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.
(Editor's Note: See this March 31st seminar on YouTube at https://youtu.be/z85B0NlmizU)
Robert K. D. 'Bob' Peterson, professor of entomology at Montana State University (MSU), Bozeman, and the 2019 president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), will speak on "Tigers in Yellowstone National Park: Insect Adaptations to Extreme Environments" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's online seminar on Wednesday, March 31.
His seminar, hosted by UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey, a fellow of ESA, begins at 4:10 p.m. Access this Google document to attend the Zoom event.
The "tigers" are the tiger beetles that live, feed and breed in the thermal pools.
Peterson, with MSU's Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, leads the research, teaching and outreach program in Agricultural and Biological Risk Assessment, a program centered on comparative risk assessment. His other areas of research include insect ecology, plant-stress ecophysiology, and integrated pest management. Peterson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, including environmental risk assessment, insect ecology and various special-topics graduate courses. He also directs MSU's professional master's degree program in environmental sciences.
A native of Perry, Iowa, Peterson received his bachelor's degree in entomology from Iowa State University, Ames, and his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He joined the MSU faculty in 2002 after serving as a research biologist for Dow AgroSciences, Omaha from 1995 to 2001. He has published 123 peer-reviewed journal articles, 15 book chapters, and two books.
Peterson manages the website, Insects of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, an online photographic celebration of the ecosystem's biodiversity. He describes it as a "celebration of the "incredible diversity and abundance of insects in the area." Peterson categorized the site into butterflies and moths; beetles; flies; true bugs; stoneflies; mayflies; net-winged insects; bees, wasps ants and sawflies; grasshoppers, crickets and katydids; and insect relatives. Peterson also hosts a comparable Facebook page, Insects of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
In addition, Peterson is affiliated with two other websites, Insects, Disease and History, devoted to "understanding the impact that insects, especially insect-borne diseases, have had on world history"; and Ag Biosafety, designed to be a "definitive source of scientific, regulatory and educational materials relevant to crop biotechnology and the current debate on the genetic modification of food."
Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger coordinates the spring seminars. For technology problems, contact him at email@example.com.
Macaluso received $1000, and her research paper, “The Biological Basis for Alzheimer's Disease," will be published in eScholarship, an open-access scholarly publishing service affiliated with the University of California.
This is the first time a student enrolled in a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology class has won the universitywide competition, now in its fourth year. The award memorializes Norma J. Lang (1931-2015), professor emerita of botany.
Macaluso, who is majoring in psychology with a biological emphasis, and minoring in aging and adult development, anticipates receiving her bachelor of science degree in the fall of 2020.
Carey, an internationally recognized teacher, instructs undergraduates in his classes--which usually exceed 200 students--how to research topics, use style sheets, and structure their papers. He has produced 13 videos on how to research and write a research paper, along with a new video on the use of style sheets.
The Lang Prize recognizes undergraduate students whose research projects make extensive use of library resources, services and expertise. First, second and third-place prizes are awarded each year in two categories: science, engineering and mathematics; and arts, humanities and social sciences. Second place in the science, engineering and mathematics category went to Vincent Pan, a student doing research in the lab of ecologist Rick Karban, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for several years. His paper: "Recent Advances in Elucidating the Function of Zebra Stripes: Parasite Avoidance and Thermoregulation Do Not Resolve the Mystery." (See recipients at https://bit.ly/3cPPsNt.)
“Macaluso's term paper gives an in-depth synopsis of the biology of Alzheimer's disease, a prevalent form of dementia that impairs memory and cognition,” wrote the Norma J. Lang Prize judges. “Utilizing the library's databases and subject guides, Macaluso identified 20 sources from top scientific journals across multiple disciplines, including Nature and the Annual Reviews of Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology and Public Health, to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of the science on Alzheimer's.”
“This currently incurable disease is caused by significant neuronal death in the brain due to of the accumulation of two neurodegenerative proteins: intercellular amyloid-beta plaques and intracellular tau tangles,” she wrote. “The interaction of these two proteins creates a feedback loop that facilitates the continual destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Because the destruction of nerve cells disrupts the neuronal connections in the brain, Alzheimer's disease results in significant memory deficits as well as impaired cognition. Moreover, with the use of human models and transgenic mouse models, researchers have been able to analyze the role of biology, genetics, and physiology in Alzheimer's disease. For example, mutations in the presenilin 1 (PSEN1) gene or the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene predispose an individual to acquire early-onset Alzheimer's disease.”
“Likewise, an individual can have an increased likelihood of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease if they carry the ApoE4 variant of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene. In summary, researchers are amply investigating Alzheimer's disease from a variety of biological faucets in an effort to treat or even cure this form of dementia.”
Macaluso went on to discuss three major risk factors affiliated with Alzheimer's disease: age, gender, and genetics.
Macaluso penned “The Biological Basis for Alzheimer's Disease” as her term paper for Human Development-Aging 117 (Longevity) in the fall of 2019. “The purpose of this assignment was to utilize the library databases for research, improve both my writing and editing skills, and broaden my understanding of longevity with a topic of my choice," she wrote in her Norma J. Lang Prize application. "Moreover, this research paper served to expand my communication skills and bolster my intellectual confidence. A key requirement for this paper was to use at least ten sources, seven of which needed to be primary sources such as a research article or a review paper. Initially, I was quite daunted by the prospect of this assignment because I had only modest experience reading research papers or using the online library databases. I distinctly recall reading about this assignment on the syllabus and questioning if I was capable of such an onerous task. To my surprise, by the end of this quarter and after countless hours exploring the online library reserves, I completed my assignment and felt confident in my ability to utilize the UC Davis library resources.”
