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Slow Magic: International Ag Research has a 10 to 1 Return

Egghead Blog - October 16, 2020 - 8:01am

Society gains $10 in benefits, on average, per $1 invested in international agricultural research and development, according to a new report released Oct. 14 by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation.

“This report shows that international agricultural R&D, of the type that drove the Green Revolution, continues to generate a fantastic rate of return and that we have not been investing nearly enough in the types of agricultural R&D undertaken by the CGIAR,” said Julian M. Alston, distinguished professor of agricultural and resources economics at UC Davis and coauthor of the report.

Farmer Joshua Oyugi took part in trials of new hybrid seeds for mid-altitude conditions in Kenya. Innovations in agricultural R&D can bring long-term benefits to the world’s poorest people. Photo credit AMA Innovation Lab.

Formerly called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, CGIAR is the world’s largest global agricultural research network. The report found that CGIAR investments of roughly $60 billion in present value terms have generated a benefit-cost ratio of 10 to 1 over the past five decades.

“The same is true of agricultural R&D undertaken by U.S. land grant universities,” Alston said. “Not only does investing in this kind of R&D make great economic sense, with benefit-cost ratios of 10:1 and more, it saves lives and livelihoods for the poorest of the poor around the world, and reduces pressures on the natural resource base.”

“In spite of this evidence, rather than ramping up funding, in the United States and the other high-income countries, we are seeing a decline in real funding support for public agricultural R&D and a decline in donor funding support for R&D undertaken by the CGIAR.”

Agricultural R&D a long term investment

It can take many years for agricultural research investments to pay off. Not investing in research will make it harder for farmers to produce the food needed while meeting the challenges posed by weather, pests, political strife, policy risk and market risk.

“Agricultural R&D is slow magic,” Alston said. “The costly consequences of today’s policy mistakes may take some time to become apparent, but then we will have to live with them for a long time.”

Coauthors on the report are Philip G. Pardey, professor of science and technology policy and director of global research strategy at the University of Minnesota, and Xudong Rao, assistant professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University. SoAR commissioned the report to examine the benefit-cost ratio of CGIAR investments.

Established in 1971, CGIAR comprises 15 research centers working under One CGIAR mandate to reduce poverty, enhance food and nutrition security, and improve natural resources. CGIAR’s early work included developing high-yielding wheat and rice varieties, which is credited with spurring the Green Revolution and saving a billion lives primarily in Asia where many people were on the brink of starvation. Today, CGIAR focuses on ending hunger by 2030 through science to transform food, land and water systems in the climate crisis.

More information

Full report: The Payoff to Investing in CGIAR Research (SoAR Foundation)

Key findings of the report

Adapted from a UCANR news release.

The post Slow Magic: International Ag Research has a 10 to 1 Return appeared first on Egghead.

Slow Magic: International Ag Research has a 10 to 1 Return

Egghead - October 16, 2020 - 8:01am

Society gains $10 in benefits, on average, per $1 invested in international agricultural research and development, according to a new report released Oct. 14 by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation.

“This report shows that international agricultural R&D, of the type that drove the Green Revolution, continues to generate a fantastic rate of return and that we have not been investing nearly enough in the types of agricultural R&D undertaken by the CGIAR,” said Julian M. Alston, distinguished professor of agricultural and resources economics at UC Davis and coauthor of the report.

Farmer Joshua Oyugi took part in trials of new hybrid seeds for mid-altitude conditions in Kenya. Innovations in agricultural R&D can bring long-term benefits to the world’s poorest people. Photo credit AMA Innovation Lab.

Formerly called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, CGIAR is the world’s largest global agricultural research network. The report found that CGIAR investments of roughly $60 billion in present value terms have generated a benefit-cost ratio of 10 to 1 over the past five decades.

“The same is true of agricultural R&D undertaken by U.S. land grant universities,” Alston said. “Not only does investing in this kind of R&D make great economic sense, with benefit-cost ratios of 10:1 and more, it saves lives and livelihoods for the poorest of the poor around the world, and reduces pressures on the natural resource base.”

“In spite of this evidence, rather than ramping up funding, in the United States and the other high-income countries, we are seeing a decline in real funding support for public agricultural R&D and a decline in donor funding support for R&D undertaken by the CGIAR.”

Agricultural R&D a long term investment

It can take many years for agricultural research investments to pay off. Not investing in research will make it harder for farmers to produce the food needed while meeting the challenges posed by weather, pests, political strife, policy risk and market risk.

“Agricultural R&D is slow magic,” Alston said. “The costly consequences of today’s policy mistakes may take some time to become apparent, but then we will have to live with them for a long time.”

Coauthors on the report are Philip G. Pardey, professor of science and technology policy and director of global research strategy at the University of Minnesota, and Xudong Rao, assistant professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University. SoAR commissioned the report to examine the benefit-cost ratio of CGIAR investments.

Established in 1971, CGIAR comprises 15 research centers working under One CGIAR mandate to reduce poverty, enhance food and nutrition security, and improve natural resources. CGIAR’s early work included developing high-yielding wheat and rice varieties, which is credited with spurring the Green Revolution and saving a billion lives primarily in Asia where many people were on the brink of starvation. Today, CGIAR focuses on ending hunger by 2030 through science to transform food, land and water systems in the climate crisis.

More information

Full report: The Payoff to Investing in CGIAR Research (SoAR Foundation)

Key findings of the report

Adapted from a UCANR news release.

The post Slow Magic: International Ag Research has a 10 to 1 Return appeared first on Egghead.

New Method Uses Noise to Make Spectrometers More Accurate

Egghead Blog - October 13, 2020 - 8:01am

Optical spectrometers are instruments with a wide variety of uses. By measuring the intensity of light across different wavelengths, they can be used to image tissues or measure the chemical composition of everything from a distant galaxy to a leaf. Now researchers at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering have come up a with a new, rapid method for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers, based on how they respond to “noise.”

