- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Bruce's Big Battle at Briggs, which draws professors, researchers, visiting scientists, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students and undergraduate students and their friends and families, showcases what the internationally known Hammock lab does for camaraderie and fun.
The event amounts to a 10-minute break from their 52 weeks of scientific work.
The water warriors are so proficient that the event actually spans about 8 to 9 minutes, said organizer Christophe Morisseau, associate research scientist.
Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, launched the water balloon fest in 2003 as a way to build camaraderie and gain relief from the heat. Temperatures soared to 98 degrees on Thursday, July 24, the afternoon of the battle.
For the occasion, the water warriors first filled 2000 small water balloons on the Briggs Hall lawn.
“We did try filling the balloons differently this year to conserve water,” said Hammock lab program manager Cindy McReynolds. “We devised a filling station out of drip line and valves so we could fill the balloons outside and also turn off the water when not in use.”
Thirty-nine people comprise the Hammock lab: 11 postdoctoral fellows, 8 research staff, 7 visiting scholars, 4 graduate students, 4 undergraduates, 4 staff and one part-time student assistant.
The Hammock lab has always enjoyed an international presence. Of the researchers this year, 8 are from China, 3 from France, 2 from Hong Kong, 2 from the Ukraine, and 1 each from India, Japan and Canada.
“They caught on quickly,' said Louisa Suet Yi Lo, administrative assistant. “It didn't take long for them to warm up and they really enjoyed dousing each other, especially the big boss, Bruce Hammock.”
"It was great seeing everyone relaxing and having so much fun," said Grace Bedoian of the administrative staff who will be retiring July 30. "They work hard and they play hard.”
Hammock, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, 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.
As an extra bonus, the annual battle provides a little water for the thirsty Briggs Hall lawn, which is used by campus wildlife, including ducks, turkeys, squirrels, birds, butterflies and bees.