UCR Students Turn Diaper Into Medical Tool

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Janet Zimmerman, published in the Press-Enterprise on September 11, 2014. )

Five UC Riverside students and recent grads cleaned up in a national engineering contest by building a better diaper.  The group came up with an inexpensive liner that detects dehydration and bacterial infections in infants, an invention that could facilitate testing in poor countries and ease infants’ suffering. They call it the Diaper Detective.

Bioengineering students from UC Riverside developed a diaper insert for detecting bacterial infections and dehydration in infants. The team includes, from left, Stephanie Tehseldar, Veronica Boulos, Sara Said, Claire Tran and Melissa Cruz.  Photo credit: Harish Dixit

Bioengineering students from UC Riverside developed a diaper insert for detecting bacterial infections and dehydration in infants. The team includes, from left, Stephanie Tehseldar, Veronica Boulos, Sara Said, Claire Tran and Melissa Cruz. Photo credit: Harish Dixit

“We created this to fulfill a need for a versatile, inexpensive, non-invasive method of urine collection in developing countries and elsewhere,” co-inventor Veronica Boulos said. “The beauty of this is that it solves a huge problem with simplicity.”  The Diaper Detective was the result of a class that requires bioengineering students to design and develop a product. It took third place – and $10,000 – last month in the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams Challenge sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The Diaper Detective, created by UC Riverside students, uses chemicals that react with a baby's urine to detect illness and dehydration.  Photo credit: UC Riverside

The Diaper Detective, created by UC Riverside students, uses chemicals that react with a baby’s urine to detect illness and dehydration. Photo credit: UC Riverside

The idea was enough to attract interest from Procter & Gamble’s research department, which called the invention “novel, broadly relevant and affordable.” The group is in talks with the company for further development, possibly for adult incontinence products.

They hope their product eventually will be distributed to needy areas via relief organizations. If it qualifies for insurance coverage, it could be an inexpensive option for low-income parents, the scientists said.

The Diaper Detective is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.  

To read more, click here.

 

UCR Earns Spot On Sierra Magazine “Cool Schools” List For Third Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article published in UCR Today on August 12, 2014.)

For the third consecutive year, Sierra Magazine has included the University of California, Riverside on its list of “America’s Coolest Schools”, which is a list of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities.  UCR finished with a score of 577.98 out of a possible 1,000 points, placing it 90th among the schools surveyed. UCR’s score improved about 12% compared to 2013.

Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere during Earth Week 2014. Photo credit:  Uma Ramasubramanian

Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a          balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the                                          atmosphere during Earth Week 2014.                               Photo credit: Uma Ramasubramanian

The methodology as to how Sierra Magazine ranked all of the participating schools was extensive and thorough.  According to Sierraclub.org, “Participation in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Sierra received 173 complete responses from qualified colleges. Once schools submitted their data, our researchers scored each response and ranked all of the participating institutions.

There was no cost for participation, and no affiliation or relationship between a school and the Sierra Club or its employees, past or present, influenced the ranking. Evaluation was based primarily on schools’ responses to the survey but when appropriate, we made follow-up inquires by phone and email and used publicly available outside sources to verify and complement survey responses.”

The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum.  Photo credit: sierraclub.org

The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum. Photo credit: sierraclub.org

UC Riverside has made this list two other times, moving up the ranks with each appearance.  Officials at UCR expect to gain an even better position on next year’s list with 16 LEED buildings and a new Solar Farm in operation.

Through commitment and dedication, UCR is always improving and making strides in becoming a green machine.  Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, UCR values the cultivation and support of innovation within our community acting as a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read more from UCR Today, click here.

 

 

Researchers At UCR Find Key Component Of Autistic Behavior

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Mark Muckenfuss, published in the Press-Enterprise on July 26, 2014)

Through constant commitment and dedication, UC Riverside is consistently raising the bar with their research and technological advancements.  One recent advancement, in regards to autism research, is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

A UC Riverside-led team of researchers says it has found conclusive evidence that a naturally produced enzyme in the body is responsible for autism and other neurological disorders in people with Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X is a mutation of the X chromosome associated with obsessive-compulsive and repetitive behaviors as well as learning deficits. People affected by Fragile X have been shown to have structural differences in brain cells, such as underdeveloped neural receptors.

