UC Davis Student Pursuing Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences Wins Award

UC Davis student Laura Garza Díaz, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in hydrologic sciences, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Award. She’s being recognized by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Graduate Education Committee for her demonstrated leadership and original research that supports the college’s mission to serve agriculture, the environment and human health and development.

California’s 2020 Wildfire Season

Just over 9,900 wildfires burned about 4.3 million acres in 2020. That’s more than twice the previous record of acres burned in California. Yet it is about average compared to burn rates likely experienced before Euro-American settlement, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, that summarizes the 2020 fire season and examines its drivers.

A New Place to Relax on UC Davis Campus

Take a seat and relax on the new addition to the UC Davis campus – a sod couch. The outdoor seating is located near the main entrance to Hunt Hall, not far from the Memorial Union (MU) and the Unitrans bus terminal. As the name implies, it’s a couch made of soil and grass sod. The unique fixture is the product of landscape architecture students who completed the Design and Build course last fall, which was led by instructors Haven Kiers and Gabino Marquez.

Could Vines Be the Answer to Speeding Urban Cooling, Water Reduction in the West?

Perhaps trees aren’t the only green solution when it comes to cooling urban spaces and reducing energy costs. Honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, pink trumpet and other vines could be a fast-growing substitute in climate-smart cities of the future.

Researchers from UC Davis are leading a nearly $880,000 federal grant to study how vines may provide cooling and shade in Western states in less time than it takes a tree to grow tall.

Little Fires: Landowners Learn to Burn

Smoke billows over the forest like a slow-moving fog. Dried oak leaves singe, crackle and curl into ash. Neighbors, scientists and agency staffers rake the embers, directing the flames with calm, careful control. Ted Odell’s grandson runs along his namesake trail, Henry’s Hill, to adjust a hose. 

This is Odell’s property in Placer County, where five of his 11 acres are being burned by prescribed fire with assistance from Placer County Resource Conservation District, UC Davis researchers and others. 


Environmental Justice Movement Gains Momentum in Sacramento

New forms of environmental justice organizing — from grassroots movements to government-led policy initiatives — are building healthier and more equitable communities within the Sacramento region, suggests a new study by the University of California, Davis. 

To Save California’s Whales, Put Overlooked Threats Into Policy

Whales are threatened by a variety of human activities off the West Coast of the United States, including fishing, ship traffic and pollution. Overlap between these stressors can compound effects on whale populations, but are rarely addressed by current whale-protection policies in California, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. 

Older Wildfire Smoke Plumes Can Affect Climate

Aerosols carried in wildfire smoke plumes that are hundreds of hours old can still affect climate, according to a study out of the University of California, Davis. 

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that wildfire emissions even 10 days old can affect the properties of aerosols — suspended liquid or particles that are key to cloud formation.