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  • richardmitnick 2:58 pm on January 26, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Quantifying the Potential of Forestation for Carbon Storage", , Biota, , , ,   

    From “Eos” : “Quantifying the Potential of Forestation for Carbon Storage” 

    Eos news bloc

    From “Eos”



    Benjamin Sulman

    Current and potential forest areas in the study area of southern China. “New forests” (orange) were forested between 2002 and 2017, while “Old forests” (green) existed prior to 2002. “Potential forests” (blue) are not currently forested but were identified by the analysis as suitable for forest growth. Credit: Zhang et al. [2022], Figure 1

    Large-scale forest planting projects have been proposed as a carbon sequestration strategy for mitigating anthropogenic climate change. In southern China, tree-planting initiatives over recent decades have significantly expanded forested areas and sequestered substantial amounts of carbon in tree biomass. Understanding both the historical carbon sequestration and the potential for future carbon storage through forestation is important for developing climate change mitigation strategies.

    Zhang et al. [2022] use a combination of data synthesis, remote sensing, and machine learning approaches to estimate the historical trajectory and the potential carbon storage capacity of forests in southern China. They find that regional forest carbon storage has increased over the 15-year study period, signifying successful carbon sequestration, and they identify opportunities for further increasing carbon density in forestation projects. However, they also find that forests in the region have already achieved more than 73% of their carbon storage capacity, indicating that afforestation alone will ultimately face limits as a carbon sequestration strategy.

    Earth’s Future

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Eos” is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 4:40 pm on January 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Special drone collects environmental DNA from trees", , , Biota, , , , WSL [Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald - Schnee und Landschaft][Institut fédéral de recherches sur la forêt - la neige et le paysage] (CH)   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “Special drone collects environmental DNA from trees” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    Peter Rüegg

    Photograph: Gottardo Pestalozzi / WSL.

    Researchers at ETH Zürich and WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research [Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald – Schnee und Landschaft][Institut fédéral de recherches sur la forêt – la neige et le paysage] (CH) have developed a flying device that can land on tree branches to take samples. This opens up a new dimension for scientists previously reserved for biodiversity researchers.

    Ecologists are increasingly using traces of genetic material left behind by living organisms left behind in the environment, called environmental DNA (eDNA), to catalogue and monitor biodiversity. Based on these DNA traces, researchers can determine which species are present in a certain area.

    Obtaining samples from water or soil is easy, but other habitats – such as the forest canopy – are difficult for researchers to access. As a result, many species remain untracked in poorly explored areas.

    Researchers at ETH Zürich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Wald – Schnee und Landschaft, and the company SPYGEN have partnered to develop a special drone that can autonomously collect samples on tree branches.

    Special drone collects environmental DNA from trees. (Video: ETH Zürich)

    How the drone collects material

    The drone is equipped with adhesive strips. When the aircraft lands on a branch, material from the branch sticks to these strips. Researchers can then extract DNA in the lab, analyze it and assign it to genetic matches of the various organisms using database comparisons.

    But not all branches are the same: they vary in terms of their thickness and elasticity. Branches also bend and rebound when a drone lands on them. Programming the aircraft in such a way that it can still approach a branch autonomously and remain stable on it long enough to take samples was a major challenge for the roboticists.

    “Landing on branches requires complex control,” explains Stefano Mintchev, Professor of Environmental Robotics at ETH Zürich and WSL. Initially, the drone does not know how flexible a branch is, so the researchers fitted it with a force sensing cage. This allows the drone to measure this factor at the scene and incorporate it into its flight manoeuvre.

    Scheme: DNA is extracted from the collected branch material, amplified, sequenced and the sequences found are compared with databases. This allows the species to be identified. (Graphic: Stefano Mintchev / ETH Zürich)

    Preparing rainforest operations at Zoo Zürich

    Researchers have tested their new device on seven tree species. In the samples, they found DNA from 21 distinct groups of organisms, or taxa, including birds, mammals and insects. “This is encouraging, because it shows that the collection technique works,“ says Mintchev, who co-​authored the study that has just appeared in the journal Science Robotics [below].

    The researchers now want to improve their drone further to get it ready for a competition in which the aim is to detect as many different species as possible across 100 hectares of rainforest in Singapore in 24 hours.

    To test the drone’s efficiency under conditions similar to those it will experience at the competition, Mintchev and his team are currently working at the Zoo Zurich’s Masoala Rainforest. „Here we have the advantage of knowing which species are present, which will help us to better assess how thorough we are in capturing all eDNA traces with this technique or if we’re missing something,“ Mintchev says.

    For this event, however, the collection device must become more efficient and mobilize faster. In the tests in Switzerland, the drone collected material from seven trees in three days; in Singapore, it must be able to fly to and collect samples from ten times as many trees in just one day.

    Collecting samples in a natural rainforest, however, presents the researchers with even tougher challenges. Frequent rain washes eDNA off surfaces, while wind and clouds impede drone operation. „We are therefore very curious to see whether our sampling method will also prove itself under extreme conditions in the tropics,” Mintchev says.

    Science Robotics
    See the science paper for instructive material with images and video.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

  • richardmitnick 11:14 am on January 19, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Seaweed farms could help clean marine pollution", , Biota, , , Kelp farming is an emerging industry in Alaska touted to improve food security and create new job opportunities and as a global-scale method for storing carbon reduce levels of atmospheric carbon., Kelp grown in polluted waters shouldn’t be used for food but could still be a promising tool for cleaning such areas., Kelp is actually much better at mitigating excessive amounts of nitrogen than carbon., Nitrogen pollution can lead to a variety of potential threats in marine environments including toxic algae blooms and higher bacterial activity and depleted oxygen levels., Nitrogen pollution is caused in coastal areas by factors such as urban sewage., , , Tissue and seawater samples showed that seaweed species may have different capabilities to remove nutrients from their surroundings.   

    From The University of Alaska-Fairbanks Via “Science Blog”: “Seaweed farms could help clean marine pollution” 

    From The University of Alaska-Fairbanks


    “Science Blog”


    The water-filtering abilities of farmed kelp could help reduce marine pollution in coastal areas, according to a new University of Alaska Fairbanks-led study.

    The paper, published in the January issue of Aquaculture Journal [below], analyzed carbon and nitrogen levels at two mixed-species kelp farms in south central and southeast Alaska during the 2020-21 growing season. Tissue and seawater samples showed that seaweed species may have different capabilities to remove nutrients from their surroundings.

    “Some seaweeds are literally like sponges — they suck and suck and never saturate,” said Schery Umanzor, an assistant professor at UAF’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the lead author of the study.

    “Although carbon and carbon sequestration by kelp received most of the attention, kelp is actually much better at mitigating excessive amounts of nitrogen than carbon,” Umanzor said. “I think that’s a story that’s really underlooked.”

    Nitrogen pollution is caused in coastal areas by factors such as urban sewage, domestic water runoff or fisheries waste disposal. It can lead to a variety of potential threats in marine environments, including toxic algae blooms, higher bacterial activity and depleted oxygen levels. Kelp grown in polluted waters shouldn’t be used for food but could still be a promising tool for cleaning such areas.

    Kelp farming is an emerging industry in Alaska touted to improve food security and create new job opportunities. It’s also been considered as a global-scale method for storing carbon, which could be a way to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon that contribute to climate change.

    Analysis of kelp tissue samples from the farms determined that ribbon kelp was more effective than sugar kelp at absorbing both nitrogen and carbon, although that difference was somewhat offset by the higher density of farmed sugar kelp forests.

    Umanzor cautioned that the study was limited to two sites during a single growing season. She is currently processing a larger collection of samples collected from six Alaska kelp farms for the subsequent season.

    “Maybe it’s a function of species, maybe it’s the site, maybe it’s the type of carbon and nitrogen out there,” Umanzor said. “There’s a lot to know in a follow-up study.”

    Aquaculture Journal
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here.

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The The University of Alaska-Fairbanks is a public land-grant research university in College, Alaska; a suburb of Fairbanks. It is a flagship campus of the University of Alaska system. UAF was established in 1917 and opened for classes in 1922. Originally named the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, it became the University of Alaska in 1935. Fairbanks-based programs became the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1975.

    University of Alaska-Fairbanks is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”. It is home to several major research units, including the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station; the Geophysical Institute, which operates the Poker Flat Research Range and several other scientific centers; the Alaska Center for Energy and Power; the International Arctic Research Center; the Institute of Arctic Biology; the Institute of Marine Science; and the Institute of Northern Engineering. Located just 200 miles (320 km) south of the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks campus’ unique location favors Arctic and northern research. UAF’s research specialties are renowned worldwide, most notably Arctic biology, Arctic engineering, geophysics, supercomputing, Ethnobotany and Alaska Native studies. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is also on the Fairbanks campus.

    In addition to the Fairbanks campus, University of Alaska-Fairbanks encompasses six rural and urban campuses: Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham; Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue; the Fairbanks-based Interior Alaska Campus, which serves the state’s rural Interior; Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel; Northwest Campus in Nome; and the UAF Community and Technical College, with headquarters in downtown Fairbanks. UAF is also the home of UAF eCampus, which offers fully online programs.

    In fall 2017, University of Alaska-Fairbanks enrolled 8,720 students. Of those students, 58% were female and 41% were male; 87.8% were undergraduates, and 12.2% were graduate students. As of May 2018, 1,352 students had graduated during the immediately preceding summer, fall and spring semesters.

    Research units

    University of Alaska-Fairbanks is Alaska’s primary research university, conducting more than 90% of University of Alaska system research. Research activities are organized into several institutes and centers:

    the Geophysical Institute, established in 1946 by an act of Congress, specializes in seismology, volcanology and aeronomy, among other fields.
    the International Arctic Research Center researches the circumpolar North and the causes and effects of climate change.
    the Institute of Northern Engineering, an arm of the College of Engineering and Mines, conducts research in many different areas of engineering.
    the Research Computing Systems unit, located within the Geophysical Institute, is the high-performance computing unit of UAF.
    the Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station conducts research focused on solving problems related to agriculture and forest sciences.
    the Institute of Arctic Biology conducts research focused on high-latitude biological systems.
    the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station conducts long-term research with muskoxen, reindeer and cattle.
    the Institute of Marine Science, a branch of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, investigates topics in oceanography, marine biology, and fisheries.
    the R/V Sikuliaq, a 261-foot ice-resistant ship outfitted with modern scientific equipment, is operated by the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences for the National Science Foundation.

  • richardmitnick 4:34 pm on January 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Oracle of Leaves", A large gene pool gives plants more leeway to react to negative environmental factors such as pests or droughts., , , , Biota, , , Computer models help them pinpoint concordance between spectral and field data and provide input on how to read the spectral information that they have obtained., , , Leaves reflect infrared rays at the edge of the visible light spectrum., Monitoring plant life using satellites airplanes and drones, Pigments like green chlorophyll absorb specific wavelengths of the spectrum of light waves., Scientists are in the process of finding out which aspects of plant biodiversity can be measured with remote sensing., Scientists developed a spectral diversity index that shows diversity both within and between plant communities (alpha and beta diversity respectively)., , , The characteristics of plants, The combination of laser scanning and spectroscopy is considered highly promising as these data allow researchers to calculate the biomass and the amount of stored carbon., The folded leaf of an oak tree-faded yellow-dotted with dark spots., The spectrum is like a fingerprint unique to each plant., , Using a spectrometer scientists measure the light reflected by leaves which gives them insight into the chemical and structural properties of plants.   

    From The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH): “The Oracle of Leaves” 

    From The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH)

    Text by Stéphanie Hegelbach
    English translation by Gena Olson

    Biodiversity from above: View of the forest “Lägern” mountain range near the city of Zurich. (Picture used with permission)

    Two UZH researchers are harnessing the light reflections from leaves to learn more about biodiversity and the characteristics of plants. Analyzing spectral data is revolutionizing not only the way in which we research ecosystems but also allows us to protect them more effectively.

