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Even Cows are “Texting”

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Warming winters

Friday, January 15th, 2016

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UW scientists contribute to state’s pollinator protection plan effort

[caption id="attachment_18906" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Insects and pollinators working the gardens in front of Agricultural Hall on the UW–Madison campus. Photo: Sevie Kenyon/UW-Madison CALS[/caption] Wisconsin's honey bees help support an $88 billion agricultural enterprise and play an important role in ecosystems throughout the state. But our bees face challenges. Wisconsin lost around 60 percent of its managed honey bee hives due to extreme cold and other factors during the winter of 2014. There is also evidence that some of our wild bees may be in decline, particularly a number of bumblebee species. To help bolster Wisconsin's pollinators, scientists at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed the Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan, a document that provides information and recommendations designed to support pollinator populations around the state. The plan offers practical advice for helping bees and other pollinators to a wide range of Wisconsin residents: homeowners and gardeners as well as farmers, land managers and others. A draft of the plan was posted online Jan. 19. Public comments are being accepted through Feb. 19. “Wisconsin’s plan is among ...
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
-20160120
healthy-ecosystems
10
UW scientists contribute to state’s pollinator protection plan effort

Urban Canid Project helps track Madison’s coyotes and prevent conflicts

[caption id="attachment_18859" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Graduate student Marcus Mueller (right) accompanies David Drake, associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology, as he carries a still-sedated coyote back into the field. Photo: Jeff Miller/University Communications.[/caption] When a young male coyote on Madison’s west side began acting oddly last month, the Urban Canid Project took to Facebook. “We have had several reports of a collared coyote displaying some unusual behavior in the last few weeks,” the University of Wisconsin–Madison research team posted on its social media page. “His unusual behavior includes a marked increase in daytime activity, and a reduced fear of cars/human activity.” The response was rapid. In a matter of days, the post — which included tips for helping re-instill the coyote’s fear — reached 8,000 people, say project leader David Drake and lead graduate student Marcus Mueller, and it made its way onto several area neighborhood Facebook pages. “It exemplifies one of the things we’re trying to do with this project,” says Drake, professor of forest and wildlife ecology. Since 2014, the Urban Canid Project has heavily emphasized outreach and public engagement in the study ...
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
-20160106
healthy-ecosystems
10
Urban Canid Project helps track Madison’s coyotes and prevent conflicts
Food Systems

Farmers wanted for citizen science project

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are developing a new way to measure crop yields from space using satellite remote-sensing technology. They recently used this innovative approach to create a set of annual crop yield maps for Wisconsin and the broader Midwest. Now, however, the researchers need help “ground-truthing” their new maps. To do so, they are seeking farmer volunteers willing to act as citizen scientists by sharing real, field-level crop yield data—for soybean, corn and other crops—with the research team. Since this kind of data isn’t publicly available, the scientists must rely on farmer-submitted information to independently validate the accuracy of the maps. The goal of the mapping effort is to learn how to use satellite remote-sensing technology to identify—and someday predict—threats and consequences to crop yields, including the impacts of insect pests, crop diseases and weather events such as drought, frost or hail. For farmers willing to participate, the data submission process is simple, utilizing an easy-to-use web map application. The process involves identifying a location on a map, selecting the type of crop grown there and inputting the yield for that spot ...
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
-20160204
food-systems
10
Farmers wanted for citizen science project
Basic Science

Small-scale protein production a big business for UW spinoff

It’s only a slight oversimplification to say that making proteins is the entire job of the DNA that comprises our chromosomes. Proteins form complex structures. They make enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions, form structural components of cells, serve as transporters that move various molecules around inside cells. [caption id="attachment_19053" align="alignright" width="350"] Fritz Schomburg, founder of Lytic Solutions in Madison, with one of the firm’s fermenters, where bacteria grow and produce protein for use by pharmaceutical firms or customers in the biomedical industry. Photo: David Tenenbaum[/caption] In the context of biotechnology — where useful proteins are conjured in the lab — a big problem, CALS alumnus Fritz Schomburg says, is that proteins misbehave. They fail to form in the fermenter or, more often, fold the wrong way, making them unusable and unsalable. It may take some tweaking, but eventually, Schomburg’s firm, Lytic Solutions, figures out how to brew and purify the required quantity of the correctly folded protein, and ships it to his customers. One important group of synthesized proteins — antibodies — is created in nature by the immune system. Science has harnessed lab-made antibodies ...
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
-20160204
basic-science
10
Small-scale protein production a big business for UW spinoff

High school students invited to symposium focused on solutions to world hunger and poverty

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to host the second annual World Food Prize Wisconsin Youth Institute on the UW-Madison campus on Monday, April 18. The day-long program gives Wisconsin high school students in grades 9-12 an opportunity to engage directly with leading researchers and industry experts specializing in food systems and natural resources on the topic of world hunger and poverty. At the Institute, participants will also present a research report on a global food security issue. In order to participate, interested students must write a two- to three-page paper—under the supervision of a teacher—on a topic connected to food security in a country other than the United States. Papers must be submitted to the program no later than Mar. 21. More information about the Institute, including research paper guidelines, is available at go.wisc.edu/WIYouthInstitute. “This program provides a fun environment for high school students to explore critical global issues in a university setting,” says Cindy Fendrick, an advisor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the program’s coordinator. “The enthusiastic conversations between ...
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
-20160203
uncategorized
10
High school students invited to symposium focused on solutions to world hunger and poverty
CALS in the Media

There’s a Secret World Under the Snow, and It’s in Trouble

Smithsonian.com
-20160203
cals-in-the-media
10
There’s a Secret World Under the Snow, and It’s in Trouble

Two CALS faculty serve on new NAS committees on science communication and literacy

The Department of Life Sciences Communication is continuing its strong involvement in the National Academy of Sciences as chair Dominique Brossard and professor Dietram Scheufele have each been asked by the National Research Council to serve on new committees. Brossard is on a committee exploring “Science Literacy and Public Perception of Science,” while Scheufele is vice-chairing “The Science of Science Communication: A Research Agenda” with former AAAS CEO Alan Leshner. [caption id="attachment_19020" align="alignright" width="181"] Dominique Brossard[/caption] “Science Literacy and Public Perception of Science” will analyze data about science and health literacy and also how, or if, they are linked to public support of scientific issues. It will formulate a final report on the state of science literacy research and also identify research holes where more work needs to be done. “Science literacy can be a complex issue,” Brossard explained. “What do people need to know about science? It’s really a philosophical question. This committee will address that question and sort through current research on the topic and also explore the potential link between scientific literacy and public attitudes and behavior.” While Scheufele has been ...
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
-20160202
uncategorized
10
Two CALS faculty serve on new NAS committees on science communication and literacy