Category Archives: Creativity

UCR Research Advances Oil Production in Yeast

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on January 26, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

A team led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system for use in a yeast strain that can produce useful lipids and polymers. The development will lead to new precursors for biofuels, specialty polymers, adhesives and fragrances.

Published recently in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, the research involves the oleaginous (oil-producing) yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, which is known for converting sugars to lipids and hydrocarbons that are difficult to make synthetically. Until now, Y. lipolytica has been hard to manipulate at the genetic level, but the application of CRISPR-Cas9 will change that, allowing scientists to tap into its bio-manufacturing potential.

Described in 2012, CRISPR-Cas9 is a groundbreaking technique that enables scientists to make precise targeted changes in living cells. Unlike traditional gene-editing methods, it is cheap, easy to use and effective in almost any organism.

“Traditionally, researchers have focused on model organisms that are relatively easy to manipulate at the genetic level, and those working on less tractable species have had to go through long and tedious processes to create new strains. Our work with Y. lipolytica is a good example of how the CRISPR-Cas9 system is facilitating research in organisms that are biologically interesting but historically difficult to work with,” said Ian Wheeldon, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and the study’s principal investigator.

In the paper, the team adapted CRISPR-Cas9 for Y. lipolytica, showing that the system could be used to knock genes out and introduce new genes, both useful tools in bio-manufacturing.

Wheeldon said the current work was the first step in a National Science Foundation-funded project to create long chain hydrocarbons—used to make specialty polymers, adhesives, coatings and fragrances—from yeast rather than synthetically.

“Currently, these molecules are produced from non-renewable raw materials derived from petroleum in processes that are inefficient and pose safety risks, so being able to produce them from cheap raw materials in a bio-manufacturing process is very appealing,” Wheeldon said.

Other researchers may use the system to create precursors for biofuels, reducing the current reliance on edible plant oils, Wheeldon said.

The work was done by Wheeldon, Cory Schwartz, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR, and Murtaza Shabbir Hussain and Mark Blenner from Clemson University in South Carolina. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

UCR is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Catalyst for Innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Art Museum Awarded $800,000 from the James Irvine Foundation

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) has been awarded a three-year $800,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation to advance sustainable organization transformation that leads to expanded arts engagement. RAM is one of six California arts organizations – and the only one from the Inland Valley region – who received a New California Arts Fund grant.

The purpose of the New California Arts Fund is to help nonprofits move arts engagement to the core of who they are and what they do. The James Irvine Foundation provides a combination of support for organization capacity building and for arts engagement programming that encourages and expands participation in the arts among California’s growing and diverse communities. New California Arts Fund grantee-partners are selected through an invitation-only process.

Specifically, the funds will support the museum‘s engagement work over a three-year period. This includes incorporating lessons learned from the popular Riverside Art Make engagement project into “core” programs such as art education classes, art exhibitions, and collections stewardship. The Art Make, which brought hands-on art making projects to a variety of Riverside neighborhoods, provided lessons on which type of art practices can facilitate collaboration, participation, and break down the misconception of “I am not an artist.” During the Riverside Art Make, the museum served 9,533 individuals. Nearly one-half had never been to the museum, yet 92.5% said they would attend future RAM events. Survey data also indicated that the top most enjoyable aspect of the Riverside Art Make was “participating in creating something.”

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population. Our community uses land and repurposes historic structures to provide excellent jobs, support to businesses and steward our heritage and natural beauty.

Students Face Off In Fast-Paced Robotics Contest

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on November 17, 2015.)

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

More than 300 middle and high school students from across Riverside and San Bernardino counties competed to build the best terrestrial drones at the MESA Robotics Invitational competition, on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the University of California, Riverside.

This year’s theme, “Attack of the Drones: The Revenge,” challenged students to design drones that out-perform the competition in agility tests and combat simulations. Middle and high school students competed at different levels, with the middle school teams using Lego robotics kits and the high school teams using the Vex robotics platform.

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Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

The event was hosted by the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) Schools Program at the UCR Bourns College of Engineering. MESA provides academic enrichment services and opportunities to teachers and students in engineering and science, while focusing on serving disadvantaged and underserved student populations. Now in its 8th year, the event will draw 33 teams from 12 schools in Moreno Valley, Colton, Rialto, Corona, Ontario and Victorville.

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

“The MESA Robotics competition is one of our most popular events among students and teachers alike,” said Carlos Gonzalez, director of UCR’s MESA program. “While the students are having fun designing, building and programming their robots, they’re also learning important concepts about engineering, computer science, and, of course, teamwork.”

The top three teams in each competition received awards, with additional distinctions going to teams that demonstrate the best sportsmanship and the most creative design.

Competitions like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar. UCR is dedicated to educating the next generation of students and helping them succeed. These competitions play a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.

To read the full article, click here.

