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UC of Research? Find Out More!



When September rolls around, how do you choose which UC is the best for you? Several factors that affect these decisions include distance, majors, environment, and rankings even. Each school has their own niche and reputation, but out of the nine public universities in California, a common trait that unites them all is the open resource of endless research opportunities.

Below is a list of the UC’s and the top leading research held prior in their school. What’s great about these is having the endless opportunities to be mentored by a doctor or well- known researcher. Who wouldn’t want their name on the next most significant scientific discovery on Nature or ScienceDirect? Read below to find out the breakthrough discoveries in each of these universities.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

  • Professor Dean Ho of Oral Biology analyzed nanodiamond that can help tissue heal, such as recovery from root canals!
  • Professor Kang Wang of Electrical Engineering explored the Majorana particle to carry data in quantum computers.
  • UCLA researchers led by Melanie Barboni found the moon to be at least 4.51 billion years old when previously thought it was 40 to 140 million years old.
  • UCLA researchers devised a smartphone- based microscope to analyze specific DNA sequences and genetic mutations in tumor cells without having to first extract DNA from them.
  • UCLA researchers led by Richard Kaner designed a 2-in-1 device that can make electricity or hydrogen for more affordable hydrogen cars.

2. University of California Berkeley

  • Researchers found high- diet in grapefruit juice resulted in 18 percent less weight when they drank water.
  • Berkeley Lab researchers discovered a material ideal for smart photovoltaic windows made with perovskite solar cell.
  • Discovery in brain plasticity to compensate for Alzheimer’s- Related Protein
  • The Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute (Kavli ENSI) at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are leaders in energy research dedicated to studying how nature manages energy at the nanoscale.

3. University of California, Irvine

  • Breakthrough treatment for crippling jaw disease
  • Professor Andrea Tenner and Dean Frank LaFerla led an effort to create a mouse that more closely mirrors human Alzheimer’s.
  • Chemists have developed a way to neutralize deadly snake venom more cheaply and effectively compared to the traditional anti-venom.
  • Researchers have invented a nanowire-based electrode that is more energy efficient and could be recharged hundreds of thousands of times without being replaced.
  • A strain of mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately to eliminate the insects’ ability to transmit the disease to humans.

4. University of California, San Diego

  • Breakthrough finding in sea spray aerosols ejected from the ocean to help understand the formation of clouds.
  • In a collaborative effort of researchers, Professor Congjun Wu helped show for the first time that string states dominate quantum spin dynamics.
  • The research team launched a new center for anti-parasitic drug discovery to deal with tropical diseases from climate change.

5. University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Joseph Polchinkski showed for the string theory that if you mathematically shrink the space around one class of strings, space is forced to ‘bounce back’ — that is, to expand again into a larger volume.
  • Dr. Craig Montell’s research revolves around a central goal of neurobiology: to define the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which animals translate sensory input into behavioral outputs.
  • Direct Cris Sandoval of the Coal Oil Point Reserve has successfully restored more than 20 acres of wetland margins, vernal pools, coastal sage scrub, dunes and beach habitats.

6. University of California, Riverside

  • Discoveries helped realize the promise of faster, energy-efficient spintronic computers and ultra-high-capacity data storage.
  • UCR Professor of Mathematics Mark Alber and researcher Oleg Kim are leading advancements in stroke and heart attack treatments in a breakthrough blood clot research.
  • Molecular Virology and Immunology Professor Shou-Wei Ding has done groundbreaking work into how certain viral infections function in human and found a virus-fighting mechanism from plants, insects, and mice that are also present in humans.
  • In the development of a material that could drastically lower the price of fuel cells.

7. University of California, Davis

  • Worked on linking the toxicity of ambient aerosols (particles and gases) to emission sources.
  • Designed and implemented the control plane for an all-optical packet switch based on label-switching.
  • Developed a methodology for power optimization of embedded software on mobile phones using Markov Decision Processes and collaborative bandwidth sharing based on user profiles.

8. University of California, Santa Cruz

  • In 2017, UC Santa Cruz was ranked 3rd best in the world for research influence by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, tied with Stanford University.
  • Research on fruit flies is predicted to further gain understanding on river blindness and debilitating disease
  • Further prediction on U.S. national forests to sequester carbon within in the next 60 year  
  • Nader Pourmand, a biomolecular engine, developed a nanopipette technology to track changes in a single cell’s life over time.

9.University of California, Merced

  • Research has found how therapy-resistant cancers arise and are comparing genetic and metabolic pathways in treatment- responsive and treatment-resistant melanomas.
  • Professor Clarissa Nobile is working to find the fungus that forms the biofilms that cause yeast infections inside and on outer surfaces of the human body.
  • UC Merced Professor Roland Winston is working on a groundbreaking hybrid solar collector that generates electricity.
  • UC Merced graduate student Melissa Ricketts has come up with a way to use the compound parabolic concentrator (CPC) to emit light, rather than gather it.

