Ramakrishnan to Take Part in NRC Study on Immigration

Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate professor of political science, is one of 17 researchers invited by the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study on the integration of immigrants into American society. The two-year study will be conducted in parallel with a companion study on the economic, fiscal and labor market effects of immigration.

The aim of the project, according to the NRC, is to facilitate a more informed and fact-based discussion of the issues surrounding current immigration in the U.S.  Ramakrishnan and the committee are charged with summarizing what is known about how immigrants are integrating into American society, discussing the implications of this knowledge for informing policy options, and identifying any important gaps in existing knowledge and data availability.

Sponsors of the study of immigrant integration are the Carnegie Corp. of New York, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The study of the economic, fiscal and labor market effects of immigration is being sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation.

The NRC is a private, nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on pressing challenges facing the nation and the world.

How Fruit Flies Detect Sweet Foods

Anupama Dahanukar

Using the common fruit fly, UCR researchers have performed a study that describes just how the fly’s taste receptors detect sweet compounds.

The fruit fly has eight sweet taste receptors. To their surprise, the researchers found that each of the eight receptors confers sensitivity to one or more of the sweet substances they tested in the lab. Their systematic analysis showed that the receptors could be separated into two groups based on which compounds they detect and how closely related they are in sequence.

“Sweet taste serves as an indicator of nutritive value, and the fly, like many other animals, has quite a sweet tooth,” said Anupama Dahanukar, assistant professor of entomology and leader of the project.

The study, which appeared online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, holds promise for uncovering functions of taste receptors in insects that transmit diseases or damage crops.

Dahanukar were joined in the research by Erica Gene Freeman, a bioengineering graduate student, and Zev Wisotsky, a neuroscience graduate student.

The research was supported by a National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Research and Training Program in Video Bioinformatics Fellowship and a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Award to Freeman; and a Whitehall Foundation Grant and a grant from the National Institutes of Health to Dahanukar.

Living on Islands Makes Animals Tamer

Theodore Garland

UCR researchers along with Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and George Washington University published a study showing that island lizards are “tame” as compared with their mainland relatives. The researchers were able to approach island lizards more closely than they could approach mainland lizards.

“Our study confirms [Charles] Darwin’s observations [while at the Galapagos Islands] and his numerous anecdotal reports of island tameness,” said Theodore Garland, professor of biology and one of the paper’s coauthors. “His insights have once again proven to be correct, and remain an important source of inspiration for present-day biologists.”

Study results appear online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They will appear in the journal in print on Feb. 22.

Garland was joined in the study by William E. Cooper Jr. (first author of the research paper) at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Ind., and R. Alexander Pyron at the George Washington University, Wash. D.C.

The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Mellon Foundation Awards UC Riverside $405,000

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded UC Riverside $405,000 to design new software that will allow scholars from around the world to help edit and curate the English Short Title Catalog (ESTC), a searchable database of every known publication in the English-speaking world from the birth of the printing press in 1473 to 1800.

The foundation previously awarded UCR’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) $48,500 to develop a plan to help curate the expanding database and simplify how researchers harvest information from it.

The new grant continues that effort by funding the development of software that will enable scholars to add information about individual publications that could be useful to other researchers, said Brian Geiger, Director of the UC Riverside Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research.

The ESTC lists more than 500,000 items. The catalog is a joint effort of the CBSR, the British Library and the American Antiquarian Society and is widely regarded as the single most authoritative source for the identification of early modern editions. It is freely available for searching at http://estc.bl.uk.

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