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BMCDBer Rebecca Beer Gets 2nd in Aquaneering 2013 Art of Science Photomicrography Calendar Contest

November 27, 2012 1 comment

Description of contest: 2013 Art of Science Photomicrography Calendar Contest

Aquaneering Inc.
Images depicting studies with zebrafish, xenopus, or other aquatic species were judged on both technical execution and artistic rendition by an outside panel of both science and art professionals. The three winning photos will be featured on Aquaneering’s 2013 calendar, which will be distributed in the January issues of ALN and Zebrafish Magazines. Aquaneering builds high quality aquatic environments for laboratory animals, including zebrafish and xenopus.

The earliest germ cells in the zebrafish ovary contain a population of germline stem cells. In this double transgenic adult zebrafish ovary imaged via fluorescent confocal microscopy, the ziwi promoter drives expression of mCherry in all germ cells (red) including early stage germ cells, while the vasa promoter drives expression of eGFP only in later stage oocytes (green), and DNA has been stained with DAPI (blue).

Tips for riding your bike around UC Davis

September 19, 2012 2 comments

This first week of all the students being back in Davis is an exciting time but, also a hazardous time. The main danger being, riding your bike in a sea of inexperienced freshmen who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road and the responsibilities of riding a bike in Davis. Here are some tips to help avoid an embarrassing, costly and potentially harmful situation on your bike.

First tip: Get familiar with the laws/rules for riding a bike. Cops in Davis will pull you over and ticket you on your bike for: running a stop sign or red light, not using your hand to signal, riding with both headphones in (one is alright), riding inebriated (can lead to losing your drivers license) or otherwise irresponsibly/dangerously, and I think most importantly – for not having a bike light at night. A strong front light, back light, and ideally white or reflective clothing are strongly recommended while biking at night. Also, be familiar with the signs and be careful not to ride your bike in certain areas where it is forbidden (the MU and in certain sections of the Arboretum).

Second Tip: Pay attention while entering/exiting rotaries on campus! Most sensible people are familiar with the rotaries, but unfortunately most freshman are not very sensible. Technically the riders in the rotary have the right of way. Bikes entering the rotary must yield to bikes already in the rotary however, do not count on other riders to adhere to this rule. Many people will just bike right into a rotary without looking, so just be aware of this. When exiting the rotary it is never a bad idea to signal, and check over your shoulder that you will not hit another rider as you turn out of the rotary. Also be wary of actual traffic in the rotaries, buses, trucks, and cops can cause mass confusion when a high volume of bike traffic is present. Rotaries mishaps account for the majority of collisions and injuries on campus, so just be careful!

Third tip: Don’t be afraid to speak up! While riding around campus, especially around lunch of in between classes you will run into groups of slow moving bikes or people walking in the bike lane. Occasionally you can easily pass them by, but it is often necessary to alert those blocking the way of your presence. Just a quick “On your left/right” can save you from getting nailed by a swerving bike or errant pedestrian. Also very helpful with riders who are unable to ride in a straight line or are completely unaware of their surroundings (be especially aware of Cruiser bikes as they tend to be harder to control).

Davis is a great place to ride a bike, just make sure you do it safely and responsibly. If anyone has any other recommendations or stories please feel free to chime in!

Updates: When walking in a bike lane, remember to walk on the left side so you can see oncoming traffic. It is also a good idea to buy a U-lock, almost any other kind of lock can be easily cut (and there is nothing worse than finishing a long day in lab, and finding out that your bike has been stolen). Also a good idea to register your bike with the campus police for a variety of reasons.

Pro tip: As we transition from Summer/Fall into winter remember that the weather changes dramatically. Equipping yourself with splash guards on your front and rear bike tires can save you from getting an impromtu mud facial next time it rains. Riding your bike in the rain is not that bad, as long as you have the right equipment. Getting a solid rain jacket, rain pants, and a pair of water resistant gloves will make you much happier when you arrive at your destination.

Happy Riding!

