Team Research Forum: Harnessing the Power of Transdisciplinary Research with UC Davis Grand Challenges

Join UC Davis Grand Challenges and the Office of Research Friday, November 4 at 10:30 a.m. for a discussion on how you can be involved in the university’s initiative to use transdisciplinary research to advance solutions to the world’s wicked problems.

Grand Challenges is moving forward rapidly, using a social and environmental justice lens to connect the campus community around solution-oriented work and increase the university’s ability to make tangible, positive change. This discussion will highlight Grand Challenges’ initial focus areas – Emerging Health Threats, Climate Crisis, Sustainable Food Systems, and Reimagining the Land-Grant University – as well as include an example of one of the initiative’s engagements and show how people from every discipline can get involved with creating solutions to these critically important challenges.

Click here to register for the virtual event via Zoom.


Speakers will include:

Jonna Mazet, Vice Provost of Grand Challenges

Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, PhD, is the Vice Provost of Grand Challenges and the Chancellor’s Leadership Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Disease Ecology at the University of California, Davis, where she founded the One Health Institute. Prof. Mazet is active in global health problem-solving, especially for emerging infectious disease and conservation challenges. She was the Global Director of the viral emergence early warning project, PREDICT, developed with the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats Program. An elected member of the US National Academy of Medicine, she also serves on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats, One Health Action Collaborative, and Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.




Christine Kreuder Johnson, Co-Champion of the Emerging Health Threats Grand Challenge

Christine Kreuder Johnson is Professor of Epidemiology and Ecosystem Health and Director of the EpiCenter for Disease Dynamics. Her work is committed to transdisciplinary research to characterize impacts of environmental change on animal and human health, inform preparedness for emerging threats, and guide public policy at the intersection of emerging disease and environmental health. Professor Johnson’s research has pioneered new approaches to characterization of emerging threats and disease dynamics at the animal-human interface in rapidly changing landscapes that constitute “fault lines” for disease emergence, disease spillover and subsequent spread.





David Coil, Public Health Coordinator at UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services

David Coil is the Public Health Coordinator at Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis. Over the last few years, David has worked on three aspects of pandemic response; helping set up and run the asymptomatic testing operation in Davis, working on methods for environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, and helping coordinate genotyping/sequencing efforts to track viral variants. Prior to the pandemic, David was a lab manager responsible for supervising research projects in microbiology, microbial ecology, and genomics in the Eisen Lab. A significant portion of his previous efforts have been in science communication and outreach, including sending bacteria to the space station. David is the creator of “Gut Check: The Microbiome Game.” David received his PhD in 2005 from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington, working on retroviruses. Since then he has lectured at the UW, done a post-doc in Belgium working on Legionella, and helped direct a non-profit in Alaska called Ground Truth Trekking.



Heather Bischel, Assistant Professor, UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Heather Bischel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis. Bischel’s research aims to support public and environmental health through safe and effective water and wastewater management. In 2020, Bischel launched the wastewater-based disease surveillance program of Healthy Davis Together (HDT), a collaboration between the City of Davis and UC Davis to combat COVID-19. She is now working with partners UC Merced to expand wastewater monitoring in three counties through the Healthy Central Valley Together (HCVT) project. HCVT aims to increase health equity in wastewater surveillance in rural and underserved communities in California. UC Davis was designated a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded “Center of Excellence” for wastewater-based COVID-19 surveillance. Bischel recently began collaborating with researchers at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the Pandemic Readiness and Equity through Virus Epidemiology of Wastewater (PreVIEW) project. HDT’s wastewater-based epidemiology program’s overall success has earned national recognition, including mentions in WIRED, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.