10 Ways UC Davis Is Great in STEM

Lab scientist
Katherine Ralston’s discoveries about how a parasitic amoeba kills cells reveal a fundamental process in biology. Credit: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

This week, we present in sound and video some of the people and projects that make UC Davis a great place for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

The campus boasts leading researchers across a wide range of fields, from astrophysics to engineering to zoology, from the fundamental structure of the universe to solving immediate problems in food, health and the environment. And as America needs more graduates in STEM fields, we are also dedicated to expanding the diversity of the scientific workforce — Forbes magazine recently rated UC Davis top among the best colleges for women in STEM.

Women in STEM

Advice for your younger self

When a high-powered group of women came together to launch the Northern California Chapter of Million Women Mentors, we asked them, “What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?”

Fashion or theory?

As a teen, Raissa D’Souza was torn between studying mathematics or going to Paris to study fashion and dressmaking. She chose math, and is now a leading expert exploring the mathematics of complexity, and how networks from the power grid to stock exchanges link together and affect each other.

Problem solvers

Simple tools for eye doctors

Studying abroad in Ecuador, recent biomedical engineering graduate Rose Truong saw how hard it was to fit people with glasses without access to an optometrist’s tools. Back at UC Davis, she developed a simple tool for eye examinations that could help people around the world get better vision.

Help for farmworkers

Before he came to UC Davis, Fadi Fathallah hadn’t thought about the hard labor that goes into farm work, and resulting injuries. Now the engineering professor develops new tools to help make farm work safer and more efficient.

Lights for chickens

Did you know hens lay more eggs when they have better lighting? Graduate Edward Silva developed the Henlight, a solar-powered lighting unit that can be used anywhere in the world to light up hen houses and increase egg production, an important source of income and protein for small farmers.

New technology for disabled people

Sanjay Joshi is building controls that allow disabled people to make phone calls, operate a television or computer, or even control a robot by harnessing electrical impulses from muscles and nerves. “We can use technology to make peoples’ lives better,” he says. 

Understanding our world

Exploring new worlds

Sarah Stewart grew up on science fiction. The original five-year mission inspired a career exploring how both our own planet and other strange new worlds were formed billions of years ago.

Looking to ‘inner space,’ a new way to image cancer

Radiologist Ramsey Badawi and biomedical engineer Simon Cherry hope their new whole-body PET scanner will bring the same kind of revolution to our understanding of the body as the Hubble Space Telescope brought to astronomy.  

Parasitic amoeba nibbles on other cells

Remember the blob-like amoeba from high school science class? Microbiologist Katy Ralston made a new and unexpected discovery about this well-known little beast: it can attack other cells by “nibbling” pieces off them. The discovery gives new insight into these parasites as well as fundamental cell processes.

Do zebra stripes confuse biting flies?

Zoologist Tim Caro has been studying a question that puzzled the ancient Greeks: Why do zebras have stripes? He teamed up with neuroscientist Ken Britten to test one theory, that the stripes confuse biting flies by messing with polarized light.


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