Skip directly to: Main page content

2009 in review


UC Davis joined with food scientists in Denmark to establish the Transatlantic Foods for Health Consortium. “This historic agreement is an important step in the fight against malnutrition and lifestyle diseases,” UC Davis nutrition professor M.R.C. Greenwood said.

The Graduate School of Management, in collaboration with the School of Medicine, introduced a new program designed to prepare MBA students to lead hospitals, government agencies and other organizations.

A prototype drug made at UC Davis showed promise in reducing heart enlargement, one of the most common causes of heart failure. Cardiologist and cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat of the School of Medicine and entomologist Bruce Hammock found that the drug reduced heart swelling in rats with heart failure.

Chevron Corp. gave $2.5 million to establish an endowed chair at the Energy Efficiency Center, which works to speed the transfer of energy-saving products and services into the homes, businesses and lives of Californians.

Photo: A man demonstrates an LED light

UC Davis’ California Lighting Technology Center unveiled a package of new lighting technologies that drastically cuts energy use in parking lots and garages. The lights pop to full strength only when movement is detected; otherwise, the lighting output is minimized—and so is total energy use, down to about 20 percent of the power use in a conventional set-up.


Photo: A man sits at a piano

Associate Professor Petr Janata of the Center for Mind and Brain identified the part of the brain that associates music and memories—a discovery that may help to explain why music can elicit strong responses from people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo: A man stands in a wheat field

Professor Jorge Dubcovsky led an international team that identified a gene that should protect commercially important wheat varieties from stripe rust, a disease that causes severe crop losses in the United States and other wheat-growing regions.


Photo: A man stands in a lab

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute began paying geneticist Neil Hunter’s salary and funded a $1.5 million research budget, upon naming him an Early Career Scientist—one of only 50 in the country. “Neil Hunter is a real star,” said Ken Burtis, dean of the College of Biological Sciences.

Photo: Heather Young portrait

The Board of Regents gave official school status to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. “Today’s announcement is about investing in future nurse leaders,” said Steve McCormick, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which gave $100 million in start-up funds. The regents appointed Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing, as the founding dean.

Photo: A man sits at a piano

D. Kern Holoman stepped down after 30 years as conductor of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra. He passed the baton to Christian Baldini, who previously served as conductor and music director of the Symphony Orchestra of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Photo: goat

UC Davis and Brazilian scientists teamed up to develop a herd of genetically modified dairy goats, whose milk is expected to protect against the types of diarrheal diseases that each year claim the lives of more than 2 million children around the world.


Photo: Gary Snyder

The university awarded UC Davis Medals to faculty emeriti Gary Snyder and Wayne Thiebaud. The poet Snyder and the painter Thiebaud are arguably the university’s two most famous people, said outgoing Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, yet “they have remained devoted to classroom teaching throughout their careers.”


In a surprise presentation, outgoing Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef received a UC Davis Medal during a tribute event that honored his 25 years of service.

The School of Veterinary Medicine opened the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, for processing, culturing and storing stem cells for use in horses. “We are excited to be able to offer this new clinical service to our clients for their horses as a complement to our stem-cell research program,” Dean Bennie Osburn said.


The UC Davis Rural-PRIME program launched medical training partnerships with four California community hospitals. “We’re excited to have UC Davis medical students learning alongside our physicians,” said Bob Schapper, chief executive officer for the Tahoe Forest Health System, “because we think it will help convince these doctors-in-training to eventually establish primary-care practices in smaller communities like ours.”


Global warming is likely to take most of the chill out of “winter chill,” a vital climatic trigger for many tree crops. “Depending on the pace of winter chill decline, the consequences for California’s fruit and nut industries could be devastating,” Professor Minghua Zhang said upon release of a study documenting the trend.


Linda P.B. Katehi became UC Davis’ sixth chancellor (and the first woman), succeeding Larry Vanderhoef, who stepped down after 15 years as chancellor and 10 years before that as provost and executive vice chancellor. Katehi, an electrical engineer, previously served as provost of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Photo: Asian clams

UC Davis’ annual Lake Tahoe health report described a spreading Asian clam population that could put sharp shells and rotting algae on the spectacular mountain lake’s popular beaches, possibly aid an invasion of quagga and zebra mussels, and even affect lake clarity.

Transportation economist Christopher Knittel described the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program as an expensive way to cut carbon emissions. He said industry could buy a 1-ton carbon credit for $28 in August, whereas Cash for Clunkers, in a best-case calculation, was paying $237 per ton.

Graphic: Artist's rendering of UC Davis West Village

The California Energy Commission awarded a $2 million grant to UC Davis West Village to help make it a “zero net energy” community with aggressive energy efficiency measures and on-site renewable resources to meet the community’s annual energy demand.


The School of Law announced that it would expand its groundbreaking program to help students pay off their loans if they go into public interest law. Private donations and student fees pay for the program, which offers aid to students whose jobs pay $60,000 a year or less (up from the previous cap of $53,000).


Photo: Berni Alder receives the medal from President Obama

President Obama presented the National Medal of Science to computational pioneer Berni Alder, a retired physicist from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and professor emeritus in UC Davis’ Department of Applied Science. Alder is widely regarded as the founder of molecular dynamics.

Entomology professor Walter Leal and postdoctoral researcher Zain Syed identified the odor nonanal (NAWN-uh-nawl) in humans and birds as the dominant lure for the blood-feeding Culex mosquitoes, which transmit West Nile virus and other life-threatening diseases.

UC Davis launched an unprecedented international effort to find and control diseases that move between wildlife and people. The global early warning system, named PREDICT, is being developed with funding of up to $75 million over five years and is one of five new initiatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development, (USAID) known in combination as the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program.

The School of Education received a $1 million state grant to manage the Pacific Coast Teacher Innovation Network, whereby the school and its partners will help K-12 teachers develop projects that enhance teaching and learning.

UC Press selected two UC Davis professors to be co-editors of Boom: A Journal of California, exploring cultures, politics and histories. The co-editors are Louis Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, and Carolyn de la Peña, associate professor of American studies and director of the Humanities Institute. The first issue is due out in February 2011.

Photo: Gallagher Hall

The Graduate School of Management moved into the projected LEED gold-certified Gallagher Hall months after welcoming a new dean, Steven Currall of University College London and the London Business School.


A dedication ceremony took place for the Native American Contemplative Garden, part of a larger project honoring the Patwin people as the original inhabitants of the land that would become UC Davis. Inés Hernández-Avila, a professor of Native American studies who collaborated on the garden, said the garden fosters healing after campus construction projects disturbed native remains.

The Department of Geology found a welcoming environment inside and outside the new Earth and Physical Sciences Building. The inside is the department’s new home. The outside is being developed as a geological laboratory for student learning and public outreach.

Photo: A man makes a silkscreen print

The Department of Chicana/o Studies turned a Woodland warehouse into TANA—a community art center dedicated to inspiring youths and reinforcing culture through silk-screening, mural painting and other classes. TANA stands for Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer, or Art Workshops of the New Dawn.

Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, professor of microbiology and leader of the molecular oncology program at the UC Davis Cancer Center, calls it “a new trick from an old horse”—a protein that plays a key role in copying DNA also plays a vital role in repairing breaks in it. The finding by Heyer and his colleagues is helping researchers understand how cancer cells can resist radiation and chemotherapy, as well as how cells become cancerous in the first place.