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Evidence-Based Solutions for Central California

Lorena Anderson

Ecosystem Engineers Play Crucial Role in Stabilizing Their Environments, Study Shows

When people think of engineering in nature, they tend to think of species such as beavers — the tree-felling, dam-building rodents whose machinations can shape the landscape by creating lakes and changing the path of rivers.

But beavers are far from the only organisms to reshape their environment. A squirrel that inadvertently plants oak trees is also an “ecosystem engineer.” Roughly speaking, any organism whose impact on the environment outlasts its own lifetime is an environmental engineer.

$3.5 Million Hellman Endowment Expands Future of Research at UC Merced

Since 2011, the Hellman Fellows Fund has provided close to 60 UC Merced assistant professors with much-needed research support in the form of seed funding. The prestigious Hellman Fellowship has launched countless careers at UC Merced and across the UC system.

Now, thanks to a generous new $3.5 million gift from the Hellman family, UC Merced will permanently establish the UC Merced Society of Hellman Fellows starting in 2021. The endowment allows the program to continue in perpetuity, while affording the campus more flexibility in funding early-career research.

New Project Aims to Advance Understanding of Immune Cells as they Develop

Maybe now more than ever, scientists need to understand the immune system.

A new National Institutes of Health grant is funding a cross-disciplinary collaboration between bioengineering Professor Joel Spencer and immunology Professor Jennifer Manilay that will allow them to watch as immune-system cells develop in the bone marrow of a living mouse to gain insights into how they work.

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