“This model is one of our nation's oldest linear index typewriters,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Center. “It has no keyboard. It has a rail-type system with the characters spread out in a straight line--and not in alphabetical order, either. This is confusing compared to the modern-day QWERTY keyboard design, yet this instrument saved my grandfather's career.”
It's a 132-year-old “Odell's Type Writer,” patented in 1889 by inventor Levi Judson Odell (1855 - 1919), and the prized possession of his grandfather, Judge William Thomas Hammock (1866-1950) of Little Rock, Ark.
Not only did it save Judge Hammock's career, but Judge Hammock and his “type writer” inspired the development of Professor Hammock's 42-year career at UC Davis, which includes founding director of the UC Davis Superfund Research Program (SRP), funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) since 1987. To date, the Hammock-directed program has brought in more than $90 million in grants to the UC Davis campus.
And fortunately, the 4-inch-thick, 986-page grant renewal that the Hammock team submitted to NIEHS last year didn't involve the “back-up typewriter.”
Rival newspapers figure into the history of the Hammock-owned typewriter. “It all began when The Arkansas Democrat ran an article showing a 70-year-old typewriter,” the UC Davis professor related. “In response to this, The Arkansas Gazette, then the oldest paper west of the Mississippi—it was established in 1819--published an article on an even older Odell typewriter—the one owned by my grandfather.”
Strong Arm. “I have that newspaper clipping from 1915 that shows my Aunt Maude Hammock using the typewriter in my grandfather's law office,” Hammock said. “She was secretary to her dad—my grandfather--and had an exceptionally strong arm to make it work – rather like Popeye the Sailor. In the photo, my grandfather is seated at his desk.” The newspapers merged in 1991 to become The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“The oral history of the typewriter is that William Thomas Hammock was living in the country town of Quitman, Ark., in 1893 and had just passed the bar," the UC Davis professor related. "Being a new attorney with no business and lots of spare time, he jumped at a $150 contract to make a copy of the county's handwritten laws and regulations. Not being an experienced lawyer, he failed to read the fine print. The county wanted not one, but 10 handwritten copies. This was impossible on his budget.”
“Then he heard about something called a ‘type writer.' He boarded a train to Chicago, where the Odell type writer company had just relocated from Wisconsin, checked out the machine, and bought it for about $15. This invention permitted him to use carbons and he only needed to type the documents twice, with multiple carbons.”
Husky as a Blacksmith. "The number of carbon copies that can be made with the Odell is limited only by the strength of the operator's right arm," according to The Arkansas Gazette article. "Mr. Hammock took setting up exercises each morning and made 10 copies at a time. After a couple of months, he was as husky as a blacksmith and had earned $150. Mr. Hammock became quite proficient in handling the machine. He could pound out a line of legal phraseology much quicker than his forebears could chisel out a love message on stone or parchment, though the physical effort was about the same."
Valued at $2000. Today the $15 typewriter is valued at more than $2000. Brass-plated with its inventor's name and cradled in its original wooden case in a corner of the Hammock office, the machine draws such comments from visitors as “My, it is beautiful!” and “Is that REALLY a typewriter?”
“Yes,” he tells them, and then explains, to their amazement, how it works: “You slide the bar along the rail until the pointer meets the letter you want. Then you press down a lever very hard, depressing the entire rail.”
The UC Davis professor marvels at how far office machine technology has advanced: from the first primitive typographical contraption (1713) to the first linear index typewriter (1881) to the modern-day dual-screened computer that occupies his desk.
“Just as this new technology of the Odell type writer saved my grandad's career as a lawyer, this adapted word processor on the rather ‘Dr. Who-ish' PDP computer changed my career at UC Davis when we received that NIEHS grant in 1987 to establish the UC Davis Superfund Research Program. It's now the longest running Superfund Program in the country.”
What SRP Does. The UC Davis SRP conducts and translates research on hazardous substances in the environment and their impact on human health. It also cross-trains scientists in multiple physical and biological sciences to address the complexity of the toxic waste issue in the nation. Its goals: to acquire a better understanding of the human and ecological risks of hazardous substances; and to advance the development of new technologies for the cleanup of contaminated sites.
The Hammock-directed program encompasses five projects and six cores, spread throughout most of the colleges, and involving more than 12 departments, eight labs and 35 personnel, as well as several dozen undergraduate and graduate students and collaborators. In addition to the grant funding, the SRP receives supplemental funding for multiple training, equity and outreach projects. The 2021-22 budget? A little over $2.6 million.
