Validate Your Startup Idea and Technology through the Customer Discovery method at the Spring 2021 UC Davis I-Corps Virtual Immersive Short Course

UC Davis Venture Catalyst is collaborating with the Bay Area Node for the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program to host the Immersive Short Course training for teams with a university connection and technology innovation based on discoveries in fundamental science and engineering.

2:00- 5:00 pm, Monday, April 25, Wednesday, April 27, and Wednesday May 4, 2022


Teams of 2-4 members comprised of university-affiliated students, staff and/or faculty working on a science or engineering innovation who want to learn more about taking a product from idea to being used out in the world.

What is it?

The Immersive Short Course training is focused on helping early-stage teams who have a fundamental technology, engineering, or business model innovation learn how search for a scalable business model through the Customer Discovery methodology.  The three online sessions will teach teams to identify and refine their Value Propositions and Customer Segments, which are essential to de-risking ideas and achieving product-market fit.  Outside of class, teams are expected to conduct at least 15 interviews with potential customers as part of the Customer Discovery process.  Participants can expect to spend 20-30 hours outside of class on interviews.

Why participate?

In addition to benefitting from the initial Customer Discover process to vet your ideas, applicable teams that complete the Immersive Short Course with instructor endorsement may qualify for the National Innovation Corps Teams program, which includes a $50k grant for customer discovery and supplemental training.  Many teams that complete the national program have a much higher funding rate, including investment and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, which provide up to $256k in seed capital to conduct research and development.

Next steps:

Applications for the Immersive Short Course are open through April 11, 2022.  Selected applicants will be contacted about 10 days before the first day of class to schedule a team interview call with the I-Corps instructor. Learn more about requirements & apply here!


Please contact Janine Elliott, Associate Director for New Venture Resources, UCD Venture Catalyst:

2022 Annual Research Expo

About the Event

The annual UC Davis Research Expo is a one-day event that showcases the latest research-related insight, resources, opportunities and tools to help you advance your research. The event includes exhibits, presentations, workshops and opportunities to network with potential collaborators. We welcome you to enjoy the full event or attend portions that are of particular interest.

New this year, will be partnering with Seed Central to offer an extended afternoon session devoted to ag innovation, where we will bring experts from various specialties together with industry partners. This additional section will include a workshop, presentation and networking event. The Research Expo is an anchor event in the weeklong celebration of Davis Discovery Days.

Who should attend: Faculty, post-docs, staff, research administrators, students and industry partners involved in research.

Cost: Free

When: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Mondavi Center & UC Davis Conference Center

COVID-19 Related Information: We will be following all Campus Event Guidelines. Events will be held in person, but options to stream online will be made available upon request.

Register Today or Learn More >

Renaming the John Muir Institute of the Environment to Be More Inclusive

The UC Davis Chancellor’s Leadership Council approved a recommendation to rename the John Muir Institute of the Environment (JMIE) to the Institute of the Environment. The recommendation emanated from a naming committee appointed by JMIE leadership.

The impetus for establishing the naming committee was due to a growing concern about the use of the Muir name and its impact on the inclusive vision held by the Institute — to focus on a collaborative, transdisciplinary 21st century environmental Institute working toward an equitable and sustainable future.

“Although the committee recognized that John Muir made important environmental contributions and achievements for land conversation, they concluded that the name does not symbolize positive elements of the current environmental and climate justice movement for all people and all communities,” said Isabel Montañez, director of the Institute of the Environment.

The recommendation to rename the institute is the culmination of a long process that began in the summer of 2020 with the formation of a naming committee charter by JMIE leadership to conduct a formal evaluation of the Institute name. The JMIE Naming Advisory Committee comprised a 19-member, highly diverse group of people representing current Institute program directors, Native American studies scholars, African American studies scholars, physical scientists, social scientists, humanities scholars, legal scholars and graduate students. An independent consulting group facilitated the process.

The Naming Advisory Committee met for a total of seven 90-minute meetings, listening to invited speakers offering a range of perspectives and reflecting on documented accounts from several resources that captured Muir’s life, experiences, environmental movements, conservation efforts and his relationship with Indigenous people. After thoughtful deliberations and a robust review process, the committee recommended, with full consensus, to change the name of the Institute.

“I echo the Committee’s and the Chancellor’s Leadership Council’s suggestion that the renaming of the Institute provides an opportunity to assign a name for the Institute that inspires a positive legacy and that conveys to the campus and external communities an inclusive call to action to address and solve the grand environmental and social challenges that Californians (and the world) currently face,” said Montañez. “We need to decouple the Institute’s name from one that elicits a positive legacy for some but a harmful legacy to others.”

