Perspectives Online

Of rain barrels and space shuttles

Dean Johnny Wynne (right) presented the College's 2007-2008 Distinguished Alumni awards to A. Tab Williams Jr. (left) and Dr. L. Wiley Nifong. (Story)
Photo by Becky Kirkland

As we head into the cooler days of fall, we bring plenty of news of recent happenings in our College's academic, extension and research programs.

In this issue, you can follow CALS freshmen learning the ropes in our Academic Programs' summer orientation activities. There's also news of a bachelor of science degree in agricultural sciences that the College is now offering. And we turn the spotlight on one of our outstanding students, biological sciences major Warren Perry, a Park Scholar and Goldwater Scholar.

There's much to report from 4-H, Cooperative Extension's youth development program. From 4-H's state congress held on the N.C. State campus, its Citizenship Focus and its participation in the "NC Spin" television program to its annual gala, educational workshops and awards presentations - even a chicken-washing project - 4-H has had another busy summer.

A team that includes Cooperative Extension storm-water specialists and personnel from our state's three aquariums has launched an education and demonstration campaign to help conserve water supplies. Here you'll learn how the team demonstrates best management practices to homeowners, governments and developers - including modern updates of time-proven methods such as rain barrels and cisterns.

Our research programs' news also includes water conservation efforts, such as current studies investigating landscape irrigation. The research at N.C. State's Lake Wheeler Turfgrass Field Laboratory compares different methods of irrigating tall fescue turfgrass to determine which irrigation strategy is most efficient. Dr. Garry Grabow, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering and Extension specialist, leads the efforts. And in related news, we report that the College's turfgrass program is the nation's best, according to TurfNet, a leading international magazine for golf course superintendents, which praised the program's "diverse and talented faculty, research money and grants, facilities and quality of curriculum."

The August launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor is also part of our research news. The shuttle's experimental payload included College tomato plant seeds that traveled to the International Space Station. The tomato seeds were developed by Dr. Mariya Khodakovskaya, a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Heike Sederoff, assistant professor of plant biology. On the space station, the seeds were inserted into growth chambers specifically designed for the space environment. Similar seeds were planted back on Earth, and scientists will compare the growth of the space plants with that of the Earth plants. Dr. Chris Brown, professor of plant biology, said pictures of the space tomatoes would be down-linked back to Earth, where they will be available on a Web site designed at N.C. State to teach elementary and middle school students about space and foster interest in science.

I invite you to enjoy these stories that take you from the down-to-earth to the zero-gravity in this fall issue of our magazine.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences