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  • richardmitnick 10:34 am on April 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Study pushes back the emergence of African grasslands by more than 10 million years", Africa’s iconic grasslands are dominated by plants known as “C4 grasses” which use a photosynthetic pathway adapted for warm arid conditions., , , , Baylor University, , Carbon isotope analysis of soils provides unambiguous evidence for grasses with the C4 pathway living in these ancient environments., , , , , , Plant Science, REACHE project: Research on Eastern African Catarrhine and Hominoid Evolution, Research indicates that C4 grasses were present in East Africa as early as 15 million years ago., , The earliest evidence for local abundance in eastern Africa of the types of grasses that now dominate grassland and savannah ecosystems in tropical and subtropical regions around the world., The new study puts C4 grasses on the landscape more than 10 million years before these grasses came to dominate the landscapes where we see them today., The paradigm that during the early Miocene period equatorial Africa was completely forested was wrong., The result of this decade-long research pushes back the oldest evidence of habitats dominated by C4 grasses—in Africa and globally—by more than 10 million years.,   

    From The University of California-Santa Cruz: “Study pushes back the emergence of African grasslands by more than 10 million years” 

    From The University of California-Santa Cruz

    Tim Stephens | UCSC

    Kelly Craine | Baylor

    Combined isotopic and geological evidence associated with fossil sites on Napak, in eastern Uganda, indicate a relatively open dry bushland to woodland environment with the presence of grasses, supporting the early evolution of grassy woodland habitats around 20 million years ago. (Image credit: John Kingston)

    Today, the Songhor fossil site in western Kenya is covered by a mixture of grass and trees adjacent to a modern river. Evidence from this site indicates that it was likely a relatively closed tropical seasonal forest environment between 19 and 20 million years ago. (Image credit: John Kingston)

    An international team of scientists has documented the earliest evidence for local abundance in eastern Africa of the types of grasses that now dominate grassland and savannah ecosystems in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

    Africa’s iconic grasslands are dominated by plants known as “C4 grasses,” which use a photosynthetic pathway adapted for warm, arid conditions. The emergence of these ecosystems is important for understanding the evolution of early apes and other mammals.

    “This new study puts C4 grasses on the landscape more than 10 million years before these grasses came to dominate the landscapes where we see them today,” said Pratigya Polissar, associate professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz and a coauthor of the study, published April 13 in Science [below].

    Researchers have often argued that during the early Miocene, between about 15 and 20 million years ago, equatorial Africa was covered by a semi-continuous forest and that open habitats with C4 grasses didn’t proliferate until about 8 to 10 million years ago. Yet there was some research indicating that C4 grasses were present in East Africa as early as 15 million years ago.

    The new study sought to determine if this was an anomaly or a clue to the true diversity of ecosystems that occurred during the early Miocene. The findings would have important implications for understanding the features and adaptations of early apes and why there are tropical C4 grasslands and savanna ecosystems in Africa and around the world.

    First author Daniel Peppe at Baylor University and an interdisciplinary team of scientists conducted research at nine Early Miocene fossil site complexes in the East African Rift of Kenya and Uganda as part of the Research on Eastern African Catarrhine and Hominoid Evolution (REACHE) project. The team focused on understanding the types of ecosystems that existed in the early Miocene, the prevalence of open environments and C4 grasses, and how these different environments could have potentially affected the evolution of early apes.

    Polissar conducted isotopic analysis of fossil soils, focusing on molecular biomarkers from the plants that lived on those soils. “Our carbon isotope analysis of those soils provides unambiguous evidence for grasses with the C4 pathway living in these ancient environments,” he said. “This is a huge project and there were many other analyses that contributed to the overall findings as well.”

    As participants exchanged information and expertise about geological features, isotopes, and plant and ape fossils found at the sites, the bigger picture came into focus. The paradigm that during the early Miocene period equatorial Africa was completely forested was wrong.

    Further, the result of this decade-long research pushes back the oldest evidence of habitats dominated by C4 grasses—in Africa and globally—by more than 10 million years, calling for revised paleoecological interpretations of mammalian evolution.

    “We suspected that we would find C4 plants at some sites, but we didn’t expect to find them at as many sites as we did, and in such high abundance,” Peppe said. “Multiple lines of evidence show that C4 grasses and open habitats were important parts of the early Miocene landscape and that early apes lived in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from closed canopy forests to open habitats like scrublands and wooded grasslands with C4 grasses. It really changes our understanding of what ecosystems looked like when the modern African plant and animal community was evolving.”

    The research flourished through the uniqueness of the REACHE project, according to coauthor Kieran McNulty at the University of Minnesota, who played a central role in organizing the project.

    “Working in the fossil record is challenging. We discover hints and clues about past life and need to figure out how to assemble and interpret them across space and time. Any one of the analyses in these papers would have made for an interesting study, and any one of them, alone, would have produced incomplete, inconclusive, or incorrect interpretations,” McNulty said. “That is the nature of paleontological research: it’s like putting together a 4D puzzle, but where each team member can only see some of the pieces. By combining these methods, we leverage the strength of one to shore up weaknesses or validate assumptions of another, resulting in a synthetic approach that challenges well-established theories.”

    The team combined many different lines of evidence—from geology, fossil soils, isotopes, and phytoliths (plant silica microfossils)—to reach their conclusions.

    “The history of grassland ecosystems in Africa prior to 10 million years had remained a mystery, in part because there were so few plant fossils, so it was exciting when it became clear that we had phytolith assemblages to add to the other lines of evidence,” said coauthor Caroline Strömberg at the University of Washington. “What we found was thrilling, and very different from what was the accepted story. We used to think tropical, C4-dominated grasslands only appeared in the last 8 million years or so, depending on the continent. Instead, both phytolith data and isotopic data showed that C4-dominated grassy environments appeared over 10 million years earlier, in the early Miocene in eastern Africa.”

    This much earlier occurrence of C4 grasses and open habitats found at the same sites as early apes also allowed the researchers to assess the kinds of environments in which the early apes were living. One of the most advanced early apes, Morotopithecus, was found to inhabit open woodland environments with abundant grasses and to rely on leaves as an important component of its diet. This contradicts long-standing predictions that the unique features of apes, such as an upright torso, originated in forested environments to enable access to fruit resources. These findings are transformative, said Robin Bernstein, program director for biological anthropology at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

    “For the first time, by combining diverse lines of evidence, this collaborative research team tied specific aspects of early ape anatomy to nuanced environmental changes in their habitat in eastern Africa, now revealed as more open and less forested than previously thought. The effort outlines a new framework for future studies regarding ape evolutionary origins,” Bernstein said.

    The research team includes Daniel J. Peppe, Susanne M. Cote, Alan L. Deino, David L. Fox, John D. Kingston, Rahab N. Kinyanjui, William E. Lukens, Laura M. MacLatchy, Alice Novello, Caroline A.E. Strömberg, Steven G. Driese, Nicole D. Garrett, Kayla R. Hillis, Bonnie F. Jacobs, Kirsten E.H. Jenkins, Robert Kityo, Thomas Lehmann, Fredrick K. Manthi, Emma N. Mbua, Lauren A. Michel, Ellen R. Miller, Amon A.T. Mugume, Samuel N. Muteti, Isaiah O. Nengo, Kennedy O. Oginga, Samuel R. Phelps, Pratigya Polissar, James B. Rossie, Nancy J. Stevens, Kevin T. Uno, and Kieran P. McNulty.

    This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.


    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

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz is a public land-grant research university in Santa Cruz, California. It is one of the ten campuses in the University of California system. Located on Monterey Bay, on the edge of the coastal community of Santa Cruz, the campus lies on 2,001 acres (810 ha) of rolling, forested hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

    Founded in 1965, The University of California-Santa Cruz began with the intention to showcase progressive, cross-disciplinary undergraduate education, innovative teaching methods and contemporary architecture. The residential college system consists of ten small colleges that were established as a variation of the Oxbridge collegiate university system.