Beth Rose Middleton, a professor in the Department of Native American studies and the associate director of Environmental and Climate Justice at the Institute of the Environment added, “John Muir was a leading preservationist, but he also disparaged and dismissed Miwuk and Paiute people whose homeland (Yosemite) he fought to protect. Our hope in changing the name is to create a more inclusive vision of environmental studies and sciences.” Middleton was also a member of the Naming Advisory Committee.

Moving forward, the Institute of the Environment will consider new naming options that honor both the vision and mission of the Institute and the bond between the land and the people who have stewarded it for millennia.

For more information about the Institute of the Environment, visit their website or contact Director Isabel Montañez.

New Research Shows Predictors for Diabetes are Different for Black and White Women

Candice Price photo

Candice Price’s research on Black women could provide a clue for understanding the physiological and molecular mechanisms of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease development in this community. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

By Neelanjana Gautam

Over 34 million adults in the United States, roughly 1 in 10, have diabetes. That rate is even higher within the Black community, particularly in Black women. This is often attributed to an increased prevalence of obesity in Black women — since being obese is the strongest predictor for type 2 diabetes — but new research suggests the link is not so simple and that special consideration for risk factors may need to be adjusted in this population.

Candice Price, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, has been studying the mechanisms for developing cardiometabolic diseases, including diabetes in Black women, since her postdoctoral research days. Contrary to existing studies demonstrating that Black women are more insulin resistant (a precursor to diabetes) than their white counterparts, she wanted to understand whether the prevalence, or risk for developing insulin resistance, is greater in Black communities.

Price feels that a greater prevalence could potentially be linked to other biomedical and environmental factors as opposed to worse insulin resistance itself, which could be due to some underlying medical conditions. Her research on Black women could provide a clue for understanding the physiological and molecular mechanisms of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease development in this community.

Reexamining Traditional Biomarkers to Assess Insulin Resistance

For Price, a first crucial step was to assess whether the traditional biomarkers of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes risk, such as adiposity measures (body mass index or BMI, body weight, waist circumference, waist-to-hip and waist-to-height ratios, body fat percentage), apply similarly to Black women as they do in white women, given the same levels of insulin resistance.

To find answers, Price and her team conducted a steady-state plasma glucose test between two groups of Black and white women to measure peripheral insulin resistance (which was not considered in previous studies), fat distribution, and adipocyte characterization.

They found that the traditional adiposity measures, despite being good predictors in white women, failed to predict insulin resistance in Black women. Instead, despite being lower in Black women, fasting triglycerides (TG) and TG/HDL-cholesterol ratio strongly predicted insulin resistance in Black women, as did high-density lipoprotein (HDL). They also found that hepatic fat and visceral adipose tissue, also lower in Black women, correlated with insulin resistance in both groups.

“This indicates that using BMI as a primary assessment for assuming or predicting insulin resistance in Black women is not reliable on its own,” Price said.

These findings open a discussion around the prevalence of obesity status and stigma, and whether simply looking at the body fat percentage, BMI and waist circumference are sufficient for predicting the risk of diabetes in Black women, or if there is a need for better race and sex-based biomarkers for metabolic risk profiling.

“This suggests to us that we really need to start reexamining the cut points of the traditional biomarkers that were really established from primarily white cohort studies, and whether the same could be said for Black women,” said Price. “Weight is still a factor in both, but the amount of weight deemed to be unhealthy may be at a higher level in Black women. In other words, having a BMI of 26 kg/m2 is considered overweight in the general population. However, recent studies demonstrate that this BMI may not actually be unhealthy in Black women; the cutoff is at a higher BMI.”

The Importance of Fat Distribution and Role of Sugar Intake

The Black population, Price said, has been a disproportionate consumer of sugar-sweetened beverages compared to any other race or ethnic group in the U.S. due to unfair targeted marketing and poorer food environments. Her pilot study stems from her efforts to reduce health disparities in Black women by focusing on prevention as well as understanding how sugar-sweetened beverages can increase the risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

When asked if sugar consumption or body weight plays a larger role, Price replied, “Sugar plays a larger role. The most important factor about sugar is that its effects on increasing cardiometabolic disease risk factors are direct and do not require weight gain. High sugar consumption can also cause weight gain, but the type of weight gained is the critical difference. Sugar promotes fat storage in the liver and visceral depot (fat stored around our organs), whereas the same number of calories provided as a complex carbohydrate promotes fat to be stored in subcutaneous depots.”