-Gordon

Happy Independence Day (4th of July): Scientific Grilling Tips

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

As you get ready for a day of celebration and revelry, you will no doubt come across a grill sizzling with some tasty morsels. However, chances are that the guy standing there in flip flops holding a beer and poking at everything on grill doesn’t actually know what he is doing! The biggest mistake made in grilling is people messing with their meat too much, for steaks and burgers put them on and leave them alone until juice pool on the top and they are ready to flip. If you want nice criss cross grill marks on your steak just turn 90 degrees after 2-3 minutes, wait another 2-3 minutes and then flip and repeat (most steaks should take 4-5 minutes per side to achieve medium rare). When grilling chicken the best way to do it is by splitting your coals, have a hot area with most of the coals underneath, and a cooler area without lots of coals underneath. Start the chicken skin side down on the hot side, get a good sear all the way around and then move it over to the cooler side to finish cooking. Thighs and wings will take longer to cook than the breast so start them before putting the breast on the grill. Also extremely important to grilling any piece of meats is to let it rest for 5-10 minutes under tin-foil to let all the juices redistribute in the meat.

Happy Grilling from the BMCDB Bloggers

Here are some more tips and explanations of the science behind them.

Excerpts from

Grill Science: How to Make This July 4th The Tastiest Ever” By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

What happens to meat as it cooks?

Meat goes through a few stages when you put it over heat. At about 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) internal temperature, muscles fibers begin to coagulate and toughen, Joachim said. At around 115 degrees F (46 C), fats start to melt.

When the internal temperature of the meat hits 130 F (54 C), the proteins in the muscle fibers denature, meaning that long, convoluted strands of protein lose their shape and unravel. Then they coagulate back together. That’s when meat starts to take on an opaque look. At 160 F (71 C), the connective tissues that hold together the muscle fibers start to melt and turn into gelatin. That’s the jelly-like yellowish-white stuff you see at the bottom of a roasting pan that you’ve cooked meat in, Joachim said. [7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate]

When you barbecue, Joachim said, the goal is to use those long, not-so-hot cooking times to melt the connective tissues and create barbecue’s trademark tender mouthful. Grilled cuts of meat usually contain less connective tissue, so they don’t need hours of heat to taste delicious.

Does it matter if I cook on gas, charcoal or a wood grill?

Absolutely, Joachim said.

“The big difference is the temperature and the moisture,” he said. “Charcoal and wood burn hotter and drier than gas.”

That’s because propane contains moisture, Joachim said. For every hour of grilling on gas, you release a half-cup to a cup of water vapor into your grill. That keeps the temperature down and prevents the formation of a seared, browned crust on your meat.

Some gas grills now come with a sear burner, Joachim said, which is a ceramic block that holds heat better than the grill grates. Because the burner can build up more heat, home grillers can use it to brown the outside of a steak or pork chop to get that dark crust.

Okay, but why does a seared crust taste so good?

Time for a chemistry lesson: When you apply heat to meat, you get something called a Maillard reaction. The amino acids that make up the meat’s proteins react with sugars in the meat, creating hundreds of flavor compounds.

Maillard reactions make pretty much everything taste awesome, including roasted coffee, grilled vegetables and even your morning toast.

“Any browned food tastes so good because it’s something new added to the food,” Joachim said. Browning doesn’t just lock in flavors; it creates new ones.

What’s the key to the perfect Fourth of July burger?

“The trick with ground meat is once you grind up meat, you’re grinding up the muscle fibers, and these are what hold the moisture in,” Joachim said. “What I recommend doing is adding moisture back in.”

That added moisture can take many different forms, Joachim said. He uses apple butter in turkey burgers and steak sauce in hamburgers. Simplest of all, he said, you can just mix ice water into the ground meat, along with whatever seasonings you want to use to spice up your burger. The ice water adds in moisture while keeping the inside of the burger cool so it doesn’t overcook. [Grilled to Perfection: Joachim’s Recipe for Bison Cheeseburgers with Horseradish Mustard]

Fat is another important component of a good burger, Joachim said. He recommends a ground beef that’s 80 percent protein and 20 percent fat. Contrary to popular belief, though, extra fatdoesn’t make a burger juicier. Instead, fat stimulates saliva production, moistening your mouth.

When you add fat to a burger, Joachim said, it’s not getting juicier: “You’re getting juicier.”

Tammy Titan Bloom and UC Davis Botanical Conservatory Picture Show

June 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Seen through the eyes of a yeast biologist, the ‘Tammy” Titan made quite a visual (and odorous) showing this past weekend. In nature the flower blooms for 24hrs or less if pollinated, in the green house it lasted about 36 hours in a spectacular and all to rare showing. Enjoy my take on it below:

Tammy Titan Bloom

BMDCB Hobbies: Danny Dranow

February 27, 2012 1 comment

In our new series we will be profiling the hobbies (what you do outside of lab) of BMCDB students.