    Among the Faculty is 1 Nobel Prize Laureate, 1 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences recipient, 12 members from the National Academy of Sciences, 28 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 40 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Eight University of California-Santa Cruz alumni are winners of 10 Pulitzer Prizes. The University of California-Santa Cruz is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. It is a member of the Association of American Universities, an alliance of elite research universities in the United States and Canada.

    The university has five academic divisions: Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Physical & Biological Sciences, and Social Sciences. Together, they offer 65 graduate programs, 64 undergraduate majors, and 41 minors.

    Popular undergraduate majors include Art, Business Management Economics, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Physics, and Psychology. Interdisciplinary programs, such as Computational Media, Feminist Studies, Environmental Studies, Visual Studies, Digital Arts and New Media, Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, and the History of Consciousness Department are also hosted alongside UCSC’s more traditional academic departments.

    A joint program with The University of California-Hastings enables University of California-Santa Cruz students to earn a bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor degree in six years instead of the usual seven. The “3+3 BA/JD” Program between University of California-Santa Cruz and The University of California-Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco accepted its first applicants in fall 2014. University of California-Santa Cruz students who declare their intent in their freshman or early sophomore year will complete three years at The University of California-Santa Cruz and then move on to The University of California-Hastings to begin the three-year law curriculum. Credits from the first year of law school will count toward a student’s bachelor’s degree. Students who successfully complete the first-year law course work will receive their bachelor’s degree and be able to graduate with their University of California-Santa Cruz class, then continue at The University of California-Hastings afterwards for two years.

    According to the National Science Foundation, The University of California-Santa Cruz spent $127.5 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 144th in the nation.

    Although designed as a liberal arts-oriented university, The University of California-Santa Cruz quickly acquired a graduate-level natural science research component with the appointment of plant physiologist Kenneth V. Thimann as the first provost of Crown College. Thimann developed The University of California-Santa Cruz’s early Division of Natural Sciences and recruited other well-known science faculty and graduate students to the fledgling campus. Immediately upon its founding, The University of California-Santa Cruz was also granted administrative responsibility for the Lick Observatory, which established the campus as a major center for Astronomy research. Founding members of the Social Science and Humanities faculty created the unique History of Consciousness graduate program in The University of California-Santa Cruz’s first year of operation.

    Famous former University of California-Santa Cruz faculty members include Judith Butler and Angela Davis.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz’s organic farm and garden program is the oldest in the country, and pioneered organic horticulture techniques internationally.

    As of 2015, The University of California-Santa Cruz’s faculty include 13 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 24 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 33 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The Baskin School of Engineering, founded in 1997, is The University of California-Santa Cruz’s first and only professional school. Baskin Engineering is home to several research centers, including the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering and Cyberphysical Systems Research Center, which are gaining recognition, as has the work that UCSC researchers David Haussler and Jim Kent have done on the Human Genome Project, including the widely used University of California-Santa Cruz Genome Browser. The University of California-Santa Cruz administers the National Science Foundation’s Center for Adaptive Optics.

    Off-campus research facilities maintained by The University of California-Santa Cruz include the Lick and The W. M. Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawai’i and the Long Marine Laboratory. From September 2003 to July 2016, The University of California-Santa Cruz managed a University Affiliated Research System (UARC) for the NASA Ames Research Center under a task order contract valued at more than $330 million.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz was tied for 58th in the list of Best Global Universities and tied for 97th in the list of Best National Universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings. In 2017 Kiplinger ranked The University of California-Santa Cruz 50th out of the top 100 best-value public colleges and universities in the nation, and 3rd in California. Money Magazine ranked The University of California-Santa Cruz 41st in the country out of the nearly 1500 schools it evaluated for its 2016 Best Colleges ranking. In 2016–2017, The University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz was rated 146th in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2016 it was ranked 83rd in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities and 296th worldwide in 2016 by the QS World University Rankings.

    In 2009, RePEc, an online database of research economics articles, ranked the The University of California-Santa Cruz Economics Department sixth in the world in the field of international finance. In 2007, High Times magazine placed The University of California-Santa Cruz as first among US universities as a “counterculture college.” In 2009, The Princeton Review (with Gamepro magazine) ranked The University of California-Santa Cruz’s Game Design major among the top 50 in the country. In 2011, The Princeton Review and Gamepro Media ranked The University of California-Santa Cruz’s graduate programs in Game Design as seventh in the nation. In 2012, The University of California-Santa Cruz was ranked No. 3 in the Most Beautiful Campus list of Princeton Review.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory

    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light

    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at The University of California-Santa Cruz’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at The University of California-San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at The University of Toronto (CA)’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch.)

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at University of California’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    Alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at The University of California- San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the University of Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to The University of California-San Diego and installed at the UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at The University of California-San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley; Jérôme Maire, U Toronto; Shelley Wright, The University of California-San Diego Patrick Dorval, U Toronto; Richard Treffers, Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch).

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a University of California-Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at The University of California-Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    Drake Equation, Frank Drake, Seti Institute.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

  • richardmitnick 11:10 am on October 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Coronas" create large amounts of atmospheric chemicals that could impact air quality around forests., "Electric Discharge From Plants May Be Changing Air Quality in Ways We Didn't Expect", , , , , , , Plant Science, The hydroxyl radical initiates important chemical reactions in the atmosphere that clean the air of greenhouse gases like methane but also produce ozone and aerosol particle pollution., The hydroxyl radical is the atmosphere’s most important cleanser., , The team found that "coronas" generate extreme amounts of the hydroxyl radical — OH — and the hydroperoxyl radical — HO2., There are about two trillion trees in areas where thunderstorms are most likely to occur globally and there are 1800 thunderstorms going on at any given time., When thunderstorms rumble overhead weak electrical discharges — called "corona" — can occur on tree leaves.   

    From The Pennsylvania State University: “Electric discharges on leaves during thunderstorms may impact nearby air quality” 

    Penn State Bloc

    From The Pennsylvania State University

    Matthew Carroll

    Weak electrical discharges, called corona, can form on tree leaves during thunderstorms Credit: Penn State . All Rights Reserved.

    When thunderstorms rumble overhead, weak electrical discharges — called “corona” — can occur on tree leaves. A new study found coronas create large amounts of atmospheric chemicals that could impact air quality around forests, according to a team of Penn State scientists.

    “While little is known about how widespread these discharges are, we estimate that coronas generated on trees under thunderstorms could have substantial impacts on the surrounding air,” said Jena Jenkins, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State.

    Conditions during thunderstorms that produce lightning also create electric fields between clouds and the ground. Tall, sharply pointed objects, like leaves high in trees, enhance the electric field even further, and can lead to electrical breakdowns — or coronas, the scientists said.

    “There are about two trillion trees in areas where thunderstorms are most likely to occur globally and there are 1,800 thunderstorms going on at any given time,” Jenkins said. “This is definitely a process that’s going on all the time and based on the calculations we’ve been able to do so far, we think this can affect air quality in and around forests and trees.”

    The team found that “coronas” generate extreme amounts of the hydroxyl radical — OH — and the hydroperoxyl radical — HO2. The hydroxyl radical initiates important chemical reactions in the atmosphere that clean the air of greenhouse gases like methane but also produce ozone and aerosol particle pollution, the scientists said.

    Corona-generated OH may increase around trees during thunderstorms by 100 to 1,000 times the typical amounts, the scientists reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres [below].

    And because OH reacts with hydrocarbons naturally emitted by leaves to produce ozone and particulate matter, these spikes in OH levels could impact air quality, the scientists said.

    “The hydroxyl radical contributes to the total atmospheric oxidation of many atmospheric pollutants, including the greenhouse gas methane, improving air quality, and slowing climate change. However, these reactions can also lead to the formation of ozone and small aerosol particles, negatively affecting air quality and climate,” said Willian Brune, distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State. “So understanding all the potential sources of OH is important for predicting future air quality and climate.”

