Water Warriors Bracing for Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle

They're baking in France.

The village of Villevieille recorded an historical high temperature of 113.2 degrees Fahrenheit on June 28.

The villagers probably wish they were at the University of California, Davis, where plans are underway for the 16th annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle.

The balloon battle, known as "Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs" or "15 Minutes of Aim"--is set for 3 p.m., Friday, July 12 on the lawn at the northwest side of  Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive,  said coordinator Christopher Morisseau, a researcher in the Hammock lab. It's across from the UC Davis Fire Department.

Participants will fill 2000 balloons, starting at 1 p.m. on the grass by the loading dock. Morisseau said the policy is "no filling, no throwing" or "bring your own balloons." It is open to all who want to get wet, and children and spouses are always welcome.

Last year water balloons, water guns, super sprayers, and buckets prevailed in the international soakfest. International?  Yes! Twenty-eight researchers in the Hammock lab from seven countries participated: the United Stares, China, France, Ukraine, Lebanon, Japan and Korea. They included postdoctoral scholars, researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, visiting graduate students, visiting summer students, short-term visiting scholars and student interns.  

"We work hard and play hard," Morisseau said.

Other professors and their labs traditionally join in the fun. Among them: Aldrin Gomes of the UC Davis Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; Frank Zalom, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology;  Walter Leal of the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology; and the UC Davis Department of Mathematics.

Bruce Hammock, a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, hosts the annual event in mid-July when triple-digit temperatures strike the campus. It's an opportunity for the lab members--who work hard throughout the year and play hard for 15 minutes--to engage in a little fun and camaraderie. The thirsty lawn benefits, too.

Hammock, trained as a entomologist, chemist and toxicologist--and who now focuses his research on human health, is recognized for his work on using natural chemical mediators to control inflammation and intractable pain. An alumnus of UC Berkeley with a doctorate in entomology, Hammock joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. He is the founding director (1987-present) of the UC Davis NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) Superfund Research Program and is a founding member (1990-present) of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has directed the UC Davis NIH/NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory for 25 years.

Highly honored by his peers, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He is the first McGiff Memorial Awardee in Lipid Biochemistry. The Eicosanoid Research Foundation honored him for work on oxidized lipids.

But when it's time for the annual water balloon battle, watch out! Like his research, Bruce Hammock is right on target.