    The folded leaf of an oak tree, faded yellow, dotted with dark spots. We pick up on the information contained in leaves almost subconsciously when strolling through the forest. But the researchers at UZH’s Remote Sensing Laboratories are taking this ability to the next level.

    Using a spectrometer, they measure the light reflected by leaves, which gives them insight into the chemical and structural properties of plants – even from outer space. “The spectrum is like a fingerprint unique to each plant,” explains Meredith Schuman, professor of spatial genetics in the Department of Geography.

    Monitoring plant life using satellites, airplanes and drones is known as remote sensing, and it could become an important tool to counteract the biodiversity crisis. Remote sensing makes it possible to monitor the health and species composition of ecosystems, almost in real time. This could help governments identify areas that require protection at an early stage and provide direct feedback on conservation measures.

    Calibration using field measurements

    “We’re in the process of finding out which aspects of plant biodiversity can be measured with remote sensing,” explains Anna Schweiger, a researcher at the UZH Remote Sensing Lab. Schweiger and Schuman need reference data from the field to ensure that they are interpreting the spectral data correctly. Computer models help them pinpoint concordance between spectral and field data and provide input on how to read the spectral information that they have obtained. “Pigments like green chlorophyll are the easiest to identify, since they absorb specific wavelengths,” explains Schuman.

    Spectrometry isn’t just confined to visible light, however: it also includes additional parts of the electromagnetic spectrum such as infrared light. Leaves reflect infrared rays at the edge of the visible light spectrum, the near-infrared spectrum, particularly strongly. “We call this transitional area the ‘red edge’,” says Schuman. “This reflection pattern provides insight into chlorophyll content and the waxy layer on the surface of the leaves.”

    Her group is working on using spectral data to obtain information about the genetic profiles of plants, which would allow researchers to study genetic differences within species and to draw conclusions about genetic diversity. A long-term study of beech trees in the Lägern mountain range led by doctoral student Ewa Czyz showed that spectral data points involving water content, phenols, pigments and wax composition are suitable indicators for obtaining information about the genetic structure of flora.

    One of the team’s goals is to improve their understanding of these relationships. Genetic variation within a species is particularly important for biodiversity, since a large gene pool gives plants more leeway to react to negative environmental factors such as pests or droughts. “If we lose genetic diversity and species diversity, ecosystems lose their ability to absorb external shocks,” explains Schweiger.

    Researchers in Schuman’s unit – chiefly the 4D Forests group led by Felix Morsdorf – combine spectroscopy with laser scanning, which involves measuring a laser beam reflected back by the soil or plants and recording the topography and height of the vegetation. “The 3D models that we calculate from this provide insight into the macrostructure – the structure of the plants visible to the eye – as well as how this influences spectral data,” says Schuman. The combination of laser scanning and spectroscopy is considered highly promising, as these data allows researchers to calculate the biomass and the amount of stored carbon, for example.

    Diverse plant communities

    The two researchers aren’t just looking for direct connections between spectra and plant characteristics; they are also comparing the spectra with one another. “Plants with similar characteristics and related species display similar spectra,” explains Schweiger.

    She has developed a spectral diversity index that shows diversity both within and between plant communities (alpha and beta diversity, respectively). The resolution of the spectral data is critical in terms of assessing diversity of this kind. “We need extremely high resolution in order to identify individual plants, which is required for estimating the alpha diversity. This means that there should only be one plant per pixel,” says Schweiger.

    Satellite-based image spectrometers – similar to what NASA and the ESA are currently developing – make records of the Earth’s surface in 30 x 30-meter chunks. “What’s easy to compare with these large pixels that capture a lot of individual specimens are the differences in species composition between plant communities: in other words, the beta diversity,” explains Schweiger.

    From leaf to soil

    The idea is that in the future, leaves should even be able to provide information about soil quality, since plants are a main contributor to soil characteristics. “Dead vegetation, for example, influences soil processes and microbial activities,” says Schweiger. She worked on a study that used remote sensing data to investigate which properties of plants impact the enzyme activity, microorganism diversity, organic carbon content and nitrogen content of soil.

    The results of the study indicate that the relationships between vegetation and soil processes vary depending on the ecosystem. “First we need to understand how productive and species-rich a particular ecosystem is compared to other ecosystems before we can start making statements about the properties of the soil,” adds Schweiger. It is this complexity that makes it a challenge to analyze remote sensing data – in addition to the vast quantities of information that remote sensing generates. The data points depend on when they were recorded and the environmental conditions at that moment – spectrums that change within a matter of seconds.

    Schuman would even like to extend remote sensing to certain chemical compounds that are emitted by cells and organisms to communicate with one another. Insects can detect molecules from food plants several kilometers away and use these scents to navigate toward their source of sustenance. “For our technology, it’s still difficult to record this kind of information remotely,” says Schuman. A geneticist by training, Schuman is particularly intrigued by the idea of using remote sensing to record molecules of this kind, since they have a direct tie to genes. “Genes contain the assembly instructions for proteins, which in turn put these chemical compounds together,” she explains.

    The only one of its kind

    Schuman and Schweiger found their way to their current research field in part thanks to conversations with UZH president and remote sensing expert Michael Schaepman. For decades now, the University of Zurich has been on the bleeding edge of developing remote sensing technology, and the university recognized the significance of remote sensing for biodiversity early on. UZH has been commissioned by NASA and the ESA to conduct test flights with AVIRIS-NG, the latest device in imaging spectrometry. “This measuring instrument is the only one of its kind in the world,” says Schweiger.

    It wasn’t always the case that the two researchers’ work forced them to gaze upon the heavens. They both spent a lot of time evaluating small patches of land in the field, particularly early on in their careers in ecology. “I always wondered if my findings also held true for nearby habitats,” says Schweiger. Remote sensing methods allow for field measurements to be extrapolated to larger areas and for larger areas to be monitored more easily. Remote sensing was also the missing piece for Schuman. “This method poses new questions and has changed the way we research ecosystems,” she says. It remains to be seen what mysteries leaves will reveal about the Earth’s ecosystems in the future.
    Keyword spectroscopy

    Depending on how they are structured, materials reflect electromagnetic waves of certain wavelengths. Spectroscopy is an analytical method that measures this interplay between electromagnetic waves and materials. This also involves hitting the object with certain desired wavelengths and using a spectroscope to break apart and analyze the waves that are reflected and absorbed – like a prism does to visible light. The distribution of intensity that results – the spectrum – is recorded in lines or bands with the help of a spectrometer. A rainbow is an example of a spectrum. Spectroscopy is an important method of analysis in physics, chemistry and astronomy. It is also used in industrial applications, for instance to detect impurities in food and medicine.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH), located in the city of Zürich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 26,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy.

    Currently, the university has seven faculties: Philosophy, Human Medicine, Economic Sciences, Law, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Theology and Veterinary Medicine. The university offers the widest range of subjects and courses of any Swiss higher education institutions.

    As a member of the League of European Research Universities (EU) (LERU) and Universitas 21 (U21) network, a global network of 27 research universities from around the world, promoting research collaboration and exchange of knowledge.

    Numerous distinctions highlight the University’s international renown in the fields of medicine, immunology, genetics, neuroscience and structural biology as well as in economics. To date, the Nobel Prize has been conferred on twelve UZH scholars.

    Sharing Knowledge

    The academic excellence of the University of Zürich brings benefits to both the public and the private sectors not only in the Canton of Zürich, but throughout Switzerland. Knowledge is shared in a variety of ways: in addition to granting the general public access to its twelve museums and many of its libraries, the University makes findings from cutting-edge research available to the public in accessible and engaging lecture series and panel discussions.

    1. Identity of the University of Zürich


    The University of Zürich (UZH) is an institution with a strong commitment to the free and open pursuit of scholarship.

    Scholarship is the acquisition, the advancement and the dissemination of knowledge in a methodological and critical manner.

    Academic freedom and responsibility

    To flourish, scholarship must be free from external influences, constraints and ideological pressures. The University of Zürich is committed to unrestricted freedom in research and teaching.

    Academic freedom calls for a high degree of responsibility, including reflection on the ethical implications of research activities for humans, animals and the environment.


    Work in all disciplines at the University is based on a scholarly inquiry into the realities of our world

    As Switzerland’s largest university, the University of Zürich promotes wide diversity in both scholarship and in the fields of study offered. The University fosters free dialogue, respects the individual characteristics of the disciplines, and advances interdisciplinary work.

    2. The University of Zurich’s goals and responsibilities

    Basic principles

    UZH pursues scholarly research and teaching, and provides services for the benefit of the public.

    UZH has successfully positioned itself among the world’s foremost universities. The University attracts the best researchers and students, and promotes junior scholars at all levels of their academic career.

    UZH sets priorities in research and teaching by considering academic requirements and the needs of society. These priorities presuppose basic research and interdisciplinary methods.

    UZH strives to uphold the highest quality in all its activities.
    To secure and improve quality, the University regularly monitors and evaluates its performance.


    UZH contributes to the increase of knowledge through the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

    UZH is primarily a research institution. As such, it enables and expects its members to conduct research, and supports them in doing so.

    While basic research is the core focus at UZH, the University also pursues applied research.

  • richardmitnick 1:47 pm on January 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Climate Change Likely to Uproot More Amazon Trees", A new study connecting extreme thunderstorms and tree deaths suggests the tropics will see more major blowdown events in a warming world., , Biota, , , ,   

    From The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: “Climate Change Likely to Uproot More Amazon Trees” 

    From The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    Lauren Biron

    A new study connecting extreme thunderstorms and tree deaths suggests the tropics will see more major blowdown events in a warming world.

    Members of NGEE-Tropics visit what they named “Blowdown Gardens,” an area that experienced windthrow near one of their field sites in the Amazon. Researchers have found a relationship between atmospheric conditions and large areas of tree death. Credit: Jeff Chambers/Berkeley Lab.

    Tropical forests are crucial for sucking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But they’re also subject to intense storms that can cause “windthrow” – the uprooting or breaking of trees. These downed trees decompose, potentially turning a forest from a carbon sink into a carbon source.

    A new study finds that more extreme thunderstorms from climate change will likely cause a greater number of large windthrow events in the Amazon rainforest. This is one of the few ways that researchers have developed a link between storm conditions in the atmosphere and forest mortality on land, helping fill a major gap in models.

    “Building this link between atmospheric dynamics and damage at the surface is very important across the board,” said Jeff Chambers, a senior faculty scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and director of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE)-Tropics project, which performed the research. “It’s not just for the tropics. It’s high-latitude, low-latitude, temperate-latitude, here in the U.S.”

    This false-color aerial image from Landsat 8 shows several examples of windthrow. The brownish-red region is a recent windthrow, while the bright green represents an older windthrow populated with new plant growth. (Credit: Landsat 8/NASA/USGS)

    Researchers found that the Amazon will likely experience 43% more large blowdown events (of 25,000 square meters or more) by the end of the century. The area of the Amazon likely to see extreme storms that trigger large windthrows will also increase by about 50%. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications [below] on Jan. 6.

    Fig. 1: The spatial pattern of windthrows and mean afternoon convective available potential energy (CAPE).
    [a] 1012 Windthrow events identified manually using Landsat 8 images, green color in the background represents forested area. [b] Windthrow density in 2.5° × 2.5° grids. [c] Contour lines of windthrow density (counts per 10,000 km2) over the mean afternoon CAPE at 0.25° resolution. [d] Mean afternoon CAPE aggregated in 2.5° × 2.5° grids using the 90th percentile over the grid.