“We have addressed multiple problems in California ranging from the clean-up of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard through the MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) groundwater crisis to now helping the Yurok Nation in Northern California deal with environmental contamination,” Hammock said. “To compete for centers, program projects and training grants, we need not only good science but also the administrative infrastructure to put together proposals.”
The NIEHS website points out that the cornerstone of SRP “is the university-based, multiproject center grant program. Since 1987, SRP has funded research at 35 universities across the United States, and currently funds 249 research and engagement projects at 23 universities with 142 collaborations at 120 institutions.”
Recalling his initial application for the federal grant, Hammock commented that “the opportunity for a large interdisciplinary grant with a very short time line arose from NIEHS. Applicants had to put together engineers, soil chemists, toxicologists, medical doctors and veterinarians in an integrated project on a short time line.”
Never Could Have Pulled This Off. “We never could have pulled this off without the technology of a word processor,” Hammock said, adding, “or without a wonderful department staff. Having the administrative staff, in this case Dee Dee Kitterman and the word processing technology of the PDP, made the difference. The renewal that went in this year was 986 pages! It makes you appreciate the collaborative nature of the science at Davis, the quality of the science, and particularly the administrative structure that supports it. We would not compete without the modern-day equivalents of the Odell Type Writer and the professionals who make our equipment sing.”
“Administrative staff are crucial,” Hammock said. “They should be appreciated all year around, not just on a single day (Administrative Professionals Day is April 27). And to think that in the past, our administrative professionals—then known as secretaries faced these challenges— with such formidable equipment as Odell's Type Writer—and won.”
Aharonson, a friend and colleague of UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock of the Department of Entomology and Nematology--and numerous other scientists affiliated with the USDA's Agricultural Research Services--focused on agricultural and environmental chemistry and environmental toxicology at UC Davis, where he received his master's degree in 1964. His thesis: “Micro Methods for Isolation of Natural Fluorescent Compounds.”
“Nadav was one of the first researchers in Israel and worldwide that dealt with distribution, degradation (chemical and microbial), movement and accumulation of pesticides and in plants and the environment and their influence on agriculture crops,” a family spokesperson said. “He developed analytical chemical and biological methods to identify extremely small amounts pesticides or byproducts in agricultural produce, soil, water and air.”
Aharonson published more than 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed international-leading scientific journals, eight chapters in scientific books and more than 60 papers and publications in Hebrew.” (See Research Gate for some of his contributions.)
“Nadav Aharonson has long been a friend and hero of mine,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Nadav was well known for going far out of his way to assist young researchers in their career and for bringing together international teams to address world problems in agriculture."
"On a personal note," Hammock commented, "he was so kind to my son, in particular, and me when we were in Israel."
Hammock recalled the time that he and his son, Tom, “were wandering in a wild storm through Tel Aviv with massive waves hitting a sea wall. There was only one guy in sight, huddled over a camera and taking pictures of the waves. As I passed, I said ‘Nadav?' And he replied ‘Bruce?' He took us home, dried and fed us, and arranged for Tom to take a tour of architecture in Israel while I was at a symposium at the Weismann Institute."
Aharonson, who died Aug. 6, was born in 1934 in Tel-Aviv. He graduated from high school in 1952 and “then served compulsory military service in a special paramilitary Israel Defense Forces program that combines military service and the establishment of agricultural settlements, often in peripheral areas,” his family said. He later became a member of kibbutz Misgav Am, situated on the northern border of Israel and Lebanon, “where he fell in love with agriculture and preserving earth.”
In 1958 Nadav left the kibbutz to study at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jerusalem, receiving his bachelor's degree there in 1961. After completing his studies at UC Davis, he headed back to Hebrew University for his doctorate in environmental chemistry/toxicology, writing his thesis on "Development of Analytic Methods for Identification of Pesticide Residues and Understanding their Influential Mechanisms.”
In 1965 Aharonson “established and began managing the laboratory for pesticide residues as part of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture,” his family related. “The lab mission was to develop and adapt analytical methods for testing chemical residues in export agriculture produce. This was the first time that such lab was established in Israel.”
In 1971, Aharonson began working at the Agriculture Research Organization (ARO), Volcani Institute, and established the Department of Environmental Chemistry. He managed the lab until 1997. The four-fold focus of the research team: (1) Reduce the amount of pesticide and other contaminants in soil, water and agriculture produce (2) Develop novel nontoxic chemical formulas to replace and minimize the use of toxic pesticides (3) Identify, develop and implement insect pheromones and other volatile plants substances that mediate insect-insect and insect-plant communication and (4) identify and characterize secondary metabolites in plants that provide immunity against insects.
