$5 million to Improve Electronic Devices

Five UCR professors will receive a total of $5 million as part of a $35 million research center, called the Center for Function Accelerated nanoMaterial Engineering, aimed at developing materials and structures that could enable more energy efficient computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. The research center will be located at UCLA and led by Jane P. Chang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA.

Four professors that are part of the center are from Bourns College of Engineering’s electrical engineering department: Alexander A. Balandin, Alexander Khitun, Jianlin Liu and Roger Lake. Jeanie Lau, a professor of physics and astronomy, is the fifth professor. All the professors are a part of the Materials, Science and Engineering program and each will receive about $1 million.

Japanese University Expands Presence at UC Riverside

A Japanese university that is one of  UCR’s strongest international partners is expanding that relationship by establishing a center at the UCR campus.

Officials from Tohoku University, which is in Sendai, Japan, one of Riverside’s sister cities, were in Riverside on Feb. 11 to open the Tohoku University Center at UCR Extension. The officials included the president and executive vice president of Tohoku.

The center is funded by a $10 million grant that Tohoku, one of Japan’s top universities, received from the Japanese government to develop global skills for its students by expanding international education opportunities, said Bronwyn Jenkins-Deas, associate dean of UCR Extension and director of international educations programs at the university. Tohoku University plans to send approximately 160 students to UCR each year for training.

UCR Scientists Identify Genetic Mechanism That Contributed to Irish Famine

When a pathogen attacks a plant, infection usually follows after the plant’s immune system is compromised.  A team of researchers at  UCR focused on Phytophthora, the pathogen that triggered the Irish Famine of the 19th century, and deciphered how it succeeded in crippling the potato plant’s immune system.

The genus Phytophthora contains many notorious pathogens of crops. Phytophthora pathogens cause worldwide losses of more than $6 billion each year on potato (Phytophthora infestans) and about $2 billion each year on soybean (Phytophthora sojae).

The researchers, led by Wenbo Ma, an associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology, focused their attention on a class of essential virulence proteins produced by a broad range of pathogens, including Phytophthora, called “effectors.” The effectors are delivered to, and function only in, the cells of the host plants the pathogens attack.  The researchers found that Phytophthora effectors blocked the RNA silencing pathways in their host plants (such as potato, tomato, and soybean), resulting first in a suppression of host immunity and thereafter in an increase in the plants’ susceptibility to disease.

Study results appeared online Feb. 3 in Nature Genetics.

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