    The work builds on a previous study led by Brune that found lightning and subvisible discharges in storm clouds during thunderstorms represent a potentially significant source of global OH, accounting for as much as 2 to 16 % of global atmospheric OH chemistry.

    “Even though the charge generated by the corona was weaker than the sparks and lightning we looked at before, we still saw extreme amounts of this hydroxy radical being made,” Jenkins said.

    The scientists conducted laboratory tests on leaves from eight tree species under various conditions, including wetting the leaves to simulate rain.

    They found a strong correlation between OH and HO2 generated by corona discharges across the tree species and UV radiation produced by the discharges. This may be useful in conducting future research in the field, the scientists said, as equipment to measure UV radiation is more practical for field work.

    Further field studies may help scientists better understand how many coronas form during thunderstorms, how long they last and how factors like wind influence the process. This work may help improve our understanding of air quality impacts on forests, the scientists said.

    “The hydroxyl radical is the atmosphere’s most important cleanser, so having a better accounting of where this stuff is being made can give us a more complete understanding of what’s happening in the atmosphere,” Jenkins said. “And thunderstorms may be happening more frequently with the changing climate. So these are good reasons to keep exploring and understanding these processes.”

    Other Penn State researchers on this project were David O. Miller, assistant research professor, Patrick McFarland, graduate student and Gabrielle Olson, undergraduate student.

    The National Science Foundation supported this research.

    Science paper:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 10:14 am on October 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "EEFs": Enhanced-efficiency fertilizers, "MPNs": Metal-Phenolic Networks, "Smart fertilizers for food security", A primary research focus is engineering new fertilizer coatings for the controlled release of nutrients and inhibitors in a range of soil types., , , , , , , , , , Fertilizers that increase nitrogen efficiency are being designed to boost crop productivity while reducing farming costs and environmental impact., , Granular urea is the most widely used form of N fertilizer in agriculture., How can more food be produced without further damage to the natural environment?, If the conversion to ammonia occurs before urea is fully dissolved in the soil ammonia is lost to the atmosphere before the plants can use it., Nitrogen (N) fertilizers, Nitrogen pollution causes loss of biodiversity; contributes to global warming; depletes stratospheric ozone; damages human health and imposes economic costs., Plant Science, , , The ARC Research Hub for Innovative Nitrogen Fertilizers and Inhibitors ("Smart Fertilizers"),   

    From The University of Melbourne (AU): “Smart fertilizers for food security” 


    From The University of Melbourne (AU)

    By Dr Shu Kee Lam, Dr Emma (Xia) Liang, Professor Uta Wille, Professor Hang-wei Hu, Professor Frank Caruso, Associate Professor Kathryn Mumford, Professor Bill Malcolm, Dr Baobao Pan, Professor Ji-zheng He, Associate Professor Helen Suter and Professor Deli Chen, University of Melbourne.

    Fertilizers that increase nitrogen efficiency are being designed to boost crop productivity while reducing farming costs and environmental impact.

    By 2050, we will need to feed a population of ten billion people, which is around 70 per cent more food than we currently produce.

    Factoring in the added challenges of climate change and ecosystem degradation, how can this extra food be produced without further damage to the natural environment?

    Nitrogen fertilizers are used to produce half the world’s food supply. Picture: Getty Images.

    Crops – be they grains, cereals, fruits or vegetables – are integral to human food security given that they’re eaten directly as well as fed to animals.

    So, one key potential improvement is to increase fertilizer efficiency – particularly nitrogen (N) fertilizers – by using the right amounts of N when and where plants need it and finding ways to reduce N losses to the environment.

    Currently, N fertilizers are used to produce half the world’s food supply. However, 50 to 80 per cent of N applied to crops is lost from production [Nature (below)], polluting the natural environment in the form of nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions into the atmosphere as well as nitrate leaching and runoff to groundwater and waterways.

    Nitrogen pollution also causes loss of biodiversity, contributes to global warming, depletes stratospheric ozone, damages human health and imposes economic costs.


    Enhanced-efficiency fertilizers (“EEFs”) exist but have not been adopted widely because of inconsistent performance across soils, crops, and climates, and uncertainty about economic benefits [Nature Food (below)].

    In 2021, the ARC Research Hub for Innovative Nitrogen Fertilizers and Inhibitors (“Smart Fertilizers”) was founded to overcome the limitations of existing EEFs.

    The Hub is a partnership between leading researchers and industries to deliver next-generation EEFs that increase the efficiency of nitrogen use by up to 20 per cent. The partnership will also develop decision-making tools to assist farmers in reducing costs and nitrogen loss to the environment.

    Granular urea is the most widely used form of N fertilizer, but can be lost to the atmosphere before plants use it. Picture: Getty Images.

    In pursuing major breakthroughs in the design and development of EEFs, the Hub takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating agronomy and soil science with synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering, plant physiology, plant biochemistry and economics.

    A primary research focus is engineering new fertilizer coatings for the controlled release of nutrients and inhibitors in a range of soil types, climatic conditions and diverse agroecosystems and land uses.

    Granular urea is the most widely used form of N fertilizer in agriculture. Urea is rapidly converted to ammonia through a reaction with water in the soil, and subsequently to nitrate, that plants take up.

    However, if the conversion to ammonia occurs before urea is fully dissolved in the soil, ammonia is lost to the atmosphere before the plants can use it.

    A recent study [Advanced Functional Materials (below)] that included researchers from the Smart Fertilizers Hub showed that Metal-Phenolic Networks (“MPNs”) can provide a physical barrier against water, controlling the dissolution of urea and its release into soil reducing the risk of N losses.

    This simple MPNs fabrication method is a new chapter in creating environmentally-friendly materials in controlled-release fertilizers.

    Another research focus is on the development of a new suite of inhibitors, which are small synthetic molecules that slow the conversion of urea to ammonia by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme urease (urease inhibitors) or slowing the microbial autotrophic oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate (nitrification inhibitors).

    Proposed scenarios that harness plant signals for designing new fertilizer coatings. Picture: Supplied.

    The aim is to retain desirable forms of N in the soil for the plant and limit N losses.

    These new inhibitors will be tailored to different soils, climates and cropping systems, at the same time ensuring that their eventual degradation in the soil is environmentally benign.


    The soil immediately around plant roots – the rhizosphere – is an especially active zone populated by billions of fungi, bacteria and other microbes.

    These microorganisms break down organic matter in the soil to produce nutrients that plants can use for growth and help plants to improve immunity and promote resistance to drought, salinity and N stresses.

    Research shows [Nature Reviews Microbiology (below)] that plants can influence how fungi and bacteria behave by sending chemical signals like sugars, organic acids, lipids and proteins, especially when lacking a specific nutrient or under stress.

    These messengers can be identified and incorporated into the coatings of fertilizer beads. Beneficial microbes are then attracted by these messengers to the plant root, improving the absorption of N and promoting the resistance of a crop to environmental stresses.

    EEF coating can also be designed to include sensors that respond to the signalling molecules released by plants suffering from N stress. When the sensors detect these stress molecules in the soil, the fertilizer is then released via the coating.


    Farmers adopting new fertilizers need evidence of their consistent performance across soils, crops and climates as well as information about likely net benefits.

    Wider adoption of next-generation EEF technologies hinges on demonstrating the net benefits to farmers, which requires sharing relevant and plausible information to farmers and their networks.

    The Smart Fertilizers Hub team analyzed [Nature Food (below)] the results of 21 meta-analyses about the potential of EEFs to reduce N losses from food production systems, at both regional and global scales.

    This data shows that EEFs show a lot of promise for reducing N losses from agricultural systems. Considering the immense social costs associated with N pollution globally – US$200−2000 billion each year – EEFs have great potential to reduce these social costs.


    By measuring the N loss pathways and yield benefits of existing and newly developed products in field trials, the agronomic, environmental and social benefits of the new fertilizer technologies developed by the Hub can then be evaluated.