Aharonson's resume includes:
- 1978-1996: Lecturer on environmental toxicology at the Faculty of Agriculture, where he also supervised many graduate students
- 1990: Appointed full professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- 1984-1990: Director of the Plant Protection Institute and part of the management team at Volcani Institute, ARO
- 1988-1996: Founder of the Center for Biotechnology at ARO, where he led research reducing the usage of toxic pesticides in agriculture.
In addition, Aharonson was active in numerous international scientific committees. He spent his sabbatical years at USDA's Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, MD.
“Nadav retired in 1997, and since then had volunteered and led the efforts in his hometown of Ramat-Hasharon to stop the contamination of the local water by industrial water pollutants,” his family said. “His work contributed to the closure of the contaminated local water supply, providing safe water to the residents of his town. Nadav later established the local Independent Water Supply authority and served as the chairmen for eight years."
Survivors include three children and five grandsons. His wife, Ada, died in 2012.
The prestigious honor means that the lab, headed by Professor Xiaoling Lu, professor of immunology at Guangxi Medical University (GXMU), is now the central nanobody lab in the province and will receive "more support and expansion," she wrote in an email to Professor Hammock. She expressed her “heartfelt thanks" to Hammock for his "support and encouragement all the time” and added she looks forward to more and closer collaboration.
Lu directs the Nanobody Research Institute of GXMU and also serves as the deputy director of the International Joint Research Center of National Biological Targeting Diagnosis and Therapy.
"Dr. Siliang Duan of Professor Lu's lab was in our lab as a visiting scholar for 15 months (March 9, 2018 until June 1, 2019) to learn nanobody research," said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Their lab is now applying this technology to gene therapy and other cancer biologies."
“This brings up that we all learn from each other internationally and across disciplines,” Hammock said. “The work that Siliang did here really bridged the science done in the mammalian group at Davis developing drugs for treating cancer and cancer pain with the nanobody group. We have extensive experience in nanobodies as diagnostics. While she was here, Siliang bridged the Davis nanobody work with studies on human and companion animal therapeutics at Davis and critically with the cancer therapeutic studies of the Xiaoling Lu group."
Three Papers Published. To date, the Hammock and Lu labs have published three papers together, the first in November 2019:
- “A Nanobody Against Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Associated Antigen-4 Increases the Anti-Tumor Effects of Specific CD8(+) T Cells,” published Nov. 1, 2019 in the Journal of Biomedical Technology, an international journal covering research and advanced technologies in the frontiers of biomedical sciences.
- "A Generation of Dual Functional Nanobody-Nanoluciferase Fusion and Its Potential in Bioluminescence Enzyme Immunoassay for Trace Glypican-3 in Serum,” published June 1, 2021 in the journal, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing research and development in the field of sensors and biosensors.
- "Nanobody-Based Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cells Designed by CRISPR/Cas9 Technology for Solid Tumor Immunotherapy,” published Feb. 25, 2021 in the journal, Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy.
Nanobodies, used as a research tool in structural, cell, and developmental biology, are the subject of many newly published papers. Lu co-authored a paper March 22, 2021 in the International Journal of Nanomedicine on “Nanobody: A Small Antibody with Big Implications for Tumor Therapeutic Strategy.”
“The development of targeted medicine has greatly expanded treatment options and spurred new research avenues in cancer therapeutics, with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) emerging as a prevalent treatment in recent years,” write Emily Yedam Yang and Khalid Shah of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, in their article, “Nanobodies: Next Generation of Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics,” published in the journal, Frontiers in Oncology.
Human Enzyme Discovery. Hammock, internationally recognized for his work in alleviating inflammatory and neuropathic pain in humans and companion animals, co-discovered a human enzyme termed Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase (sEH), a key regulatory enzyme involved in the metabolism of fatty acids. It regulates a new class of natural chemical mediators, which in turn regulates inflammation, blood pressure and pain and in a recent PNAS article showed promise in cancer therapy.
Hammock and his lab have been involved in enzyme research for more than 50 years. Their work was recently cited as one of the key papers in agriculture for the last 50 years. Hammock and his lab introduced immunoassays to environmental chemistry, and they were an early adopter of monoclonal and now nanobody technology.
“The collaboration with Xiaoling and Siliang is wonderful in that the research spanned both the nanobody and therapeutic fields at UC Davis," Hammock said. "For example, we recently used alpaca nanobodies to the sEH to make exceptionally sensitive assays for the enzyme in tiny amounts of human blood. Nanobodies as therapeutics as well as diagnostics was a great contribution to us from Xiaoling and Siliang."
