Considering Study Abroad?

As students in the College of Biological Sciences, many of you are probably wondering whether or not you can fit some time abroad into your academic plan. You may not see very many major-specific courses offered, but don’t let this deter you! The courses you take may be used to fulfill general education or minor requirements instead. In addition, there are programs that are a year long, a summer long, or only a quarter long so you can choose one that best fits your schedule.

If you’re more of a visual learner, feel free to watch this video before continuing to give you a sense of what studying abroad is like.

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Picnic Day


Complementing the sunnier days, campus events are abundant during spring quarter. Already, the most heavily attended campus event is coming up on Saturday, April 12 – our 100th annual Picnic Day!

Why Picnic Day?

Historically,  Picnic Day began as an actual picnic. In 1909, the University Farm provided, coffee, cream, and sugar to the community while presenting their new dairy barn. About 2,000 people attended the event, bringing picnics along with them to complement the coffee they would be receiving. Now, this event is student-run and is a great way to showcase the diversity of the achievements, staff, students, and faculty here on our campus. Over 50,000 people from our campus, the community, and other campuses attend.

What Happens on Picnic Day?

There are over 200 events Picnic Day goers can choose to participate in. There is a complete schedule of those events on the Picnic Day website, but a few of those include:

  • Hand Cow Milking at the Cole Facility from 10 AM – 3 PM. This event is just what it sounds like: you get to milk a cow and learn about dairy!
  • Goat Milking at the Cole Facility from 10 AM – 3 PM. Similar to the cow milking, this one involves goats.
  • Petting Zoo at the Cole Facility from 10 AM – 3 PM. This involves calves, lambs, and goats for petting.
  • Optical Illusions and the Human Brain at the Sciences Laboratory Building from 10 AM – 3 PM. Hosted by the NPB department, during this time you can trick your brain and learn why that’s possible.
  • Chemistry Magic Show from 10 AM – 2:30 PM at Rock Hall. This show involves explosions and usually has a long line throughout the day. Be sure to show up early if you want to see it!
  • Biomedical House of Horrors from 12 PM – 2:30 PM at Kemper Hall. Hosted by Biomedical Engineering, the ticket distribution for these health horrors begins at 11 AM.
  • Cockroach Races from 9:30 AM – 4 PM at Briggs Hall. You’ve probably never seen cockroaches race before. Here’s your chance to do so!

Personally, one my favorite events is Exotic Food Tasting at the Plant and Environmental Sciences courtyard, where I was introduced to starfruit and soursop. In addition, I was able to give durian another chance and have mango to look forward to if it didn’t pan out. In the nearby vicinity is another one of my favorites: a plant giveaway! In the past these seedlings have run out quickly, so if you’re interested be sure to show up early!

One of my fellow advisers here at the Biology Academic Success Center has stated that her favorite event is the Doxie Derby, where dachshunds race at the ARC Pavilion.

Whichever events you choose to attend, keep in mind that lines may be long and be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated! Represent our campus by attending Picnic Day and remember: Go Ags!


The Cell Biology Major

On the macroscopic level, we encounter people, animals, and plants. There is a great amount of variation among organisms, but all living things can be simplified to a single fundamental unit: the cell.

As the basic functional unit of life, the cell continues to be one of the most important scientific discoveries to date. Knowledge of how the cell works has helped scientists work on a large range of biologically important discoveries, such as curing illnesses, tracing genetic ancestry, and transplanting organs. A comprehensive understanding of the cell is thus a good starting point for anyone wishing to conduct research, teach in the biological sciences, or gain a biology foundation for many other career paths.

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Why UC Davis?

The friendliness toward bikes, the indoor track at the Activities and Recreation Center, and the various plant collections at the Arboretum gardens are a few of the things I’ve come to love about the University of California, Davis. However, my appreciation toward these characteristics came after the fact, and there were other things I chose to consider when I first decided to attend UC Davis.

Choosing which university to attend is difficult; when you’re making a two- to four-year commitment, you have to consider a multitude of details. Does the location suit your needs? Do they have a gym? How does transportation work? Will you receive a quality education in your field of interest? As you begin to look into these details, you realize that some resources matter more to you than others, and that some universities have qualities that you hadn’t even considered and must now take into account.

