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A taste of freedom

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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The environmentally friendly cow – Audio

Friday, February 17th, 2017

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The inner world of athletes: Using technology to explore a microbial medical mystery

So many things typically distinguish accomplished athletes from the rest of us—greater strength and endurance, better balance, faster reactions—but one of the more surprising differences is that, according to dental studies, they also tend to get more cavities. This intriguing phenomenon was the subject of a capstone course in microbiology this past spring, offering undergrads a chance to be part of a burgeoning worldwide scientific effort while using cutting-edge technology. [caption id="attachment_21138" align="alignright" width="300"] Students compared the oral microbiomes of athletes to figure out why athletes get more cavities. Photo: Sevie Kenyon[/caption] There are trillions of microbes in the human body; the community of microbes that lives in each of us is our microbiome. As more and more research focuses on microbiomes, it’s becoming clear they play a significant role in human health and wellness. Microbiology 551 students worked to add to that body of research using a next-generation DNA sequencer manufactured by the California-based company Illumina. “It’s only our department and maybe one or two in California that are doing hands-on work with undergraduates in teaching this technique,” says co-instructor Melissa Christopherson. Christopherson ...
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
-20170214
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The inner world of athletes: Using technology to explore a microbial medical mystery

Beyond eating: Indirectly, deer change the landscape

[caption id="attachment_21275" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Forest understory differences inside and outside of a fence designed to exclude deer at UW–Madison’s Kemp Research Station in Vilas County. The forest on the left is outside the exclosure and shows the dramatic effects of deer on forest understory. Photo: Katie Frerker[/caption] It is widely known that the white-tailed deer is a nonstop eater. Unless it is sleeping or fleeing from a predator, the keystone North American herbivore is nearly always nibbling. Ecologically, deer herbivory is a fairly well understood phenomenon. The presence, abundance and reproductive success of many plant species are directly affected by deer, whose populations are orders of magnitude greater in some regions than they were before European settlement. Now, scientists are looking beyond herbivory to better understand the indirect effects of deer on eastern North American forest landscapes. In particular, scientists are interested in how the animal’s presence and behaviors affect the composition and overall health of the wildflowers and other herbs — what scientists call understory communities — that blanket the forest floor. “Deer are affecting understory communities in many different ways,” explains Autumn ...
Monday, February 6th, 2017
-20170206
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Beyond eating: Indirectly, deer change the landscape

UW-Madison CALS invites nominations for Honorary Recognition, Distinguished Service and Distinguished Alumni awards

Nominations are now open for the 2017 College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Honorary Recognition Award, Distinguished Service Award and Distinguished Alumni Award. These are the highest honors awarded by the college, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to their communities, their chosen career fields, and the citizens of the state and the nation. An individual may be considered for only one award during a given year, so nominators should select the most appropriate award for their candidate. Please note that nominations remain valid for three years and that once an individual has received an award, that person may not be nominated for another CALS award for three years. Information for each award, a listing of past honorees and nomination forms are available at cals.wisc.edu/honorary. Nominations are due April 7, 2017.  As you consider possible nominees, think about those individuals who have demonstrated leadership and been an inspiration to others in agriculture, natural resources, and/or the life sciences. Honorees will be recognized at an Awards Banquet and Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 19 in the Varsity Room at Union South. A reception will be ...
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
-20170222
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UW-Madison CALS invites nominations for Honorary Recognition, Distinguished Service and Distinguished Alumni awards

Communications expert advises how science should respond to fake news

The rise of fake news has dominated the world of politics since the last U.S. election cycle. But fake news is not at all new in the world of science, notes University of Wisconsin–Madison Life Sciences Communication Professor Dominique Brossard. “Fake news about science has always existed,” she says. “What has changed now is social media and the potential to disseminate this kind of news much faster among social networks.” [caption id="attachment_21346" align="alignright" width="243"] Dominique Brossard[/caption] Addressing scientists Feb. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Brossard discussed the fake news phenomenon in the context of science and online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. She joined moderator Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press and speakers Julie Coiro of the University of Rhode Island and Dan Kahan of Yale Law School. Fake news, Brossard says, is produced using false information, with the goal of sharing it as real news to influence people. However, “in the context of science, I think this is much murkier and unclear.” She recalled an unpublished study she conducted while a graduate student at ...
Monday, February 20th, 2017
-20170220
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Communications expert advises how science should respond to fake news
CALS in the Media

Ethicists open to one day altering heredity to fight disease

Wisconsin State Journal
-20170217
cals-in-the-media
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Ethicists open to one day altering heredity to fight disease
Health and Wellness

From mice, clues to microbiome’s influence on metabolic disease

[caption id="attachment_21327" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Nacho Vivas, lab manager at the Rey Lab in the Bacteriology Department, checks on a group of germ-free mice inside a sterile lab environment. Photo: Bryce Richter[/caption] The community of microorganisms that resides in the gut, known as the microbiome, has been shown to work in tandem with the genes of a host organism to regulate insulin secretion, a key variable in the onset of the metabolic disease diabetes. That is the primary finding of a study published Feb. 14 in the journal Cell Reports by a team led by University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers Alan Attie and Federico Rey. The new report describes experiments in mice showing how genetic variation in a host animal shapes the microbiome — a rich ecosystem of mostly beneficial microorganisms that resides in the gut — and sets the table for the onset of metabolic disease. “We’re trying to use genetics to find out how bugs affect diabetes and metabolism,” explains Attie, a UW–Madison professor of biochemistry and a corresponding author of the study. Peeling back the complex interplay of genes, diet and the trillions of microorganisms ...
Friday, February 17th, 2017
-20170217
health-wellness
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From mice, clues to microbiome’s influence on metabolic disease
Greenhouses

UW helps schools update approach to science education

[caption id="attachment_21320" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Patrick O’Grady, a Biocore alumnus, superintends as students place soil in a container before planting seeds. Using Wisconsin Fast Plants, three recent alumni of the Biocore learning community at UW–Madison participated in an inquiry-based class at Mazomanie Elementary School on Jan. 30. Photo: David Tenenbaum[/caption] On a cold January morning, a few students cheer as three recent alumni of the Biology Core Curriculum honors program at UW–Madison enter a 4th grade classroom in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. These “Biocore Outreach Ambassadors” bear gifts: plastic containers, soil, fertilizer and seed from the university’s “Wisconsin Fast Plants” program. These minimal props, combined with a basic light box — two milk crates lined with aluminum foil — are the raw materials for plant-growth experiments that Bree Wilhelmson’s students will pursue for almost two months. The experiments were not hatched in a textbook or a science-standards cheat sheet. Instead, they were invented by groups of these 4th graders in their previous session with the UW–Madison alumni. Will the plants grow faster in the light box or outside it? What difference will fertilizer make? How will ...
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
-20170216
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UW helps schools update approach to science education