    Fig. 2: The relationship maps convective available potential energy (CAPE) to windthrow density and future increase in CAPE simulated by Earth system models under the high-emission scenario.
    [a] Mean windthrow density as a function of CAPE values, calculated using the data shown in Figs. 1a, [c]. The boundaries of the CAPE bins were selected to have the same number of observed windthrows in each bin to avoid noise at the tails. The error bars (SD) of the windthrow density were generated using 10,000 bootstrapped samples of the 1012 windthrow points. The lower and upper CAPE bin boundaries were expanded to a minimum of 0 and a maximum of infinity with an assumption that the windthrow density is similar for the neighboring CAPE values. [b] The area of the Amazon region in each CAPE bin for the past 30 years and for the last 30 years of the century. The error bars (SD) of future CAPE were generated using scaled 2070–2099 CMIP6 CAPE from 10 ESMs. [c] The increase in area with CAPE over 1023 J kg^−1, with orange pixels representing mean 1990–2019 ERA 5 CAPE higher than 1023 J kg^−1 and red pixels representing mean scaled 2070–2099 CMIP6 CAPE higher than 1023 J kg^−1. [d] Ensemble-mean increase of CAPE from the current climate (1990–2014) to the future climate (2070–2099) under the SSP585 scenario. Since CMIP6 models provide historic simulations only up to 2015, data from 2015 to 2020 are not included. Stippling indicates regions where all 10 ESMs agree on the increase of CAPE, with CAPE calculated using daily surface pressure and atmospheric profiles at standard pressure levels.

    “We want to know what these extreme storms and windthrows mean in terms of the carbon budget and carbon dynamics, and for carbon sinks in the forests,” Chambers said. While downed trees slowly release carbon as they decompose, the open forest becomes host to new plants that pull carbon dioxide from the air. “It’s a complicated system, and there are still a lot of pieces of the puzzle that we’re working on. In order to answer the question more quantitatively, we need to build out the land-atmosphere links in Earth system models.”

    To find the link between air and land, researchers compared a map of more than 1,000 large windthrows with atmospheric data. They found that a measurement known as CAPE, the “convective available potential energy,” was a good predictor of major blowdowns. CAPE measures the amount of energy available to move parcels of air vertically, and a high value of CAPE often leads to thunderstorms. More extreme storms can come with intense vertical winds, heavy rains or hail, and lightning, which interact with trees from the canopy down to the soil.

    “Storms account for over half of the forest mortality in the Amazon,” said Yanlei Feng, first author on the paper. “Climate change has a lot of impact on Amazon forests, but so far, a large fraction of the research focus has been on drought and fire. We hope our research brings more attention to extreme storms and improves our models to work under a changing environment from climate change.”

    Researchers mapped more than 1,000 major windthrow events from 1990-2019. Each of these large blowdowns covered more than 25,000 square meters. By comparing the locations of windthrows with data about atmospheric conditions, researchers found a relationship that can be incorporated into future climate models. Credit: Robinson I. Negrón-Juárez and Yanlei Feng.

    While this study looked at a future with high carbon emissions (a scenario known as SSP-585), scientists could use projected CAPE data to explore windthrow impacts in different emissions scenarios. Researchers are now working to integrate the new forest-storm relationship into Earth system models. Better models will help scientists explore how forests will respond to a warmer future – and whether they can continue to siphon carbon out of the atmosphere or will instead become a contributor.

    “This was a very impactful climate change study for me,” said Feng, who completed the research as a graduate student researcher in the NGEE-Tropics project at Berkeley Lab. She now studies carbon capture and storage at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. “I’m worried about the projected increase in forest disturbances in our study and I hope I can help limit climate change. So now I’m working on climate change solutions.”

    NGEE-Tropics is a ten-year, multi-institutional project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

    Science paper:
    Nature Communications

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    LBNL campus

    Bringing Science Solutions to the World

    In the world of science, The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the The National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the The National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into The Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by The DOE through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above The University of California-Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a University of California-Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.



    The laboratory was founded on August 26, 1931, by Ernest Lawrence, as the Radiation Laboratory of the University of California-Berkeley, associated with the Physics Department. It centered physics research around his new instrument, the cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939.

    LBNL 88 inch cyclotron.

    LBNL 88 inch cyclotron.

    Throughout the 1930s, Lawrence pushed to create larger and larger machines for physics research, courting private philanthropists for funding. He was the first to develop a large team to build big projects to make discoveries in basic research. Eventually these machines grew too large to be held on the university grounds, and in 1940 the lab moved to its current site atop the hill above campus. Part of the team put together during this period includes two other young scientists who went on to establish large laboratories; J. Robert Oppenheimer founded The DOE’s Los Alamos Laboratory, and Robert Wilson founded The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.


    Leslie Groves visited Lawrence’s Radiation Laboratory in late 1942 as he was organizing the Manhattan Project, meeting J. Robert Oppenheimer for the first time. Oppenheimer was tasked with organizing the nuclear bomb development effort and founded today’s Los Alamos National Laboratory to help keep the work secret. At the RadLab, Lawrence and his colleagues developed the technique of electromagnetic enrichment of uranium using their experience with cyclotrons. The “calutrons” (named after the University) became the basic unit of the massive Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Lawrence’s lab helped contribute to what have been judged to be the three most valuable technology developments of the war (the atomic bomb, proximity fuse, and radar). The cyclotron, whose construction was stalled during the war, was finished in November 1946. The Manhattan Project shut down two months later.


    After the war, the Radiation Laboratory became one of the first laboratories to be incorporated into the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) (now The Department of Energy . The most highly classified work remained at Los Alamos, but the RadLab remained involved. Edward Teller suggested setting up a second lab similar to Los Alamos to compete with their designs. This led to the creation of an offshoot of the RadLab (now The DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) in 1952. Some of the RadLab’s work was transferred to the new lab, but some classified research continued at Berkeley Lab until the 1970s, when it became a laboratory dedicated only to unclassified scientific research.

    Shortly after the death of Lawrence in August 1958, the UC Radiation Laboratory (both branches) was renamed the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. The Berkeley location became the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1971, although many continued to call it the RadLab. Gradually, another shortened form came into common usage, LBNL. Its formal name was amended to Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1995, when “National” was added to the names of all DOE labs. “Ernest Orlando” was later dropped to shorten the name. Today, the lab is commonly referred to as “Berkeley Lab”.

    The Alvarez Physics Memos are a set of informal working papers of the large group of physicists, engineers, computer programmers, and technicians led by Luis W. Alvarez from the early 1950s until his death in 1988. Over 1700 memos are available on-line, hosted by the Laboratory.

    The lab remains owned by the Department of Energy , with management from the University of California. Companies such as Intel were funding the lab’s research into computing chips.

    Science mission

    From the 1950s through the present, Berkeley Lab has maintained its status as a major international center for physics research, and has also diversified its research program into almost every realm of scientific investigation. Its mission is to solve the most pressing and profound scientific problems facing humanity, conduct basic research for a secure energy future, understand living systems to improve the environment, health, and energy supply, understand matter and energy in the universe, build and safely operate leading scientific facilities for the nation, and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.

    The Laboratory’s 20 scientific divisions are organized within six areas of research: Computing Sciences; Physical Sciences; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Biosciences; Energy Sciences; and Energy Technologies. Berkeley Lab has six main science thrusts: advancing integrated fundamental energy science; integrative biological and environmental system science; advanced computing for science impact; discovering the fundamental properties of matter and energy; accelerators for the future; and developing energy technology innovations for a sustainable future. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab tradition that continues today.

    Berkeley Lab operates five major National User Facilities for the DOE Office of Science:

    The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is a synchrotron light source with 41 beam lines providing ultraviolet, soft x-ray, and hard x-ray light to scientific experiments.

    The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Advanced Light Source.
    The ALS is one of the world’s brightest sources of soft x-rays, which are used to characterize the electronic structure of matter and to reveal microscopic structures with elemental and chemical specificity. About 2,500 scientist-users carry out research at ALS every year. Berkeley Lab is proposing an upgrade of ALS which would increase the coherent flux of soft x-rays by two-three orders of magnitude.

    Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center

    The DOE Joint Genome Institute supports genomic research in support of the DOE missions in alternative energy, global carbon cycling, and environmental management. The JGI’s partner laboratories are Berkeley Lab, DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology . The JGI’s central role is the development of a diversity of large-scale experimental and computational capabilities to link sequence to biological insights relevant to energy and environmental research. Approximately 1,200 scientist-users take advantage of JGI’s capabilities for their research every year.

    LBNL Molecular Foundry

    The LBNL Molecular Foundry is a multidisciplinary nanoscience research facility. Its seven research facilities focus on Imaging and Manipulation of Nanostructures; Nanofabrication; Theory of Nanostructured Materials; Inorganic Nanostructures; Biological Nanostructures; Organic and Macromolecular Synthesis; and Electron Microscopy. Approximately 700 scientist-users make use of these facilities in their research every year.

    The DOE’s NERSC National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center is the scientific computing facility that provides large-scale computing for the DOE’s unclassified research programs. Its current systems provide over 3 billion computational hours annually. NERSC supports 6,000 scientific users from universities, national laboratories, and industry.

    DOE’s NERSC National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    Cray Cori II supercomputer at National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, named after Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science.

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer.

    NERSC Cray XC30 Edison supercomputer.

    NERSC GPFS for Life Sciences.

    The Genepool system is a cluster dedicated to the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s computing needs. Denovo is a smaller test system for Genepool that is primarily used by NERSC staff to test new system configurations and software.

    NERSC PDSF computer cluster in 2003.

    PDSF is a networked distributed computing cluster designed primarily to meet the detector simulation and data analysis requirements of physics, astrophysics and nuclear science collaborations.

    Cray Shasta Perlmutter SC18 AMD Epyc Nvidia pre-exascale supercomputer.

    NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    The DOE’s Energy Science Network is a high-speed network infrastructure optimized for very large scientific data flows. ESNet provides connectivity for all major DOE sites and facilities, and the network transports roughly 35 petabytes of traffic each month.

    Berkeley Lab is the lead partner in the DOE’s Joint Bioenergy Institute (JBEI), located in Emeryville, California. Other partners are the DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory, the University of California (UC) campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science , and DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). JBEI’s primary scientific mission is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels – liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass. JBEI is one of three new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs).

    Berkeley Lab has a major role in two DOE Energy Innovation Hubs. The mission of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) is to find a cost-effective method to produce fuels using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. The lead institution for JCAP is the California Institute of Technology and Berkeley Lab is the second institutional center. The mission of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) is to create next-generation battery technologies that will transform transportation and the electricity grid. DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory leads JCESR and Berkeley Lab is a major partner.

  • richardmitnick 9:13 am on January 5, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Wildflower Cells Reveal Mystery of Leaf's Structure", , , , Biota, , , , , , , , This work could lead to the manufacturing of energy-producing photosynthetic materials.,   

    From The School of Engineering and Applied Science At Yale University: “Wildflower Cells Reveal Mystery of Leaf’s Structure” 

    Yale SEAS

    From The School of Engineering and Applied Science


    Yale University

    12.20.22 [Just today in social media.]

    In plants, the cells that form the internal structure of leaves start out as tightly compacted spheres in the early stages of leaf development. As the leaf develops and expands, these cells take on new shapes and loosen up. Yet the leaf’s microstructure remains robust and intact.  

    Confocal microscopic images of the developing spongy mesophyll in Arabidopsis thaliana taken at (a) 0, (b) 24 and (c) 72 hours of development. (See Methods and materials in the science paper for details.) The black scale bar in each frame represents 50 μm. (d) Mesophyll tissue observed in a microcomputed tomography (microCT) scan of a mature Arabdidopsis leaf. The leaf has three orthogonal axes, the basal–apical (BA), medial–lateral (ML) and adaxial–abaxial (AdAb) axes. Leaf images are in the three planes orthogonal to these axes, i.e. the transverse (yellow), longitudinal (red) and paradermal (purple) planes, respectively. The paradermal slice is taken at the location of the dashed white lines drawn on the other slices, and the location of the transverse (longitudinal) slices are indicated by yellow (red) dashed lines on the paradermal slice. Credit: Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2022).

    A team of researchers—including a mechanical engineer, plant biologist, and applied physicist—has figured out how this happens. Doing so not only answers questions that have long baffled the plant world, but could lead to the manufacturing of energy-producing photosynthetic materials. The results of their work appear in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface [below]. 