Optical spectroscopy splits light and measures the intensity of different wavelengths. It is a powerful technique across a wide range of applications. UC Davis engineers Aaron Kho and Vivek Srinivasan have now found a new way to characterize and cross-calibrate spectroscopy instruments using excess “noise” in a light signal. (Getty Images)

Spectral resolution measures how well a spectrometer can distinguish light of different wavelengths. It’s also important to be able to calibrate the spectrometer so that different instruments will give reliably consistent results. Current methods for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers are relatively slow and cumbersome. For example, to measure how the spectrometer responds to different wavelengths, you would shine multiple lasers of different wavelengths on it.

Noise is usually seen as being a nuisance that confuses measurements. But graduate student Aaron Kho, working with Vivek Srinivasan, associate professor in biomedical engineering and ophthalmology, realized that the excess noise in broadband, multiwavelength light could also serve a useful purpose and replace all those individual lasers.

“The spectrometer’s response to noise can be used to infer the spectrometer’s response to a real signal,” Srinivasan said. That’s because the excess noise gives each channel of the spectrum a unique signature.

Faster, more accurate calibration

Instead of using many single-wavelength lasers to measure the spectrometer’s response at each wavelength, the new approach uses only the noise fluctuations that are naturally present in a light source with many wavelengths. In this way, it’s possible to assess the spectrometer’s performance in just a few seconds. The team also showed that they could use a similar approach to cross-calibrate two different spectrometers.

Kho and Srinivasan used the excess noise method in Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a technique for imaging living eye tissue. By increasing the resolution of OCT, they were able to discover a new layer in the mouse retina.

The excess noise technique has similarities to laser speckle, Kho said. Speckle – granular patterns formed when lasers are reflected off surfaces – was originally seen as a nuisance but turns out to be useful in imaging, by providing additional information such as blood flow.

“Similarly, we found that excess noise can be useful too,” he said.

These new approaches for characterization and cross-calibration will improve the rigor and reproducibility of data in the many fields that use spectrometers, Srinivasan said, and the insight that excess noise can be useful could lead to the discovery of other applications.

The work was published Oct. 6 in Light Science & Applications. Additional authors on the paper are Tingwei Zhang, Jun Zhu and Conrad Merkle, all at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. The work was supported by the NIH and the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

More information

Incoherent excess noise spectrally encodes broadband light sources (Light Science & Applications)

Neurophotonics — the Srinivasan lab 

The post New Method Uses Noise to Make Spectrometers More Accurate appeared first on Egghead.

New Method Uses Noise to Make Spectrometers More Accurate

Egghead - October 13, 2020 - 8:01am

Optical spectrometers are instruments with a wide variety of uses. By measuring the intensity of light across different wavelengths, they can be used to image tissues or measure the chemical composition of everything from a distant galaxy to a leaf. Now researchers at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering have come up a with a new, rapid method for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers, based on how they respond to “noise.”

Optical spectroscopy splits light and measures the intensity of different wavelengths. It is a powerful technique across a wide range of applications. UC Davis engineers Aaron Kho and Vivek Srinivasan have now found a new way to characterize and cross-calibrate spectroscopy instruments using excess “noise” in a light signal. (Getty Images)

Spectral resolution measures how well a spectrometer can distinguish light of different wavelengths. It’s also important to be able to calibrate the spectrometer so that different instruments will give reliably consistent results. Current methods for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers are relatively slow and cumbersome. For example, to measure how the spectrometer responds to different wavelengths, you would shine multiple lasers of different wavelengths on it.

Noise is usually seen as being a nuisance that confuses measurements. But graduate student Aaron Kho, working with Vivek Srinivasan, associate professor in biomedical engineering and ophthalmology, realized that the excess noise in broadband, multiwavelength light could also serve a useful purpose and replace all those individual lasers.

“The spectrometer’s response to noise can be used to infer the spectrometer’s response to a real signal,” Srinivasan said. That’s because the excess noise gives each channel of the spectrum a unique signature.

Faster, more accurate calibration

Instead of using many single-wavelength lasers to measure the spectrometer’s response at each wavelength, the new approach uses only the noise fluctuations that are naturally present in a light source with many wavelengths. In this way, it’s possible to assess the spectrometer’s performance in just a few seconds. The team also showed that they could use a similar approach to cross-calibrate two different spectrometers.

Kho and Srinivasan used the excess noise method in Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a technique for imaging living eye tissue. By increasing the resolution of OCT, they were able to discover a new layer in the mouse retina.

The excess noise technique has similarities to laser speckle, Kho said. Speckle – granular patterns formed when lasers are reflected off surfaces – was originally seen as a nuisance but turns out to be useful in imaging, by providing additional information such as blood flow.

“Similarly, we found that excess noise can be useful too,” he said.

These new approaches for characterization and cross-calibration will improve the rigor and reproducibility of data in the many fields that use spectrometers, Srinivasan said, and the insight that excess noise can be useful could lead to the discovery of other applications.

The work was published Oct. 6 in Light Science & Applications. Additional authors on the paper are Tingwei Zhang, Jun Zhu and Conrad Merkle, all at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. The work was supported by the NIH and the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

More information

Incoherent excess noise spectrally encodes broadband light sources (Light Science & Applications)

Neurophotonics — the Srinivasan lab 

The post New Method Uses Noise to Make Spectrometers More Accurate appeared first on Egghead.

UC Davis Physics and Astronomy Receives $7.4M DOE Grant

Egghead Blog - October 9, 2020 - 8:01am

By Becky Oskin

The UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy has received a $7.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The three-year grant will support more than 70 faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) pursuing experimental and theoretical research in topics including the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter and quantum physics.

Renewal of a DOE grant to the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy will fund continuing work with the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN in Switzerland, among other things. (CERN photo)

“The coming years promise to be a very exciting phase in physics and cosmology, and we at UC Davis are making excellent use of the strong support we have received from DOE,” said John Conway, professor of physics.

The grant builds on previous UC Davis research made possible by funding through the DOE Office of Science. The Office of Science has supported research by faculty, researchers, and students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy for more than 50 years, Conway said.

