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IN BRIEF ... Albin, campus rate tops; arboretum paths expand; wind overrated as aid in pollination

By Amy Agronis on September 17, 2004 in University

Student-athlete Albin named tops in state

UC Davis All-American lacrosse player Kelly Albin -- who begins work on her master's degree in food science at UC Davis this fall -- has been selected as the California state winner for the 2003-04 NCAA Woman of the Year award, it was announced Monday.

The NCAA selects one student-athlete from each state. Ten finalists are chosen later in September. The NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced Oct. 31.

Albin is the sixth Aggie student-athlete to achieve the state-level honor since 1997.

A native of Fort Bragg, she was a "consensus" All-American in 2004 and on the first teams selected by Inside Lacrosse, the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Associ-ation and the webzine womenslacrosse.com.

Albin served as coordinator for UC Davis' Peer Counselors in Athletics, spent fall 2003 in Urubamba, Peru, as a volunteer for the ProPERU Service Corps and is a flutist.

UC Davis ranks high again among universities

UC Davis ranked 11th among 162 public national universities, according to the U.S. News & World Report's most recent assessment of higher educational institutions in America.

This is the third year in a row that UC Davis has maintained its ranking. UC Berkeley was cited as the top public university, with the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan tied for second place. Just ahead of UC Davis, in 10th place, was Georgia Tech.

Rankings are drawn from U.S. News & World Report's 2004 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." They include both private and public institutions. Among other UCs, UCLA retained its rank among public institutions (4th), as did UC Irvine (12th). UC San Diego dropped one position to 8th, and UC Santa Barbara dropped one position to 13th. UC Santa Cruz dropped from 27th to 32nd among public universities, and UC Riverside moved up two positions from 39th to 37th. All UC campuses are in the top 45 nationally.

In producing its rankings, U.S. News & World Report considers such issues as academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rates, retention and alumni giving.

When public and private schools are considered together, UC Davis was rated 43rd among 248 national universities. UC Berkeley was 21st and UCLA was 26th in that expanded category. Harvard and Princeton tied for first place, with Yale University in third place.

-- Clifton B. Parker

Arboretum paths expand, connecting more campus

The thousands of joggers, walkers and bicyclers who frequent the arboretum have something to look forward to in the coming months: almost half a mile's worth of newly paved paths.

The Arboretum Path and South Campus Bikeway Completion project will provide approximately 2,300 feet of 10- to 12-foot-wide paved pedestrian/bike paths on both sides of the arboretum waterway. The new routes will run from the California Street Bridge to the crossing at Putah Creek Lodge Road.

The project is currently out to bid but construction is slated to run from October until the middle of December, weather permitting.

On the north side of the waterway, the pavement of an existing dirt path would extend a popular jogging and cycling path to the west, connecting it with Putah Creek Lodge Road. The paving of the dirt path on the south side would connect a main bicycle route to the south end of campus. Senior project manager Glenn Mah said, "It will make a more direct path for students and employees traveling to and from south campus."

Construction costs, estimated at around $150,000, will be funded in part by a grant from Transportation Enhancement Activities. TEA is a federal program committed to improving the nation's transportation system. -- Mike Sintetos

IN RESEARCH: Hay fever aside, wind isn't great at moving pollen

The wind transports pollen far less effectively than scientists assumed, according to a new study of invasive Atlantic cordgrass by researchers at UC Davis. This discovery will help control a cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, that is invading wetlands on the Pacific coast.

Plants including grasses, oaks and pine trees need the wind to carry pollen between plants, fertilizing nascent seeds. Scientists guessed that wind pollination was efficient, but the theory hadn't been tested.

"People think, because they get hay fever, there's always plenty of pollen in the air," said Heather Davis, lead author on the study published Aug. 16 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. "But pollen is fragile, like sperm. It has a very short life."

Working in the salt marsh of Willapa Bay, Wash., Davis and colleagues studied wind pollination at two stages of a Spartina invasion: early, when plants are spread apart, and late, when plants form a solid meadow.

Wind pollination worked well for late-invasion meadow plants, causing high seed production. But the wind worked poorly when plants were spread further apart. Early-invasion plants received little pollen and made very few seeds.

Davis thinks this explains why Spartina covers only 60 of Willapa Bay's 230 acres, despite having been present in the bay for a century. The study's findings are helping biologists devise new strategies to eradicate invasive species. Davis says inefficient wind pollination could also speed the extinction of rare plants.

Media contact(s)

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

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