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Engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

Engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics -- the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

"Most chemical feedstocks come from petroleum and natural gas, and we need other sources," said Shota Atsumi, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author of the study published Jan. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining a quarter of industrial chemicals from biological processes by 2025.

Biological reactions are good at forming carbon-carbon bonds, using carbon dioxide as a raw material for reactions powered by sunlight. It's called photosynthesis, and cyanobacteria, also known as "blue-green algae," have been doing it for more than 3 billion years.

First wireless wine fermentor system completed

First wireless wine fermentor system completed

In another advance for innovative winemaking, students and faculty at the University of California, Davis, are now processing wine with the world’s first wireless fermentation system, thanks to a recently completed $3.5 million network designed, built and donated to the university by Silicon Valley semiconductor executive T.J. Rodgers.

Rodgers, a wine lover and winery owner, is founder, president and CEO of San Jose-based Cypress Semiconductor Corp. Now in its third generation of refinement, the initial assembly of custom-designed stainless steel fermentors was installed just in time for the winery’s first crush in 2010. Since then, Rodgers and his crew of engineers and computer experts from Cypress Semiconductor have continued to fine-tune the innovative fermentation system to meet the needs of the campus's two-year-old Teaching and Research Winery, known for its environmental and technical sophistication.

UC Davis chooses teams to compete for art museam design and construction

UC Davis chooses teams to compete for art museam design and construction

A half century ago, a team of young artists, including Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson, arrived at the University of California, Davis, to help build a new art department -- and changed the art world.

The university is honoring that legacy today by tapping three innovative architect-contractor teams to compete in the creation of a design for the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art -- a planned museum whose vision is as bold as Thiebaud’s pop imagery or Arneson’s irreverent ceramics.

“Our slate of architects reflects the founding philosophy of the UC Davis art department, built by untested individuals who rose to prominence with the work they made here,” said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “We are thrilled to name these three visionary teams who will honor our distinction as an international center of innovation and propel us into the future.”

The teams that will compete to build the museum near the campus’s south entrance are:

UC Davis faculty members elected as American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows

UC Davis faculty members elected as American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows

Seventeen faculty members from the University of California, Davis, have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year. They are among 702 new fellows, honored for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications, to be announced Nov. 30. The new fellows will be formally recognized Feb. 16 during the association's annual meeting in Boston.

The newly elected fellows from UC Davis range from economists to biomedical engineers to experts on wireless networking:

Kyriacos Athanasiou, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was honored for his distinguished contributions to biomedical engineering and bioengineering, particularly for biomechanics-driven tissue regeneration, for leadership in engineering-in-medicine, and for commercial technologies based on his research. His laboratory focuses on the challenge of regenerating cartilage tissue.