Projects funded in the most recent grant include:

  • Experiments at the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, which discovered the Higgs boson in 2012.
  • Design and construction of the large underground neutrino experiment DUNE, being built at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in North Dakota.
  • The search for dark matter particles left over from the Big Bang deep underground with the LUX-Zeplin (LZ) experiment at SURF.
  • Construction of the Mu2E experiment at Fermilab in Illinois, which will search for ultra-rare conversions of muon particles to electrons.
  • Operation of the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, scheduled for completion in 2021.
  • Analysis of data from cosmic microwave background experiments, elucidating the evolution of the universe just after the Big Bang.
  • Theoretical study of new models of cosmology and particle physics aimed at explaining the many mysteries still remaining, and searching for new mathematical frameworks which could lead to rewriting the basic laws of physics.
More information

Experimental High Energy Physics at UC Davis

Becky Oskin is a content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science. 

The post UC Davis Physics and Astronomy Receives $7.4M DOE Grant appeared first on Egghead.

UC Davis Physics and Astronomy Receives $7.4M DOE Grant

Egghead - October 9, 2020 - 8:01am

By Becky Oskin

The UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy has received a $7.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The three-year grant will support more than 70 faculty and students (undergraduate and graduate) pursuing experimental and theoretical research in topics including the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter and quantum physics.

Renewal of a DOE grant to the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy will fund continuing work with the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN in Switzerland, among other things. (CERN photo)

“The coming years promise to be a very exciting phase in physics and cosmology, and we at UC Davis are making excellent use of the strong support we have received from DOE,” said John Conway, professor of physics.

The grant builds on previous UC Davis research made possible by funding through the DOE Office of Science. The Office of Science has supported research by faculty, researchers, and students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy for more than 50 years, Conway said.

Projects funded in the most recent grant include:

  • Experiments at the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, which discovered the Higgs boson in 2012.
  • Design and construction of the large underground neutrino experiment DUNE, being built at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in North Dakota.
  • The search for dark matter particles left over from the Big Bang deep underground with the LUX-Zeplin (LZ) experiment at SURF.
  • Construction of the Mu2E experiment at Fermilab in Illinois, which will search for ultra-rare conversions of muon particles to electrons.
  • Operation of the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, scheduled for completion in 2021.
  • Analysis of data from cosmic microwave background experiments, elucidating the evolution of the universe just after the Big Bang.
  • Theoretical study of new models of cosmology and particle physics aimed at explaining the many mysteries still remaining, and searching for new mathematical frameworks which could lead to rewriting the basic laws of physics.
More information

Experimental High Energy Physics at UC Davis

Becky Oskin is a content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science. 

The post UC Davis Physics and Astronomy Receives $7.4M DOE Grant appeared first on Egghead.

The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Anxiety Depend on Location, Location, Location

Egghead Blog - October 7, 2020 - 8:05am

By Karen Nikos-Rose

Studies have long suggested that oxytocin — a hormone that can also act as a neurotransmitter — regulates prosocial behavior such as empathy, trust and bonding, which led to its popular labeling as the “love hormone.” Mysteriously, oxytocin has also been shown to play a role in antisocial behaviors and emotions, including reduced cooperation, envy and anxiety. How oxytocin could exert such opposite roles had largely remained a mystery, but a new UC Davis study sheds light on how this may work.

Working with California mice, UC Davis researches showed that the “love hormone” oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects depending on where in the brain it is made. (Mark Chappell/UC Riverside)

While most oxytocin is produced in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, some oxytocin is produced in another brain area known as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST. The BNST is known for its role in the stress response, and it may play a key role in psychiatric disorders such as depression, addiction and anxiety.

The findings of the study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, show that oxytocin produced in the BNST increases stress-induced social anxiety behaviors in mice. This may provide an explanation as to why oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects. The lead author is Natalia Duque-Wilckens, a former doctoral researcher at UC Davis who is now at Michigan State University. The senior author is Brian Trainor, professor of psychology and director of the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab at UC Davis.

“Before this study, we knew that stress increased the activity of the oxytocin-producing neurons located in the BNST, but we didn’t know if they could affect behavior. Our experiments show that production of oxytocin in the BNST is necessary for social anxiety behaviors in California mice,” said Duque-Wilckens.

Social stress stronger in females

The researchers were able to show this by using a tool called morpholino-oligos, which, when injected directly into the BNST, prevents oxytocin from being produced in this area. Interestingly, while oxytocin neurons in the BNST are present in both males and females, previous studies from this group showed that social stress has stronger long term effects on these neurons in females. This is interesting because social anxiety disorders are more common and more severe in women compared to men.

This study further showed that oxytocin-producing neurons in the BNST are connected to brain regions that control anxiety-related behavior. This was achieved by using a virus to express a fluorescent molecule only in oxytocin neurons.

Remarkably, “simply infusing oxytocin into the parts of the brain that BNST oxytocin neurons connect to caused ordinarily non-stressed mice to show social anxiety behaviors as if they had experienced social stress,” said Trainor. Previous studies from this and other labs had shown that oxytocin acting in other areas of the brain, including areas involved in motivated behaviors, had prosocial effects. This suggests that whether the effects of oxytocin are pro- or antisocial will largely depend on which areas of the brain oxytocin is acting in, he said.

“The results are exciting because they provide a potential explanation for why oxytocin sometimes increases anxiety in humans. The vast majority of previous work has focused on the neural mechanisms that underlie the anxiety-reducing effects of oxytocin,” Trainor said. “If combined with further studies of how anxiety is connected with brain circuits in humans, these results could give us a better understanding of what conditions oxytocin could be beneficial or harmful for treating anxiety.”

It’s also possible that in some situations, using a drug that blocks the actions of oxytocin could reduce anxiety, he said. In future studies, researchers will try to understand how these neurons activate in response to stress and why this effect is long-lasting in females, with the final aim of finding therapeutic strategies that could help patients suffering from social anxiety disorder.

More information

Extrahypothalamic oxytocin neurons drive stress-induced social vigilance and avoidance (PNAS)

“Love hormone” oxytocin, possible anxiety drug, shows different effects in male and female mice (Egghead)

Karen Nikos-Rose writes about humanities, arts and social sciences for UC Davis News and Media Relations.

The post The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Anxiety Depend on Location, Location, Location appeared first on Egghead.