    The Hub will develop indicators of N losses to allow farmers to understand the full impact of their fertilizer management practices on their production and on the environment.

    The team will map the potential benefits of new fertilizers [Global Environmental Change (below)], identify sources of added benefit in commercial value chains, while informing farmers and consumers about the usefulness of products grown using EEFs.

    Smart fertilizers avoids the social and environmental costs of N pollution, a benefit that will far outweigh the economic cost and a more efficient approach than cleaning up environmental damage afterwards.

    Sound policies that lead to the adoption of smart fertilizers are vital to achieving food security and environmental health for our growing population.

    Science papers:
    Nature 2015
    Nature Food
    Advanced Functional Materials
    Nature Reviews Microbiology 2020
    Nature Food
    Global Environmental Change 2021

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The University of Melbourne (AU) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Melbourne 44th in the world (both first in Australia).

    Melbourne’s main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

    Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne’s 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

    Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Nine Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.

  • richardmitnick 5:21 pm on October 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Endangered fruit-eating animals play an outsized role in a tropical forest — losing them could have dire consequences", "Frugivores": the scientific term for animals that eat primarily fruit., , , , , , , Plant Science,   

    From The University of Washington : “Endangered fruit-eating animals play an outsized role in a tropical forest — losing them could have dire consequences” 

    From The University of Washington

    A view of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state. Credit: Adriano Gambarini/The Nature Conservancy.

    The Superagüi lion tamarin, Leontopithecus caissara, is one of the endangered frugivores analyzed in the new study. Credit: Everton Leonardi.

    The red-billed curassow, Crax blumenbachii, is another endangered frugivore in the Atlantic Forest. This male was photographed in Brazil’s Espírito Santo state in 2016. Credit: Brendan Ryan.

    A new study by researchers at the University of Washington shows that losing a particular group of endangered animals — those that eat fruit and help disperse the seeds of trees and other plants — could severely disrupt seed-dispersal networks in the Atlantic Forest, a shrinking stretch of tropical forest and critical biodiversity hotspot on the coast of Brazil.

    The findings, published Oct. 12 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B [below], indicate that a high number of plant species in today’s Atlantic Forest rely on endangered frugivores — the scientific term for animals that eat primarily fruit — to help disperse their seeds throughout the forest. As a result, losing those endangered frugivores would leave a high proportion of plants without an effective means to disperse and regenerate — endangering these plants, reducing diversity in the Atlantic Forest and crippling critical portions of this ecosystem.

    “Tropical forests contain this incredible diversity of trees,” said lead author Therese Lamperty, a UW postdoctoral researcher in biology. “One of the main processes forests use to maintain this diversity is dispersal. If you’re not dispersed, you’re in a crowd of trees that are just like you – all competing for resources. And there are a lot of plant enemies already in the area or that can be easily recruited, like harmful animals or plant diseases. Your chance of survival is higher when you get transported away from your mother tree to an area without trees like you.”

    The Atlantic Forest, which lies east of the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, once encompassed an area twice the size of Texas. Some 85% of it has been lost over the centuries due to deforestation, industrial development and urbanization in eastern Brazil, according to The Nature Conservancy. The forest is home to a variety of frugivores, from primates to birds, which disperse seeds by regurgitating or excreting them. The seeds of some plant species can’t even germinate until they pass through the gastrointestinal tract of a frugivore.

    Lamperty and senior author Berry Brosi, a UW associate professor of biology, analyzed a dataset published in 2017 that incorporated data on the diet and distribution of fruit-eating vertebrates in the Atlantic Forest. The data, compiled from 166 studies spanning more than half a century, allowed Lamperty and Brosi to paint a comprehensive picture of the interactions between hundreds of frugivore species — 331 total — and 788 tree species.

    “For reference, the entire state of Washington only has 25 native tree species,” said Lamperty.

    Lamperty and Brosi deduced how important those frugivore species are for the forest by modeling how many tree species would be left without seed-dispersal partners if certain frugivores died out. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, only 14% of the frugivore species they analyzed are endangered, but losing them left about 28% of the plant species they analyzed without a means of dispersing seeds. Losing endangered frugivores led to a worse outcome than losing even “generalist” frugivores, which eat fruits and nuts from a variety of species and were previously believed to be the most important group of frugivores for seed dispersal networks.

    “A lot of frugivores are generalists. But in the Atlantic Forest, it turns out that a lot of plants are specialists,” said Brosi. “The size and the toughness of their fruit and their distribution in the forest can really limit which animals can perform this important role for them.”

    Nearly 55% of the specialist plant species in the dataset relied solely on endangered frugivores to disperse their seeds.

    Losing a species — like an endangered frugivore — is bad enough. But this study serves as a reminder that what appears to be one loss has numerous “secondary effects,” said Lamperty. Researchers don’t always know these effects until in-depth studies that span years and incorporate many species linked by different interactions, like this one, are conducted. That can also keep the public unaware about the long-term consequences of losing endangered species.

    “It’s a reminder that we should try to understand better what ecological roles and interactions we lose when endangered animals disappear — not just these seed dispersal networks, but other roles, too,” said Lamperty. “Endangered animals have co-evolved with many species in these ecosystems, and I’m not sure we know enough about the roles they play in the health and well-being of places like the Atlantic Forest.”

    “It’s an alarming finding, and a sign that we should pay more attention to these interactions between species when considering conservation and land protections,” said Brosi.

    The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Emory University and the UW.

    For more information, contact Lamperty at jtl28@uw.edu and Brosi at bbrosi@uw.edu.

    Science paper:
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    Stem Education Coalition


    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

    The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States. Founded in 1861, University of Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast; it was established in downtown Seattle approximately a decade after the city’s founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university’s 703-acre main Seattle campus is in the University District above the Montlake Cut, within the urban Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. The university has additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, University of Washington encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with more than 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through 140 departments in various colleges and schools, sees a total student enrollment of roughly 46,000 annually, and functions on a quarter system.

    University of Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, UW spent $1.41 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 5th in the nation. As the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington state, it is known for its medical, engineering and scientific research as well as its highly competitive computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, University of Washington continues to benefit from its deep historic ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. Paul G. Allen, Bill Gates and others spent significant time at Washington computer labs for a startup venture before founding Microsoft and other ventures. The University of Washington’s 22 varsity sports teams are also highly competitive, competing as the Huskies in the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA Division I, representing the United States at the Olympic Games, and other major competitions.

    The university has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including 21 Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars and Marshall Scholars.

    In 1854, territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended the establishment of a university in the Washington Territory. Prominent Seattle-area residents, including Methodist preacher Daniel Bagley, saw this as a chance to add to the city’s potential and prestige. Bagley learned of a law that allowed United States territories to sell land to raise money in support of public schools. At the time, Arthur A. Denny, one of the founders of Seattle and a member of the territorial legislature, aimed to increase the city’s importance by moving the territory’s capital from Olympia to Seattle. However, Bagley eventually convinced Denny that the establishment of a university would assist more in the development of Seattle’s economy. Two universities were initially chartered, but later the decision was repealed in favor of a single university in Lewis County provided that locally donated land was available. When no site emerged, Denny successfully petitioned the legislature to reconsider Seattle as a location in 1858.

    In 1861, scouting began for an appropriate 10 acres (4 ha) site in Seattle to serve as a new university campus. Arthur and Mary Denny donated eight acres, while fellow pioneers Edward Lander, and Charlie and Mary Terry, donated two acres on Denny’s Knoll in downtown Seattle. More specifically, this tract was bounded by 4th Avenue to the west, 6th Avenue to the east, Union Street to the north, and Seneca Streets to the south.

    John Pike, for whom Pike Street is named, was the university’s architect and builder. It was opened on November 4, 1861, as the Territorial University of Washington. The legislature passed articles incorporating the University, and establishing its Board of Regents in 1862. The school initially struggled, closing three times: in 1863 for low enrollment, and again in 1867 and 1876 due to funds shortage. University of Washington awarded its first graduate Clara Antoinette McCarty Wilt in 1876, with a bachelor’s degree in science.

