The end of the year is a great time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of the CALS community. Here are some of the stories that made 2016 a memorable year for the college:
CALS celebrated the grand opening of the Connor Forestry Center at Kemp Natural Resources Station, which was made possible through a generous gift from Mary Connor Pierce and her husband Dudley Pierce. The new building offers students of all ages year-round, state-of-the-art learning spaces at the station, including a 80-person classroom and a 35-person classroom. CALS also hosted a celebratory construction kick-off event for the new Meat Science Building.
The Hancock Agricultural Research Station celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer with an expanded set of events during the station’s annual Potato and Vegetable Research Field Day. Here are some photos from the event. And there was another big birthday at CALS: The Food Research Institute turned 70.
As part of an innovative microbiology capstone course led by Melissa Christopherson and Tim Paustian, students were tasked with comparing the oral microbiomes of athletes and nonathletes, using saliva samples, to try to figure out why athletes tend to get more cavities. They collected samples, including from Badger athletes, and sequenced the microbial DNA using cutting-edge technology. Their work is currently being analyzed for publication.
Biochemistry professor Rick Amasino and life sciences communication professor Dominique Brossard were members of the National Academies of Sciences committee that assembled a widely-anticipated federal report on GMOs, titled “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects.” Both participated in the congressional and public briefings associated with the release of the report in Washington D.C. in spring.
Dave Pagliarini, associate professor of biochemistry and director of metabolism at the Morgridge Institute for Research, received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. government’s highest honor for scientists in the early stages of their careers. Pagliarini accepted the award in Washington D.C., where he had the opportunity to meet President Obama.
The UW-Madison Applied Population Lab produced a report that explores the geographic and social patterns of the recent presidential election in Wisconsin and how things compare to the 2012 results. The report, written by APL’s Malia Jones, identified three main trends that contributed to the final outcome in the state. Read the full report.
Jordan Ebert was profiled as part of a Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association initiative known as Boundless Together, an initiative to feature stories from each of the state’s 72 counties that exemplify the collaboration between the university and business, industry, education or political leaders. Ebert’s story resonated on CALS’ social media accounts and was one of the college’s top performing Facebook posts.
Of the many elusive grails of agricultural biotechnology, the ability to confer nitrogen fixation into non-leguminous plants such as cereals ranks near the very top. This fall, a team of scientists including bacteriology professor Jean-Michel Ane published a massive atlas of plant and bacterial proteins involved in this process in Nature Biotechnology, information that could ultimately help inform a strategy for engineering the nitrogen-fixing ability of legumes into other plants.
Life sciences communication professor Patty Loew and instructor Don Stanley quickly changed their plans for their Tribal Youth Media Workshop at the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation this summer, after torrential rains swept through the area. With a real-life news story unfolding in front of them, they worked with two teen participants to record on video the aftermath of the flooding of Denomie Creek. Some of the footage was used by Madison’s NBC15.
A study led by Laura Hernandez, assistant professor of dairy science, showed how seratonin affects calcium regulation in various breeds of dairy cow. The findings may lead to breed-specific treatments for milk fever, a serious disease caused by low blood calcium levels. The findings could also have implications for human health, as they imply women who are breastfeeding and take certain antidepressants (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) may be at risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.
A team of researchers led by horticulture professor Phil Simon deciphered the full genetic code of the carrot and published their findings in Nature Genetics. The team used the Nantes carrot — a bright orange form of the vegetable named for a city in France — to assemble and analyze the full genetic sequence. They also sequenced 35 different types of carrots to compare them to their wild ancestors, and were able to confirm that carrots were first domesticated in the Middle East and Central Asia.
CALS scientists including entomology professor Claudio Gratton contributed to the Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan, released in January. The document, co-developed with Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) scientists, provides information and recommendations designed to support pollinator populations around the state. CALS experts also led the effort to produce a new DATCP-requested report on manure irrigation practices.