The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Anxiety Depend on Location, Location, Location

Egghead - October 7, 2020 - 8:05am

By Karen Nikos-Rose

Studies have long suggested that oxytocin — a hormone that can also act as a neurotransmitter — regulates prosocial behavior such as empathy, trust and bonding, which led to its popular labeling as the “love hormone.” Mysteriously, oxytocin has also been shown to play a role in antisocial behaviors and emotions, including reduced cooperation, envy and anxiety. How oxytocin could exert such opposite roles had largely remained a mystery, but a new UC Davis study sheds light on how this may work.

Working with California mice, UC Davis researches showed that the “love hormone” oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects depending on where in the brain it is made. (Mark Chappell/UC Riverside)

While most oxytocin is produced in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, some oxytocin is produced in another brain area known as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST. The BNST is known for its role in the stress response, and it may play a key role in psychiatric disorders such as depression, addiction and anxiety.

The findings of the study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, show that oxytocin produced in the BNST increases stress-induced social anxiety behaviors in mice. This may provide an explanation as to why oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects. The lead author is Natalia Duque-Wilckens, a former doctoral researcher at UC Davis who is now at Michigan State University. The senior author is Brian Trainor, professor of psychology and director of the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab at UC Davis.

“Before this study, we knew that stress increased the activity of the oxytocin-producing neurons located in the BNST, but we didn’t know if they could affect behavior. Our experiments show that production of oxytocin in the BNST is necessary for social anxiety behaviors in California mice,” said Duque-Wilckens.

Social stress stronger in females

The researchers were able to show this by using a tool called morpholino-oligos, which, when injected directly into the BNST, prevents oxytocin from being produced in this area. Interestingly, while oxytocin neurons in the BNST are present in both males and females, previous studies from this group showed that social stress has stronger long term effects on these neurons in females. This is interesting because social anxiety disorders are more common and more severe in women compared to men.

This study further showed that oxytocin-producing neurons in the BNST are connected to brain regions that control anxiety-related behavior. This was achieved by using a virus to express a fluorescent molecule only in oxytocin neurons.

Remarkably, “simply infusing oxytocin into the parts of the brain that BNST oxytocin neurons connect to caused ordinarily non-stressed mice to show social anxiety behaviors as if they had experienced social stress,” said Trainor. Previous studies from this and other labs had shown that oxytocin acting in other areas of the brain, including areas involved in motivated behaviors, had prosocial effects. This suggests that whether the effects of oxytocin are pro- or antisocial will largely depend on which areas of the brain oxytocin is acting in, he said.

“The results are exciting because they provide a potential explanation for why oxytocin sometimes increases anxiety in humans. The vast majority of previous work has focused on the neural mechanisms that underlie the anxiety-reducing effects of oxytocin,” Trainor said. “If combined with further studies of how anxiety is connected with brain circuits in humans, these results could give us a better understanding of what conditions oxytocin could be beneficial or harmful for treating anxiety.”

It’s also possible that in some situations, using a drug that blocks the actions of oxytocin could reduce anxiety, he said. In future studies, researchers will try to understand how these neurons activate in response to stress and why this effect is long-lasting in females, with the final aim of finding therapeutic strategies that could help patients suffering from social anxiety disorder.

More information

Extrahypothalamic oxytocin neurons drive stress-induced social vigilance and avoidance (PNAS)

“Love hormone” oxytocin, possible anxiety drug, shows different effects in male and female mice (Egghead)

Karen Nikos-Rose writes about humanities, arts and social sciences for UC Davis News and Media Relations.

The post The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Anxiety Depend on Location, Location, Location appeared first on Egghead.

Modeling Brain Wiring in Whisker Barrels

Egghead Blog - October 6, 2020 - 8:01am

It’s been estimated that a human brain contains 100 trillion connections between some 100 billion neurons. How is such a monstrous wiring job accomplished? One possibility is that there is a complete wiring plan encoded in our genes. But another explanation is that the initial genetic plans are simple, and complexity arises from relatively simple interactions between growing cells.

Now a new computer modeling study of rats and mice shows that a part of the rodent brain that corresponds to their whiskers can develop from simple interactions. The work by neuroscientists Sebastian James and Stuart Wilson at the University of Sheffield, U.K. and Leah Krubitzer at UC Davis was published Sept. 29 in eLife.

Whisker barrels are cylindrical clusters of cells in the brains of rats and mice that match the arrangement of whiskers on the animal’s face. That makes them ideal for studying brain wiring.

Simulating guidance fields

Connections between neurons could be guided by gradients of proteins, called guidance fields. The idea is that the cell would extend itself along a gradient until it meets another cell with which to connect.

The researchers used computer simulations to study how neurons could organize themselves into a whisker barrel using a limited number of guidance fields. They found that they could recreate a whisker barrel with just two guidance fields, as well as some simple rules, such as that neurons from different whiskers would compete for space. This forced the cells into whisker-specific clusters.

“This model describes a simple way that specific structures can be copied across the central nervous system,” the authors wrote.

Understanding the wiring of the barrel complex could help us understand normal brain development and how it can go wrong in some neurodevelopmental disorders. It could also help us understand how patients can recover from stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Video: Computer simulation of development of whisker barrels

In this simulation the organization of neurons was based on two guidance field gradients, blue and green.

https://egghead.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/elife-55588-fig1-video1.mp4 More information

Modelling the emergence of whisker barrels (eLife)

The post Modeling Brain Wiring in Whisker Barrels appeared first on Egghead.

Modeling Brain Wiring in Whisker Barrels

Egghead - October 6, 2020 - 8:01am

It’s been estimated that a human brain contains 100 trillion connections between some 100 billion neurons. How is such a monstrous wiring job accomplished? One possibility is that there is a complete wiring plan encoded in our genes. But another explanation is that the initial genetic plans are simple, and complexity arises from relatively simple interactions between growing cells.

Now a new computer modeling study of rats and mice shows that a part of the rodent brain that corresponds to their whiskers can develop from simple interactions. The work by neuroscientists Sebastian James and Stuart Wilson at the University of Sheffield, U.K. and Leah Krubitzer at UC Davis was published Sept. 29 in eLife.