Image One Camera Captures The Spirit Of Giving

Photo Credit: Image One Camera & Video
Photo Credit: Image One Camera & Video
Shadi and his family
Shadi and his family

At Image One Camera and Video, there is more to business than just making money.  Owner Shadi Sayes came to the United States from Jordan 14 years ago with drive and passion.  After managing a handful of industry leading camera stores, Sayes assembled his dream team of professionals he had met over the years to bring Image One Camera and Video to Riverside.

A true photo service camera store, Image One Camera and Video offers everything one would need for photography, videography and cinematography.  With a state of the art facility, including the first 4K editing station by GoPro in the country, there are a lot of things that set Image One Camera and Video apart from other photography dealers.  Sayes’ dedication and commitment to philanthropy in the Riverside community is inspirational.  Through event sponsorships, giveaway contests, discounts, training courses, and one-on-one advising, Sayes works tirelessly to capture the heart of photography in the community; especially with students.  Image One Camera and Video holds student photo contests with local Universities and Riverside students to catalyze creativity and spark passion. Starting as young as elementary school, Shadi encourages the youth in our community to follow their passion, while helping them learn.

Shadi’s kindness and passion to make a difference in his community is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Shadi demonstrates that we  are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

Students Create Green Storm Drain Filter

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on November 2, 2015.)

The Sustain-A-Drain team recently won a $15,000 grant from the EPA for their reusable storm drain filter. Photo Credit: UCR Today
The Sustain-A-Drain team recently won a $15,000 grant from the EPA for their reusable storm drain filter. Photo Credit: UCR Today

A team of students from the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for a reusable storm drain filter that is less costly and more environmentally friendly than currently available models.

The key innovation is the calibrated indicator and filter system. The filter is made of 100 percent recycled textiles. The indicator is a 3-D printed device made with the same material as the filter and a translucent biodegradable plastic that includes a polymer that changes from a powder to a gel when it is saturated with oil and/or heavy metals and needs to be replaced.

The team received the $15,000 as a phase one winner of EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. Team members are: Franklin Gonzalez, Karim Masarweh, Johny Nguyen, Diego Novoa, Kenneth Orellana and Taljinder Kaur. With the exception of Kaur, who is an MBA student, all the students are seniors and either environmental or chemical engineering majors. Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering, advises them.

Bourns College of Engineering is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside ‘Halloween House’ Returns

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Tracy Bloom and published in KTLA 5 on October 20, 2015.)

The display is the creation of Kevin and Amber Judd of Creative Lighting Displays. It marks the seventh year they’ve put together such a show and the second year in a row at its current location in the 8300 block of Deercreek Drive.

This year’s version — located at the home of Mark and Melanie Betty, who are friends with the Judds — features the theme song from “Ghostbusters.”

In 2014, the attraction was briefly shut down by police because of noise complaints. It went on again, however, after the Judds obtained a special event permit.

“This year, we went through the proper process to get the block party permits,” Melanie Betty said Tuesday.

For years, before relocating the tradition to the Betty household, the Judds hosted it at their own residence.

The “Ghostbusters” theme is perhaps a nod to what the couple wrote on the Creative Lighting Displays Facebook page after receiving the permit.

“Like the GhostBusters said in the movies ‘We’re Baaack!’ We could not have done it without the support of the community so THANK YOU!” the post read.

From the “Halloween House” to the Festival of Lights, Riverside is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar.  Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired and entertained.

To read the full article, click here.

IF YOU GO

Where: 8381 Deercreek Drive, Riverside
When: 7, 7:45 and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween; 7 and 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
Parking: Orange Terrace Park, some on-street parking except in areas where a permit is required.
Viewing: Orange Terrace Park
Information: facebook.com/CreativeLightingDisplays

Art Teacher’s Classes Help Inspire Youth In Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Patrick Brien and published in The Press Enterprise on October 21, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Annette Ramsey
Photo Credit: Annette Ramsey

When Annette Ramsey thinks back to her childhood, it is her teachers that she remembers as her greatest inspiration.

“My teachers made me feel important,” she said.

Ramsey waited until after her children were grown and had moved out before she decided to return to school so that she could follow a longtime dream and become a teacher. Leaving a successful 23-year career as a designer, Ramsey got her A.A. in education from Riverside City College before transferring to UC Riverside, where she earned a B.A. in liberal arts.

“I went through several years of focusing on the one goal of becoming an elementary school special needs teacher,” Ramsey said. “I realized toward the end that I did not like the way they said I had to teach. I’m a rebel and have been since my early days. I still wanted to teach, but I wanted to teach something I was good at and something that would really benefit a child who struggles in a regular class setting. I believe with all my heart that art is the answer for these children and adults.”

The 62-year-old Ramsey struck out on her own. She began teaching art classes for low-income children at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside’s East Side neighborhood. It was the first class of what would become the Riverside Art Academy. She currently operates Studio 38B in downtown Riverside’s Life Arts Center and teaches classes for children at the Orange Terrace Community Center and Starting Gate Educational Services, both in Riverside, and for developmentally disabled adults at Corona’s Peppermint Ridge.

