School of Natural Sciences

Emergence, Extinction of Massive Ancient Shark to be Explored with NSF Grant

Forty million years after dinosaurs went extinct, one of the largest predators that ever prowled Earth’s oceans emerged, feeding the imaginations of modern scientists and the nightmares of modern movie audiences.

Megalodon — the name means ‘giant tooth’ — appeared some 23 million years ago and reigned the seas for about 21 million years. In 400 million years of shark evolution, megalodon is the most massive shark species that ever lived, growing to 60 feet long, or three times the size of the largest of today’s great whites.

UC Merced Professors Honored for Work with First-Generation Students

UC Merced psychology Professor Anna Song and biology Professor Jennifer Manilay had a special dinner with UC President Janet Napolitano at her Oakland home recently to honor the faculty members for their work on first-generation student initiatives.

NSF Grant Helps Professor Connect Evolutionary Dots along the Open Tree of Life

UC Merced life and environmental sciences Professor Emily Jane McTavish and a collaborator at the University of Kansas recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend and improve the Open Tree of Life (OpenTree).

Study: Snacking on Almonds a Healthy Alternative for Breakfast-Skipping Students

Independence: It’s what many students value most about the transition to college life. But the freedom to make decisions without interference from parents can lead to unhealthy eating habits.

CAREER Award Will Help Professor Predict How Species Respond to Climate Change

Paleoecology Professor Jessica Blois recently became the campus’s 19th recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award.

The NSF describes as the CAREER as its “most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organizations.”

The award provides Blois with $782,449 over the next five years to pursue an agenda that includes research and outreach.

Campus Lands $1M Howard Hughes Grant to Make STEM More Inclusive

UC Merced’s efforts to make science education more inclusive were recently given a huge boost after the campus was awarded its first Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant, an impressive mark of distinction that reflects the strong upward trajectory of the campus’s research and teaching efforts.

Misbehaving “Killer” Cells Accelerate Progress of Autoimmune Disease

In 1998, scientists studying rheumatoid arthritis observed a population of immune cells that weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to. Immunologists noted the strange phenomenon, but decided not to pursue the subject further, and the cells were soon forgotten.

But interest in these cells has swelled over the past few years as they’ve been found in patients with chronic viral infections and cancer.

Following a Devastating Pandemic, California’s Sea Stars are Evolving

In 2012, Environmental Systems graduate student Lauren Schiebelhut was collecting DNA from ochre sea stars living along the Northern California coast — part of an effort to study genetic diversity in various marine species that serve as indicators of habitat health. She had no idea that just one year later, most of the sea stars would be dead.

Beaudin Named Campus’ Second Winner of Prestigious Pew Award

Biology Professor Anna Beaudin was named a member of the 2018 class of Pew Biomedical Scholars today, one of 22 early-career researchers nationwide to receive this year’s prestigious award.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be joining such an accomplished and talented group of scientists as a 2018 Pew Biomedical Scholar,” Beaudin said. “Receiving this award will give my lab the opportunity to dig deeper into how early life events shape immunity across the lifespan and contribute to autoimmune disease susceptibility.”

Study Finds That Gene Transcription Can Serve as Brain’s Timekeeper

Neurons keep time. These brain cells – which are responsible for the brain’s “heavy lifting,” from information processing to memory formation – seem to "know" how long they’ve been exposed to sensory stimulation. Now, scientists are starting to understand how they do this.

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