Accolades: September 2019

Anita Oberbauer honored for work advancing the health of dogs

Anita Oberbauer with her dog.
Anita Oberbauer

Department of Animal Science Professor and CA&ES Associate Dean Anita Oberbauer is the 2019 recipient of an award from the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) for her work dedicated to advancing the health of dogs. She received the award in August at a conference held by the organization in St. Louis.

The Asa Mays, DVM Excellence in Canine Health Research Award is a biennial honor presented to a research investigator who demonstrates meritorious achievements in furthering the mission of identifying, characterizing and treating canine diseases and ailments.

“Dr. Oberbauer is a dedicated scientist and bridges the gap between canine health researchers, students and breeders with her ability to make genetic information practical and relevant,” said CHF board member Mary Smith. “Her contributions to canine health and the dog community are very worthy of this accolade.”

Oberbauer’s research program emphasizes cellular components regulating skeletal growth and body composition, and the genetic basis for health disorders in dogs. Her work on companion animals has been recognized by the American Society of Animal Science. She also is on the board of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. 

Earlier this year, Oberbauer received the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. Her companion animal biology class is one of the most popular on campus.

Amanda Guyer named Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science

Developmental psychologist Amanda Guyer, a professor in the Department of Human Ecology, is among the 2019 class of fellows of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Fellow status is awarded to APS members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching and service.

Amanda Guyer
Amanda Guyer

“Amanda has become one of the recognized leaders in developmental neuroscience and developmental psychology,” said Paul Hastings, a UC Davis psychology professor. “She has guided our understanding of child and adolescent emotional and behavioral problems in important new directions.”

Guyer investigates the neural and behavioral underpinnings of adolescent psychopathology, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse through social, emotional and cognitive processes. Her studies shed light on how adolescents process facial emotions, social threats and peer evaluation, and how adolescents regulate their behavior. 

Several of Guyer’s publications have had a major impact on the field of developmental psychology and clinical neuroscience. Her research has examined age-, temperament- and gender-related differences, as well as variability in adolescent development as a function of stressful life events, poverty, and peer and family factors. 

Guyer is affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, on the training faculty of the Bay Area Affective Science Training Program, an associate editor for Child Development, and a standing member of the NIH's Psychosocial Development, Risk, and Prevention Study Section. She is also as chair of the UC Davis Human Development Graduate Group.

Three CA&ES assistant professors among the 2019 class of Hellman Fellows

Three CA&ES faculty members have been awarded 2019 fellowships from the Hellman Fellows Fund—Daniel Choe (human ecology), Yanhong Liu (animal science) and Barbara Blanco-Ulate (plant sciences).

Daniel Choe
Daniel Choe

The foundation provides support and encouragement for the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research. The fellowship is intended to support research and creative activities that will promote career advancement and progress toward tenure. Research by Hellman Fellows covers a wide range of academic disciplines on a variety of important issues in society.

Yanhong Liu
Yanhong Liu

Almost half of the children under age six in California live in poverty or a low-income household, increasing their risk of maladjustment. Choe is examining whether low-income toddlers’ and mothers’ social, behavioral and physiological regulation protect against poverty-related stressors to support resilience. 

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in livestock and poultry is a rising concern in public health. A main goal of Liu’s research is to explore dietary alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters to enhance disease resistance, gut health and performance of food-producing animals in the livestock and poultry industries.

Barbara Blanco-Ulate
Barbara Blanco-Ulate

Worldwide, 20 to 25 percent of all harvested fruits and vegetables are lost annually due to rotting by fungal pathogens. Blanco-Ulate is examining how particular changes in genetic regulation during fruit ripening impact the ability of fruit to fight disease. Identification of critical genetic factors would help in breeding fruit crops that maintain quality after harvest.

Fellows will be asked at a later date to make a presentation about their research and the impact the award has made on their research progress. The Hellman Fellows program, which began in 1994, serves all 10 UC campuses, three private universities, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Each institution makes its own selections. Learn more about all of the 2019 Hellman Fellows.

UC Davis student team wins second place in agricultural robotics competition

Congratulations to the team of UC Davis students who took a second place award in the robotics student design competition at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) in Boston this summer.

The UC Davis team, comprised of eight undergraduate students and five graduate student advisers, was the top American team in the beginner category, which included competitors from other countries as well. The team won a trophy and cash prize. See photos from the competition here.

The ASABE Robotics Student Design Competition is a student design event that allows undergraduate and graduate students to demonstrate their skills in robotic systems, electronics, and sensing technologies by simulating a fully autonomous robotics solution to a common agricultural process. 

For this year’s competition, the students were tasked with creating a terrestrial robot that was able to pick up different colored plants, identify the plant color, and place it into the correct growing area. 

Scoring for the competition focused on speed and precision. Robots were not judged on aesthetics, craftsmanship, or elegance, which allows teams to create the most effective solution for a given challenge. The accuracy and precision with which the robots accomplished the task were the primary elements that determined the team’s score, followed by speed.  

The UC Davis team created a robot that did not make many mistakes, which distinguished it from other robots designed by their peers at other US universities.  

“There is more glamor in creating a robot that is fast, but the accuracy and precision of the UC Davis robot was the key that allowed them to win second place in the competition,” said agricultural engineering professor and faculty adviser David Slaughter.

Each team also submitted a poster describing the development and function of their robot(s) to show off their work to industry and academic professionals attending the conference.

The UC Davis team was sponsored primarily by Yamaha Motor Ventures, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the California Almond Board.