Around the Ring

Rapid Evolutionary Changes May Help Plants Deal With Global Warming

UC Irvine scientists discovered that annual plants with short life cycles may be able to adapt quickly to climate change, as opposed to plants with longer life cycles.

Arthur Weis, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and fellow researchers Steven Franks and Sheina Sim, studied field mustards, a type of plant ideal for experiments because of its short maturing time.

Weis and his colleagues grew mustard plants from seeds found near the UCI campus in 1997 (two years before a drought) and again in 2004 (after a drought). The plants were divided into three groups and given different amounts of water and light to imitate precipitation patterns ranging from very dry to very wet conditions. The generation after the drought flowered earlier, regardless of the amount of water. This study appears in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,’ week of Jan. 8.

Weis, also organizing chairman of Project Baseline, a national effort to collect seeds from current plant populations, hopes to target an underlying genetic basis in the evolution of species by freezing seeds so that the next generation of scientists can measure how the plants have evolved with climate change.

UCLA Professor Lectures on the Link Between the Brain and Immune Responses

Professor P.R. Lowenstein will lecture Friday Feb. 23 on the microanatomy of brain immune responses, specifically exploring immunological synapses in the brain. The lecture will take place at the Natural Sciences I building.

Lowenstein is a professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at UCLA. He is also the Director of the Board of Governors Gene Therapeutics Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai and holds the Bram and Elaine Goldsmith Endowed Chair in Gene Therapeutics.

UCI Receives $1 Million for Stem Cell Research From Private Donor

Beverly Hills’ Lincy Foundation, a private foundation created by Los Angeles billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, is giving $1 million to UC Irvine towards vision-related stem cell research.

Kerkorian will invest $100,000 on top of the $900,000 already going to Hans Keirstead, co-director of the UCI Stem Cell Institute, to help expand research interests.

Keirstead, who received $10 million from Newport Beach bond trader Bill Gross to launch his stem-cell research to treat spinal cord injuries, is now expanding his research interests to the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, the largest cause of blindness in people 50 or older.

Barbara A. Hamkalo, Lyman W. Porter Named Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professors

Barbara A. Hamkalo, professor of biology and biochemistry, and Lyman W. Porter, professor of business, have been named Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professors.

The professorships are awarded annually for up to three years to support the research, teaching or service efforts of retired professors.

Hamkalo’s research involves the molecular dissection of chromosomes to gain a better understanding of how they work. She arrived in 1973 as an assistant professor of biological sciences and established a record in Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. She was named associate vice chancellor for research in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, associate dean for graduate studies and research in biological sciences and acting dean of the school of biological sciences. She was also an associate executive vice chancellor and is now chair of the UCI Emeritae Association.

Hamkalo will work with Carolyn Boyd, dean of graduate studies, and Susan Bryant, vice chancellor for research, to develop a center for graduate students as a way of enhancing their graduate experience. In addition, Hamkalo will establish a campuswide postdoctoral fellows office as well as other career development programs.

Lyman W. Porter, who arrived at UCI in 1967 to research on fundamental aspects of employee-organizational relationships, also has major fields of interests in organizational psychology, management and management education. Porter served as co-director of a project for the National Science Foundation.