In 2019, Hammock received a $6 million “outstanding investigator” federal grant for his innovative and visionary environmental health research. His pioneering work on inflammation not only extends to alleviating chronic pain, but to targeting inflammation involved in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health issues.
Sparks, a retired research fellow at Corteva Agriscience (a Dow AgroSciences) in Indianapolis, Ind., will receive an inscribed plaque and a cash award at ESA's annual meeting in November, to be held in Denver, Colo., announced Michelle Smith, ESA president. The presentation will take place Nov. 2 during ESA's Awards Breakfast featuring the Founders' Memorial Lecture.
“This is a huge honor and directly due to Bruce's influence,” said Sparks.
This award recognizes creative entomologists who have demonstrated the ability to find alternative solutions to problems that significantly impact entomology. Sparks is the first scientist from the crop protection industry to receive this award.
“Tom was my first graduate student, receiving his doctorate at UC Riverside and later doing a sabbatical leave at UC Davis,” said Hammock, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) in 1980 from UC Riverside.
Sparks received his doctorate in entomology in December 1978. His emphasis: insect endocrinology/biochemistry and insecticide toxicology.
“His free-thinking, as well as his love for and intensity about science, characterized his career," Hammock said. "I remember an evening when he brought a 'Tandy' computer over and envisioned a concept of machine learning to optimize structures of drugs and agricultural chemicals that were too complex to evaluate with classical structure activity relationships."
“Fifty years later this is mainline biological chemistry,” Hammock pointed out, adding that Sparks started in biological control and then moved to insect physiology and toxicology (Hammock's lab) while in graduate school at UC Riverside. After graduate school, Sparks served as a professor of insecticide biochemistry and toxicology with the Louisiana State University's Department of Entomology. He then headed to Indianapolis to join Eli Lilly and Co., which shortly thereafter became DowElanco, then Dow AgroSciences, and finally Corteva Agriscience.
Sparks' lifelong focus is on developing green pesticides, Hammock said. “His greatest success of many successes has been with a complex group of what are known as polyketides. Specifically, Tom pioneered the spinosids as a new class of selective pesticides for integrated pest management (IPM). Tom was a leader in this program from the concept of natural product compounds through structural optimization to integration into pest management and resistance management programs nationally and internationally.”
Sparks' research interests include
- Agrochemical (especially. Insecticides) Discovery and Lead Generation
- Insecticide biochemistry and mode of action
- Insecticide resistance and resistance management
- Cheminformatics and quantitative structure activity relationships (QSAR) and its application to lead generation and pesticide discovery.
- History and philosophy of agrochemical discovery
“Dr. Sparks is internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in the field of insect biochemistry and toxicology, especially as it relates to the discovery of new crop protection compounds,” wrote Ronda Hamm of Corteva Agriscience, Indianapolis, who headed the nomination team. “This latter point supported by his many awards relating to crop protection discovery but is highlighted in particular by two prior awards-- R&D Scientist of the Year in 2009, the first (and so far only) for any entomologist or for that matter, any scientist in the field of agriculture. More recently Dr. Sparks was the first industry scientist (and entomologist) to receive the American Chemical Society AGRO Division Innovation in Chemistry of Agriculture Award (2015).”
A member of ESA for more than 40 years, Sparks “has a history of bringing new ideas and innovative approaches to the discovery of new insect control agents, resulting in several commercial products,” Hamm pointed out. “Through his innovative application of state-of-the art technologies, Dr. Sparks has succeeded in catalyzing the discovery and development of natural product-based compounds for the control of pest insects. One particularly relevant measure of Dr. Sparks' innovation is patents--unusually for a non-chemist, he has 47 patents covering a wide range of chemistries and ideas as it applies to the control of agricultural pests.”
Hammock praised Sparks for his innovative accomplishments. “For the past several decades, Dr. Sparks' goal has been to provide new, greener, tools that will allow growers and farmers around the world to feed an expanding global population," Hammock said. "To this end, Dr. Sparks employed an array of innovative approaches to the discovery of new insect control agents. His innovations are well-illustrated by his ‘what if..' questions and his answers and results from those questions.”
“What if you could simplify large complex macrolide antibiotic-like compounds to make them synthetically accessible,” Hammock wrote in his letter of support. “This would be a radically different innovation paving a conceptual pathway for others in the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Sparks accomplished this through collaboration with two colleagues using computer-aided molecular design to essentially reverse-engineer the spinosyn structure ultimately demonstrating, for the first time ever, that the large macrocyclic structure could be mimicked by simpler, smaller synthetic motifs.”