    19th century relocation

    By the time Washington state entered the Union in 1889, both Seattle and the University had grown substantially. University of Washington’s total undergraduate enrollment increased from 30 to nearly 300 students, and the campus’s relative isolation in downtown Seattle faced encroaching development. A special legislative committee, headed by University of Washington graduate Edmond Meany, was created to find a new campus to better serve the growing student population and faculty. The committee eventually selected a site on the northeast of downtown Seattle called Union Bay, which was the land of the Duwamish, and the legislature appropriated funds for its purchase and construction. In 1895, the University relocated to the new campus by moving into the newly built Denny Hall. The University Regents tried and failed to sell the old campus, eventually settling with leasing the area. This would later become one of the University’s most valuable pieces of real estate in modern-day Seattle, generating millions in annual revenue with what is now called the Metropolitan Tract. The original Territorial University building was torn down in 1908, and its former site now houses the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

    The sole-surviving remnants of Washington’s first building are four 24-foot (7.3 m), white, hand-fluted cedar, Ionic columns. They were salvaged by Edmond S. Meany, one of the University’s first graduates and former head of its history department. Meany and his colleague, Dean Herbert T. Condon, dubbed the columns as “Loyalty,” “Industry,” “Faith”, and “Efficiency”, or “LIFE.” The columns now stand in the Sylvan Grove Theater.

    20th century expansion

    Organizers of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition eyed the still largely undeveloped campus as a prime setting for their world’s fair. They came to an agreement with Washington’s Board of Regents that allowed them to use the campus grounds for the exposition, surrounding today’s Drumheller Fountain facing towards Mount Rainier. In exchange, organizers agreed Washington would take over the campus and its development after the fair’s conclusion. This arrangement led to a detailed site plan and several new buildings, prepared in part by John Charles Olmsted. The plan was later incorporated into the overall University of Washington campus master plan, permanently affecting the campus layout.

    Both World Wars brought the military to campus, with certain facilities temporarily lent to the federal government. In spite of this, subsequent post-war periods were times of dramatic growth for the University. The period between the wars saw a significant expansion of the upper campus. Construction of the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, known to students as “The Quad,” began in 1916 and continued to 1939. The University’s architectural centerpiece, Suzzallo Library, was built in 1926 and expanded in 1935.

    After World War II, further growth came with the G.I. Bill. Among the most important developments of this period was the opening of the School of Medicine in 1946, which is now consistently ranked as the top medical school in the United States. It would eventually lead to the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top ten hospitals in the nation.

    In 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry in the Seattle area were forced into inland internment camps as part of Executive Order 9066 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this difficult time, university president Lee Paul Sieg took an active and sympathetic leadership role in advocating for and facilitating the transfer of Japanese American students to universities and colleges away from the Pacific Coast to help them avoid the mass incarceration. Nevertheless, many Japanese American students and “soon-to-be” graduates were unable to transfer successfully in the short time window or receive diplomas before being incarcerated. It was only many years later that they would be recognized for their accomplishments during the University of Washington’s Long Journey Home ceremonial event that was held in May 2008.

    From 1958 to 1973, the University of Washington saw a tremendous growth in student enrollment, its faculties and operating budget, and also its prestige under the leadership of Charles Odegaard. University of Washington student enrollment had more than doubled to 34,000 as the baby boom generation came of age. However, this era was also marked by high levels of student activism, as was the case at many American universities. Much of the unrest focused around civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. In response to anti-Vietnam War protests by the late 1960s, the University Safety and Security Division became the University of Washington Police Department.

    Odegaard instituted a vision of building a “community of scholars”, convincing the Washington State legislatures to increase investment in the University. Washington senators, such as Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnuson, also used their political clout to gather research funds for the University of Washington. The results included an increase in the operating budget from $37 million in 1958 to over $400 million in 1973, solidifying University of Washington as a top recipient of federal research funds in the United States. The establishment of technology giants such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon in the local area also proved to be highly influential in the University of Washington’s fortunes, not only improving graduate prospects but also helping to attract millions of dollars in university and research funding through its distinguished faculty and extensive alumni network.

    21st century

    In 1990, the University of Washington opened its additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. Although originally intended for students who have already completed two years of higher education, both schools have since become four-year universities with the authority to grant degrees. The first freshman classes at these campuses started in fall 2006. Today both Bothell and Tacoma also offer a selection of master’s degree programs.

    In 2012, the University began exploring plans and governmental approval to expand the main Seattle campus, including significant increases in student housing, teaching facilities for the growing student body and faculty, as well as expanded public transit options. The University of Washington light rail station was completed in March 2015, connecting Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to the University of Washington Husky Stadium within five minutes of rail travel time. It offers a previously unavailable option of transportation into and out of the campus, designed specifically to reduce dependence on private vehicles, bicycles and local King County buses.

    University of Washington has been listed as a “Public Ivy” in Greene’s Guides since 2001, and is an elected member of the American Association of Universities. Among the faculty by 2012, there have been 151 members of American Association for the Advancement of Science, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 67 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 53 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 29 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 21 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 15 MacArthur Fellows, 9 winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, 5 winners of the National Medal of Science, 7 Nobel Prize laureates, 5 winners of Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, 4 members of the American Philosophical Society, 2 winners of the National Book Award, 2 winners of the National Medal of Arts, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 1 winner of the Fields Medal, and 1 member of the National Academy of Public Administration. Among UW students by 2012, there were 136 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars and 4 Gates Cambridge Scholars. UW is recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, ranking 2nd in the US in 2017.

    The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) has consistently ranked University of Washington as one of the top 20 universities worldwide every year since its first release. In 2019, University of Washington ranked 14th worldwide out of 500 by the ARWU, 26th worldwide out of 981 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and 28th worldwide out of 101 in the Times World Reputation Rankings. Meanwhile, QS World University Rankings ranked it 68th worldwide, out of over 900.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Washington 8th out of nearly 1,500 universities worldwide for 2021, with University of Washington’s undergraduate program tied for 58th among 389 national universities in the U.S. and tied for 19th among 209 public universities.

    In 2019, it ranked 10th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. In 2017, the Leiden Ranking, which focuses on science and the impact of scientific publications among the world’s 500 major universities, ranked University of Washington 12th globally and 5th in the U.S.

    In 2019, Kiplinger Magazine’s review of “top college values” named University of Washington 5th for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state students among U.S. public colleges, and 84th overall out of 500 schools. In the Washington Monthly National University Rankings University of Washington was ranked 15th domestically in 2018, based on its contribution to the public good as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on September 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Michigan State University researchers help reveal a ‘blueprint’ for photosynthesis", , , , Environmental Protection, , Plant Science   

    From Michigan State University: “Michigan State University researchers help reveal a ‘blueprint’ for photosynthesis” 

    Michigan State Bloc

    From Michigan State University

    Matt Davenport

    MSU researchers helped reveal, with nearly atomic precision, the biological structure of an “antenna” used by cyanobacteria for photosynthesis. Knowing the position of different proteins and pigments (shown in different colors) helps researchers better understand this natural process and can inspire future applications in areas such as renewable energy. Credit: Domínguez-Martín et al., Nature (2022)

    New findings in microbes called cyanobacteria present new opportunities for plant science, bioengineering and environmental protection.

    Michigan State University researchers and colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley, the University of South Bohemia and The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have helped reveal the most detailed picture to date of important biological “antennae.”

    Nature has evolved these structures to harness the sun’s energy through photosynthesis, but these sunlight receivers don’t belong to plants. They’re found in microbes known as cyanobacteria, the evolutionary descendants of the first organisms on Earth capable of taking sunlight, water and carbon dioxide and turning them into sugars and oxygen.

