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Bugs to biofuels – Audio

Friday, June 26th, 2015

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Desludging Dakar: Laura Schechter works to improve sanitation in Senegal

For children living in the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal, playing an innocent game of tag in the street often entails something distinctly unpleasant — dodging puddles of raw sewage. In this crowded city perched on the western tip of the African coastline, millions of people have no access to the modern sanitation systems that most Americans take for granted. Dakar’s youngest residents are particularly vulnerable, as contaminated water can lead to diarrhea, the second-most common cause of infant death worldwide. Laura Schechter aims to change that. [caption id="attachment_17261" align="alignright" width="281"] During a field visit, Professor Laura Schechter (right) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) project coordinator Ahmadou Kandji review a satellite image of the neighborhood they’re visiting in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. Photo: Madelyn Bagby[/caption] A UW–Madison associate professor of agricultural and applied economics and a rising star in the field of behavioral economics, Schechter is crafting meticulous mathematical models that explore economic decision-making through the lens of human trust, reciprocity, and altruism. Her work is transforming the way that neighborhoods in the underserved outskirts of Dakar dispose of their sewage. With no ...
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
-20150422
economic-community-development
10
Desludging Dakar: Laura Schechter works to improve sanitation in Senegal

Nick Smith, CALS’ new enologist, will aid Wisconsin’s wine and cider industry

[caption id="attachment_17489" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Nick Smith, new wine and cider outreach specialist in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with the fermentation set-up in place at his lab in Babcock Hall. Photo by Kelly April Tyrrell, UW-Madison.[/caption] Wisconsin is known for fermentation, like its cheese, craft beer and pickles. But it's also been working to add even more to that blossoming list: wine and cider. The Badger State's 110 wineries and commercial cider makers now have a new resource to help them compete: Nick Smith. Since he started at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in March as the first wine and cider outreach specialist, based in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Smith has been traveling the state, knocking on doors and meeting Wisconsin's wine and cider makers. Wine grapes can be difficult to grow in Wisconsin, since most varieties prefer warmer climates, but after years researching wine and working with growers in Minnesota, Smith is confident there is a market for it here, too, given the state's legacy of fermented products, bustling tourism industry and agricultural diversity. Smith is confident there is ...
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
-20150609
food-systems
10
Nick Smith, CALS’ new enologist, will aid Wisconsin’s wine and cider industry

CALS researcher wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest

[caption id="attachment_17486" align="alignright" width="300"] Katie Brenner[/caption] Katie Brenner, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, won the 2015 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest in Madison Wednesday. Brenner was chosen from an initial pool of 238 entries for her app-based device that monitors female fertility. The BluDiagnostics Fertility Finder analyzes hormones found in saliva and displays results through the app. Brenner is a scientist in the lab of Doug Weibel, a professor of biochemistry. Last fall, she was one of five scientists chosen for the prestigious Women in Science Fellowship from L'Oreal USA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her work developing a test for early diagnosis of infection in premature infants. On Monday and Tuesday, Brenner joined 13 finalists - including several others with UW-Madison ties - in presenting business plans to a panel of judges and conference attendees at the Alliant Energy Center. The other finalists with ties to the university include: •Chorom Pak, Lynx Biosciences. Pak is a research associate in hematology-oncology with the School of Medicine and Public Health. •Leyuan Shi, LS Optimal, Shi is a professor of industrial ...
Thursday, June 4th, 2015
-20150604
economic-community-development
10
CALS researcher wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest
Health and Wellness

Five things everyone should know about stevia

It’s not just a sweetener. The plant genus Stevia includes more than 200 species of herbs and shrubs native to South America and mexico. Yet only two species, Stevia rebaudiana and Stevia phlebophylla, produce steviol glycosides in their leaves. These glycosides are the source of the plant’s sweet compounds. But as a sweetener, it’s nothing new. Stevia rebaudiana has been used for more than 1,500 years by various indigenous peoples in South America both to treat diabetes, obesity and hypertension and to provide a sweetening effect for food and drink. Commercial use of stevia took off when sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin were identified as possible carcinogens. Japan became the first country to introduce commercial use of stevia in the early 1970s and still consumes more of it than any other nation. Stevia has been available for several decades in natural food stores but in recent years has increased greatly in popularity as a sweetener for processed foods. Today, stevia can be found in many u.S. supermarkets under a variety of brand names, such as Truvia and PureVia. Why use stevia ...
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
-20150702
health-wellness
10
Five things everyone should know about stevia
CALS in the Media

G.M.O. Dilemma: Swaying a Wary Public

The New York Times
-20150702
cals-in-the-media
10
G.M.O. Dilemma: Swaying a Wary Public
Food Systems

Clif Bar and Organic Valley establish $2M UW-Madison endowed chair to support organic agriculture

[caption id="attachment_17531" align="aligncenter" width="600"] CALS is a leader in organic agriculture innovation. Agronomist Bill Tracy (in blue shirt) and graduate student Adrienne Shelton (at right) helped develop a new variety of sweet corn named “Who Gets Kissed?” specifically for organic farming systems. This photos shows them assessing sweet corn traits at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station. Photo by Wolfgang Hoffmann.[/caption] A $1 million combined gift from two national organic brands – plus an additional $1 million in matching funds — will establish the Clif Bar and Organic Valley Chair in Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is the first of five organic research chairs that Clif Bar hopes to create at land-grant universities across the nation. “We are grateful for this generous endowment that recognizes our contributions in this area and will help us continue to contribute to a diverse agricultural future,” says Richard Straub, CALS senior associate dean. Clif Bar & Company and Organic Valley both donated $500,000 to establish the endowment. The gift also received a “Morgridge Match,” doubling its value to ...
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
-20150624
food-systems
10
Clif Bar and Organic Valley establish $2M UW-Madison endowed chair to support organic agriculture
CALS in the Media

UW-Madison’s research programs pack punch

Agri-View
-20150624
cals-in-the-media
10
UW-Madison’s research programs pack punch
Economic and Community Development

A challenging after-school class keeps middle schoolers interested in science

CALS biochemistry professor Hazel Holden is excited about science. So when she witnessed science becoming “boring” in her daughter’s classroom—a feeling several classmates shared—she decided to take matters into her own hands. Some five years ago she created Project CRYSTAL—Colleagues Researching with Young Scientists, Teaching and Learning—a program designed to challenge middle schoolers who show an aptitude for science. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation. [caption id="attachment_17552" align="alignright" width="300"] Anything but boring: Middle schoolers take on challenging assignments in Hazel Holden's biochemistry lab. Photo courtesy of Hazel Holden[/caption] Each school year, Holden takes four eighth grade students under her wing for weekly hands-on sessions. “We’re trying to de-stigmatize science by exposing kids to material they otherwise would never have been exposed to,” she says. And it’s impressive stuff. The students start by extracting DNA from yeast cells they have grown themselves. They then use the extracted DNA to practice the art of polymerase chain reaction (PCR for short), the process by which a piece of DNA is replicated to produce thousands to millions of copies of a targeted DNA sequence. Switching between ...
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
-20150623
economic-community-development
10
A challenging after-school class keeps middle schoolers interested in science