In 2007, Iryna Ethell, a UCR biochemist, found that overactivity of an enzyme called MMP-9 was connected with Fragile X. Her team recently identified MMP-9 as a major culprit in symptoms associated with Fragile X in mice.

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

By eliminating a gene that activates MMP-9, the researchers found that even with the presence of Fragile X syndrome, the mice showed no symptoms of autistic behavior. They measured sociability, anxiety and other behaviors, as well as examining individual brain cells.

Often, such discoveries are the first step in a long process. Just understanding a mechanism for a particular disease or disorder doesn’t  necessarily mean a treatment is imminent. Effective therapies or drugs can be many years away.

To read more, click here.

Shaping The World’s Food Future In Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today, on July 1, 2014.)

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, announces a new kind of Food CORPS focused on healthier ways to grow and distribute food

More than a century of agricultural research at UC Riverside has helped feed the human population.  When a pest invades California and starts killing important crops, it is Riverside scientists who find the natural enemy, raise it and release it, in concert with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

When far flung countries are fighting drought and flood, crops developed in Riverside can withstand the weather.  Catalyst for Innovation isn’t just a saying when speaking of  UC Riverside – it’s a lifestyle.

A campus community garden keeps UCR students connected to the land, and provides locally grown fruits and vegetables for students and others. And every piece of citrus in a California supermarket has a connection back to the campus, because Riverside hosts the budwood and genetic material for citrus growers around the world.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

“Keep in mind, the issue of food is not just about what we eat,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “It’s about delivery systems. Climate issues. Population growth. Policy. All of these and more come into play when you begin to think about the colliding forces that shape the world’s food future.”

On July 1, Napolitano promised a laser focus from the 10-campus University of California on a new UC Global Food Initiative, an issue with global implications.

The campuses in Riverside, Berkeley and Davis serve as a hub for Agricultural and Natural Resources, the University of California applied science that has advised and informed California’s growers for a century. But each of the 10 campuses, as well as the national laboratories, have a piece of the food puzzle.

“This initiative will help us address food security issues on our own campus, in our community and across the world,” said Peggy Mauk, a cooperative extension specialist who is director of UC Riverside’s Agricultural Operations, which covers 440 acres on campus, and another 500 acres in the Coachella Valley. She has heard growers ask for new certificate programs and an agribusiness degree. She is working to provide UCR grown crops to campus restaurants as well as schools in the Riverside Unified School Districts and local food banks.

“Our research has been going on for generations, but what this initiative does is ask us to knit it all up with the local community, local restaurants, even our local students. It’s totally doable in my opinion, given some time and some resources and some good partnerships,” Mauk said.

One of the tensions of the UC Global Food Initiative is that food means a lot of things to a lot of people, from growing organic greens in the backyard to large industrial production of soy and corn and beef shipped to the world.

For the entire article, click here.

 

UC Riverside To Lead New Energy Frontier Research Center Project

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today on June 18, 2014)

The project “SHINES” will receive $12 million from the Department of Energy to pursue fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative.  Photo Credit: UC Riverside

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative. Photo Credit: UC Riverside

University of California, Riverside is always leading the way in research and technology.  The SHINES project is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Collaborating with the Department of Energy for the SHINES project is an outstanding opportunity for the research team at UCR to showcase it’s talents and innovative spirit.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

A UC Riverside-led research project is among the 32 named today by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz as an Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), designed to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy in the United States.

SHINES is one of 10 new projects announced today, along with 22 other projects receiving new funding based on achievements to date. The Department of Energy announced a total of $100 million in funding to support fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

SHINES will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. “All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to help the nation’s ability to advance in the way we use energy,” said Shi, the lead researcher.

To read the full article, click here.

 

Riverside Experiments With More Affordable Public Area ‘Hotspots’

(This article contains excerpts from an article by David Downey, published in the Press-Entreprise on May 30, 2014.)