    Published Aug. 31 in the journal Nature [below], the findings immediately shed new light on microbial photosynthesis — specifically, how light energy is captured and sent to where it’s needed to power the conversion of carbon dioxide into sugars. Going forward, the insights could also help researchers remediate harmful bacteria in the environment, develop artificial photosynthetic systems for renewable energy and enlist microbes in sustainable manufacturing that starts with the raw materials of carbon dioxide and sunlight.

    “There’s a lot of interest in using cyanobacteria as solar-powered factories that capture sunlight and convert it into a kind of energy that can be used to make important products,” said Cheryl Kerfeld, Hannah Distinguished Professor of structural bioengineering in the College of Natural Science. “With a blueprint like the one we’ve provided in this study, you can start thinking about tuning and optimizing the light-harvesting component of photosynthesis.”

    “Once you see how something works, you have a better idea of how you can modify it and manipulate it. That’s a big advantage,” said Markus Sutter, a senior research associate in the Kerfeld Lab, which operates at MSU and Berkeley Lab in California.

    For decades, researchers have been working to visualize the different building blocks of phycobilisomes to try to understand how they’re put together. Phycobilisomes are fragile, necessitating this piecemeal approach. Historically, researchers have been unable to get the high-resolution images of intact antennae needed to understand how they capture and conduct light energy.

    Now, thanks to an international team of experts and advances in a technique known as cryo-electron microscopy, the structure of a cyanobacterial light harvesting antenna is available with nearly atomic resolution. The team included researchers from Michigan State University, Berkeley Lab, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

    “We were fortunate to be a team made up of people with complementary expertise, people who worked well together,” said Kerfeld, who is also a member of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. “The group had the right chemistry.”

    ‘A long journey full of nice surprises’

    “This work is a breakthrough in the field of photosynthesis,” said Paul Sauer, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Eva Nogales’ cryogenic electron microscopy lab at The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and The University of California-Berkeley.

    “The complete light-harvesting structure of a cyanobacteria’s antenna has been missing until now,” Sauer said. “Our discovery helps us understand how evolution came up with ways to turn carbon dioxide and light into oxygen and sugar in bacteria, long before any plants existed on our planet.”

    Along with Kerfeld, Sauer is a corresponding author of the new article. The team documented several notable results, including finding a new phycobilisome protein and observing two new ways that the phycobilisome orients its light-capturing rods that hadn’t been resolved before.

    “It is 12 pages of discoveries,” said María Agustina Domínguez-Martín of the Nature report. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Kerfeld Lab, Domínguez-Martín initiated the study at Michigan State University and brought it to completion at the Berkeley Lab. She is currently at the University of Cordoba in Spain as part of the Marie Skłowdoska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship. “It’s been a long journey full of nice surprises.”

    One surprise, for example, came in how a relatively small protein can act as a surge protector for the massive antenna. Before this work, researchers knew the phycobilisome could corral molecules called orange carotenoid proteins, or OCPs, when the phycobilisome had absorbed too much sunlight. The OCPs release the excess energy as heat, protecting a cyanobacterium’s photosynthetic system from burning up.

    Until now, there’s been debate about how many OCPs the phycobilisome could bind and where those binding sites were. The new research answers these fundamental questions and offers potentially practical insights.

    This kind of surge-protecting system — which is called photoprotection and has analogs in the plant world — naturally tends to be wasteful. Cyanobacteria are slow to turn their photoprotection off after it has done its job. Now, with the complete picture of how the surge protector works, researchers can design ways to engineer “smart,” less wasteful photoprotection, Kerfeld said.

    MSU researchers helped uncover an unparalleled level of detail in phycobilisomes, the green and blue assemblies in this illustration. These structures work as antennae that cyanobacteria use in photosynthesis. The blue and green colors represent different proteins and pigments in the phycobilisome. OCPs, the occasional orange hangers-on, help dissipate excess captured energy as heat. Credit: Janet Iwasa/University of Utah.

    And, despite helping make the planet habitable for humans and countless other organisms that need oxygen to survive, cyanobacteria have a dark side. Cyanobacteria blooms in lakes, ponds and reservoirs can produce toxins that are deadly to native ecosystems as well as humans and their pets. Having a blueprint of how the bacteria not only collect the sun’s energy, but also protect themselves from too much of it could inspire new ideas to attack harmful blooms.

    Beyond the new answers and potential applications this work offers, the researchers are also excited about the new questions it raises and the research it could inspire.

    “If you think of this like Legos, you can keep building up, right? The proteins and pigments are like blocks making the phycobilisome, but then that’s part of the photosystem, which is in the cell membrane, which is part of the entire cell,” Sutter said. “We’re climbing up the ladder of scale in a way. We’ve found something new on our rung, but we can’t say we’ve got the system settled.”

    “We’ve answered some questions, but we’ve opened the doors on others and, to me, that’s what makes it a breakthrough,” Domínguez-Martín said. “I’m excited to see how the field develops from here.”

    This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Institutes of Health, the Czech Science Foundation and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

    Science paper:

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Michigan State Campus

    Michigan State University is a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and became the nation’s first land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862, serving as a model for future land-grant universities.

    The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country’s first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture. After the introduction of the Morrill Act, the college became coeducational and expanded its curriculum beyond agriculture. Today, Michigan State University is one of the largest universities in the United States (in terms of enrollment) and has approximately 634,300 living alumni worldwide.

    U.S. News & World Report ranks its graduate programs the best in the U.S. in elementary teacher’s education, secondary teacher’s education, industrial and organizational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, African history (tied), supply chain logistics and nuclear physics in 2019. Michigan State University pioneered the studies of packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, and communication sciences. Michigan State University is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The university’s campus houses the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the country’s largest residence hall system.


    The university has a long history of academic research and innovation. In 1877, botany professor William J. Beal performed the first documented genetic crosses to produce hybrid corn, which led to increased yields. Michigan State University dairy professor G. Malcolm Trout improved the process for the homogenization of milk in the 1930s, making it more commercially viable. In the 1960s, Michigan State University scientists developed cisplatin, a leading cancer fighting drug, and followed that work with the derivative, carboplatin. Albert Fert, an Adjunct professor at Michigan State University, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg.

    Today Michigan State University continues its research with facilities such as the Department of Energy -sponsored Plant Research Laboratory and a particle accelerator called the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory [below]. The Department of Energy Office of Science named Michigan State University as the site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The $730 million facility will attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in basic nuclear science, astrophysics, and applications of isotopes to other fields.

    Michigan State University FRIB [Facility for Rare Isotope Beams] .

    In 2004, scientists at the Cyclotron produced and observed a new isotope of the element germanium, called Ge-60 In that same year, Michigan State University, in consortium with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the government of Brazil, broke ground on the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

    The consortium telescope will allow the Physics & Astronomy department to study galaxy formation and origins. Since 1999, Michigan State University has been part of a consortium called the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, which aims to develop biotechnology research in the State of Michigan. Finally, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Quello Center researches issues of information and communication management.

    The Michigan State University Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Michigan State Spartans football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1954, 1956, 1988 and 2014, and the university claims a total of six national football championships. Spartans men’s basketball won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000 and has attained the Final Four eight times since the 1998–1999 season. Spartans ice hockey won NCAA national titles in 1966, 1986 and 2007. The women’s cross country team was named Big Ten champions in 2019. In the fall of 2019, MSU student-athletes posted all-time highs for graduation success rates and federal graduation rates, according to NCAA statistics.

  • richardmitnick 9:37 am on July 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Wonderful World of Wheat", , , Common wheat-domesticated over thousands of years-is a good example of the complexity of food plants., , Emmer and wild goatgrass native to western Asia gave rise to what is now the most important food crop., It is becoming increasingly clear just how complex and interlinked the genetically regulated metabolism of plants really is., Plant Science,   

    From The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH): “Wonderful World of Wheat” 

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

    12 July 2022
    Stefan Stöcklin

    Bread wheat has a thousand-year history and is extraordinarily adaptable. Its potential is far from exhausted. (Image: Rebecca Leber)

    Beat Keller has been researching wheat for decades and has lost none of his fascination with the plant. Each year, the high-yielding crop produces around 100 kilograms of grain – per person on the planet, mind you. “Without wheat, there would be widespread hunger, not only in poorer countries, but also in Switzerland,” says the molecular biologist and plant researcher.