Keith Wing, an independent industrial biochemistry consultant who was Hammock's second Ph.D student from UC Riverside and UC Davis (and who subsequently worked for Rohm and Haas Ag and DuPont Ag Chemicals and Central Research), also praised Sparks' accomplishments. "I've known Tom as a friend and colleague since 1976," Wing related. "We started our research in Bruce's lab working on proteins affecting juvenile hormone metabolism, but because of Bruce's/University of California's broad entomological and chemical training, we both developed multifaceted toxicological interests and methodological approaches to problems. As Tom and I were grinding through course and benchwork on our research, we were getting a skill set and thinking mode that was very unusual in both its scope and depth. I was always struck by Tom's creativity, dedication to his work and attention to detail. Much of my own thesis work was built on the precedents Tom set."
"Through the years Tom and I remained close personal friends and would discuss what we saw happening in the agrochemical industry, often through American Chemical Society AGRO division work," Wing said, lauding "Tom's variety and volume of contributions to insecticide science. For an industrial entomologist/biochemist, Tom is an unusually prolific contributor to both patent and scientific literature, and is an editor of relevant scientific journals."
"Tom is an excellent colleague to his peers and mentor to younger scientists in our field," Wing said, "and has made huge societal contributions, such as his work in the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC), providing discipline and structure in an important area of agricultural science."
Sparks is the second Hammock lab alumnus to receive the coveted Nan-Yao Su Award. ESA selected Bryony Bonning, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Hammock lab and now a professor at Iowa State University, for the award in 2013. Walter Leal, former chair of the entomology department and now a UC Davis distinguished professor with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, won the award in 2011.
(Editor's Note: See list of other 2021 ESA winners)
In announcing the winner of the international competition, Professor Christopher John Smith, editor-in-chief of the journal Foods, described Zhang as a “rising star in the field of food science and technology.”
Zhang focuses his research on foods for health and wellness with an emphasis on the roles of bioactive lipids in colonic inflammation and colon cancer. He served as a postdoc in the Hammock laboratory from 2010 to 2013.
“This is fantastic news,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “I am so pleased over the award recognizing Guodong for his contributions to nutrition, cancer and gastrointestinal health. Since graduate school, he has based his work on innovative physiology, nutrition, and biochemistry, with all studies on a firm analytical basis. In our laboratory, he was the perfect postdoctoral fellow, bringing new technologies to UC Davis and rapidly integrating into UC Davis projects."
"Guodong was broadly collaborative at Davis and internationally,” Hammock noted. "He was a wonderful mentor and colleague to others in the lab while here, and has continued since, leaving not only to collaborate here but to forge wonderful international collaborations. Guodong is a star in all ways. He sent us two outstanding postgraduate scientists Yuxin Wang and Weicang Wang (trained in Zhang's UMass lab), who, like their mentor, have been wonderfully innovative and productive scientists at Davis.”
As the award recipient, Zhang will receive an honorarium of 2000 Swiss francs, or $2,206 in American funds; publication of a peer-reviewed paper in Foods; and an engraved plaque.
Zhang has an “outstanding publication record, comprising 73 publications in peer-reviewed international journals and 4 international patents,” said Smith, who also called attention to his grants. Zhang serves as the principal investigator (PI) of grants totaling $1.7 million, and he is the co-PI of grants totaling $5.1 million. “This is an outstanding achievement in today's competitive environment,” Smith said.
Guodong holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry (2003) from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China, and a master's degree in chemistry (2005) from the National University of Singapore. He received his doctorate in food science in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a postdoctoral fellow in the Hammock laboratory, "my research was about bioactive lipids on angiogenesis and cancer," Guodong said. Reflecting on his years in the Hammock lab, he said: "During this period, 2010-2013, I received comprehensive training in pharmacology and oncology. I really want to thank the mentorship and support from Dr. Hammock: for taking the time to discuss the experiments, provide career advice, help me with personal issues, and hike together in the Bay Area. The days in Davis are some of my best life moments.”
Zhang joined the faculty of the UMass Department of Food Science as an assistant professor in 2013, and in 2014, joined the faculty of the UMass Molecular and Cell Biology Program. In 2019, he advanced to associate professor with tenure.
The recipient of a number of high honors and awards, Zhang won the 2020 Samuel Cate Prescott Award from the Institute of Food Technologists, and the 2019 Young Scientist Research Award from the American Oil Chemists' Society.
Foods is an international, scientific, peer-reviewed, open access journal of food science and is published monthly online by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).