Although she lives in Redlands, Ramsey’s work is primarily in Riverside. Her young students have been exhibited in China and Mexico, as well as several locations in Riverside, including the Riverside Community Arts Association and Riverside Art Museum. In addition, their work has appeared in three exhibitions in U.S. Rep. Mark Takano’s Riverside office. Ramsey is also assisting Congressman Takano’s staff with the annual congressional art competition.

“It’s an honor to help with something that can have such an important impact on a student’s life,” she said.

If a program can be said to be dearest to Ramsey’s heart, it would be Starting Gate, a non-public school housed on the former campus of Riverside’s Grant Elementary School. The program serves multiple school districts that refer students who are currently not able to be enrolled in public schools.

“This is my calling,” Ramsey said. “I see a huge difference in these students. The teachers and staff are amazed at the students’ response. I wasn’t. I know that the arts can make a difference in their lives. These are children who are going to be lost if we don’t do something to make them feel like there is a future in something they do well.”

Ramsey is a mother of two and a grandmother of seven. She is also a tireless advocate for the community and will be recognized as the November Arts and Innovation Honoree of the Month at the Riverside City Council meeting Nov 10.

In addition to the classes she teaches at various sites, Ramsey runs the Art Masters Academy out of her studio in downtown Riverside’s historic Life Arts Center. She hopes to build up a scholarship fund for students and to create an art masters curriculum that she can share with other teachers.

Ramsey’s kindness and passion to make a difference in her community is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Ramsey demonstrates that we  are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For more information on Annette Ramsey, visit her Facebook page, Heart Enterprise.

To read the full article, click here.

3-D Printed Devices Help Scientists Trap and Study Tree-Damaging Bugs

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Elizabeth Lee and published in Voice of America on October 22, 2015.)

Beetles not native to Southern California are causing much damage to trees, including those that bear avocados, a lucrative California crop. Scientists at the University of California-Riverside are fighting this problem with the help of 3-D printers.

The invasive beetles are from Southeast Asia, and scientists aren’t sure how they got to California. One guess is that they were in packing materials used in shipping products to California from Asia.

The beetle, technically known as the polyphagous shot hole borer, drills holes into a critical part of the tree, disrupting the flow of water from the roots to the leaves. It also carries a fungus in its mouth that harms the trees. The fungus grows and further clogs the vessels that carry nutrients and water to the tree, eventually starving it to death.

Entomologists have been trying different treatments to kill the beetles and the fungus. But it was time-consuming and difficult to learn whether the treatments worked until a 3-D-printed bug trap was developed to place over the holes in the trees.

If the beetle is still active, that means the pesticide is not working. Scientists say a 3-D-printed trap speeds up the data-collection process and makes the results reliable. The 3-D printer allows researchers to easily tailor their traps to the insects they are studying.

It’s a relatively inexpensive tool that can create new possibilities for researchers to help them get results.

The creation of this 3-D printed trap is a great example 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.

To read the full article, click here.

Making Batteries With Portabella Mushrooms

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in The Press Enterprise on September 29, 2015.)

Diagram showing how mushrooms are turned into a material for battery anodes. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Diagram showing how mushrooms are turned into a material for battery anodes. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Can portabella mushrooms stop cell phone batteries from degrading over time?

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering think so.

They have created a new type of lithium-ion battery anode using portabella mushrooms, which are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to produce. The current industry standard for rechargeable lithium-ion battery anodes is synthetic graphite, which comes with a high cost of manufacturing because it requires tedious purification and preparation processes that are also harmful to the environment.

With the anticipated increase in batteries needed for electric vehicles and electronics, a cheaper and sustainable source to replace graphite is needed. Using biomass, a biological material from living or recently living organisms, as a replacement for graphite, has drawn recent attention because of its high carbon content, low cost and environmental friendliness.

This paper involving mushrooms is published just over a year after the Ozkan’s labs developed a lithium-ion battery anode based on nanosilicon via beach sand as the natural raw material. Ozkan’s team is currently working on the development of pouch prototype batteries based on nanosilicon anodes.

The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for the inventions above.

This advancement in battery technology 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 Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read the full article, click here.

UCR: Reshaping The Solar Spectrum To Turn Light To Electricity

(This article contains excerpts from the written by Iqbal Pittalwala and published in UCR Today on July 27, 2015.)

Photo Credit: David Monniaux
Photo Credit: David Monniaux

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense.  The solar cells – made often of silicon or cadmium telluride – rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total cost.  Solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.

A huge gain in this direction has now been made by a team of chemists at the University of California, Riverside that has found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient.  The researchers report in Nano Letters that by combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, they have succeeded in “upconverting” photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.

This research is an extraordinary example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, and UC Riverside is at the forefront.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support research and exploration in the scientific community.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, nation, and world to follow.

To read the full article, click here.