    Thanks to this strategic importance, as well as the fact that its long agricultural history makes it one of the most thoroughly researched plants, wheat is a rich object of study for molecular biologists. As a result, Beat Keller and his fellow researchers have spent the past few decades working on genetically engineering wheat to make it more resistant to powdery mildew, a widespread fungal disease

    And it has become clear that this method works and the plant’s resistance can, in the researcher’s words, be “massively improved”. To achieve this effect, Keller and his team set about identifying and isolating natural resistance genes in wheat varieties from around the world. These powdery mildew resistance genes, or Pm genes, produce immune receptors that trigger the plant’s natural cellular defenses upon exposure to the fungus.

    The scientists’ intricate genetic and molecular work involved introducing different Pm gene combinations in wheat lines and, in a first for Switzerland, carrying out field trials with Agroscope, the Swiss center of excellence for agricultural research. The first of these tests took place in 2008, with the final series of tests set to conclude at Agroscope’s research center in Reckenholz in Zürich this year and the next.

    For years, Beat Keller has been the only researcher in Switzerland to take on the challenge of putting transgenic plants out in the field despite the moratorium on GMOs in agriculture. His research has only been possible thanks to an exemption for basic research. But Keller doesn’t see himself a martyr for the cause of green genetic engineering, but more as blazing a trail for a technology that he thinks will “be indispensable for securing the future food supply.” After all, says Keller, breeding plants without using these tools makes very little sense considering the growing demand for food crops.

    Following through with this thought, experiments in the field will inevitably be a part of future research. “We all know that results achieved in a controlled lab environment aren’t always confirmed in the field,” says the plant researcher. He thus believes that scientists carrying out basic research will practically be forced to verify their findings in a real-world setting. If they don’t, their findings will remain largely academic.

    Complex food crops

    And yet, Keller’s stance is refreshingly different to that of other GMO proponents who have been extolling the virtues of green genetic engineering. Many have been quick to predict genetically engineered wonder plants capable of binding nitrogen from the air and delivering top crop yields on the back of optimized photosynthesis, all while being completely resistant to heat and pests.

    “We’ve learned a great deal over the past few years and expectations are more humble now,” says the plant scientist. “The notion that we can make a profound impact with just a few genetic tweaks is often incorrect.”

    Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear just how complex and interlinked the genetically regulated metabolism of plants really is. Turn a screw here, and a cog moves over there. Common wheat-domesticated over thousands of years-is a good example of the complexity of food plants.

    Our ancestors bred this wheat species from wild varieties of ancient grains some 8,000 years ago. Emmer and wild goatgrass native to western Asia gave rise to what is now the most important food crop, with some genome duplication occurring as a result of crossing related species.

    Today, common wheat, or Triticum aestivum has six chromosome sets and a genome consisting of around 16 billion base pairs – more than five times the number of DNA base pairs in humans. Rather than 25,000 genes like humans, wheat has around 100,000 genes.

    However, the limitations of genetic engineering do not mean that it is becoming any less important. On the contrary, genome editing has rung in an era of promising new techniques, which have quickly been adopted by researchers in the field of breeding and basic research.

    Methods such as Crispr/Cas9 allow them to make pinpoint changes in the genome, from deleting individual DNA building blocks to replacing entire genes. This has made it possible to bring about targeted mutations that are often indistinguishable from random, naturally occurring changes in the DNA. This precision method is dramatically speeding up conventional mutation breeding. Hundreds of research and development projects are currently under way, with new breeding lines regularly hitting the market.

    Adaptable pests

    There are several projects investigating wheat outside of Switzerland, aimed at boosting crop yield, adding nutritional value, reducing gluten content or increasing resistance to drought, pests or diseases such as powdery mildew.

    With regard to the latter, a novel and surprisingly simple approach has emerged. It is based on so-called MLO genes, which can be found in all land and cultivated plants. As it happens, switching these genes off makes wheat more resistant to powdery mildew. This resistance can be traced back to a variety of Ethiopian wheat first described in the 1940s.

    Chinese scientists recently used genome editing to successfully eliminate all six copies of MLO genes in the hexaploid genome of wheat to create a variety that is resistant to powdery mildew. “If this resistance is confirmed in field trials, it will be a real game changer,” says Beat Keller, without any hint of bitterness, despite knowing that the latest findings from China might well trump his “own” powdery mildew resistance with Pm genes.

    But the UZH professor believes his work on resistance genes is about more than just a disease and touches on a more fundamental issue: “We’re interested in how pests adapt to their host, that is, the co-evolution of pathogens and the plants’ defense mechanisms,” emphasizes the plant biologist.

    When it comes to powdery mildew, his team is currently researching triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye first bred in the 1960s. Once resistant to powdery mildew, triticale has now also become susceptible to the harmful fungus.

    Researchers have shown that the pest has been able to adapt to the new grain by developing new hybrid forms. Keller’s research group is currently investigating the molecular basis of these interactions as part of the URPP Evolution in Action.There is still much to be explored about wheat and its potential.

    Beat Keller’s fascination with the centuries-old plant is palpable when he talks about winter wheat, which is the variety most farmers in Switzerland grow. Sown late in the fall, winter wheat needs the extended period of cold to sprout in the spring.

    The remarkably resistant plant withstands the cold and wet to grow tall and finally develop its characteristic ears in the summer. Harvested and ground to flour, the plant feeds billions of people all over the planet. “Isn’t that wonderful?” marvels Keller.

    See the full article here .


    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.
    Since 1833

    As a member of the League of European Research Universities (EU) (LERU) and Universitas 21 (U21) network, the University of Zürich belongs to Europe’s most prestigious research institutions. In 2017, the University of Zürich became a member of the 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 11:35 am on December 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ag-inspired engineering", , , , Common ground between corn and bridges that will allow them to better understand the structural stability upon which both objects rely., How a building or bridge deforms — how it bends or flexes under the weight of cars on it or in the face of a large storm., , Plant Science, Studying the phenomenon of how or why things bend or flex, , Whether they were looking at concrete or plant material both engineers were trying to quantify the object’s structural stability., While the stakes may seem higher when someone is trying to pinpoint the weak points on a busy bridge so it doesn’t collapse farmers also stand to lose a lot when an entire crop — their livelihood   

    From The University of Delaware (US) : “Ag-inspired engineering” 

    U Delaware bloc

    From The University of Delaware (US)

    December 08, 2021
    Maddy Lauria
    Photos courtesy of Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture and Natural Resources

    Two UD professors from two different colleges have found common ground between corn and bridges that will allow them to better understand the structural stability upon which both objects rely.

    How engineering principals support plant science

    When Tropical Storm Isaias pummeled the East Coast in summer 2020, it created life-threatening tornadoes and weather conditions that ruined homes and flattened farm fields across Delaware. But in Newark, in a small field planted with different varieties of corn, one professor noticed that not all of the plants had the same damage.

    University of Delaware Assistant Professor Erin Sparks wondered: what allows some corn stalks to stay standing while others are knocked to the ground? The answer is complicated, but Sparks is getting much closer to understanding these plant mechanics thanks to an engineering-based approach typically used on man made structures proposed by the College of Engineering’s Monique Head.

    As associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Head has been using advanced technology and digital image correlation (DIC) to understand and estimate how a building or bridge deforms — how it bends or flexes under the weight of cars on it or in the face of a large storm — without ever having to touch the structure itself. To do that, she utilizes high-resolution cameras that capture an immense amount of data, not unlike the equipment used by professional surveyors. Just like old-school movies, the equipment is used to take an immense amount of photographs that can then be pieced together, analyzed using complex DIC algorithms, allowing Head to see how structures shift over time due to various influences, such as wind or weight.