Whisker barrels are cylindrical clusters of cells in the brains of rats and mice that match the arrangement of whiskers on the animal’s face. That makes them ideal for studying brain wiring.

Simulating guidance fields

Connections between neurons could be guided by gradients of proteins, called guidance fields. The idea is that the cell would extend itself along a gradient until it meets another cell with which to connect.

The researchers used computer simulations to study how neurons could organize themselves into a whisker barrel using a limited number of guidance fields. They found that they could recreate a whisker barrel with just two guidance fields, as well as some simple rules, such as that neurons from different whiskers would compete for space. This forced the cells into whisker-specific clusters.

“This model describes a simple way that specific structures can be copied across the central nervous system,” the authors wrote.

Understanding the wiring of the barrel complex could help us understand normal brain development and how it can go wrong in some neurodevelopmental disorders. It could also help us understand how patients can recover from stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Video: Computer simulation of development of whisker barrels

In this simulation the organization of neurons was based on two guidance field gradients, blue and green.

https://egghead.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/elife-55588-fig1-video1.mp4 More information

Modelling the emergence of whisker barrels (eLife)

The post Modeling Brain Wiring in Whisker Barrels appeared first on Egghead.

New Trapdoor Spider Species Has a Name

Egghead Blog - October 2, 2020 - 8:01am

An update to a story we ran earlier this year: The new trapdoor spider species discovered by Jason Bond, professor of entomology at UC Davis, has a name. Following more than 200 suggestions from all over the world, the spider is now officially Cryptoctenzia kawtak.

The name came from UC Davis alumnus Kirsten Pearsons, who received her doctorate in entomology in from Pennsylvania State University in August.

The newly named trapdoor spider Cryptoctenzia kawtak is found only at Moss Landing State Beach in California. Its nearest relatives are in New Mexico, suggesting the genus once had a much wider range.

“The derivation of the specific epithet is Native American – from the Mutsun word for seashore,” said Bond, who holds the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Mutsun Indians lived near Mission San Juan Bautista.

Bond discovered a female of the new species in 1997 at Moss Landing State Beach. But he did not discover a male until 2019, allowing him to describe the new species. A forthcoming journal article will describe the spider’s phylogeny, evolution, biogeography and discovery, and credit Pearsons with naming the species.

A living fossil

Bond’s former doctoral student Chris Hamilton, a Native American Chicksaw who is an assistant professor at the University of Idaho, Moscow, helped craft the name.

“I have also named other California spiders in the past for Native American groups and feel strongly that such new species names are an elegant connection California, to the land and its native people, “ Bond said.

Cryptocteniza kawtaks closest phylogenetic relatives are found much further to the east in New Mexico and Arizona.

“It is quite plausible that this genus was once likely far more widespread across California and the American Southwest, with potentially greater past species diversity throughout its larger hypothetical ancestral range,” Bond said. “Owing to its phylogenetic distinctiveness, incredibly narrow distribution and age, we show that Cryptocteniza meets all the criteria of an ‘Endangered Living Fossil’ and is consequently of grave conservation concern.”

The other three co-authors of the upcoming paper are graduate student Rebecca Godwin and project scientist James Starrett at UC Davis, and Joel Ledford, an assistant professor of teaching in the Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.

More information

Help Name a New Species of California Spider (Egghead blog)

Name That Spider: Meet Cryptocteniza kawtak (UCANR News)

Tree of Life Podcast with Joel Ledford and Jason Bond (YouTube)

The post New Trapdoor Spider Species Has a Name appeared first on Egghead.

New Trapdoor Spider Species Has a Name

Egghead - October 2, 2020 - 8:01am

An update to a story we ran earlier this year: The new trapdoor spider species discovered by Jason Bond, professor of entomology at UC Davis, has a name. Following more than 200 suggestions from all over the world, the spider is now officially Cryptoctenzia kawtak.

The name came from UC Davis alumnus Kirsten Pearsons, who received her doctorate in entomology in from Pennsylvania State University in August.

The newly named trapdoor spider Cryptoctenzia kawtak is found only at Moss Landing State Beach in California. Its nearest relatives are in New Mexico, suggesting the genus once had a much wider range.

“The derivation of the specific epithet is Native American – from the Mutsun word for seashore,” said Bond, who holds the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Mutsun Indians lived near Mission San Juan Bautista.

Bond discovered a female of the new species in 1997 at Moss Landing State Beach. But he did not discover a male until 2019, allowing him to describe the new species. A forthcoming journal article will describe the spider’s phylogeny, evolution, biogeography and discovery, and credit Pearsons with naming the species.

A living fossil

Bond’s former doctoral student Chris Hamilton, a Native American Chicksaw who is an assistant professor at the University of Idaho, Moscow, helped craft the name.

“I have also named other California spiders in the past for Native American groups and feel strongly that such new species names are an elegant connection California, to the land and its native people, “ Bond said.

Cryptocteniza kawtaks closest phylogenetic relatives are found much further to the east in New Mexico and Arizona.

“It is quite plausible that this genus was once likely far more widespread across California and the American Southwest, with potentially greater past species diversity throughout its larger hypothetical ancestral range,” Bond said. “Owing to its phylogenetic distinctiveness, incredibly narrow distribution and age, we show that Cryptocteniza meets all the criteria of an ‘Endangered Living Fossil’ and is consequently of grave conservation concern.”

The other three co-authors of the upcoming paper are graduate student Rebecca Godwin and project scientist James Starrett at UC Davis, and Joel Ledford, an assistant professor of teaching in the Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.

More information

Help Name a New Species of California Spider (Egghead blog)

Name That Spider: Meet Cryptocteniza kawtak (UCANR News)

Tree of Life Podcast with Joel Ledford and Jason Bond (YouTube)

The post New Trapdoor Spider Species Has a Name appeared first on Egghead.

Mapping Ecological Niches from Genome Data

Egghead Blog - September 29, 2020 - 8:01am

It is now quite quick and inexpensive to read the entire genetic code of an organism. But what can all this genetic data tell us about the place of an organism in an ecosystem? Two UC Davis computer scientists have now shown that patterns of how bacteria fit into ecosystems can be extracted from the genetic information.