Danny Dranow – Draper Lab

In my spare time at home or when I have some downtime in lab on the weekends, I like to sculpt using either clay or wire. It helps me relax and also gives me a sense of accomplishment in that I could feel like I at least got something done at lab if my experiments fail on the weekends.  I usually make a variety of miniature wire animals (centimeters in size), but I’ve made a wide range of things in past, from clay flowers and a miniature AT&T Park to a large cuttlefish and a giraffe Christmas ornament. These days though, most of the larger clay sculptures I make are for friends’ birthday or holiday gifts and are usually requests, sometimes strange, like a “crab playing maracas with a sombrero” (and yes, the maracas actually work).  I’m always looking for new ideas and challenges, so if you have any ideas on what I could make, I’d love to hear about them!

If you’re ever by the lab, Life Sciences 3117, feel free to drop by and check out the wire sculptures I have by my desk and if you really want one, just ask; I enjoy sculpting, but I also equally enjoy giving my work away to people who appreciate it.

 

Tips For Biking Around Campus 2013

September 20, 2011 1 comment

For the 3rd year in a row, I am putting forth these tips on how to bike safely and avoid an accident or ticket while riding around Davis. HEED THESE WARNINGS!

The first week of all the students being back in Davis is an exciting time but, also an especially hazardous time. The main danger being, riding your bike in a sea of inexperienced freshmen who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road and the responsibilities of riding a bike in Davis. Here are some tips to help avoid an embarrassing, costly and potentially harmful situation on your bike.

First tip: Get familiar with the laws/rules for riding a bike. A summary of the rules of the road can be found here thanks to TAPS. Cops in Davis will pull you over and ticket you on your bike for: running a stop sign or red light, not using your hand to signal, riding with both headphones in (one is alright), riding inebriated (can lead to losing your drivers license) or otherwise biking irresponsibly/dangerously, and I think most importantly – for not having a bike light at night. A strong front light, back light, even wheel lights, and ideally white or reflective clothing are strongly recommended while biking at night.

Second Tip: Pay attention while entering/exiting rotaries on campus! Most sensible people are familiar with rotaries (or roundabouts as we call them on the east coast), but unfortunately most freshman are not very sensible. Technically the riders in the rotary have the right of way. Bikes entering the rotary must yield to bikes already in the rotary however, do not count on other riders to adhere to this rule. Many people will just bike right into a rotary without looking, so just be aware of this. When exiting the rotary it is never a bad idea to signal, and check over your shoulder that you will not hit another rider as you turn out of the rotary. Also be wary of actual traffic in the rotaries, buses, trucks, and cop cars can cause mass confusion when a high volume of bike traffic is present. Rotaries mishaps account for the majority of collisions and injuries on campus, so just be careful!

Third tip: Don’t be afraid to speak up! While riding around campus, especially around lunch of in between classes you will run into groups of slow moving bikes or people walking in the bike lane. Occasionally you can easily pass them by, but it is often necessary to alert those blocking the way of your presence. Just a quick “On your left/right” can save you from getting nailed by a swerving bike or errant pedestrian. Also very helpful with riders who are unable to ride in a straight line or are completely unaware of their surroundings (be especially aware of Cruiser bikes as they tend to be harder to control).

Davis is a great place to ride a bike, just make sure you do it safely and responsibly. If anyone has any other recommendations or stories please feel free to chime in!

Here is a run down of all the awesome places to ride your bike in Davis thanks to DavisWiki

Updates: When walking in a bike lane, remember to walk on the left side so you can see oncoming traffic. It is also a good idea to buy a U-lock, almost any other kind of lock can be easily cut (and there is nothing worse than finishing a long day in lab, and finding out that your bike has been stolen). Also a good idea to register your bike with the campus police for a variety of reasons.

Also, during the day, especially during class transition times, DO NOT ride beside someone (especially in a bigger group), this prevents other bikers from passing you and is generally not a good idea anytime of day.

Pro tip: As we transition from Summer/Fall into winter remember that the weather changes dramatically. Equipping yourself with splash guards on your front and rear bike tires can save you from getting an impromtu mud facial next time it rains. Riding your bike in the rain is not that bad, as long as you have the right equipment. Getting a solid rain jacket, rain pants, and a pair of water resistant gloves will make you much happier when you arrive at your destination.

Remember to stay alert while biking, and always put safety first. Happy Riding!