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How Gut Bacteria Controls Your Brain



The bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (gut) is often referred to as your second brain, and for a good reason. Inside your stomach is a very complex, multi-organism microbiome that consists of not only your cells but also various bacteria that help you digest your food. The most prominent bacteria are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria, but there are many more as well. The effects of these bacteria are currently in research, but recent scientific studies have discovered that these bacteria are not only beneficial but a necessity for survival.

The bacteria in your gut can make your basic life functions easier and overall happier in general. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience conducted an experiment where they studied germ-free mice (in the gut) compared to mice containing bacteria. These germ-free mice displayed an exaggerated response to restraint stress and anxiety-related behaviors, which affected the overall well-being of the rat.

What makes it much more interesting is that gene expression of a key protein regulating neuronal plasticity and cognition was observed to have decreased, whereas a control group of normal mice with gut bacteria showed the necessity of such bacteria for survival. When the scientists re-introduced the bacteria in the gut, these effects were somewhat able to be reversed and symptoms, including neuronal cognition, were mediated; however, not all the mice with reintroduced gut bacteria were seen to recover from the symptoms and continued symptoms were especially prominent for mice that were not in early childhood/adolescence.

Scientists then applied this newly found information and analyzed human fecal matter. They began to see the effects of various dietary choices and how it affects your brain. The current focus is on probiotics, which is a $20 billion industry in today’s market, and it is promoted widely as healthy. But why?

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The testing of gastrointestinal tract bacteria and probiotics is relatively early in its studies, but there are specific strains that have been proven to impact your gut microbiome positively. Additional studies of groups given probiotics against groups given a placebo in hospitals measured for mood and cognition. Using the total Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the researchers saw that the probiotics group had a higher percentage decrease versus the placebo group. These tests were based on the mood, something that is not quantifiable. However, suggested evidence tells us that probiotics help with increased mood and further, larger clinical trials are being conducted to find more evidence.

Manipulation of the microbiome in your gut is utilized for many applications, including chronic diseases and illnesses. Hepatic encephalopathy, a symptom of a chronically diseased liver, causes patients to have complications with cognitive function and patients treated by gastrointestinal tract bacteria manipulation. Antibiotics are given to help the patients because their diseased livers cannot process the gut bacteria metabolites. Reducing the bacteria that cause these metabolites to mediate the problem results in the disappearance of these metabolites, thus improving cognitive function. The bacteria microbiome here have a direct effect of the patients’ function, displaying how your gut bacteria controls your brain.

Evidence in mice suggests that gastrointestinal tract microbiome may be not only necessary for yourself right now but also crucial for early brain development. Right after birth, the newborn is introduced to many different microorganisms, and this early microbiome is essential for the development of the early brain. A 2010 study, Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior, tested mice with different microbiome organisms to see the effects. Germ-free (GF) mice were tested versus normal mice in anxiety and exploratory activity.

Mice were tested to see if the absence of gut bacteria would affect the maturation of the brain of the mice. Key proteins were found missing from the GF mice, and later those mice experienced anxiety behaviors. Interestingly, proteins for the development of synapses were not expressed as much, which seems to lead to a long-term effect on the developing mice in motor control and anxiety. Results such as “elevated Noradrenaline (NA), Dopamine (DA), and 5-HT Turnover in the Striatum” appeared to cause the anxiety-like behaviors. In other words, mice without a bacterial microbiome saw anxiety-like behaviors due to changes in the neuronal chemistry inside the brain. This suggests that in humans early childhood, gut microbiome is important for the development of the synapses of the brain and controls the brain through gene expression leading to protein expression.

Your health, mood, and well-being may be in fact due to the microbiome that lays inside your gastrointestinal tract. Studies observed that mice gut bacteria cause anxiety-like symptoms. Eating probiotics have shown to be beneficial, but further research is still necessary. For now, understand the correlation between what you eat affects how you feel, and that your stomach bacteria plays a significant role in your health.

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The Human Sugar Project: The Next Major Breakthrough in Medicine- Glycome



The key explanation of how life works reside in the gene. You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, a major breakthrough in 2003. This international scientific research is now the gold standard to diagnose certain diseases based on their nucleotide sequences. As a result of this unique gene mapping sequence, physicians are utilizing gene therapy to diagnose and treat patients. This depicted a significant advancement in our healthcare industry, but now there is a shift in the current focus.