A principle of ecology is that no organism survives on its own. For example, we rely on plants for food and to generate oxygen from photosynthesis. Plants in turn depend on insects, fungi and bacteria that supply them with nutrients or control pests. And so it goes on in a complex web of relationships.

Based on gene sequences, Thilo Gross and Ashkaan Fahimipour organized microbes into metabolic niches using a mathematical tool called a diffusion map.

“To understand how ecological communities work we must understand what role the different species play in the community,” said Ashkaan Fahimipour, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and now a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Fahimipour became interested in the ecological niches occupied by bacteria. These play an important role in ecosystems, because there are a lot of bacteria and they do a lot of different things, biochemically speaking. Most of these environmental bacteria cannot be grown in a laboratory and can only really be studied through their DNA.

Hearing the shape of a drum

Fahimipour made a breakthrough when he met Professor Thilo Gross during a meeting at the Santa Fe Institute. Gross holds an adjunct appointment at the UC Davis Department of Computer Science as well as a faculty appointment at the Helmholtz Institute for Marine Functional Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Together they came up with a proposal to use mathematical approaches in data science and machine learning to uncover the ecological roles of bacteria.

A classical question in mathematics is, “Can one hear the shape of a drum?” In other words, can we deduce the shape of an object from the vibrations that it produces? Work in this area has created a set of data analysis methods called manifold learning methods that map the shape (in multiple dimensions) of complex data objects.

Fahimipour and Gross applied these methods to a set of publicly available genome data from more than 2600 microorganisms. They were able to create a diffusion map based on bacterial metabolism that assigned bacteria into roles, or niches, in the ecosystem.

For example, one group that stood out was the cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. These organisms photosynthesize, generating energy from sunlight. Other identified niches were marine bacteria that can make bioplastics, a group of soil bacteria with genes that help them interact with plants, and potentially pathogenic bacteria with genes that could help them attack humans or neutralize antibiotics. In all, they were able to map 40 such niches from their model.

The approach could be useful for ecologists seeking to understand the shape of a niche space in an ecosystem, Fahimipour said. The work was published Sept. 28 in the journal Nature Communications.

More information

Mapping the bacterial metabolic niche space (Nature Communications)

The post Mapping Ecological Niches from Genome Data appeared first on Egghead.

Mapping Ecological Niches from Genome Data

Egghead - September 29, 2020 - 8:01am

It is now quite quick and inexpensive to read the entire genetic code of an organism. But what can all this genetic data tell us about the place of an organism in an ecosystem? Two UC Davis computer scientists have now shown that patterns of how bacteria fit into ecosystems can be extracted from the genetic information.

A principle of ecology is that no organism survives on its own. For example, we rely on plants for food and to generate oxygen from photosynthesis. Plants in turn depend on insects, fungi and bacteria that supply them with nutrients or control pests. And so it goes on in a complex web of relationships.

Based on gene sequences, Thilo Gross and Ashkaan Fahimipour organized microbes into metabolic niches using a mathematical tool called a diffusion map.

“To understand how ecological communities work we must understand what role the different species play in the community,” said Ashkaan Fahimipour, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and now a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Fahimipour became interested in the ecological niches occupied by bacteria. These play an important role in ecosystems, because there are a lot of bacteria and they do a lot of different things, biochemically speaking. Most of these environmental bacteria cannot be grown in a laboratory and can only really be studied through their DNA.

Hearing the shape of a drum

Fahimipour made a breakthrough when he met Professor Thilo Gross during a meeting at the Santa Fe Institute. Gross holds an adjunct appointment at the UC Davis Department of Computer Science as well as a faculty appointment at the Helmholtz Institute for Marine Functional Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Together they came up with a proposal to use mathematical approaches in data science and machine learning to uncover the ecological roles of bacteria.

A classical question in mathematics is, “Can one hear the shape of a drum?” In other words, can we deduce the shape of an object from the vibrations that it produces? Work in this area has created a set of data analysis methods called manifold learning methods that map the shape (in multiple dimensions) of complex data objects.

Fahimipour and Gross applied these methods to a set of publicly available genome data from more than 2600 microorganisms. They were able to create a diffusion map based on bacterial metabolism that assigned bacteria into roles, or niches, in the ecosystem.

For example, one group that stood out was the cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. These organisms photosynthesize, generating energy from sunlight. Other identified niches were marine bacteria that can make bioplastics, a group of soil bacteria with genes that help them interact with plants, and potentially pathogenic bacteria with genes that could help them attack humans or neutralize antibiotics. In all, they were able to map 40 such niches from their model.

The approach could be useful for ecologists seeking to understand the shape of a niche space in an ecosystem, Fahimipour said. The work was published Sept. 28 in the journal Nature Communications.

More information

Mapping the bacterial metabolic niche space (Nature Communications)

The post Mapping Ecological Niches from Genome Data appeared first on Egghead.

Ironing the Wrinkles Out of Spacetime

Egghead Blog - September 28, 2020 - 8:01am

According to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, gravity is curvature in the fabric of spacetime. Shockwaves can distort spacetime, causing singularities where the laws of physics appear to break down.

Now two mathematicians at UC Davis have come up with equations that remove these singularities. In doing so, they also extend a theorem called Uhlenbeck Compactness to the setting of General Relativity.

Shockwaves could cause singularities in spacetime where the laws of physics break down. UC Davis mathematicians Blake Temple and Moritz Reintjes have now shown how to remove such singularities. (Getty Images)

“We prove that such singularities can always be removed by coordinate transformation,” said Blake Temple, professor of mathematics at UC Davis. “The proof is based on the discovery of a new elliptic system of partial differential equations and the construction of an existence theory for these equations.”

A coordinate transformation is the set of equations needed to locate the same object in two different systems of coordinates.

The work by Temple and Moritz Reintjes, a former UC Davis graduate student now at the University of Konstanz, Germany, was published Sept. 16 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

“The result is so general that the equations apply to the curvature of any metric, (the fundamental mathematical entities which define a geometry), including the dynamical gravitational metrics of General Relativity’’, Temple said. “A consequence of this is that our equations extend Uhlenbeck Compactness to the dynamical setting of physics.’’

