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Three major wildfires impact campus facilities

Dear Friends of the Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, As all of you are aware, the immense dry lightning storms on August 16 and the massive wildfires it sparked quickly upended our campus’s preparations for opening in Fall 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fires came at a time when our science […]



132-year-old Lick Observatory threatened by fire

The University of California’s Lick Observatory appeared to have escaped serious damage as the SCU Lightning Complex Fire swept across Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose on Wednesday.

UC Observatories Director Claire Max said firefighting units from Cal Fire and other organizations were stationed at Lick Observatory all night, using the observatory’s buildings as a command center and as a safety zone for the crews.

“Thanks to their tremendous efforts, the telescope domes did not burn,” Max said.






Pandemic Stories: Adapting physics labs in the time of COVID-19

Jason Nielsen, professor of physics, shares how our Department of Physics has adapted to instructing lab courses online while still providing a highly interactive student experience.











UC Santa Cruz scientists to provide rapid COVID-19 testing by end of month

While doctors and nurses treat COVID-19 patients on the front lines, behind the scenes scientists are working hard in their labs to come up with ways to battle the pandemic. A team of UC Santa Cruz scientists are targeting high capacity coronavirus diagnostic testing with 24-hour turnaround that will meet the needs of community in the County of Santa Cruz.
Original story from KSBW.


Raising COVID-19 funds for students in need

These unprecedented times are challenging for all of us—but for some, the situation is dire. This is why our campus has created the COVID-19 Slug Support Campaign. Together, our Banana Slug community can help support students who are experiencing a financial or personal crisis because of the coronavirus.
Original story from UCSC Newscenter.













In death of dinosaurs, it was all about the asteroid — not volcanoes

New research published in Science argues that environmental impacts from massive volcanic eruptions in India did not play a direct role in the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs. It was all about the impact of an asteroid. The discovery was made by climate scientist James Zachos and earth science alumni Donald Penman, Richard Norris, and Peter Lippert.
Original story from UCSC Newscenter.





Biologist Jordan Ward wins NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award

Jordan Ward, assistant professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his work with undergraduate researchers to investigate the biology of spermatogenesis, the process by which stem cells in the germ line differentiate to become sperm.
Original story from UCSC Newscenter.







Saving pumas with genomics

Genomes from mountain lions, or pumas, have spawned insights into how to encourage genetic diversification within the striking feline species and boost their health and survival.
Puma concolor – also known as cougars or panthers – were once widespread but are now mainly found in low population densities throughout western North America and much of Central and South America, and many of those are at risk of extinction.
Original story from Cosmos Magazine.





Galaxy found to float in a tranquil sea of halo gas

“The signal from the fast radio burst exposed the nature of the magnetic field around the galaxy and the structure of the halo gas. The study proves a new and transformative technique for exploring the nature of galaxy halos,” said J. Xavier Prochaska, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and lead author of a paper on the new findings published online September 26 in Science.





'Genius' grant goes to marine scientist who embraces flash mobs & comic books

NPR — Ecology & Environmental Biology alumna Stacy Jupiter realized how dangerous flooding was becoming in her adopted home of Fiji in 2009 when she flew back after a vacation and landed on an island in crisis. “Water was up to the roofs of the houses, and roads were cut off,” says the marine scientist, who directs the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Melanesia Program. Her research soon revealed that this uptick in floods — paired with human land mismanagement — was spreading waterborne diseases.


Alumna Stacy Jupiter wins coveted MacArthur Fellowship

UCSC Newscenter — Alumna Stacy Jupiter, a marine scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society who earned her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2006, is among the 26 new MacArthur Fellows for 2019. The prestigious MacArthur fellowships, awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for “extraordinary originality and dedication,” come with a no-strings-attached award of $625,000 over five years.




Tuna study spearheads changes in dining halls

KAZU — UC Santa Cruz is warning students about the dangers of eating too much tuna following a university study. The study started with one professor, Myra Finkelstein, questioning her students’ tuna-rich diets. Tuna consumption among her students became a concern when she found out how much they claimed to be eating every week.