    The middle layer of plant leaves is known as the spongy mesophyll, which is a porous network of cells where photosynthesis happens. In this process, carbon dioxide (CO2) comes up through the bottom of the leaf, sunlight comes in through the top, and then the two interact within the middle layer of cells. In a leaf’s early stages, the cells in this layer are nearly spherical and tightly packed together. However, if the cells stay this way, the light and the carbon dioxide have no room to interact. So the cells loosen up to make room to allow photosynthesis to happen. But in doing so, why doesn’t the leaf lose its structure and break apart?

    “The spongy mesophyll is able to develop into a very porous material, yet retain the properties of a solid,” said Corey O’Hern, professor of mechanical engineering & materials science. “That’s the paradox, that the leaf needs to create this labyrinthian structure of air space to allow diffusion of CO2—but the leaf still has to remain mechanically stable.”

    To understand this counterintuitive process, O’Hern and the other researchers used images made with confocal microscopy of the cells in different phases of the leaf’s development.

    “We created a computational model to describe the shapes of individual cells and how much they stick to each other,” O’Hern said. “Then we modeled the development of the spongy mesophyll by pulling on the tissue on all sides.”

    These studies included measuring the shapes of all cells and the porosity of the mesophyll (that is, how much of the material is made up of cells and how much is made up of air). The researchers charted the course of the cells’ development from early to late stages of development and observed how the cells morph from tightly packed spheres to elongated and multi-lobed shapes.

    They found that, rather than causing the leaf structure to break down, the cells spreading out maintained the leaf’s structure. “What’s happening is that the cells in the spongy mesophyll are still pushing outward, while the epidermal tissue in the leaf is keeping it inside,” O’Hern said.

    The specific plant they looked at is the thale cress, a wildflower known to scientists as Arabidosis thaliana. It’s considered the fruit fly of plants in that it’s particularly useful for experiments. It germinates very quickly, and the genes of the plant are well-known.

    For future studies, the researchers plan to apply their computational model to other plant species to see if the model can expain the wide diversity of spongy mesophyll structure. Further, they want to apply what they’ve learned to creating artificial plant tissue.

    “If we can understand how plants are so efficient at photosynthesis, and can understand the self-assembly of leaf mesophyll, maybe we can create similar photosynthetic materials in the lab.”

    Science paper:
    Journal of the Royal Society Interface
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science Daniel L Malone Engineering Center
    The Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science is the engineering school of Yale University. When the first professor of civil engineering was hired in 1852, a Yale School of Engineering was established within the Yale Scientific School, and in 1932 the engineering faculty organized as a separate, constituent school of the university. The school currently offers undergraduate and graduate classes and degrees in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, applied physics, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science.

    Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest private benefactor for the first century of its existence, Elihu Yale. Yale University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities and is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation.

    Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers before moving to New Haven in 1716. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

    Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of June 2020, the university’s endowment was valued at $31.1 billion, the second largest of any educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

    As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.


    Yale is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, Yale spent $990 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 15th in the nation.

    Yale’s faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences , 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

    Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called “Yale School”. These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale’s history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale’s Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

    In addition to eminent faculty members, Yale research relies heavily on the presence of roughly 1200 Postdocs from various national and international origin working in the multiple laboratories in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools of the university. The university progressively recognized this working force with the recent creation of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs and the Yale Postdoctoral Association.

    Notable alumni

    Over its history, Yale has produced many distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, ranging from the public to private sector. According to 2020 data, around 71% of undergraduates join the workforce, while the next largest majority of 16.6% go on to attend graduate or professional schools. Yale graduates have been recipients of 252 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Scholarships, 67 Truman Scholarships, 21 Churchill Scholarships, and 9 Mitchell Scholarships. The university is also the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars, with a total of 1,199 in its history and has produced 89 MacArthur Fellows. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked Yale fifth among research institutions producing the most 2020–2021 Fulbright Scholars. Additionally, 31 living billionaires are Yale alumni.

    At Yale, one of the most popular undergraduate majors among Juniors and Seniors is political science, with many students going on to serve careers in government and politics. Former presidents who attended Yale for undergrad include William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush while former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School. Former vice-president and influential antebellum era politician John C. Calhoun also graduated from Yale. Former world leaders include Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, Philippine president José Paciano Laurel, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers, Taiwanese premier Jiang Yi-huah, and Malawian president Peter Mutharika, among others. Prominent royals who graduated are Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Olympia Bonaparte, Princess Napoléon.

    Yale alumni have had considerable presence in U.S. government in all three branches. On the U.S. Supreme Court, 19 justices have been Yale alumni, including current Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Numerous Yale alumni have been U.S. Senators, including current Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Current and former cabinet members include Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen; U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi; and many others. Peace Corps founder and American diplomat Sargent Shriver and public official and urban planner Robert Moses are Yale alumni.

    Yale has produced numerous award-winning authors and influential writers, like Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Sinclair Lewis and Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benét, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, and David McCullough. Academy Award winning actors, actresses, and directors include Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, and Frances McDormand. Alumni from Yale have also made notable contributions to both music and the arts. Leading American composer from the 20th century Charles Ives, Broadway composer Cole Porter, Grammy award winner David Lang, and award-winning jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer all hail from Yale. Hugo Boss Prize winner Matthew Barney, famed American sculptor Richard Serra, President Barack Obama presidential portrait painter Kehinde Wiley, MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Sarah Sze, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and National Medal of Arts photorealist painter Chuck Close all graduated from Yale. Additional alumni include architect and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Lin, Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, and Gateway Arch designer Eero Saarinen. Journalists and pundits include Dick Cavett, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Fareed Zakaria.

    In business, Yale has had numerous alumni and former students go on to become founders of influential business, like William Boeing (Boeing, United Airlines), Briton Hadden and Henry Luce (Time Magazine), Stephen A. Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), Frederick W. Smith (FedEx), Juan Trippe (Pan Am), Harold Stanley (Morgan Stanley), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), and Ben Silbermann (Pinterest). Other business people from Yale include former chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, former Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, former PepsiCo chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton,

    Yale alumni distinguished in academia include literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman; Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project leader and National Institutes of Health director Francis S. Collins; brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; influential mathematician and chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs; National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and biochemist Florence B. Seibert; Turing Award recipient Ron Rivest; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate John B. Goodenough; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

    In the sporting arena, Yale alumni include baseball players Ron Darling and Craig Breslow and baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss; football players Calvin Hill, Gary Fenick, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and “the Father of American Football” Walter Camp; ice hockey players Chris Higgins and Olympian Helen Resor; Olympic figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nathan Chen; nine-time U.S. Squash men’s champion Julian Illingworth; Olympic swimmer Don Schollander; Olympic rowers Josh West and Rusty Wailes; Olympic sailor Stuart McNay; Olympic runner Frank Shorter; and others.

  • richardmitnick 10:48 am on January 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hack-and-squirt", "The Secret Life of Plant Killers", Biota, , , To take out invasives the US relies on crews wielding hatchets and chainsaws and herbicide. It’s a messy and fun job—but it may not be enough to stop the spread.,   

    From WIRED: “The Secret Life of Plant Killers” 

    From WIRED

    Sonya Bennett-Brandt

    Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    To take out invasives, the US relies on crews wielding hatchets, chainsaws, and herbicide. It’s a messy, fun job—but it may not be enough to stop the spread.

    “When you hunt the “tree of heaven”, you come to know it by its smell. A waft of creamy peanut butter leads you to a tall trunk, silvery and nubbled like cantaloupe rind, rising into a wide crown of papery pink seeds and slender leaves. To kill this tree, you cannot simply cut it down with a chainsaw. Ailanthus altissima is a hydra; it counters any assault by sealing off its wounds and sending up a horde of new shoots across its root system. Where you had one tree, now you have a grove of clones extending 25 feet all around you. No, the trick to killing this tree, Triston Kersenbrock explained, is to attack it “without alarming it,” so slowly that it does not even realize it’s dying.

    Triston and I were standing in the shade of a tree of heaven in Pisgah National Forest, on the fringes of the Appalachian Mountains. We were with his crew of four AmeriCorps members, enjoying a respite from the hot North Carolina summer sun. To my unstudied eye, the tree looked like just another beautiful inhabitant of the ecosystem—and in its native East Asia, that’s what it would be. But here, the species grows so quickly that it takes over the forest canopy, stealing sunlight from the trees, shrubs, and grasses that live below. Its leaves are toxic; when they fall, they poison the soil and suppress the germination of any plant that tries to survive in its shadow.

    The crew members, all in their early to mid-twenties, were on a mission to find and kill as many invasive plants as they could. They were outfitted with identical PPE—long pants and sleeves, turquoise nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats bearing the logo of their employer, American Conservation Experience, a nonprofit that coordinates environmental restoration work around the country. But each member of the ACE crew retained a personalized style: Triston was neatly ironed and tucked in, a carabiner tidily clipping his car keys to his belt loop. Eva Tillett had tied her pants up with a length of tattered white rope. Carly Coffman hung her safety glasses from a cheerful rainbow-colored strap. Lucas Durham had threaded earbuds through his shirt and under the straps of his helmet so he could listen to jams while he worked. 

    To kill the tree, the ACErs would use a technique known as “hack-and-squirt”. Triston held up a hatchet. “Would you like the honors?” he asked me. I felt a pang. I steadied myself and cut 10 shallow notches into the trunk—minor enough wounds, we hoped, that the tree wouldn’t go into hydra mode. The bark curled off like half-peeled scabs. Eva passed me a squirt bottle full of bright blue liquid containing Triclopyr, an herbicide. “Spritz it, yo!” Lucas said. I spritzed. The liquid filled each wound and dripped down like alien blood. 

    Hack-and-squirt allows the Triclopyr to stealthily infiltrate the tree’s vascular system. The tree, oblivious, carries the poison to its roots, where the chemical mimics one of its own growth hormones and forces its cells to divide themselves to death. Like something out of a Greek myth, the punishment parallels the crime.

    Our work on the big tree took just a few minutes. Then the crew fanned out and went after its offspring. The saplings were too young to have bark, so instead of notching them we shaved a bit of stem off with our hatchet blades and dabbed herbicide into the scrape like antiseptic on a skinned knee. Triston found a sapling that another crew had already tried to kill. It had been cut down to a few knotty stumps, but a bundle of tenacious shoots was erupting out of it. “It doesn’t want to die,” Triston said. We unceremoniously skinned and squirted it. Maybe this time the herbicide would take. 

    Almost 20 years ago, around when American Conservation Experience was founded, the US Forest Service estimated that invasive plants covered 133 million acres in the country, an area as big as California and New York combined. Every year since then, they have claimed millions of additional acres in the United States, incurring billions of dollars in crop losses and land management costs and introducing numerous new pathogens and pests. (The tree of heaven, for example, is the primary reproductive host for the infamous spotted lanternfly, which managed to infest New York City within two years of appearing there.)

    At a time when Earth’s ecosystems are under constant assault from habitat destruction and climate change, invasive plants present a uniquely unsettling global threat. Like Triclopyr, they kill silently and slowly. First they choke out native flora, which means some native herbivores and pollinators start to go hungry, which means some native carnivores do too. Eventually, those species may depart or die out, draining the landscape of biodiversity. The rich, layered variety of the ecosystem gives way to a bland monoculture. Some evolutionary biologists warn of a dawning Homogocene, an era in which invasive species become increasingly dominant—and uniform—across the globe.

    Triston and the ACE crew were here, hacking and hollering, to fight one tiny part of that global advance. They would measure their success not in millions of acres or billions of dollars but in freshly sawn bittersweet stumps, withered spiraea tendrils, and native seedlings winding toward the light. 

    By 7 pm, we were all starving. Dinner was at the sprawling, ranch-style crew house in Asheville where Triston, Eva, Carly, and Lucas lived with an ever-rotating gang of ACEers. The vibe was a combination of college dorm, co-op, and barrack; there were bunk beds, comfy mismatched sofas, and a cherished collection of Star Trek videotapes. 