Whether you feel pretty sure about your decision to attend UC Davis or you’re still on the fence about it, I’ll enumerate some of the reasons I chose the university here:

  1. Bike-friendliness.

The thought that even on lazy days you can bike around campus is comforting. Exercise is crucial to everyone’s well-being. There are traffic lights that signal for bikes, roundabouts for bikes, a dozen or so bike shops around town, and a myriad of parking spaces for bikes around the campus and city. Using a bike to get around is environmentally friendly, which is great, and also quicker than walking. Buying a bike to use while attending UC Davis is a great idea, but there are also accommodating ways to travel for those who are not interested in biking, which brings me to my next point:

  1. Transportation. One of the great things about attending UC Davis is the ease of finding transportation. Both Unitrans and Yolobus are free to students. The Unitrans bus system transports students around the city of Davis from the campus. One of them is even a restored London double-decker bus! For me, it was great knowing I could ride the Yolobus to Sacramento, Woodland, Winters, or Vacaville, without having to pay extra or worry about parking my car.
  1. Competitive ranking. UC Davis is currently tied with UC San Diego in the national rankings for best public schools, making it tied for third place overall in California. Personally, I’ve had professors that are very involved in research and are established in their respective fields. More information about the research at this campus can be found here:
  2. Environment. The people are open and active, the school as a whole is environmentally friendly, and the classrooms are filled with students who are as academically driven as you. I wanted an environment that would challenge me while providing me with the necessary resources to relax as needed.

You can access a list of stress-relieving campus resources here:

M. Joan Castañeda
Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center
B.S. Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Class of 2014

Don’t Stress!

As the end of the winter quarter approaches, the increasingly sunny weather becomes inviting. While it can be nice to enjoy a day outdoors, the thought of ending the second round of midterms and preparing for finals is typically stressful.

Luckily, we have many resources available to us on campus that focus on maintaining and improving our well-being. In addition, they’re free, easily accessible, and available year-round.

On-Campus Resources

Many of you may already be familiar with this great resource, but for those of you who are not, the ARC accommodates a variety of ways to exercise. Among the standard weights, cardio machines, and group exercise classes, the ARC contains an indoor track and a rock-climbing wall. In addition, there are personal training options, IM sports, an equestrian center, and a crafts center available to students. As stated on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website, the release of endorphins during exercise promotes better sleep and elevates mood.

As a bonus, exercise promotes the movement of lymph through the body, which increases your body’s immune response. If you typically get sick when you’re studying hard, exercise can be a good way to prevent that!

One of the resources provided by the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHCS) is the Mind Spa located on the second floor of the building in the CAPS clinic. The Mind Spa provides biofeedback programs to help you manage stress, massaging recliners to physically relax you, and a quiet atmosphere to allow you to listen to guided meditation audio files.

Another stress-reducing activity located on the second floor is yoga, which is hosted on Wednesdays from 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM.

In addition to the resources in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) clinic, the Student Health and Wellness Center accommodates Health Education and Promotion (HEP), which is located on the third floor. Along with providing nap kits, a useful Nap Map, and some articles to promote improved sleeping habits, HEP hosts a variety of events to enhance wellness.

Anonymous HIV testing, free condoms, and helpful handouts on successful sexual communication are all part of HEP’s efforts to support sexual health.

The Teaching Kitchen, also a part of HEP, has hands-on cooking classes and fresh-from-the-farm cooking classes a few times a quarter to help students with maintaining proper nutrition.

The House is temporarily open at 132 North Hall. They offer yoga classes on Fridays in their Mind Body Wellness gym and provide massage chairs for relaxation. In addition, they offer counseling services from their peer advocates.

Taking a walk through these gardens, especially in sunny weather, would make anyone happier.

Other Resources

  • Sometimes Therapy Fluffies are available on the quad. Liking the UCD SHCS Facebook page will help keep you updated on when you can count on fuzzy animals to help you decrease stress.

For a summary of campus stress-relieving resources, click here.

For a detailed list of campus resources, you can access this PDF.



M. Joan Castañeda
Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center
B.S. Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Class of 2014