uc davis

The Slingjaw Wrasse

Peter Wainwright is a fish biologist at UC Davis and studies the many ways fish eat their food.  His lab has a YouTube page that shows an array of fish eating their prey. In the animation above the slingjaw wrasse essentially creates a suction tube to eat small fish by unhinging its jaw.

Wanna guess which people in that picture have crushing levels of debt? And which people should get advice on investing their wealth?

5 Viral Stories That Had Insane Twists After We All Moved On

#5. The Pepper Spray Cop Got a Better Settlement Than the Students He Sprayed

After the video of the incident went viral, Lieutenant [John] Pike was suspended with pay from his $110,000-a-year job (that’s not a typo) while the university conducted an investigation. While the officers claimed that they were trapped by the students and justified in their use of pepper spray (and totally not creaming their pants at the opportunity to finally try out their shiny new Judge Dredd gear, honest), an investigation found that the use of force was “objectively unreasonable” and that even the size of the pepper spray can was against regulations… Well, a couple months later, Pike filed for worker’s comp because of the emotional trauma stemming from the death threats he and his family received after the incident (Which, to be fair, is right fucked up. Shame on you, Internet). Following a psychiatric evaluation, the university awarded him just over $38,000, which is approximately one dollar for each stinging tear shed by the 21 students.

Read More


The life of a coffee bean

There’s a lot more to making a good cup of joe than just boiling water. It begins with a ripe red coffee cherry hand picked from the plant that’s then transformed into a dried green bean.

It’s a time- and labor-intensive process. First harvested cherries, each containing two beans, are put through a depulper, which removes their thin skins. Then they’re soaked in water for a day or two, during which fermentation occurs. Next, the cherries are spread on drying racks for 10 days to three weeks, depending on climate conditions. Then comes a three-month “rest period” in storage, resulting in the dried green beans. After that, a thin layer of parchment is ground off the green bean with the dehuller. Finally, the processed bean is ready for roasting.

“Coffee has fallen through the cracks as an area of research. We don’t know a lot about its genetics, for instance,” says J. Bruce German, director of UC’s Foods for Health Institute. 

But that’s beginning to change. The UC Davis Coffee Center brings academics from a range of disciplines including food science, plant genetics and coffee chemistry to share research on coffee, the second most widely traded commodity crop in the world. 

And it’s worth learning more about the plant. Coffee is the second most widely traded commodity crop in the world. 

Read more about California beans: the next wave in coffee


Fruit and Liquid Sugar

Liquid sugar, such as in sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks, is the leading single source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume.

Research suggests that our bodies process liquid sugar differently than sugar in foods, especially those containing fiber.

Scientists argue that when you eat an apple (for example), you may be getting as many as 18 grams of sugar, but the sugar is “packaged” with about one-fifth of our daily requirement of fiber. Because it takes our bodies a long time to digest that fiber, the apple’s sugar is slowly released into our blood stream, giving us a sustained source of energy.

But when we drink the same amount of sugar in sugary drinks, it doesn’t include that fiber. As a result, the journey from liquid sugar to blood sugar happens quickly, delivering more sugar to the body’s vital organs than they can handle. Over time, that can overload the pancreas and liver, leading to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease and liver disease. (More info at: SugarScience.org)

The sugar in fruit vs. the sugar in soda →


Why are oysters dying?

Increasingly, oysters are dying off largely due to ocean acidification, which is the reduction in the pH level of seawater when CO2 is absorbed by the ocean.

As a result, the acidic and corrosive water breaks down the calcium carbonate minerals in seawater that many calcifying organisms need to build their protective shells and skeletons, making it harder for them to survive and reproduce.

Another culprit of the oyster larvae deaths have been pathogenic bacteria that have been getting into the waters in the hatcheries.

So what are researchers doing to monitor the effects of ocean acidification? Watch the most recent episode of California Matters: What Oysters Reveal About Sea Change.