    When I arrived, Ron Bethea, 25, was choosing a garnish for a shakshuka he’d made with Carly. He picked out a few herbs from an old lunch box crammed with spice blends he collects from every new city he visits. Ron, I learn, is a bit of an ACE legend. A born-and-raised North Carolinian with a sharp sense of humor, he keeps crews entertained with horror stories about rogue birders. (“Birders do not play. They get violent.”) Ron started as an ACE crew member in 2019, became a crew leader in 2020, and was recently promoted to project manager. He watches out for the younger crew members, gently reminding new recruits to brush their teeth. The seemingly endless grind of fieldwork can be a shock, but Ron brings out the fun and drama in the job; when you’re working with Ron, you’re not just weeding, you’re waging war. “I don’t know if you’ve seen anyone play Call of Duty, but that’s exactly how it feels,” Ron said. “We have our ammunition, we’re coordinating our strategies. Like ‘Hey, you go around this tree line, I’ll go around the other side, and we’ll meet you in the middle.’”

    “He’s a great cook,” Lucas told me. “He’s so iconic.” Carly pulled out her water bottle and showed me a sticker of Ron in his trademark tie-dye bandana. Wreathing his head was one of his catchphrases: “It be ya own bitches.” As in, trust no one. 

    Ron Bethea, an ACE project manager. Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    The six of us sat down at a big scuffed-up table, surrounded by crew members’ handmade artwork and goofy photos tacked to the walls. Over dinner, while we passed around Ron’s garlic confit, everyone told their funniest stories from the summer. Like how once Ron ugly-cried after accidentally chainsawing in half a turtle that was hidden in an old log. There was the time a crew member peed on a hornet’s nest and sicced the hornets on the rest of the crew; the only person to escape unscathed had his oversize T-shirt to thank. “He was built like a toothpick in a garbage bag!” Ron said—the stingers just couldn’t find him. Another time, an angry wasp flew down a crew member’s shirt, but he stayed so calm no one believed him. “I’m being stung. Ow. I’m being stung,” he’d said, serenely. 

    The crew’s easy camaraderie had formed over just a few months. ACE functions as a contractor for government organizations that need conservation work done, including the Park Service, the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and municipalities. Its funding is pieced together from federal agencies, grants, and other nonprofits, like the Conservation Fund or the Nature Conservancy. For labor, the organization relies on training inexperienced young people to be, essentially, short-term volunteers; besides room and board, crew members receive a living allowance of $240 per week. You don’t need a college degree to serve in AmeriCorps, and the program grants an education award that can be applied to tuition or student loans. It gives aspiring conservationists a chance to build land and forest management expertise that can only come from being in the field. 

    Everyone around the table was there for different reasons. Triston hoped the field experience would help him get a long-term job with the Forest Service. Carly was shadowing Triston. Lucas was looking for something interesting to do during his summer break from college. Eva had a degree in ecology and was hoping to leave her office job for something more hands-on. Many ACEers are trying to jump-start conservation careers; others just want to work in nature for a while. Some stay for a few months; a few, like Ron, stay for years. 

    In his time at ACE, Ron has worked on invasive plant removal projects across the East Coast and all the way to Kansas; he’s traveled to seven states this year alone. Over his tenure, he’s grown to appreciate the wiliness of his floral foes. “These plants are smart. They know what they’re doing,” Ron told me. “They’re invasive because they know.”

    Out of all the non-native plants that arrive in North America, only a fraction become invasive. Most either perish immediately or weave themselves into their new ecosystems, participating in the normal push and pull of predation, symbiosis, and competition. But even a small number of invasive species can quickly provoke disaster because they share traits that make them impressively resilient: They are hyper-fertile and fast-growing, with an arsenal of botanical superpowers that allow them to decimate native flora and transform their surroundings according to their own tastes.

    Climate change is only accelerating the problem. Across the country, growing seasons for invasive plants are getting longer. In the Southeast, winter freezes were once an effective natural weapon against tropical plants that tried to grow in the temperate ecosystem. Now, as the region warms, the plants can survive year-round.

    Ron Bethea collects specimens of invasive plants in jars. Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    It’s worth noting that most invasive plants aren’t true invaders; they are escape artists. Every one of the invasive plants I saw in North Carolina was brought to North America deliberately in the 18th and 19th centuries, during a kind of horticultural free-for-all. Wealthy enthusiasts scooped up attractive plants from across the world and promoted them as exotic, hardy additions to gardens, parks, and hedgerows. Then, one by one, the plants escaped from cultivation, and these luxury goods transformed into ecological disasters. Some of America’s most noxious invasive plants—floating heart, Asiatic bittersweet, Japanese meadowsweets, princess tree, porcelain berry—are the botanical pets of aristocrats, gone feral. 

    The sun was about to rise when I joined Ron and an ACE wetland restoration crew in Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Wetland Park for the start of their work day. The park preserves a corner of wilderness within one of the city’s lowest-income areas. For decades, the nearby creek was a dumping ground for sewage. Local residents started doing volunteer cleanups, and in the 90s funding was secured to create the park. This was a big win for biodiversity; wetland ecosystems like the park support more than 70 percent of North Carolina’s protected species. Now, the park is being eaten by kudzu, and this crew was tasked with removing it. 

    Kudzu, the infamous “vine that ate the South,” lives up to the hype. Most of the roadsides I saw in North Carolina had been fully digested into a surreal kudzu-textured world. Tree-shaped kudzu. A delicate curve of telephone-wire-shaped kudzu. Barn-shaped kudzu, with little kudzu chimneys. “If you leave for six months, your car belongs to the wilderness,” Ron said. “It’s not your car anymore.” The vine can grow a foot a day.

    Invasive vines tend to be serial stranglers. Not only do they climb high enough to cover the canopy and steal sunlight, they can wrap trees so tightly that they squeeze the sapwood, making it harder for water and nutrients to travel between the canopy and the roots. It’s yet another ability that allows invasive vines to outcompete their native counterparts. On the bright side, it makes them easier for an inexperienced invasive-plant hunter like myself to identify. Just keep an eye out for the stranglers, one ACE project manager told me. “Native vines that are meant to be here don’t girdle trees just for fun.” 

    Ron looks at a growth of Oriental bittersweet. Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    Ron and Emery Harms, the crew leader, drove me and the crew into the park to get us closer to the day’s first target site, and we armed ourselves with hand tools from a fat plastic bucket: thick gardening gloves, handsaws that unfolded like switchblades, loppers, and squeeze bottles with spongy tips for blotting herbicide. Thus equipped, we began the kudzu massacre. Whenever the crew and I painstakingly unwound a kudzu vine from the tree beneath, it left craggy scars in the bark. Slowly, native white ash and Eastern cottonwood trees appeared from below the kudzu, like freed hostages. Then, to make sure the vines didn’t just climb right back up, we had to find and chop the root—or rather, roots, because a single vine can have several root sites. It was like untangling a colossal, fragile knot, except every mistake generated a new knot. More than once, I pulled on the end of a kudzu vine, chasing the stem up and down trees and under old logs—only to find one of my crewmates pulling on the other end, like a giant, botanical version of the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. Meanwhile, every tug on a vine covered us in kudzu bugs: chunky, invasive sap-suckers that pinged off our safety helmets like hail. 

    The wetland itself was lush and lively with animals, with a warm buzz of crickets, grasshoppers, and frogs. After a few hours, one of the crew members called everyone over and we stopped working for a moment to watch a wolf spider carrying her egg sac, a perfect blue marble, through the grass.

    Ron holds up a salt cedar specimen. Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    In the afternoon, we tackled a clump of wetland where kudzu, bittersweet, and invasive privet shrubs wrapped thickly together into an evil matrix. We were “windowing”: creating an open space between the bottom of the canopy and the ground to remove the invasive vines’ access to soil and bring sunlight back to the forest floor. While Emery tackled the nearly foot-thick privet trunk with a chainsaw, I kept carefully outside the “blood bubble”—the hypothetical circle circumscribed by an outstretched arm holding a chainsaw—and hacked away at a smaller shrub with a handsaw. Once Emery cut completely through the trunk, I braced for the tree to fall, but instead it hung in the air like a ghost, its whole weight suspended from above by the vines knotted around its canopy. We cheered as Ron dragged the tree, 10 times his size, to the deadwood pile. By the end of the afternoon, we’d turned the shady thicket, clotted with privet, into a sunny, airy clearing. “It seems like you’ve got a bloodlust now,” Emery said to me. 

    In that new clearing, native plants will have a chance to gain back a little ground. Other parts of the park are too far gone. As we walked back to the ACE van at the end of the day, Emery pointed out a monster tower of kudzu, too dense to chop; “I’d have loved to hit that,” they said wistfully, “but it would have grown back in three weeks.” With limited manpower, crews have to ruthlessly prioritize areas where they can have the most impact. The goal is to do enough to keep native plants in the game until their next visit. As Ron put it, “it’s never a one-and-done deal.” Even in the best-case scenario, the same fight will keep playing out season after season. “On the one hand, it looks better than it was,” one crew member said. “But compared to what it could be … woof.” In this field, every victory is a small win. If the birds, amphibians, insects, and other creatures that rely on the wetland can flourish for another year, that will have to do. 

    A hack-and-squirt treatment (L) and treatment on a tree of heaven stump (R). Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    Is the painstaking, piecemeal work of halting invasives more trouble than it’s worth? Some ecologists argue that if the plants are left alone, the ecosystems will manage themselves. Invasive species, the thinking goes, will eventually become less dominant as they build connections to other organisms and as those other organisms evolve defenses against them. Given some time, native species can put up a fight against the Homogocene. When I asked Joost Besijn, the director of ACE’s eastern division, about this idea, he said that in the long term it could prove true—but in many cases, “long” might be longer than people can afford. “I guess it all depends on the time scale you look at,” he said. “In a million years, does it really matter? But in the short term, many invasive species will completely decimate the carrying capacity of an ecosystem.”

    In the face of such enormous and intractable environmental problems, the public tends to look to the white-collar experts—scientists, researchers, policymakers—for answers. But in North Carolina, I saw that some of the United States’ most immediate needs depend on an entirely different set of skills. The truth is that once invasive vegetation takes hold, the only viable mitigation strategy is to send in crews of people—mostly young, underpaid people on temporary contracts—to wield hatchets, chainsaws, and herbicide in the tangle of the forest, taking out plants one at a time.

    ACE’s conservation corps model has its appeal. The chaotic gaggle of young people in Triston’s and Emery’s crews transmitted an infectious energy. They showed me which plants had serrated leaves or backward-hooked thorns and hairs on their stems. They taught me which plants smelled like root beer and Froot Loops. When we walked alone into the forest, we stayed within “whooping distance” of each other; every so often a “WHOOP!” or a “YEE!” would drift through the trees and we would each hoot back our locations. I sneezed, and someone shouted “BLESS YOU!” from far away. When our hands were too grubby to accept a stick of gum, Eva went around and placed a piece in each of our mouths like a communion wafer.

    Ron and another ACE worker sharpen loppers on a truck tailgate. Photograph: Kennedi Carter.

    The care each crew leader had for their members was plain. Emery checked on everyone’s bug bites and always knew which crew members had leaky boots. Triston took on all the hardest jobs himself. Ron handed around his contact info in case anyone ever needed a job reference or a pep talk. Several crew members talked to me about the new skills they were learning, even beyond the field of conservation: budgeting, teamwork, harmonious co-living.

    Camaraderie, though, may not be enough to sustain a vital front of conservation work. Most of the people I spoke with who do plant removal feared long-term financial struggle. Full-time, hands-on positions in conservation generally require field experience, which is often unpaid. One route to a viable career is the Forest Service, but much of that work is seasonal. Some people work second jobs; others depend on savings. Ron would like to go back to school to get an advanced degree, but he’s hesitant. “I need to get on that train, but I am in debt too bad,” he told me. “I just need to breathe for a minute.” ACE’s most significant challenge right now isn’t finding funders—it’s finding enough members willing to do the work.