Today’s emphasis revolves around glycans- the sugar component of DNA. It’s not the usual scientific study of utilizing genomics, the study of genes, or the proteomics, the study of proteins. The term glycomics is used for the study of glycome/sugar components of the cell, and it could soon potentially be the key to diagnose the next set of diseases.

Glycomes are sugars, but not the sweetener which you add to your coffee or components of your candy bar you may be thinking of. They are the powerful sugar structures that scientists have observed to be linked to health problems and autoimmune diseases. Glycomes are made up of long sugar chains of monosaccharides linked by glycosidic linkages. They are usually found attached to another component such as glycoproteins or proteoglycans and generally create a sugar coat around the surface of a cell and modifies the proteins and fats.

In a Nature article,  Dr. Wong and her colleagues found that glycosphingolipids (GSLs) play important roles in cell-to-cell recognition. These are a group of complex lipids linked to a glycan moiety. Malignant cancers show abnormal glycosylation of GSLs, which can be used to find cell surface glycosylation and cancer progression.

Another laboratory is currently involved in research of glycans and its associated attachments sites. Glycans are necessary to modify the proteins and fats on the surface of our cell and are vital for the protection of the human body from bacteria and pathogens. In this study, researchers are attempting to “crack the sugar code” to find the location of glycans on various cell types. With this information, medicinal therapies could be produced and specified for each developing diseases.     

For the next 5 years, the National Institutes of Health are investing greater resources into the area of glycosciences. The understanding of glycan-mediated processes could impact new discoveries for the treatment of chronic diseases related to sugars.

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“Just One More Drink” Could Be the Leading Cause of Death. Know Your Body’s Limit of Alcohol Consumption.



How many of us have gone out to bars or parties and have lost count of the number of drinks consumed throughout the night? I’m sure many of us have experienced those regrettable mornings the day after. Don’t let yourself feel the regret and know your body’s alcohol tolerance before taking the first sip!

We may have heard that 1-2 drinks daily could be beneficial to your health since it is good for the heart. However, recent studies have shown that drinking any amount of alcohol is problematic for your health and is one of the leading causes of death.

Though drinking alcohol is merely a part of the social aspect in many countries, studies have shown that it has killed more people globally than before. Humans have been consuming alcohol for millions of years, long before brewing became a craft in itself. But as always, it’s important to do your research beforehand, especially knowing there is a direct impact on your body’s health!

How Bad is Alcohol?  

Alcohol is the number one overused drug consumed by minors. 86.4% have consumed alcohol before the legal age of 21, and 26.9% of the minors have engaged in excessive alcohol drinking. This is intoxicating to the body’s health. Hence, it is necessary to learn the impact of it before consumption.

It’s easy to drink a cup or two but could be horrifying when you start to lose count. Most people have probably hit that limit before. Therefore, it’s best to know how much you can take in before putting excess pressure on your liver or you could be more prone to long-term health issues.

There are 2.8 million deaths each year, and 1 in 10 deaths that occur are due to mishandling of alcohol. This alcoholic binge is worse now than ever imagined, and no amount of alcohol is shown to be “healthy.” Booze is a known neurotoxin; if taken in excess, it may cause memory impairment and reckless decision making.

Alcohol is a depressant, which are drugs taken to decrease the heart rate and breathing. There is a direct negative impact on cognitive ability, like loss of attention, inability to think abstractly, and loss of visuospatial abilities. Studies have shown that it deteriorates the gray matter in your brain and causes a lack of coordination and confusion. If this substance is abused, there are withdrawal symptoms, and it can gravely impair a person’s sleep and brain’s “hard-wiring.”

How Much Is One Drink?

  • Beer= 5% Alcohol= 1 can= 12 fl. oz.
  • Malt liquor= 7% Alcohol= 8-9 fl.oz.
  • Table wine= 12% Alcohol= 5 fl. oz.
  • Shot of distilled spirits= 40% Alcohol= 1.5 fl. oz.


How Much Alcohol Can I Take?

Everyone’s body size is different, so that means everyone has a different alcohol tolerance range. Just because you have a fast metabolism or have a larger body mass, does not mean you are prompted to drink more. Your tolerance is based on a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) calculation where a Driving under the influence (DUI) conviction means 0.08% or higher. Note that it is still possible that you could be charged at any level above 0. Depending on which state you are convicted, the fines could go up to $1000 and is listed on your permanent record.

Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year. One in four college students have shown academic consequences due to poor habits and 696,000 students reported to have been involved in sexual assault due to excess alcohol consumption. People around you who are not educated or precautious about their consumption can pose an even more significant threat to innocent people.

Last but not least, if you decide to drink, do it with precaution! Do not let your lack of education or one bad decision determine your fate. These are not just scare tactic numbers, but it’s the hard truth that could come down to a life or death situation.  

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