A 2019-2020 McNair Scholar, Macaluso has worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the Dynamic Memory Lab (Charan Ranganath Lab) since 2017. She serves on the Animal Care Staff at Young Hall; as a genetics tutor for the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers; and as president of the America Red Cross Club at UC Davis.
The UC Davis student, a native of Santa Barbara but raised in nearby Buellton, plans to enroll in graduate school in the fall of 2021 to study cognitive neuroscience or cognitive psychology. Her career plans? "I'm thinking academia right now," she said. "I hope to finish my PhD, work as a postdoctoral fellow for a few years, and then pursue a professorship position."
Carey, a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty since 1980, is considered the preeminent global authority on arthropod demography. He directed the multidisciplinary, 11-institution, 20-scientist program, “Biodemographic Determinants of Lifespan,” which garnered more than $10 million in funding from the National Institute on Aging from 2003 to 2013.
Highly honored by his peers for his teaching expertise, Carey received the Entomological Society of America's 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award; a 2018 Robert Foster Cherry Award from Baylor University, which presents international teaching awards; and the UC Davis Academic Senate's 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching.
(Undergraduate students can apply for the annual Norma J. Lang Prize here.)
“Herd immunity refers to the proportion of a population required for the rate of disease spread to equal zero,” says UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “This occurs at the point when each infected person is infecting only one rather than multiple susceptible persons.”
"For example, the potential rate of spread of new cases per infected person is 10 for mumps and 3 for COVID-19. Therefore, early in a pandemic when few are infected, these diseases can grow by 10-fold and 3-fold, respectively. However when 9-of-10 and 2-of-3 persons in each of these populations have either had these diseases or been vaccinated, then the infected person has only one new person in each case to infect so the rate per case is simply replacement. This is the point when the herd immunity threshold is met.”
Carey, who shared his expertise on scientific modeling and demographics at the UC Davis-based COVID-19 virtual symposium on April 23, updated his presentation April 27 to include herd immunity.
His updated presentation, “Actuarial Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is at https://youtu.be/aid69khJftU.
“The true COVID-19 fatality rate is of great importance because it is needed to estimate the number of persons who will die under different mitigation scenarios and along with death statistics how close we are to achieving herd immunity,” says Carey, co-author of the newly published book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods. (See news story.)
"With the so-called reproductive rate, R=3 for COVID-19, and therefore the herd immunity threshold equals 2/3, this means 220 million out of the 330 million in the U.S. population are required to reach the threshold herd immunity. This is why the fatality rate estimation is so critical. If the fatality rate is only 1 out of 100 or 1 percent, then the 50,000 deaths in the U.S. implies that there are only 100 times more or 5 million who are immune. However, if the fatality rate is 1 out of 1000 or 0.1 percent, a rate suggested by the recent studies in both northern and southern California regarding seroprevalence of antibodies (albeit highly controversial yet), then the 50,000 deaths suggest that 1000 times more are immune or 50 million persons. This is nearly a quarter of the 220 million needed in the U.S. to reach heard immunity."
The virtual symposium, organized and moderated by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z. It drew viewers from 10 countries: United States, Germany, Brazil, France, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, and Slovakia.
The symposium opened with an introduction by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, and included presentation by UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.
Davis resident and COVID-19 survivor Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacist who works at the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, told her story in a pre-recorded interview with Leal.
Online interviews also included Michael B. A. Oldstone, M.D., of Scripps Research Institute; professor emeritus Niels Pedersen, DMV, of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Anne Wyllie, PhD., Yale School of Medicine; and You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing.
As of 4:30 p.m., April 27, nearly 3000 had viewed the COVID-19 presentation on YouTube.
An unsolicited comment to Leal about the symposium:
“I just wanted to thank you! You are my heroes."
“This give me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else,” letter writer Kim Allen continued. “Part of what has been so hard is all the disinformation and complete lies and contradictions that are happening daily. To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are so knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why, is so appreciated. We need to know what we are contending with to fight it and be safe. You are all so much appreciated!”
James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, will share his scientific modeling expertise at the UC Davis-based COVID-19 webinar on Thursday afternoon, April 23.
The webinar, to be broadcast on Zoom and YouTube Live from 1:30 to 4 p.m., will feature physicians, scientists and a survivor of the COVID-19 virus, announced organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
“COVID-19 is set apart from all other strains of flu for the simple reason that people die from it at higher rates than from other varieties,” Carey says. “It follows that understanding the actuarial details and consequences of this virus is central to understanding, has potential impact on the U.S. population in particular and on the world population in general.”
In his presentation, Carey will ask and answer three questions: “The first is related to case fatality rate of COVID-19. The second concern will be the age-specific mortality of this virus, and the third, to its demographic consequences if no health-related interventions, policies implemented, or a vaccine were available.” Carey is the co-author of the newly published book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods. (See news story.)
The webinar, free and open to the public, will include experts in immunology, infectious diseases, pathology and emergency medicine. Registration is at http://zoompresentation.com. The number of Zoom participants is limited to 500, and is now at that mark, Leal said late Wednesday afternoon, but the overflow can watch it on YouTube Live at at covidactionplan.com or https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z.
Chancellor Gary May will give the introduction. The main speakers are UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; physician Ron Chapman, Yolo County Health Officer; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.
Davis resident Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacist who works at the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy--and a survivor of the deadly illness that to date has killed more than 182,000 people worldwide (15,000-plus in the United States)--will tell her story. (See Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus map for up-to-date statistics.)
You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing, will explain the differences between regular masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks.
Newly added to the list: Michael B. A. Oldstone, M.D., of Scripps Research Institute; professor emeritus Niels Pedersen, DMV, of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Anne Wyllie, PhD., Yale School of Medicine.
The participants will answer advance and online questions. Questions can be submitted at this site: http://zoompresentation.com.