Learn more >

Barn Raising Mural Painting Event on March 26 Set to Inspire Climate Activism in the Central Valley

By Neelanjana Gautam

As part of an effort to spread awareness on climate change and agricultural issues in the Central Valley, Sustainable UC Davis in partnership with the UC Davis Institute of the Environment and the One Climate Initiative launched a 21st-century “barn raising” mural competition over fall quarter 2021 for undergraduate and graduate students.

To mark the conclusion of the mural design competition, the winning design will now be painted on a local almond farmer’s barn off County Road 102 between Davis and Woodland on March 26.

For the competition, students were asked to identify a climate-related agricultural issue in the Valley, take a stance on it, and then develop a mural proposal that visually communicates that position to the public. Rachael Dal Porto, a current graduate student in civil and environmental Engineering won the first prize in the competition out of 27 submissions. Her design, “Hungry for Connection”, will be painted on the barn. The event will serve as an opportunity for community members to join in and paint a portion themselves (similar to a life-size paint by numbers). A local professional muralist, Leon Willis will be in charge of painting a sufficient component to ensure the mural is successful.

Ashley Green, director of development, Strategic Initiatives, has been working with big climate activists Mike Russell and Steve Shaffer for a year who were looking for avenues to connect with students. After many inspiring rounds of discussions, they thought art could be a potent space for students to generate conversation around climate change. In recent years, the Central Valley has often been fraught with threats emanating from climate change — from low lying rivers and charred vegetation to extreme heat, water shortages and harvesting concerns — thus, the challenge lay in designing a contest that would hinge on two questions:  How might agriculture be part of the climate solution in the Sacramento Valley? How do we visually communicate this message to inspire local action?​​​ “So we brought the project under our One Climate Initiative, because it really fits with our mission,” said Green.

The project was led by Emily Schlickman, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental design who got connected to the vision of making art a medium to inspire change. She conceived the mural design project in fall 2021. Schlickman led a seminar where students got to interact with artists and muralists from all across the United States working on climate change messages. The seminars were designed to inspire students to think about the ways they can effectively communicate climate change using paint as their primary medium of messaging. Importantly, these sessions helped students brainstorm ideas and develop proposals.

Schlickman and her team also brought in local experts dealing with climate and cultural practices which provided students with the necessary resources to understand the efforts of the farming community in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

According to Schlickman, many progressive initiatives addressing climate change undertaken by the agricultural community often go unheard because of lack of visibility. She also sees this project as a catalyst for expanding the network and developing a larger vision of addressing climate issues in the Central Valley.

“Our dream would be that this turns into a climate art trail. Perhaps, barns and silos that are embedded in the agricultural landscape can be used as canvases in the future, so it can become a destination for people to go and learn about climate activism,” concluded Schlickman.

Click here to register and join this community event on March 26.

Media Contact

AJ Cheline, UC Davis Office of Research, 530-752-1101,


Mural Design Challenge

Challenge Overview

The winning design

Team Research Forum: Public Health and International Trade

Public Health and International Trade: What we don’t know can hurt us

Join the Office of Research and the College of Letters and Sciences on Friday, April 8th at 10:30am for a discussion of trade laws and how they impact public health.

Do you know who decides the minimum pesticide residuals permissible in your breakfast cereal, which chemicals are classified as endocrine disruptors, whether companies can target the marketing of junk food to children, and whether alcohol can be sold at the corner store 24/7?  Surprisingly, the institutions of international trade law have become arbiters of whether these types of public health measures are scientifically justified to fight non-communicable diseases, or instead subject to costly punitive measures by trading partners and multinational corporations. Research and transparency in this sphere is in its infancy, partly because it requires interdisciplinary collaboration. Industry lobbies are far ahead of academics and health professionals in informing the evolution of this emerging public health regime.


Register for this event


katheryn russKatheryn Russ
Professor of Economics, UC Davis
Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research

Katheryn Russ is a Professor of Economics at UC Davis specializing in open-economy macroeconomics and international trade policy. She is a faculty research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and served as Senior Economist for International Trade and Finance for the White House Council of Economic Advisors 2015-16. In the last 2 years, she has published several papers and has more under submission co-authored with specialists in public health, nutrition, and international law from around the world—but none yet from UC Davis.


Team Research Forum: Federal Funding Opportunities

Get the inside scoop on where federal money will flow in the near future and how to maximize chances for funding your research program

What research areas will the federal government be investing in over the next two to three years? How will the bipartisan infrastructure bill translate to funding for my research? What’s the deal with the new Technology, Innovation, and Partnership directorate at NSF? What happens to my grant funding when there is a continuing resolution, or when a budget is finally passed? Get answers to all these questions and more Friday, March 11th at 10:30am by joining a conversation with Phil Harman from the UC Office of Federal Government Relations and Brandon Minto from the UC Davis Government and Community Relations.