About the middle of last decade, municipalities across the Inland region were jumping on the broadband wireless wagon, vowing to blanket communities with “Wi-Fi” service and connect residents of all income levels to the Internet.  Riverside ended up being the only city to follow through. It hired AT&T to build and operate a system that debuted in May 2007. The idea was to blanket 95 percent of the city’s 83 square miles with free basic Internet access.

Riverside abandons nearly citywide system, joins area cities that have opted for more affordable public area ‘hotspots.’

Riverside abandons nearly citywide system, joins area cities that have opted for more affordable public area ‘hotspots.’

Seven years later, Riverside is abandoning what is now an out-of-date, little-used system, said Lea Deesing, the city’s chief innovation officer.  Revamping Riverside’s public internet capabilities is a large project that will benefit all Riversiders, regardless of socioeconomic status.  This project exemplifies seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.   Riverside has made it a priority to ensure that all residents  have internet access.  Our community leaders collaborate to address issues, which lead to more inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches. 

“We plan to shut it off on July 1,” Deesing said, adding that 1,600 devices on light poles and traffic signals will have to be dismantled.  Riverside opted not to spend an estimated $6 million to replace and modernize the network. Instead, the city has decided to experiment with hotspots, something other cities provide.

It is becoming increasingly important for people to connect to the Internet to obtain public services, apply for jobs and maintain bank accounts, among other things, the report states.

While Riverside had plenty of company around the nation in the area of public WiFi, it was on its own in Inland Southern California. A handful of cities, however, have opted to provide limited service in area hotspots.

To read the full article, click here.

These Roofs Can Clean The Air

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Michael Franco, published on cnet.com on June 4, 2014.)

Students at UC Riverside have created a cheap coating that can go on ordinary clay roofing tiles to bust smog.

Roofing tiles protect homes from the environment, reflecting heat from the sun and keeping rainwater rolling away into gutters. Thanks to work done by students at the University of California at Riverside, however, roof shingles may soon be protecting the environment itself.

Photo credit: UC Riverside

Photo credit: UC Riverside

A team there coated off-the-shelf clay roofing tiles with titanium dioxide, a compound found in “everything from paint to food to cosmetics,” according to the researchers. They then placed the coated tiles into a mini atmosphere chamber they built out of wood, Teflon, and PVC pipes. The chamber was filled with nitrogen oxide and beamed with ultraviolet light to mimic the sun. Nitrogen oxides are compounds in the air that are responsible for causing smog.

What they found was that the coating on the tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides. This led them to calculate that an average-size residential roof coated with their titanium dioxide mixture could break down the same amount of smog-producing nitrogen oxides per year put out by a car driven 11,000 miles. They further calculated that 21 tons of nitric oxide could be eliminated every day if tiles on 1 million roofs got the coating.

And the price for the simple yet powerful smog-busting coating? Just about $5 to cover an average-sized roof.  The students on the team that executed the research and developed the titanium dioxide coating are graduating in the fall, but are hopeful that new students will take over their work and test other factors.

The team at UCR that developed this smog buster is a model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Being that this project is so inexpensive and attainable, it has great potential for everyone to do their part and start to clean the skies.  Riverside is setting the bar as a Catalyst for Innovation in many ways.

To read more, click here.

New West Campus Solar Farm To Provide Power To UC Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French published in UCR Today on January 6, 2014)

When it comes online this summer, the 11-acre site will produce three megawatts of electricity

The sun has always been a major part of the identity of the University of California, Riverside, so much so that it is even incorporated into the school’s logo. But starting in the summer of 2014, the sun will be providing more than beautifully sunny days – it will also be providing electrical power to the campus and saving the university, and taxpayers, millions of dollars in the process.

UCR is partnering with SunPower Corporation to install a 10.92-acre solar farm on a West Campus open space surrounded by Parking Lot 30 and the UCR Community Garden to the south, the 60/215 freeway to the east and the International Village Apartments to the west. Upon completion, scheduled for July 2014, the facility will generate about three megawatts of electricity.

