- "Why do hairdressers use thioglycolic acid for permanent hair treatment?”
- "Why is the spike protein called a glycoprotein?"
- "When you get ivy poisoning, where do you expect that the active ingredient (urushiol) will accumulate?”
- "Who was the scientist at the UC Davis Genome Center that came out with the idea of using papain protease to reduce saliva viscosity?"
Those were some of the questions that the 60 undergraduate students competing in the first-ever UC Davis Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes answered, and the two winning teams will now compete against two teams from Cardiff University, UK.
The answers: To break disulfide bridges; Because it is decorated with sugar; In the cell membrane; and Lutz Froenicke.
More than 300 attendees ZOOMed in to watch the Feb. 20 competition. The event can be viewed online at https://youtu.be/Y9T9ayRXyYE.
“I thought the quizzes would help students get out of the ZOOM routine," said organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of molecular and cellular biology and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "But I did not envision that there would be so much interest. The response was overwhelming, and students showed a genuine interest in the activity. They recorded videos for self-introduction, studied for the quizzes, and--more importantly--made new friends.”
Two teams emerged victorious: Ironic Bonds Team and the Gibbs Team.
“We are planning a global event on Wednesday, March 10, with our UC Davis players challenging UK's Cardiff University,” Leal announced. 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.”
UC Davis students who will compete in the Cardiff University event: Catherine Rodriguez, Jiaying Liu, Kelly Brandt, Aly Lodigiani, and Efrain Vasquez Santos of the Ironic Bonds Team; and Brandon Matsumoto, Tina Luu, Yasi Parsa, Esha Urs, and Kathryn Vallejo of the Gibbs Team.
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.”
While the teams work on the questions, Dr. Dean Blumberg, an epidemiologist and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UC Davis Children's Hospital, will answer questions about vaccines and vaccinations.
In an exit survey, the Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes drew such comments as:
- “It was wonderful....a nice way for students to showcase their knowledge to their families and friends and a wonderful tribute to a great UCD scientist. Kudos to Professor Leal for putting it together.”
- “This was a super fun event and I wish we could have the opportunity to have something like this again. It was a really good review of the material we learned.”
- "I am very proud of the students and hold both students and faculty in highest regard, very respectful and smart."
- "Congratulations to all that played today. You are inspiring young individuals and we know you will leave a mark on your chosen fields of study.”
- "Very impressed with the caliber of students involved. Great game!”
- "I wanted to play!"
Eric Conn (1923-2017), 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.
UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching from the UC Davis Academic Senate, is sharing tips and protocol on how to web-conference with ZOOM.
Leal is a distinguished professor with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now Department of Entomology and Nematology).
Web-conferencing is in keeping with the UC Davis directives: "For lectures and discussion sections, instruction will be offered through remote means, such as web conferencing (e.g., Zoom), lecture capture, Canvas tools and other methods. Instructors can continue to find resources for these alternative methods of instruction on the Keep Teaching website. For courses that have lab, studio, clinical, rehearsal and similar learning activities, we strongly encourage instructors to devise methods of remote instruction that make it possible for the courses to still be offered. We recognize that there may be some courses where remote components are simply not feasible. In these cases, departments should make every effort to offer alternative remote-instruction courses that still help students make degree progress, or in cases where alternatives are not possible, develop strategies to offer the students the courses at some future time."
Leal began working with remote presentations in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks.
"Because I was unable to attend in-person a conference in Italy--and give the open lecture--soon after Sept. 11, I started working with remote presentations. Back then, we used NetMeeting; for the last few years, things became more user-friendly with ZOOM. "Some of my colleagues have never used it, so I thought I would share my thoughts."
If they are going to use ZOOM for teaching, Leal says, here are a few suggestions:
- Record a short presentation of the topic to be covered in a lecture and share with students in advance
- During the regular time of the class, have students log in via ZOOM (use the same meeting ID to make it for students) to answer questions, add more information, and solve problems (if applicable)
- Record ZOOM session and share the material with students. They are back home, and not all of them will be in the Pacific Time Zone.
- If possible, use an internet cable for your connection; if using WiFi at home, ask others in your household to avoid streaming video during the lecture
- Have another person help with the chat room and to open the microphone to students (if applicable)
- If you allow students to ask questions via audio (not chat), the presentation becomes more engaging. There is a caveat. If their microphones do not work, students lose attention.
- Test the microphone of 2-3 students before the session starts. When you have questions, you might start with them, so that encourages others to get engaged
- Do not allow videos upon log-in; you'll see more than you need and the video may become a distraction to you;
- You can switch on a participant video whenever you want; a second person may be helpful here.
- Use a camera other than the built-in camera on your computer; make eye contact with it; think of it as your students' eyes
Leal was named the recipient of the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award earlier this year. Colleague James R. Carey, distinguished professor of entomology, described him as an exceptional instructor. "His exceptionalism is derived from his dedication to student learning, his innovation in content delivery, his engagement with students (including his always-clever touches of humor), and his ability to both motivate them and incentivize their investment in studies. All of these efforts rest on the deep foundation of the disciplinary authority that he brings to the classroom as an eminent basic and applied biochemist, a stature that his students clearly recognize...Walter is a natural teacher who not only speaks with a voice of great authority in the classroom, but with the voice of a person who cares deeply about student learning."
They are Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA); Walter Leal, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a past chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. More than 2000 attendees are registered.
On behalf of ESA, Zalom is co-organizing and co-chairing a joint conference with Antonio Panizzi, a past president and international delegate of the Entomological Society of Brazil. That event, to take place the day before the XXVII Congresso Brasileiro and X Congresso Latino-Americano meeting, will involve developing a “Grand Challenge Agenda for Entomology in South America.
Zalom will speak on “The American Experience with the Grand Challenge Agenda in Entomology.” In addition, ESA president Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will provide an update on the 2018 ESA annual meeting, set Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, B. C. Speakers also will include the presidents of the entomological societies of Argentina, Peru and Brazil.
Leal, a native of Brazil, will present the opening lecture of the joint conference of the XXVII Brazilian Congress and X Latin American Congress of Entomology on “Insect Vectors: Science with Applications in Agriculture and Medicine,” on Sunday, Sept. 2. This will be his fourth opening lecture—a record—at the Brazilian Congresses of Entomology (2004 in Gramado; 2008 in Uberlandia; and 2014 in Goiania).
Both Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist, and Chiu, who specializes in molecular genetics of animal behavior, will speak on their research at the joint meeting. Zalom will deliver a plenary address on “Drosophila suzukii in the United States” on Sept. 5 and Chiu will keynote a symposium on Sept. 3; her lecture is titled “Circadian Clock Research Applied to Agriculture and Public Health.” She also will give a second lecture: "Drosophila as an Insect Model" on Sept. 3.