Using their front-line interactions and first-hand knowledge they will provide timely updates and competitive intelligence on the federal funding landscape, new initiatives, upcoming appropriations, and how researchers and administrators can provide input into the process. They will also share resources for how you and other UC Davis researchers can stay informed. Connect with other UC Davis researchers to ensure that we take full advantage of these lucrative opportunities.

View Recording


phillip harmanPhillip Harman
Director of Research
Federal Governmental Relations
University of California, Office of the President

Phillip Harman has been with Federal Governmental Relations at UCOP since 2018. He has had a long career in government relations having represented companies, associations and non-profits before the federal government relating to issues of biotechnology, homeland security, defense, education, energy, information technology and telecommunications.


brandon minto

Brandon Minto
Federal Government Relations Director
Government and Community Relations
Office of the Chancellor, UC Davis

In his role with Federal Government Relations at UC Davis, Brandon Minto serves as the chief advocate, representative and spokesperson for the University on all federal matters. He is responsible for building understanding, awareness and support of UC Davis with those in the federal government, while also developing and promoting opportunities to raise the profile of UC Davis and its leadership, faculty, students and staff among federal decision-makers.

Research Compliance Alert: Russia, Belarus and Ukraine


As of February 21, 2022, the United States and its allies released sanctions and export controls in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions are changing rapidly and result in new restrictions on exports and imports of items, technology and services to/from any of these countries and covered regions and designation of new restricted parties and otherwise designated entities.


The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) significantly increased the license requirements on hardware, software or technology exported, reexported or transferred in-country to Russia and Belarus.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed export, reexport and transfer restrictions on the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) regions of the Ukraine and Crimea.

Both DOC and OFAC have added numerous individuals and organizations (including banks) to Entity and Designated Nationals lists, which means most or all transactions with these individuals and organizations are prohibited.

What does this mean for you?

You will need to be aware that the new sanctions may affect your interactions with parties in the sanctioned regions, including financial dealings, physical imports and exports, and provision or receipt of services. Please contact your Export Control office if you have any questions, or anticipate engaging in any of the following activities with Russia, Belarus or Ukraine:

  • Exporting or importing any items, technology or services;
  • Engaging in financial or other transactions or entering into agreements with parties in any of these regions;
  • Traveling to any of these regions.

Read more >

Team Research Forum: Utilizing BioAMS in Research and Clinical Settings – Office of Research

Join the UC Davis Office of Research in a discussion with Dr. Bruce Buchholz, a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) about utilizing Biological Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (BioAMS) in research and clinical settings.  For 30 years, LLNL has led the world in applying this ultra-sensitive quantitative technique in basic research and clinical studies.

Register for this event

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security needs. LLNL, is one of the seventeen U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, that applies its expertise to preventing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction and to strengthening homeland security, as well as enhancing biomedical research that directly improves the well-being of our armed forces and the nation. Our national security mission requires special multidisciplinary capabilities that are also used to pursue programs in advanced defense technologies, energy, environment, human health, and basic sciences to meet important national needs.

From the first biological Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (BioAMS) studies conducted 30 years ago, LLNL has led the world in applying the ultra-sensitive quantitative technique in basic research and clinical studies. This presentation will describe applications of AMS from published examples, describe how it differs from conventional mass spectrometry, and how to use it to approach problems with sensitivity. Applications from Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Elimination (ADME) studies, pharmacokinetics, and adduct formation will be highlighted. Procedures for accessing the NIH-funded User Resource for Biological AMS and receiving free measurements will be described.

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Team Research Forum: COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant – Office of Research

Join the UC Davis Office of Research and the UC Davis School of Medicine in a panel discussion about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, open exclusively to UC Davis faculty, researchers, students and staff. Experts in immunology, epidemiology, public health and infectious diseases will answer audience questions regarding this new variant. Questions can be submitted during registration or asked during the session. Please register today as spaces are expected to fill up quickly.

View Recording


dr. richard michelmore headshotDr. Richard Michelmore

Distinguished Professor and Director of Genome Center

Novozymes Endowed Chair in Genomics

Departments of Plant Sciences (CA&ES), Molecular and Cellular Biology (CBS) and Medical Microbiology and Immunology (SOM) UC Davis


dr bradley pollock headshotDr. Bradley H. Pollock

Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Chairman, Arline Miller Rolkin Chair in Public Health Sciences, Department of Public Health Sciences

Associate Dean for Public Health Sciences
School of Medicine

Director, Healthy Davis Together


dr stuart cohen headshotDr. Stuart Cohen

Professor and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases

Medical Director, Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control
UC Davis Health