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

“Three megawatts is about 30% of our base load on a daily basis. Our peak load is 17 or 18 megawatts,” Ken Mueller, director of Physical Plant Operations said. “This is a good start and the campus will use 100% of the power that we generate.”

UCR is committed to becoming a green machine.  The new solar farm that will be going online this summer certainly exemplifies seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

The project supports the system-wide University Policy on Sustainable Practices, which calls on each campus to contribute to the production of up to 10 megawatts of on-site renewable power by 2014, as well as campus-specific sustainability strategies detailed in UCR’s 2005 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). The UCR photovoltaic system will be the largest at any UC campus and, combined with other UCR-based projects, will increase photovoltaic generation within the city of Riverside by 40%.

“We have had very favorable electrical rates with Riverside Public Utilities, but recently the price of solar has come down to where it is competitive with that electrical rate,” Mueller said. “We will be getting the most cost-effective solar array on the market.”

To read more, click here.

 

Cool California City Challenge: Motivating Cities To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

(This article contains excerpts from coolclimate.berkeley.edu)

The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is a competition between California cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints and helping to build more vibrant communities.

cool CA

Participants track driving and home energy use to earn “green points” for having low greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar households and “bonus points” (worth 5 times the value of green points) for lowering emissions over time. Each point helps participants’ cities earn sustainability funding from Challenge sponsors. Teams of any size collaborate and compete against other teams.

 The Competition                                                                              

Cities were able to sign up for the program beginning in January with sign up closing on March 30th. In April, those cities that signed up to participate in the ‘City Challenge’ encouraged residents to sign up for the program at the CoolCalifornia Challenge Registration Page and Riversiders began tracking their household energy (natural gas and electricity) and motor vehicle emissions. Prize money will be awarded to all participating cities based on the number of new registered households by May 30.

cool CA2

Here is the current scoreboard, Riverside is almost there! Photo credit: coolclimate.berkeley.ed

It’s not too late to get involved

Every resident in participating cities has the opportunity to contribute to the program. Within cities, households and groups of households will be recognized for their contributions to helping make cities green and more livable. These contributions include actions such as tracking and reducing energy consumption and vehicle miles. By signing up for the Challenge and reporting these actions, participants earn points, which further the standing of their city in the competition.

The program runs until the end of August, but residents need to sign up by May 30th!

The Cool California competition is a great model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  This is a great opportunity to collaborate and build stronger, more efficient communities. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read more about Cool California, click here.

Solar Power Goes To Work At UCR

(This article contains excerpts from an article by David Danelski, published in the Press-Enterprise on May 21, 2014.)

Even on a cloudy morning, a solar power system proved itself for its big unveiling Wednesday, May 21 in Riverside.  The system demonstrates that solar power can be harnessed, stored and consumed in a typical parking lot, powering electric vehicles and buildings and even contributing power to the grid. The project is in place at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology on Columbia Avenue, where dignitaries gathered for a ceremony Wednesday.

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

The $10 million carbon-free energy system is a technical first for the nation, Ula said.  Photovoltaic panels are mounted on seven steel structures above about 200 parking spaces; the structures also provide shade for the cars. The power goes to three UCR buildings, including the research center’s administrative headquarters, as well as five charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot.

Electricity that is not consumed immediately is stored in two refrigerator-size batteries that provide power to the building after the sun goes down. Then, any leftover power goes to into the Riverside Public Utilities grid to be used elsewhere.

The project was made possible with a $2 million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. UC Riverside invested $1 million and expects to recoup that cost in energy savings.  The solar panels were donated by SolarMax Technology, which moved its headquarters to Riverside in 2012. The two big batteries were donated by China-based Winston Battery.

UC Riverside’s  CE-CERT team is an outstanding representation of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation.  Through commitment and dedication to technological research and expansion, UCR is becoming a leader in top green universities in the nation.  Riverside catalyzes profound discoveries and creativity in the arts, technology, and research.

To read more, click here.