    Recently, ACE leadership, alongside other conservation corps from across the country, took part in conversations in DC about how to replace volunteer or poorly paid labor with a paid conservation workforce. In Ron’s estimation, even a wage of $15 an hour, plus benefits, “would change ACE entirely.” But President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill was passed with only about $250 million set aside for an invasive plant elimination program. That’s not a lot of money to tackle one of the country’s biggest biodiversity threats. 

    As it stands, invasive plants are gaining ground in the vast majority of the country’s natural areas. Once I started seeing them, I couldn’t stop—since my visit to North Carolina, I spotted a baby kudzu twisting up a tree in a city park, hogweed on a hiking trail, garlic mustard in parking lots, a spiraea bush behind a taco shop. They have us surrounded. Check your backyard, and your local park; maybe they’re there, strangling trees or casting a deadly shade. If you’re lucky, a troop of young conservationists will stop by, when funding allows, to give native plants and wildlife a fighting chance for another season. 

    Driving out of Pisgah National Forest after a long day of cut-stumping, stump-squirting, trunk-hacking, and vine-pulling, the ACE crew spotted a massive bank of bittersweet on the roadside, choking a telephone pole. The vine was only a few months away from reaching the top and winding along the wires like a Christmas garland. “Don’t look!” someone squealed, and we all covered our eyes.”

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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  • richardmitnick 11:00 am on December 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Satellite Data Reveal Uptick in Cover Cropping on Farms", , , , Biota, , , , Over the course of a decade farmers growing corn and soybeans in the U.S. Midwest increased their adoption of cover cropping—a tenet of so-called conservation agriculture—by fourfold.   

    From “Eos” : “Satellite Data Reveal Uptick in Cover Cropping on Farms” 

    Eos news bloc

    From “Eos”



    Katherine Kornei

    Over the course of a decade farmers growing corn and soybeans in the U.S. Midwest increased their adoption of cover cropping—a tenet of so-called conservation agriculture—by fourfold.

    A South Dakota farmer planted a straight radish cover crop into winter wheat stubble to simulate “natural strip till” and increase biological activity to enhance residue breakdown, allowing the soil to warm up more quickly in the spring for planting corn. Credit: USDA NRCS SD Michael Stephens, Pierre.

    Agriculture is hard on the planet, at least in the stereotypical caricature of “big ag”: Crops are propelled to maturity with a plethora of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides—the runoff of which pollutes waterways and triggers harmful algal blooms—and the land is often left barren between planting cycles, leading to the erosion of nutrient-rich topsoil. But there’s reason to be hopeful, new results revealed; farms that grow corn and soybeans across the American Midwest are increasingly planting cover crops. That’s a heartening trend, the researchers suggested, because cover crops benefit the environment in a myriad of ways.

    These Crops Aren’t Harvested

    In the midwestern United States, thousands upon thousands of acres are devoted to growing corn and soybeans. Those cash crops—used to produce animal feed, cooking oil, fuel, and a host of other products—are typically planted in April or May and harvested around October. That timing opens up the possibility of planting a so-called cover crop in the late fall that is dormant during the winter and then emerges the following spring. Cover crops used in the Midwest include a wide variety of species such as cereal rye, barley, crimson clover, and field peas. But they aren’t meant to be harvested, said Kaiyu Guan, an Earth system scientist at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. Instead, they’re grown to help keep the soil healthy and reduce runoff and erosion, said Guan. “Cover cropping is a major conservation practice.”

    Guan is part of a team, led by Qu Zhou, also at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign that recently studied the prevalence of cover cropping on land used to grow corn and soybeans. The team analyzed trends across the midwestern United States over 2 decades from 2000 to 2021. It’s important to get a handle on how cover crop adoption has waxed and waned over time, said Guan. That’s because the national government, along with state and regional organizations, has periodically offered financial incentives to farmers to adopt conservation practices such as cover cropping. It’s useful to understand whether those incentives have been effective, said Guan. “Essentially, we’d like to see what’s going on with all of those investments.”

    Looking for Green

    The researchers analyzed satellite imagery obtained at visible and near-infrared wavelengths from 2000 to 2021 spanning 12 states across the Midwest. For each 30- × 30-meter pixel in their data set, they calculated a parameter known as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI is essentially a measure of photosynthetic capability—values close to 1 indicate the presence of lots of green leaves, and values close to 0 correspond to no vegetation. “It’s basically related to greenness,” said Eileen Kladivko, a soil scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and a founding member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council who was not involved in the research.

    With a daily time series of those NDVI data in hand, the team’s next challenge was to determine exactly what part of the NDVI signal was due to cover crops. Bare soil, corn and soybean crops, and even weeds could be contaminating the data. The researchers first assumed that the lowest NDVI values they recorded—which tended to appear between October and April—corresponded to bare soil. Signals recorded from June through September—that is, the cash crop growing season—were largely due to the growth of corn and soybeans, the team surmised. By subtracting the contributions of soil and cash crops from the NDVI time series, the researchers isolated signals most likely due to cover crops. “We use the time series information to unmix these signals,” said team member Sheng Wang, an environmental scientist at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

    To deal with the issue of weeds, the team applied a set of spatially and temporally dependent thresholds that considered parameters such as air temperature, precipitation, and soil type. “We developed a dynamic method to essentially take into account the environmental conditions associated with cover crop growth,” said Guan. By masking out pixels that didn’t satisfy those thresholds, the team homed in on a set of signals most likely to be free of contamination from weeds. To address the problem of winter-grown cash crops, the researchers used crop data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service to isolate pixels most likely to represent corn and soybeans.
    First Steady, Then Growth

    Zhou and his collaborators calculated the rate at which corn and soybean farmland was planted with cover crops each year from 2000 to 2021. Cover crop usage remained nearly constant the first 10 years of the study period, the team noted, at roughly 1.1%, or about 6,000 square kilometers (1.5 million acres). But the practice took off in 2010, the researchers found. Each year thereafter, about 0.4% more farmland was planted with cover crops. By 2021, the cover crop adoption rate in the Midwest had increased to 7.2%, or more than 40,000 square kilometers (10 million acres), the team reported in November in Geophysical Research Letters [below].

    But the gains were far from uniform, the researchers noted. For example, Indiana has been particularly successful at implementing cover crops, but Illinois less so, said Guan. “You can clearly see there’s a spatial disparity between states.”

    When the researchers analyzed trends in government funding for cover cropping, they found that spending was stagnant from 2000 to 2010 but has steadily increased since then. That syncs up with the pattern seen in the satellite data, said Guan. “It’s coaligned with significant increases in government investments in conservation practices.”

    It makes sense that cover cropping and financial support for the practice would be correlated, the researchers proposed. Planting a cover crop requires additional labor and resources such as seeds, which are associated with investments of time and money. “Ultimately, adopting a cover crop is, for most farmers, an economic decision,” said Guan. “The most critical question for farmers is whether the bottom line works.”

    More Than Dollars

    But the availability of funding isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to cover crop adoption, said Kladivko. In places such as Indiana, for instance, surveys generally revealed that far more acres are planted with cover crops than would be expected based on disbursements from environmental programs, she said. “A substantial number of farmers adopt cover crops without ever having received government funding.”

    What can make a big difference in cover crop adoption is the presence of committed staff members in local organizations who believe in, and promote, this form of conservation, said Kladivko. Word of mouth among farmers probably also plays a large role, she said. “Funding is part of it, but I don’t attribute all the increase that’s happened in the Midwest in the last 10 years to funding.”

    Science paper:
    Geophysical Research Letters
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


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    “Eos” is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 4:16 pm on December 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Some no-till crop rotations on dairy farms could benefit from strategic tillage", A 2017 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that 67% of crop acreage in Pennsylvania was managed with no-till and 24% with cover crops., , , , Biota, , Growers can avoid the expense of applying so many herbicides and avoid contaminating their ecosystems by implementing very limited strategic tillage., Many no-till growers are reluctant to implement any soil disturbance due to concerns about negative impacts on soil health., No-till farmers rely on herbicides to control weeds and terminate cover crops., No-till has resulted in the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds., Reliance on herbicides such as glyphosate may have negative environmental impacts and human health concerns., Strategic tillage has a disruptive effect on slug populations that thrive in no-till systems and are problematic in no-till fields with large quantities of crop residue-ideal habitat for slugs., The College of Agricultural Sciences, , There is growing evidence that herbicides such as glyphosate and 2-4-D pose some human-health problems such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and endocrine disruption., When a grower uses herbicides again and again to burn down the cover crops and kill the perennials that selects for herbicide-resistant weeds and contaminates the environment.   

    From The College of Agricultural Sciences At The Pennsylvania State University: “Some no-till crop rotations on dairy farms could benefit from strategic tillage” 

    From The College of Agricultural Sciences


    Penn State Bloc

    The Pennsylvania State University

    Jeff Mulhollem

    Researchers test soil health indicators in a plot at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center. Credit: Penn State. Creative Commons.

    Many no-till growers are reluctant to implement any soil disturbance due to concerns about negative impacts on soil health. However, a new study by a team of Penn State researchers suggests that plowing fields once after five years in a crop rotation that includes coverage with cover crops and perennials can maintain soil health and provide other benefits.

    “Although no-till has proven to be very good for soil health, and its wide adoption in Pennsylvania and the Northeast has resulted in reductions in erosion and sedimentation, it has resulted in the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds because no-till farmers rely on herbicides to control weeds and terminate cover crops,” said team leader Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop production/ecology. “And that has created a big weed-control problem.”

    Karsten, whose research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences for nearly two decades has studied how dairy farms can produce crops more sustainably, pointed out that reliance on herbicides such as glyphosate may have negative environmental impacts and human health concerns. Instead, Penn State scientists advocate integrated weed management, which employs multiple weed-control practices.

    The findings of the research suggest that growers can avoid the expense of applying so many herbicides and avoid contaminating their ecosystems by implementing very limited strategic tillage. And in the long run, the health of their soils will remain largely unchanged and protected. Credit: Penn State. Creative Commons.

    There are many benefits to no-till agriculture, Karsten noted, but one of its downsides is that growers repeatedly use herbicides to kill the cover crops and perennials in their rotations. It’s an environmental load that can and should be reduced, she argues, because no-till has been so widely adopted. For instance, a 2017 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that 67% of crop acreage in Pennsylvania was managed with no-till and 24% with cover crops.

    “When you use herbicides again and again to burn down the cover crops and kill the perennials, that selects for herbicide-resistant weeds and contaminates the environment,” she said. “There is growing evidence that herbicides such as glyphosate and 2,4-D that are commonly used to burn down cover crops and control weeds pose some human-health problems, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and endocrine disruption. These and other herbicides used to control herbicide-resistant weeds also are toxic to soil organisms and wildlife.”

    In the six-year experiment conducted at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, researchers contrasted two cropping systems: a continuous no-till system using herbicides, and an integrated weed management system using strategic inversion tillage and fewer herbicides. They measured soil health indicators, such as levels of desirable soil carbon and water-stable aggregates, which refers to a desirable soil-clumping quality that promotes soil porosity, facilitates water and air infiltration, reduces soil erosion and enhances growing conditions for plant roots and soil organisms.

    A 2017 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that 67% of crop acreage in Pennsylvania was managed with no-till and 24% with cover crops. Credit: Penn State. Creative Commons.

    The experiment was conducted in a Northeast dairy farm rotation consisting of winter canola, or canola, plus oats, followed by a rye cover crop; soybean followed by a rye cover crop; and corn grain or corn silage, followed by three years of perennial forage of alfalfa and orchard grass planted with a companion small grain.

    In findings recently published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems [below], the researchers reported that they sampled soil at two depths — 2 inches and 6 inches — for total carbon and bulk density. They discovered that, despite initial smaller soil health values in the strategic tillage system following inversion tillage, all properties except labile carbon were similar in both systems after two years of perennial forages in the sixth year of the rotation. Labile carbon is the fraction of soil organic carbon with most rapid turnover times and hence is most available to soil microbes.