Physicist David Williams elected Fellow of American Physical Society

UCSC Newscenter — The APS citation for Williams recognizes him “for contributions to the study of gamma rays from extragalactic sources such as gamma-ray bursts and blazars, for using gamma-ray data to test cosmological models of the extragalactic background light, and for leadership in the development of past, present, and future ground-based gamma-ray telescopes.”






Switzer Environmental Fellowship awarded to ecology Ph.D. student Melissa Cronin

UCSC Newscenter — Melissa Cronin, a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz, has been awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. The prestigious fellowship recognizes promising environmental leaders and provides $15,000 to support their research.
Cronin’s research focuses on threatened manta ray and devil ray populations, which are often caught as bycatch in industrial fishing operations.


Postdoc Hanh Lam awarded prestigious NIH grant

UCSC Newscenter — The grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will support Lam’s ongoing research to develop novel therapeutics to combat infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterial pathogen that is often resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Lam’s work in the lab of METX Professor Victoria Auerbuch Stone uses a combination of experimental and bioinformatic approaches to target this top priority pathogen.


Marine scientist Adina Paytan to receive A.G. Huntsman Medal from Royal Society of Canada

UCSC Newscenter — The 2019 A.G. Huntsman Medal will be awarded to Paytan “in recognition of her discoveries in the paleoceanographic history of important elements used to recreate the geochemical history of the planet, and of outstanding contributions to understanding the biogeochemical links between global earth-ocean-atmosphere nutrient controls on carbon productivity and paleoclimate.”





Santa Cruz County’s New Wave of Climate Controversy

Goodtimes — This fall, Santa Cruz County could become one of the first local governments in the country to take decisive action on sea-level rise by altering permitting rules for residents who want to build seawalls or other forms of armoring around valuable coastal real estate. Who will benefit from plans to armor the coast, adapt West Cliff and more?




New study traces Io's volcanic tides

PhysOrg — “The magma in Io’s crust takes time to flow,” said Francis Nimmo, a geophysicist at the University of California Santa Cruz and co-author on the new paper. “If you squeeze and stretch the crust rapidly, nothing happens; but if you squeeze and stretch it more slowly, the magma has time to move far enough to fill a volcanic conduit, causing an eruption. It’s similar to the way you can run on wet sand, but if you walk slowly your feet sink.”


A study in Elkhorn Slough reveals the increasing threat of climate change to salt marshes.

Monterey County Weekly — Between crabs burrowing into the marshes and rising oceans, a recent study led by Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in collaboration with NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System found that it is not crabs alone that are potentially causing problems for the nation’s salt marshes.



Sea of Galilee earthquakes triggered by excessive water pumping

Science Magazine — Researchers have long known that humans can cause earthquakes by injecting fluid into the ground—a technique used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to break open rocks and release natural gas or petroleum. Pumping water into geothermal vents to generate steam for heating and electricity has also triggered temblors. But earthquakes set off by pumping fresh water out of underground aquifers haven’t received much attention, says study co-author Emily Brodsky, a seismologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “This is not the first example of groundwater extraction triggering earthquakes, but it’s uncommon,” she says.




NMR structure of a key anticoagulant protein may help prevent thrombosis

Medical Xpress — A collaboration between researchers from Brazil and the United States may open new avenues for the treatment of thrombosis, the leading cause of death among cancer patients. In a study to be published in Blood, the scientists describe the Ixolaris structure, an important anticoagulant protein found in tick saliva, and its interaction with Factor Xa, a key enzyme in the process of blood clotting.



Año Nuevo Reserve: A living laboratory for ocean health

Scientists consider Año Nuevo Reserve one of the world’s premier living laboratories because of its unrivaled accessibility to a special colony of deep diving elephant seals and other migrating animals. Just 30 minutes from UC Santa Cruz, the natural reserve provides students with rare research experiences and serves as a hub for many international scientific collaborations, such as understanding how marine animals travel through geopolitical boundaries and how climate change is impacting the health of our oceans. The reserve’s unique partnership with California State Parks is further bolstered by public education tours about this critical research to more than 100,000 park visitors every year.