UC Santa Barbara has placed among the top 25 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Global Universities rankings. The rankings, which are based on institutions’ academic research and reputation, evaluate 1,000 universities — up from 750 last year — across 65 countries. UCSB is ranked number 24 overall, and number 7 among public universities in the United States.
In classic experiments on frogs, scientists found that the amphibians’ urge to escape from dangerously hot water decreased significantly when the water temperature rose very gradually. In fact, sensitivity of many animals to temperature — including humans — is similarly affected by the rate of increase. Hoping to shed light on this phenomenon, MCDB professor Craig Montell and graduate students Junjie Luo and Wei Shen developed fruit fly larvae as a model to reveal a mechanism through which the animal shows different behavioral responses to fast and slow rises in temperature. The researchers discovered that a rapid temperature change caused a writhing response in fruit fly larvae. However, when the temperature was raised gradually, far fewer animals reacted. Montell and coworkers then demonstrated that the activation of the temperature sensor in the brain, TRPA1, was not simply a function of the absolute temperature but rather depended on the rate of temperature change.
The team’s findings appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
In its 2017 listing of the “Top 30 Public National Universities” in the country, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Santa Barbara number 8.
Among the “Best National Universities” ranking, which includes both public and private institutions, UCSB placed number 37. Within the University of California system, only UC Berkeley and UCLA ranked above UCSB. Other UC campuses in the Top 30 include Irvine, Davis and San Diego.
In addition, UCSB placed number 13 among public universities in the “Least Debt” section of the magazine’s ranking of student debt load at graduation. UCSB’s College of Engineering is ranked number 18 among public universities on the U.S. News & World Report list of “Best Programs at Engineering Schools Whose Highest Degree is a Doctorate.”
The magazine has just released its annual college rankings online at usnews.com/colleges. The print edition of “Best Colleges 2017” guidebook can be purchased online beginning today or in stores Oct. 4
MCDB professor Michael Goard and his colleagues studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action are working with mice to map the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement. In a new paper, published in the journal eLife, Goard and colleagues make progress in mapping brain activity in mice during simple but fundamental cognitive tasks. Although a mouse’s brain is much smaller than a human’s, remarkable structural similarities exist. The mouse brain is composed of about 75 million nerve cells or neurons, which are wired together in complex networks that underlie sophisticated behaviors.
Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind’s most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says MCDB professor and neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik. In fact, as he points out in an article published in the journal Science — along with coauthors Terry Sejnowski, Marcus Raichle, Aaron Ciechanover and David Baltimore — supporting fundamental cell biology research into neurodegeneration may be the key to accelerating understanding of neurodegenerative and so-called “incurable” diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Providing structural support and protection against such conditions as blistering, cataracts and dementia, intermediate filament proteins (IFs) reside in every cell in the human body. In insects, however, IFs are nowhere to be found.
Scientists have posited that in these creatures another kind of protein is responsible for key IF functions; but exactly what kind — or even where to start looking — has been a mystery.
UC Santa Barbara announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations grant winner; GCE is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. David Low, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled “Strategy for development of enteric pathogen-specific T2 bacteriophage targeting the essential outer membrane protein BamA.”
Congratulations to NICOLE LEUNG, a BMSE PhD student with MCDB professor Craig Montell, who took home the grand prize at the 2016 GRAD SLAM and will represent UCSB at the UC Grad Slam inter-campus competition.
MCDB is honored to announce a very generous gift from The Gareatis Foundation that will substantially enhance the undergraduate MCDB program. The Foundation's support will be instrumental to updating the Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Genetics upper division lab classes. This gift represents an important commitment to the undergraduate educational experience in the sciences at UC Santa Barbara, and we are proud to have them as our partners in our rigorous degree programs. The funds will be used to give students access to state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities and to provide stimulating educational and research training opportunities at the forefront modern life sciences. Thank you to the Perlegos family and The Gareatis Foundation.
MCDB neuroscientists document some of the first steps in the process by which a stem cell transforms into different cell types. How do neurons become neurons? They all begin as stem cells, undifferentiated and with the potential to become any cell in the body. Until now, however, exactly how that happens has been somewhat of a scientific mystery. New research conducted by UCSB neuroscientists led by MCDB professor Ken Kosik has deciphered some of the earliest changes that occur before stems cells transform into neurons and other cell types. Working with human embryonic stems cells in petri dishes, postdoctoral fellow Jiwon Jang discovered a new pathway that plays a key role in cell differentiation. The findings appear in the journal Cell.