Compactness is a technique for proving that a solution to an equation exists by analyzing a sequence of approximate solutions. Uhlenbeck Compactness shows that one need only analyze the curvature of the approximations. It says that curvature alone sets the bounds on all the derivatives (rates of change) needed to establish that the approximation strategy is valid.

Karen Uhlenbeck discovered and proved this fundamental theorem for static geometries in Yang-Mills theory, Temple said, but it wasn’t previously known whether the principle could be applied to the dynamical spacetime geometries of physics. The new Reintjes-Temple equations show that it can.

“Turns out our method for regularizing singularities at shock waves in General Relativity gives you Uhlenbeck Compactness for free!” Temple said.

More information

How to smooth a crinkled map of space–time: Uhlenbeck compactness for L∞connections and optimal regularity for general relativistic shock waves by the Reintjes–Temple equations  (Proceedings of the Royal Society A)

 

The post Ironing the Wrinkles Out of Spacetime appeared first on Egghead.

Ironing the Wrinkles Out of Spacetime

Egghead - September 28, 2020 - 8:01am

According to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, gravity is curvature in the fabric of spacetime. Shockwaves can distort spacetime, causing singularities where the laws of physics appear to break down.

Now two mathematicians at UC Davis have come up with equations that remove these singularities. In doing so, they also extend a theorem called Uhlenbeck Compactness to the setting of General Relativity.

Shockwaves could cause singularities in spacetime where the laws of physics break down. UC Davis mathematicians Blake Temple and Moritz Reintjes have now shown how to remove such singularities. (Getty Images)

“We prove that such singularities can always be removed by coordinate transformation,” said Blake Temple, professor of mathematics at UC Davis. “The proof is based on the discovery of a new elliptic system of partial differential equations and the construction of an existence theory for these equations.”

A coordinate transformation is the set of equations needed to locate the same object in two different systems of coordinates.

The work by Temple and Moritz Reintjes, a former UC Davis graduate student now at the University of Konstanz, Germany, was published Sept. 16 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

“The result is so general that the equations apply to the curvature of any metric, (the fundamental mathematical entities which define a geometry), including the dynamical gravitational metrics of General Relativity’’, Temple said. “A consequence of this is that our equations extend Uhlenbeck Compactness to the dynamical setting of physics.’’

Compactness is a technique for proving that a solution to an equation exists by analyzing a sequence of approximate solutions. Uhlenbeck Compactness shows that one need only analyze the curvature of the approximations. It says that curvature alone sets the bounds on all the derivatives (rates of change) needed to establish that the approximation strategy is valid.

Karen Uhlenbeck discovered and proved this fundamental theorem for static geometries in Yang-Mills theory, Temple said, but it wasn’t previously known whether the principle could be applied to the dynamical spacetime geometries of physics. The new Reintjes-Temple equations show that it can.

“Turns out our method for regularizing singularities at shock waves in General Relativity gives you Uhlenbeck Compactness for free!” Temple said.

More information

How to smooth a crinkled map of space–time: Uhlenbeck compactness for L∞connections and optimal regularity for general relativistic shock waves by the Reintjes–Temple equations  (Proceedings of the Royal Society A)

 

The post Ironing the Wrinkles Out of Spacetime appeared first on Egghead.

Digitizing the Endangered Archives of Peruvian Peasant Confederation

Egghead Blog - September 23, 2020 - 8:01am

By Kathleen Holder

For years, the historical papers of a Peruvian peasants’ rights group sat heaped in piles on the floor of a house in downtown Lima — threatened by pests, political foes, thieves and natural disasters, but largely off limits to scholars and the public.

Now a new project led by UC Davis historian Charles Walker will digitize documents of the Peruvian Peasant Confederation (Confederación Campesina del Perú, or CCP) and make them accessible online.

Walker recently was awarded a $50,000 grant from the UCLA Library’s Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAD) to buy imaging and other equipment, and pay part-time salaries of a team of Peruvian archivists, who began organizing and creating an inventory of the papers in 2015.

The project is among 22 worldwide that were selected in August for MEAD’s second round of funding. MEAD was set up in 2018 with support from Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, to digitize and document 20th- and 21st-century community activism and cultural heritage.

Filling a gap in Peruvian history

The CCP has played an important role in Peruvian politics since its founding in 1947, said Walker, a professor of Latin American history and director of the UC Davis Hemispheric Institute on the Americas.

Rondas campesinas were peasant security patrols active in rural Peru especially during the Shining Path insurgency. Materials like this could provide new insights into the conflict.

Documents in the archive could change our understanding of modern Peruvian history, Walker said. “It constitutes the richest archive collection in Peru focused on rural and Indigenous people in the 20th century.”

Among its contents are documents about its organization, national congresses, efforts to incorporate women’s groups, correspondence with foreign human rights organizations and political parties, and a collection of rights violation denunciations by rural people. It also includes fliers, posters, magazines, books, and audiovisual material.

A window to the Shining Path conflict

“Particularly noteworthy are the correspondence and pleas for help from the period of the Shining Path (1980-92) and the Dirty War,” Walker wrote in the grant proposal. “The extreme danger in this period (the conflict left 70,000 dead according to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission) meant that journalists and scholars conducted rural research at great risk.”

The archive could help fill that information gap, providing documentation on how peasant communities responded to the conflict and how the CCP and other organizations sought to aid them.

But the archive is “in terrible shape, in danger,” Walker said. Already, source material from the CCP’s first three decades has been lost — some in a police raid in 1977 and others during a move in the early 1980s.

A collaboration with Peruvian experts

The digitization project, scheduled to begin in December and take about eight months, will focus on the most historically important source materials, Walker said.

Fully searchable digital files will be given to the UCLA Library as well as to Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and Peru’s ombudsman. These libraries provide open access to the files.

The team in Peru includes Ruth Borja Santa Cruz, a professor of history at National University of San Marcos who oversaw the creation of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s archive; María Karina Fernández Gonzales, head archivist for Peru’s ombudsman now in charge of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission archive; and Maria Rodríguez Jaime, of the Casa de Literatura library and archive.