    The findings suggest that growers can avoid the expense of applying so many herbicides and avoid contaminating their ecosystems by implementing very limited strategic tillage, Karsten explained. And in the long run, the health of their soils will remain largely unchanged and protected.

    There are additional benefits of strategic tillage that were not addressed in this research but are important, according to Karsten. In long-term no-till, soil amendments such as phosphorus can accumulate on the soil surface, which can lead to phosphorus run-off and water pollution. Strategic tillage mixes in these soil amendments, including lime that can improve soil pH through more of the soil profile.

    The experiment was conducted in a Northeast dairy farm rotation consisting of winter canola or canola plus oats followed by a rye cover crop; soybean followed by a rye cover crop; and corn grain or corn silage, followed by three years of perennial forage of alfalfa and orchard grass planted with a companion small grain. Credit: Penn State. Creative Commons.

    Also, strategic tillage has a disruptive effect on slug populations that thrive in no-till systems and are particularly problematic in no-till fields with large quantities of crop residue from previous cash crops and cover crops — ideal habitat for slugs.

    “We found — but did not report in this paper — that in years when slugs were problematic, slug populations and slug damage to the crop that was planted after the tillage was significantly lower because tillage disrupts their populations and likely destroys eggs the slugs laid,” Karsten said. “That’s another reason farmers should consider strategic tillage. After farms convert to no-till, we get calls from growers asking what they can do to control slugs. Tillage can knock back the slug populations.”

    Contributing to the research were Mary Ann Bruns, professor of soil microbiology and biogeochemistry; Devyn McPheeters, graduate student in the Department of Plant Science; and Curtis Dell, USDA Agricultural Research Service Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture supported this work.

    Science paper:
    Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems

    See the full article here .


    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct.

    The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences offers 17 undergraduate majors, 23 minors, and graduate programs in 18 major areas. The college awarded the nation’s first baccalaureate degrees in agriculture in 1861.

    With 9 academic departments and 67 cooperative extension offices, one in each of Pennsylvania’s counties, the college is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top institutions for agricultural research and education programs.

    Academic departments

    The college is organized into nine academic departments:

    Agricultural and Biological Engineering
    Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
    Animal Science
    Ecosystem Science and Management
    Food Science
    Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
    Plant Science
    Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

    Extension Services

    Penn State Extension Services is the “extension” of the College of Agricultural Sciences that serves the general public. Extension Services were officially organized in 1907, assigned the nation’s first county agent to Bedford County in 1910, and had full-time extension agents in sixty-two of the sixty-seven Pennsylvania counties by 1921. Penn State Extension Services is currently organized into seven administrative units.

    4-H Youth Development
    Agronomy and Natural Resources
    Animal Systems
    Energy, Business, and Community vitality
    Food, Families, and Health
    Food Safety and Quality

    The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences invests nearly $97 million in research and graduate study yearly. Scientists in the college are seeking solutions to the agricultural and ecological problems of our time by conducting basic and applied research focusing on cross-cutting thematic areas.

    Penn State Campus

    The The Pennsylvania State University is a public state-related land-grant research university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State became the state’s only land-grant university in 1863. Today, Penn State is a major research university which conducts teaching, research, and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery. In addition to its land-grant designation, it also participates in the sea-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant research consortia; it is one of only four such universities (along with Cornell University, Oregon State University, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa). Its University Park campus, which is the largest and serves as the administrative hub, lies within the Borough of State College and College Township. It has two law schools: Penn State Law, on the school’s University Park campus, and Dickinson Law, in Carlisle. The College of Medicine is in Hershey. Penn State is one university that is geographically distributed throughout Pennsylvania. There are 19 commonwealth campuses and 5 special mission campuses located across the state. The University Park campus has been labeled one of the “Public Ivies,” a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.
    The Pennsylvania State University is a member of The Association of American Universities an organization of American research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education.

    Annual enrollment at the University Park campus totals more than 46,800 graduate and undergraduate students, making it one of the largest universities in the United States. It has the world’s largest dues-paying alumni association. The university offers more than 160 majors among all its campuses.

    Annually, the university hosts the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), which is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. This event is held at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus. The university’s athletics teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Penn State Nittany Lions, competing in the Big Ten Conference for most sports. Penn State students, alumni, faculty and coaches have received a total of 54 Olympic medals.

    Early years

    The school was sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society and founded as a degree-granting institution on February 22, 1855, by Pennsylvania’s state legislature as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania. The use of “college” or “university” was avoided because of local prejudice against such institutions as being impractical in their courses of study. Centre County, Pennsylvania, became the home of the new school when James Irvin of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, donated 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land – the first of 10,101 acres (41 km^2) the school would eventually acquire. In 1862, the school’s name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, and with the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, Pennsylvania selected the school in 1863 to be the state’s sole land-grant college. The school’s name changed to the Pennsylvania State College in 1874; enrollment fell to 64 undergraduates the following year as the school tried to balance purely agricultural studies with a more classic education.

    George W. Atherton became president of the school in 1882, and broadened the curriculum. Shortly after he introduced engineering studies, Penn State became one of the ten largest engineering schools in the nation. Atherton also expanded the liberal arts and agriculture programs, for which the school began receiving regular appropriations from the state in 1887. A major road in State College has been named in Atherton’s honor. Additionally, Penn State’s Atherton Hall, a well-furnished and centrally located residence hall, is named not after George Atherton himself, but after his wife, Frances Washburn Atherton. His grave is in front of Schwab Auditorium near Old Main, marked by an engraved marble block in front of his statue.

    Early 20th century

    In the years that followed, Penn State grew significantly, becoming the state’s largest grantor of baccalaureate degrees and reaching an enrollment of 5,000 in 1936. Around that time, a system of commonwealth campuses was started by President Ralph Dorn Hetzel to provide an alternative for Depression-era students who were economically unable to leave home to attend college.

    In 1953, President Milton S. Eisenhower, brother of then-U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, sought and won permission to elevate the school to university status as The Pennsylvania State University. Under his successor Eric A. Walker (1956–1970), the university acquired hundreds of acres of surrounding land, and enrollment nearly tripled. In addition, in 1967, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a college of medicine and hospital, was established in Hershey with a $50 million gift from the Hershey Trust Company.

    Modern era

    In the 1970s, the university became a state-related institution. As such, it now belongs to the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. In 1975, the lyrics in Penn State’s alma mater song were revised to be gender-neutral in honor of International Women’s Year; the revised lyrics were taken from the posthumously-published autobiography of the writer of the original lyrics, Fred Lewis Pattee, and Professor Patricia Farrell acted as a spokesperson for those who wanted the change.

    In 1989, the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport joined ranks with the university, and in 2000, so did the Dickinson School of Law. The university is now the largest in Pennsylvania. To offset the lack of funding due to the limited growth in state appropriations to Penn State, the university has concentrated its efforts on philanthropy.


    Penn State is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. Over 10,000 students are enrolled in the university’s graduate school (including the law and medical schools), and over 70,000 degrees have been awarded since the school was founded in 1922.

    Penn State’s research and development expenditure has been on the rise in recent years. For fiscal year 2013, according to institutional rankings of total research expenditures for science and engineering released by the National Science Foundation , Penn State stood second in the nation, behind only Johns Hopkins University and tied with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , in the number of fields in which it is ranked in the top ten. Overall, Penn State ranked 17th nationally in total research expenditures across the board. In 12 individual fields, however, the university achieved rankings in the top ten nationally. The fields and sub-fields in which Penn State ranked in the top ten are materials (1st), psychology (2nd), mechanical engineering (3rd), sociology (3rd), electrical engineering (4th), total engineering (5th), aerospace engineering (8th), computer science (8th), agricultural sciences (8th), civil engineering (9th), atmospheric sciences (9th), and earth sciences (9th). Moreover, in eleven of these fields, the university has repeated top-ten status every year since at least 2008. For fiscal year 2011, the National Science Foundation reported that Penn State had spent $794.846 million on R&D and ranked 15th among U.S. universities and colleges in R&D spending.

    For the 2008–2009 fiscal year, Penn State was ranked ninth among U.S. universities by the National Science Foundation, with $753 million in research and development spending for science and engineering. During the 2015–2016 fiscal year, Penn State received $836 million in research expenditures.

    The Applied Research Lab (ARL), located near the University Park campus, has been a research partner with the Department of Defense since 1945 and conducts research primarily in support of the United States Navy. It is the largest component of Penn State’s research efforts statewide, with over 1,000 researchers and other staff members.

    The Materials Research Institute was created to coordinate the highly diverse and growing materials activities across Penn State’s University Park campus. With more than 200 faculty in 15 departments, 4 colleges, and 2 Department of Defense research laboratories, MRI was designed to break down the academic walls that traditionally divide disciplines and enable faculty to collaborate across departmental and even college boundaries. MRI has become a model for this interdisciplinary approach to research, both within and outside the university. Dr. Richard E. Tressler was an international leader in the development of high-temperature materials. He pioneered high-temperature fiber testing and use, advanced instrumentation and test methodologies for thermostructural materials, and design and performance verification of ceramics and composites in high-temperature aerospace, industrial, and energy applications. He was founding director of the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM), which supported many faculty and students from the College of Earth and Mineral Science, the Eberly College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Materials Research Laboratory and the Applied Research Laboratories at Penn State on high-temperature materials. His vision for Interdisciplinary research played a key role in creating the Materials Research Institute, and the establishment of Penn State as an acknowledged leader among major universities in materials education and research.

    The university was one of the founding members of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), a partnership that includes 17 research-led universities in the United States, Asia, and Europe. The network provides funding, facilitates collaboration between universities, and coordinates exchanges of faculty members and graduate students among institutions. Former Penn State president Graham Spanier is a former vice-chair of the WUN.

    The Pennsylvania State University Libraries were ranked 14th among research libraries in North America in the 2003–2004 survey released by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The university’s library system began with a 1,500-book library in Old Main. In 2009, its holdings had grown to 5.2 million volumes, in addition to 500,000 maps, five million microforms, and 180,000 films and videos.

    The university’s College of Information Sciences and Technology is the home of CiteSeerX, an open-access repository and search engine for scholarly publications. The university is also the host to the Radiation Science & Engineering Center, which houses the oldest operating university research reactor. Additionally, University Park houses the Graduate Program in Acoustics, the only freestanding acoustics program in the United States. The university also houses the Center for Medieval Studies, a program that was founded to research and study the European Middle Ages, and the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), one of the first centers established to research postsecondary education.

  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on December 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Decoding the secret language of photosynthesis", , , , Biota, , , , Determining which proteins are the signal to them to trigger photosynthesis was like finding needles in a haystack., For half a century botanists have known that the command center of a plant cell-the nucleus-sends instructions to other parts of the cell compelling them to move forward with photosynthesis., Previously the science team demonstrated that certain proteins in plant nuclei are activated by light kicking off photosynthesis., The conductors of the symphony are proteins in the nucleus called photoreceptors that respond to light.,   

    From The University of California-Riverside: “Decoding the secret language of photosynthesis” 

    UC Riverside bloc

    From The University of California-Riverside


    Jules L Bernstein
    Senior Public Information Officer
    (951) 827-4580

    Sunlight triggering photosynthesis in a flowering plant. Credit: PxHere.

    For decades, scientists have been stumped by the signals plants send themselves to initiate photosynthesis, the process of turning sunlight into sugars. UC Riverside researchers have now decoded those previously opaque signals. 

    Basic inputs and outputs of the photosynthesis process. (Olha Pohorielova/iStock/Getty)

    For half a century botanists have known that the command center of a plant cell, the nucleus, sends instructions to other parts of the cell, compelling them to move forward with photosynthesis. These instructions come in the form of proteins, and without them, plants won’t turn green or grow.

