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Experts examine the future of oil, a bubbling law firm battle, crisis in China, more

By Amy Agronis on June 3, 2005 in University

Comments by UC Davis community members regularly appear in a wide variety of media outlets around the country. Among the recent citings in prominent venues:

Institute of Transportation Studies director Daniel Sperling contributed to a May 29 San Francisco Chronicle story on the future of the oil industry. Many industry experts suggest that the world's petroleum production will peak by the end of the decade and begin to decline. But Sperling, as well as others in the field, believes that oil production does not have to peak at all, but rather could plateau eventually and gradually decline as global economies switch to other forms of energy. "Even in 30 to 40 years there's still going to be huge amounts of oil in the Middle East," he said.

Associate Professor of Plant Pathology David Rizzo contributed to a May 26 Orlando Tribune article on the spread of citrus canker. Florida workers have been trying to eradicate the bacteria for a decade, but some experts suggest they are inadvertently spreading the disease by feeding infected trees into high-powered chippers — which could be sending clouds of bacteria-laden debris into the air. "I can see it getting airborne and spreading," said Rizzo, a citrus canker expert. "Pathogens are well-known for traveling very long distances in the air."…

Center for Children's Environmental Health director Isaac Pessah was quoted on a controversial new autism treatment called chelation therapy in the May 25 Contra Costa Times. Pessah, like many autism experts, is skeptical of the procedure, which rids the body of heavy metals such as mercury. "The problem I see with a general promotion of chelation therapy for autism is there is no large, controlled study to determine whether it actually helps the kids," he said. "The concern is that these chelation therapies change more than just the heavy metal balance in children. We don't know what the consequences might be." ...

Research done by ophthalmology professor Larry Morse and colleagues on age-related macular degeneration was highlighted in the May 30 Sacramento Bee. The condition, caused by fluid buildup in the back of the eye, leaves peripheral vision intact but blocks central vision, sometimes even causing blindness. Morse has tested two experimental drugs that have reversed the degeneration. "The future has great promise, but we still have a lot of things to do," he said. "Now, we have smart drugs that target the main problem, and that is very encouraging." ...

Geology professor Gary Vermeij appeared on NPR: Morning Edition on May 25 to explain his new theory that biological observations from his fossil studies can apply to human endeavors as well. Vermeij, whose specialty is seashells, has found from the fossil record that predators have been getting more powerful over time. He speculated that this power increase also applies to corporations and even entire countries. Vermeij admittedly went out on a limb with his theory, but said, "If you don't take academic or intellectual risks, you're not going to be very interesting." ...

Agricultural and resource economics professor Scott Rozelle commented on the impending Chinese currency change in a May 27 Reuters News Service article. The yuan, which is tied to the dollar, is expected to strengthen during the next year, which could lead to cheaper food imports and more expensive exports. Some policy makers worry that the currency change could lead to higher unemployment in rural China. "You'll see the price difference be almost immediately translated into the market, and it will be felt all over China," Rozelle said. ...

Law professor Robert Hillman was quoted in a May 25 New York Times story about one law firm suing another for hiring away employees. The San Francisco-based firm Orrick Herrington and Suttcliffe reported acquiring 11 lawyers from New York-based Coudert Brothers two weeks ago, resulting in possible legal action that Hillman called "a black eye for the legal profession." Hillman, an expert on the law of partner moves, added that, "No one really wants to see these kinds of lawsuits. Embarrassing information about each firm becomes public; judges have little tolerance for this kind of quarreling, and therefore the courts are not particularly hospitable." ...

Viticulture and enology professor Andrew Walker's research was mentioned in a May 25 Miami Herald story on California wine growers' battle with a disease-carrying insect. The glassy-winged sharpshooter, which carries a fatal vine affliction called Pierce's disease, caused an estimated $40 million in damages in the 1990s when it decimated several southern California vineyards. Some wild grapes are resistant to the bacteria, but they cannot be used in wines because of their taste. Walker is trying to come up with a disease-resistant grape that tastes good through crossbreeding, and is also working on isolating the resistant gene in wild grapes. — By Mike Sintetos

Media contact(s)

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

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