The CCP physical archives will remain in Peru, along with the digitizing equipment bought with the grant. “The team is fantastic,” Walker said. “They already have more projects in mind.”

Kathleen Holder is a content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science. 

 

The post Digitizing the Endangered Archives of Peruvian Peasant Confederation appeared first on Egghead.

Digitizing the Endangered Archives of Peruvian Peasant Confederation

Egghead - September 23, 2020 - 8:01am

By Kathleen Holder

For years, the historical papers of a Peruvian peasants’ rights group sat heaped in piles on the floor of a house in downtown Lima — threatened by pests, political foes, thieves and natural disasters, but largely off limits to scholars and the public.

Now a new project led by UC Davis historian Charles Walker will digitize documents of the Peruvian Peasant Confederation (Confederación Campesina del Perú, or CCP) and make them accessible online.

Walker recently was awarded a $50,000 grant from the UCLA Library’s Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAD) to buy imaging and other equipment, and pay part-time salaries of a team of Peruvian archivists, who began organizing and creating an inventory of the papers in 2015.

The project is among 22 worldwide that were selected in August for MEAD’s second round of funding. MEAD was set up in 2018 with support from Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, to digitize and document 20th- and 21st-century community activism and cultural heritage.

Filling a gap in Peruvian history

The CCP has played an important role in Peruvian politics since its founding in 1947, said Walker, a professor of Latin American history and director of the UC Davis Hemispheric Institute on the Americas.

Rondas campesinas were peasant security patrols active in rural Peru especially during the Shining Path insurgency. Materials like this could provide new insights into the conflict.

Documents in the archive could change our understanding of modern Peruvian history, Walker said. “It constitutes the richest archive collection in Peru focused on rural and Indigenous people in the 20th century.”

Among its contents are documents about its organization, national congresses, efforts to incorporate women’s groups, correspondence with foreign human rights organizations and political parties, and a collection of rights violation denunciations by rural people. It also includes fliers, posters, magazines, books, and audiovisual material.

A window to the Shining Path conflict

“Particularly noteworthy are the correspondence and pleas for help from the period of the Shining Path (1980-92) and the Dirty War,” Walker wrote in the grant proposal. “The extreme danger in this period (the conflict left 70,000 dead according to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission) meant that journalists and scholars conducted rural research at great risk.”

The archive could help fill that information gap, providing documentation on how peasant communities responded to the conflict and how the CCP and other organizations sought to aid them.

But the archive is “in terrible shape, in danger,” Walker said. Already, source material from the CCP’s first three decades has been lost — some in a police raid in 1977 and others during a move in the early 1980s.

A collaboration with Peruvian experts

The digitization project, scheduled to begin in December and take about eight months, will focus on the most historically important source materials, Walker said.

Fully searchable digital files will be given to the UCLA Library as well as to Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and Peru’s ombudsman. These libraries provide open access to the files.

The team in Peru includes Ruth Borja Santa Cruz, a professor of history at National University of San Marcos who oversaw the creation of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s archive; María Karina Fernández Gonzales, head archivist for Peru’s ombudsman now in charge of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission archive; and Maria Rodríguez Jaime, of the Casa de Literatura library and archive.

The CCP physical archives will remain in Peru, along with the digitizing equipment bought with the grant. “The team is fantastic,” Walker said. “They already have more projects in mind.”

Kathleen Holder is a content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science. 

 

The post Digitizing the Endangered Archives of Peruvian Peasant Confederation appeared first on Egghead.

Rallying the Troops for Good Civil War History

Egghead Blog - September 18, 2020 - 8:01am

Two historians are calling for a nationwide demonstration of “good history” at sites associated with the Civil War, slavery or Reconstruction on Saturday, Sept. 26, the weekend after the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Kate Masur, associate professor of history at Northwestern University and Greg Downs, professor of history at UC Davis issued their call in a post on Muster, a blog of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

This spring and summer have brought renewed protests against monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders — and a corresponding backlash.

“We believe historians can play an important role in the ongoing, broad-based conversation about the history and memory of the Civil War Era,” Masur and Downs wrote.

Building on a similar event held at Gettysburg on July 4 this year, Masur and Downs call on historians to select a historic site where the history of slavery, emancipation and Reconstruction is being concealed or neglected, invite friends and community members and provide an accurate recounting of historical evidence.

“The goal: to emancipate our battlefields and other public spaces from a biased history that has sanitized and glorified the Confederacy’s fight to keep four million African Americans enslaved,” they wrote.

There are currently nearly 100 historians signed up for events across the country, Downs said.

More information

Civil War History: A Call to Action (Muster/Journal of the Civil War Era)

History Professor Gregory Downs Featured in PBS Documentary (UC Davis College of Letters and Science)

 

The post Rallying the Troops for Good Civil War History appeared first on Egghead.

Rallying the Troops for Good Civil War History

Egghead - September 18, 2020 - 8:01am

Two historians are calling for a nationwide demonstration of “good history” at sites associated with the Civil War, slavery or Reconstruction on Saturday, Sept. 26, the weekend after the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Kate Masur, associate professor of history at Northwestern University and Greg Downs, professor of history at UC Davis issued their call in a post on Muster, a blog of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

This spring and summer have brought renewed protests against monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders — and a corresponding backlash.

“We believe historians can play an important role in the ongoing, broad-based conversation about the history and memory of the Civil War Era,” Masur and Downs wrote.

Building on a similar event held at Gettysburg on July 4 this year, Masur and Downs call on historians to select a historic site where the history of slavery, emancipation and Reconstruction is being concealed or neglected, invite friends and community members and provide an accurate recounting of historical evidence.

“The goal: to emancipate our battlefields and other public spaces from a biased history that has sanitized and glorified the Confederacy’s fight to keep four million African Americans enslaved,” they wrote.

There are currently nearly 100 historians signed up for events across the country, Downs said.

More information

Civil War History: A Call to Action (Muster/Journal of the Civil War Era)

History Professor Gregory Downs Featured in PBS Documentary (UC Davis College of Letters and Science)

 

The post Rallying the Troops for Good Civil War History appeared first on Egghead.

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