    It took a few years for Head and Sparks to connect the dots between their work. After four shared events outside of the classroom, including one encouraging young female students to explore futures in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and hearing each other use so many similar descriptions as they spoke about their work, they saw clearly that they shared much more common ground than just being science-minded colleagues at UD. Sparks’ questions about corn and Head’s work with bridges were almost exactly the same: whether they were looking at concrete or plant material they were both trying to quantify the object’s structural stability.

    “We realized we were trying to study the phenomenon of how or why things bend or flex,” Head said. “Moreso, we’ve done that with bridges. We wanted to see if we can do the same thing to quantify the response in corn and if we could use the same methodologies in a non-contact way.”

    While the stakes may seem higher when someone is trying to pinpoint the weak points on a busy bridge so it doesn’t collapse farmers also stand to lose a lot when an entire crop — their livelihood — is destroyed because the plants are broken or bent to the ground. And just as some bridge foundations may be difficult to reach, so are the underground root systems of plants like corn.

    “People often think of plants as basically a rigid attachment to the ground and a stick,” said Sparks, who teaches plant molecular biology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. But that’s not the case at all, especially with corn plants, which have a complex above- and below-ground root system that is able to rotate and shift, she said.

    “Dr. Head and her team, Shaymaa Obayes (doctoral student), Luke Timber (master’s student), and David Bydalek (2020 graduate), were able to take measurements of what’s actually happening as plants bend and flex, and translate this information into models,” Sparks said. That modeling approach cuts back on the amount of time needed working directly with the plants in the field, and allows researchers to explore infinite combinations of variables to better understand why the corn behaves the way it does.

    With Head an experienced, tenured professor and Sparks a newer, untenured faculty member, they teamed up in 2020 and pursued funding for their interdisciplinary, collaborative work through UD’s Research Foundation Strategic Initiatives grants, which provided $45,000 in funding to support one doctoral student pursuing this work in Head’s lab.

    But when Shaymaa Khudhair Obayes, a civil engineering doctoral student, first heard about working with corn instead of bridges, she wasn’t so sure how it would pan out.

    “My master’s was related to the design of bridges, and I expected I’d work on bridges as well as I pursued my Ph.D.,” Obayes said, admitting that shifting her focus to corn was quite difficult at first. “It’s kind of like engineering from a different perspective.”

    Applying what she knows about engineering theories and analysis to something new also boosted her confidence in her abilities as a professional, she said. Obayes already has a job in her home country, Iraq, but has many options for her future engineering career.

    “At the end of my work, we learned we can apply all of the engineering theories to the corn and it works very well,” she said. “Now, if someone talks about the connection between agriculture and engineering, I already see the relationship between them and how we can use engineering to make improvements.”

    A collaborative journal paper on their findings is submitted and expected to be published in the near future, Head said.

    By using digital imaging, modeling and analysis tools, these researchers have been able to mimic how a corn plant’s stalk and root system could be represented with engineering mechanics, which Head said has not been done before with field measurements to support the analysis. From there, researchers can try to figure out what attributes caused a plant to stay upright or get knocked to the ground.

    Engineers like Monique Head can learn a lot about the structural stability of a bridge without ever coming into contact with it thanks to structural monitoring techniques that include high-tech cameras and modeling.

    “We can understand the science of why it’s doing what it’s doing,” Head said. “The monitoring enabled us to see things we wouldn’t be able to with the naked eye.”

    Sparks said there’s a lot of interest from companies in trying to understand these characteristics, as well, when they’re breeding different varieties. Knowing exactly what could compromise a corn stalks’ ability to stand tall could lead to hardier plants and better yields for farmers, which would have a positive impact on agricultural-based economies. One company is even trying to figure that out with their own proprietary approach that involves a high-tech wind simulator that allows them to see how well their varieties stand up.

    The same techniques used to understand how bridges withstand loads can be applied to corn as well, allowing researchers to better understand what characteristics help a plant stay standing while others get knocked over by wind, for example.

    “We’re taking a deconstructed approach,” Sparks said. “That if we understand the architectures that lead to stability, then we don’t have to wait for a wind event to select for that. The next question for us is: how do those architectures interact with different soil types or with different management strategies?”

    By scaling down engineering applications and models from a large bridge to a single corn stalk, they were also able to get incredibly fine measurements, down to 1/100 of an inch. That precision has allowed Head to update the models she uses for bridges, as well.

    “That’s a really nice thing about collaborative research: You can see things from other people’s perspectives and really bring it together to something unique,” she said.

    The work is inspired by nature, Head said, but in a way that is helping engineers and scientists better understand what is happening in order to then inform their equations and produce accurate, predictive modeling that would illustrate how specific situations — 50 mile per hour northeast winds, for example — would impact the object they’re studying. It’s also allowing them to take a more holistic approach to these mechanics and has raised questions about how variations in soil properties could be playing a key role in the stability of corn and built structures, as well.

    Their work, which has spanned about two years after hitting delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has now opened the door to a wide breadth of future research for faculty and students at UD.

    “We have more ideas than we can possibly manage at the moment,” Sparks said with enthusiasm. “I would call this foundational work, and now we’re going to be able to go in 30 different directions.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Delaware campus

    The The University of Delaware (US) is a public land-grant research university located in Newark, Delaware. University of Delaware (US) is the largest university in Delaware. It offers three associate’s programs, 148 bachelor’s programs, 121 master’s programs (with 13 joint degrees), and 55 doctoral programs across its eight colleges. The main campus is in Newark, with satellite campuses in Dover, the Wilmington area, Lewes, and Georgetown. It is considered a large institution with approximately 18,200 undergraduate and 4,200 graduate students. It is a privately governed university which receives public funding for being a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant state-supported research institution.

    University of Delaware (US) is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to The National Science Foundation (US), UD spent $186 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 119th in the nation. It is recognized with the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    University of Delaware (US) is one of only four schools in North America with a major in art conservation. In 1923, it was the first American university to offer a study-abroad program.

    University of Delaware (US) traces its origins to a “Free School,” founded in New London, Pennsylvania in 1743. The school moved to Newark, Delaware by 1765, becoming the Newark Academy. The academy trustees secured a charter for Newark College in 1833 and the academy became part of the college, which changed its name to Delaware College in 1843. While it is not considered one of the colonial colleges because it was not a chartered institution of higher education during the colonial era, its original class of ten students included George Read, Thomas McKean, and James Smith, all three of whom went on to sign the Declaration of Independence. Read also later signed the United States Constitution.

    Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus

    On October 23, 2009, the University of Delaware (US) signed an agreement with Chrysler to purchase a shuttered vehicle assembly plant adjacent to the university for $24.25 million as part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. The university has developed the 272-acre (1.10 km2) site into the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. The site is the new home of University of Delaware (US)’s College of Health Sciences, which includes teaching and research laboratories and several public health clinics. The STAR Campus also includes research facilities for University of Delaware (US)’s vehicle-to-grid technology, as well as Delaware Technology Park, SevOne, CareNow, Independent Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the East Coast headquarters of Bloom Energy. In 2020 [needs an update], University of Delaware (US) expects to open the Ammon Pinozzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center, which will become the new home of the UD-led National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals. Also, Chemours recently opened its global research and development facility, known as the Discovery Hub, on the STAR Campus in 2020. The new Newark Regional Transportation Center on the STAR Campus will serve passengers of Amtrak and regional rail.


    The university is organized into nine colleges:

    Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics
    College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
    College of Arts and Sciences
    College of Earth, Ocean and Environment
    College of Education and Human Development
    College of Engineering
    College of Health Sciences
    Graduate College
    Honors College

    There are also five schools:

    Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)
    School of Education (part of the College of Education & Human Development)
    School of Marine Science and Policy (part of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment)
    School of Nursing (part of the College of Health Sciences)
    School of Music (part of the College of Arts & Sciences)

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