    “Our challenge was that the nucleus encodes hundreds of proteins containing building blocks for the smaller organelles. Determining which ones are the signal to them to trigger photosynthesis was like finding needles in a haystack,” said UCR botany professor Meng Chen.

    The process the scientists in Chen’s laboratory used to find four of these proteins is now documented in a Nature Communications paper [below].

    Previously, Chen’s team demonstrated [Nature Communications (below)] that certain proteins in plant nuclei are activated by light, kicking off photosynthesis. These four newly identified proteins are part of that reaction, sending a signal that transforms small organs into chloroplasts, which generate growth-fueling sugars.

    Chen compares the whole photosynthesis process to a symphony. 

    “The conductors of the symphony are proteins in the nucleus called photoreceptors that respond to light. We showed in this paper that both red and blue light-sensitive photoreceptors initiate the symphony. They activate genes that encode the building blocks of photosynthesis.”


    The unique situation, in this case, is that the symphony is performed in two “rooms” in the cell, by both local (nucleus) and remote musicians. As such, the conductors (photoreceptors), who are present only in the nucleus, must send the remotely located musicians some messages over distance. This last step is controlled by the four newly discovered proteins that travel from the nucleus to the chloroplasts. 

    This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, in the hopes that it will help with a cure for cancer. This hope is based on similarities between chloroplasts in plant cells and mitochondria in human cells. Both organelles generate fuel for growth, and both harbor genetic material. 

    Currently, a lot of research describes communication from organelles back to the nucleus. If something is wrong with the organelles, they’ll send signals to the nucleus “headquarters.” Much less is known about the activity-regulating signals sent from the nucleus to the organelles. 

    “The nucleus may control the expression of mitochondrial and chloroplast genes in a similar fashion,” said Chen. “So, the principles we learn from the nucleus-to-chloroplast communication pathway might further our understanding of how the nucleus regulates mitochondrial genes, and their dysfunction in cancer,” Chen said. 

    The significance of understanding how photosynthesis is controlled has applications beyond disease research. Human settlements on another planet would likely require indoor farming and creating a light scheme to increase yields in that environment. Even more immediately, climate change is posing challenges for crop growers on this planet. 

    “The reason we can survive on this planet is because organisms like plants can do photosynthesis. Without them there are no animals, including humans,” Chen said. “A full understanding of and ability to manipulate plant growth is vital for food security.”

    Science papers:
    Nature Communications
    Nature Communications 2021
    See the science papers for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of California-Riverside Campus

    The University of California-Riverside is a public land-grant research university in Riverside, California. It is one of the 10 campuses of The University of California system. The main campus sits on 1,900 acres (769 ha) in a suburban district of Riverside with a branch campus of 20 acres (8 ha) in Palm Desert. In 1907, the predecessor to The University of California-Riverside was founded as the UC Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside which pioneered research in biological pest control and the use of growth regulators responsible for extending the citrus growing season in California from four to nine months. Some of the world’s most important research collections on citrus diversity and entomology, as well as science fiction and photography, are located at Riverside.

    The University of California-Riverside ‘s undergraduate College of Letters and Science opened in 1954. The Regents of the University of California declared The University of California-Riverside a general campus of the system in 1959, and graduate students were admitted in 1961. To accommodate an enrollment of 21,000 students by 2015, more than $730 million has been invested in new construction projects since 1999. Preliminary accreditation of the The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine was granted in October 2012 and the first class of 50 students was enrolled in August 2013. It is the first new research-based public medical school in 40 years.

    The University of California-Riverside is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.” The 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings places UC-Riverside tied for 35th among top public universities and ranks 85th nationwide. Over 27 of The University of California-Riverside ‘s academic programs, including the Graduate School of Education and the Bourns College of Engineering, are highly ranked nationally based on peer assessment, student selectivity, financial resources, and other factors. Washington Monthly ranked The University of California-Riverside 2nd in the United States in terms of social mobility, research and community service, while U.S. News ranks The University of California-Riverside as the fifth most ethnically diverse and, by the number of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants (42 percent), the 15th most economically diverse student body in the nation. Over 70% of all The University of California-Riverside students graduate within six years without regard to economic disparity. The University of California-Riverside ‘s extensive outreach and retention programs have contributed to its reputation as a “university of choice” for minority students. In 2005, The University of California-Riverside became the first public university campus in the nation to offer a gender-neutral housing option. The University of California-Riverside’s sports teams are known as the Highlanders and play in the Big West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I. Their nickname was inspired by the high altitude of the campus, which lies on the foothills of Box Springs Mountain. The University of California-Riverside women’s basketball team won back-to-back Big West championships in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the men’s baseball team won its first conference championship and advanced to the regionals for the second time since the university moved to Division I in 2001.


    At the turn of the 20th century, Southern California was a major producer of citrus, the region’s primary agricultural export. The industry developed from the country’s first navel orange trees, planted in Riverside in 1873. Lobbied by the citrus industry, the University of California Regents established the UC Citrus Experiment Station (CES) on February 14, 1907, on 23 acres (9 ha) of land on the east slope of Mount Rubidoux in Riverside. The station conducted experiments in fertilization, irrigation and crop improvement. In 1917, the station was moved to a larger site, 475 acres (192 ha) near Box Springs Mountain.

    The 1944 passage of the GI Bill during World War II set in motion a rise in college enrollments that necessitated an expansion of the state university system in California. A local group of citrus growers and civic leaders, including many University of California-Berkeley alumni, lobbied aggressively for a University of California -administered liberal arts college next to the CES. State Senator Nelson S. Dilworth authored Senate Bill 512 (1949) which former Assemblyman Philip L. Boyd and Assemblyman John Babbage (both of Riverside) were instrumental in shepherding through the State Legislature. Governor Earl Warren signed the bill in 1949, allocating $2 million for initial campus construction.

    Gordon S. Watkins, dean of the College of Letters and Science at The University of California-Los Angeles, became the first provost of the new college at Riverside. Initially conceived of as a small college devoted to the liberal arts, he ordered the campus built for a maximum of 1,500 students and recruited many young junior faculty to fill teaching positions. He presided at its opening with 65 faculty and 127 students on February 14, 1954, remarking, “Never have so few been taught by so many.”

    The University of California-Riverside’s enrollment exceeded 1,000 students by the time Clark Kerr became president of the University of California system in 1958. Anticipating a “tidal wave” in enrollment growth required by the baby boom generation, Kerr developed the California Master Plan for Higher Education and the Regents designated Riverside a general university campus in 1959. The University of California-Riverside’s first chancellor, Herman Theodore Spieth, oversaw the beginnings of the school’s transition to a full university and its expansion to a capacity of 5,000 students. The University of California-Riverside’s second chancellor, Ivan Hinderaker led the campus through the era of the free speech movement and kept student protests peaceful in Riverside. According to a 1998 interview with Hinderaker, the city of Riverside received negative press coverage for smog after the mayor asked Governor Ronald Reagan to declare the South Coast Air Basin a disaster area in 1971; subsequent student enrollment declined by up to 25% through 1979. Hinderaker’s development of innovative programs in business administration and biomedical sciences created incentive for enough students to enroll at University of California-Riverside to keep the campus open.

    In the 1990s, The University of California-Riverside experienced a new surge of enrollment applications, now known as “Tidal Wave II”. The Regents targeted The University of California-Riverside for an annual growth rate of 6.3%, the fastest in The University of California system, and anticipated 19,900 students at The University of California-Riverside by 2010. By 1995, African American, American Indian, and Latino student enrollments accounted for 30% of The University of California-Riverside student body, the highest proportion of any University of California campus at the time. The 1997 implementation of Proposition 209—which banned the use of affirmative action by state agencies—reduced the ethnic diversity at the more selective UC campuses but further increased it at The University of California-Riverside.

    With The University of California-Riverside scheduled for dramatic population growth, efforts have been made to increase its popular and academic recognition. The students voted for a fee increase to move The University of California-Riverside athletics into NCAA Division I standing in 1998. In the 1990s, proposals were made to establish a law school, a medical school, and a school of public policy at The University of California-Riverside, with The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine and the School of Public Policy becoming reality in 2012. In June 2006, The University of California-Riverside received its largest gift, 15.5 million from two local couples, in trust towards building its medical school. The Regents formally approved The University of California-Riverside’s medical school proposal in 2006. Upon its completion in 2013, it was the first new medical school built in California in 40 years.


    As a campus of The University of California system, The University of California-Riverside is governed by a Board of Regents and administered by a president University of California-Riverside ‘s academic policies are set by its Academic Senate, a legislative body composed of all UC-Riverside faculty members.

    The University of California-Riverside is organized into three academic colleges, two professional schools, and two graduate schools. The University of California-Riverside’s liberal arts college, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, was founded in 1954, and began accepting graduate students in 1960. The College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, founded in 1960, incorporated the CES as part of the first research-oriented institution at The University of California-Riverside; it eventually also incorporated the natural science departments formerly associated with the liberal arts college to form its present structure in 1974. The University of California-Riverside ‘s newest academic unit, the Bourns College of Engineering, was founded in 1989. Comprising the professional schools are the Graduate School of Education, founded in 1968, and The University of California-Riverside School of Business, founded in 1970. These units collectively provide 81 majors and 52 minors, 48 master’s degree programs, and 42 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs. The University of California-Riverside is the only UC campus to offer undergraduate degrees in creative writing and public policy and one of three UCs (along with The University of California-Berkeley and The University of California-Irvine) to offer an undergraduate degree in business administration. Through its Division of Biomedical Sciences, founded in 1974, The University of California-Riverside offers the Thomas Haider medical degree program in collaboration with The University of California-Los Angeles. The University of California-Riverside ‘s doctoral program in the emerging field of dance theory, founded in 1992, was the first program of its kind in the United States, and The University of California-Riverside ‘s minor in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, established in 1996, was the first undergraduate program of its kind in the University of California system. A new BA program in bagpipes was inaugurated in 2007.

    Research and economic impact

    The University of California-Riverside operated under a $727 million budget in fiscal year 2014–15. The state government provided $214 million, student fees accounted for $224 million and $100 million came from contracts and grants. Private support and other sources accounted for the remaining $189 million. Overall, monies spent at The University of California-Riverside have an economic impact of nearly $1 billion in California. The University of California-Riverside research expenditure in FY 2018 totaled $167.8 million. Total research expenditures at The University of California-Riverside are significantly concentrated in agricultural science, accounting for 53% of total research expenditures spent by the university in 2002. Top research centers by expenditure, as measured in 2002, include the Agricultural Experiment Station; the Center for Environmental Research and Technology; the Center for Bibliographical Studies; the Air Pollution Research Center; and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

    Throughout The University of California-Riverside ‘s history, researchers have developed more than 40 new citrus varieties and invented new techniques to help the $960 million-a-year California citrus industry fight pests and diseases. In 1927, entomologists at the CES introduced two wasps from Australia as natural enemies of a major citrus pest, the citrophilus mealybug, saving growers in Orange County $1 million in annual losses. This event was pivotal in establishing biological control as a practical means of reducing pest populations. In 1963, plant physiologist Charles Coggins proved that application of gibberellic acid allows fruit to remain on citrus trees for extended periods. The ultimate result of his work, which continued through the 1980s, was the extension of the citrus-growing season in California from four to nine months. In 1980, The University of California-Riverside released the Oroblanco grapefruit, its first patented citrus variety. Since then, the citrus breeding program has released other varieties such as the Melogold grapefruit, the Gold Nugget mandarin (or tangerine), and others that have yet to be given trademark names.

    To assist entrepreneurs in developing new products, The University of California-Riverside is a primary partner in the Riverside Regional Technology Park, which includes the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside. It also administers six reserves of the University of California Natural Reserve System. UC-Riverside recently announced a partnership with China Agricultural University[中国农业大学](CN) to launch a new center in Beijing, which will study ways to respond to the country’s growing environmental issues. University of California-Riverside can also boast the birthplace of two-name reactions in organic chemistry, the Castro-Stephens coupling and the Midland Alpine Borane Reduction.

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