sacramento Area.
He is also vice president of the UC Davis French Club; a member of the Pilipinx Americans in Science and Engineering; and the UC Davis representative to the Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture Hackathon, which explores what technology can do for agriculture.
His presentation, from 4:10 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 26, will be hosted by community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Access the Zoom link here.
"All ecosystems are shaped and, to a certain degree, regulated by microorganisms," Ceja-Navarro says in his abstract. "Microorganisms on multiple trophic levels interact with each other and with their surrounding environment. For example, in the rhizosphere, protozoa and nematodes regulate the dynamics and turnover of bacterial and fungal communities associated with plants. While doing so, protists and nematodes increase nutrient availability and even trigger certain trait expression in the microbes."
"In order to understand and predict the ecosystem's capacity to remain stable, resist, and recover from environmental stress, it is essential to identify key biological players across trophic levels and understand well their contributions to the maintenance of complex systems," he points out. "This applies to all ecosystems where trophic complexity exists, from insects' gut microbiome, to the rhizosphere of a plant, or complex terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In this presentation, I will share my experiences with the use of multi-‘omics and chemical analyses to characterize microbial community composition, the distribution of microbial function, and trophic associations in the gut of insects, the rhizosphere of plants, and a soil chronosequence. Overall, my research shows that environmental filtering is key driver for microbial community composition and function across kingdoms offering clues on the susceptibility of microbial food webs to environmental change."
Ceja-Navarro focuses his research program on the study of multitrophic interactions in ecosystems such as digestive tracts of insects and soil. Specific focus topics of research include: (1) the study of arthropods as microbial bioreactors; (2) co-evolution of insects' digestive tract physical structure and microbial function for the transformation of recalcitrant molecules such as lignocellulose; and (3) environmental engineering and regulation of ecosystem services driven by the multitrophic interactions among the members of the food web of complex ecosystems, their contributions to ecosystems function, and responses to environmental change.
"As a scientist, my goal is to develop and apply innovations in the fields of molecular biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and chemical engineering using multidisciplinary tools to understand the mechanisms that control multitrophic interactions in diverse biological systems," he writes on his website. "I combine my passion for the study of the arthropod microbiome with my continuing fascination with soil complexity, to work on a research line that considers the cross-kingdom interactions (the associations between bacteria, fungi, protists, and nematodes), host-microbe interactions in soil microarthropods (ticks, springtails, mites), and the effect of these associations on processes such as biogeochemical cycling, biomass conversion, the evolution of the microbiome in the environment."
Ceja-Navarro holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering (2005) from Instituto Tecnologico de Celaya. Guanajuato, Mexico, and a doctorate in biotechnology (2009) from Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados del I.P.N. Mexico City, Mexico. He participated in the leadership development program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/UC Berkeley Program, Berkeley Haas School of Business, in 2015-2016.
His credentials include postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Climate and Ecosystem Sciences, Division, Berkeley, from 2010 to 2014; and project scientist from 2014-2016. He was promoted to research scientist in June 2016.
In a YouTube presentation titled "Beetles, Biofuel and Coffee," Ceja-Navarro discussed his research on the microbial populations found the guts of insects, specifically the coffee berry borer that may lead to better pest management; and the Passalid beetle, which could lead to improved biofuel production.
LBNL, commonly referred to as Berkeley Lab, conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of Energy. The lab, located in the hills of Berkeley, overlooks the UC Berkeley campus.
Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger coordinates the spring seminars, which take place every Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any technical issues.