Perspectives Online

Intriguing activity

Faculty, staff and friends of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gathered Jan 26th to welcome Dr. Johnny Wynne as dean of the College. Here, Wynne and his son Alex (right) receive congratulations from state Rep. Alice Graham Underhill (left) and Dr. Blanton Godfrey, dean of the College of Textiles.
Photo by Daniel Kim

At the annual faculty meeting of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 25 new faculty members and visiting scholars in our College were introduced. Among those newcomers was Dr. Christina Grozinger, assistant professor of entomology and specialist in insect genomics with the W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology.

In this issue you'll learn about her work using functional genomics to discover the genetic basis for the honey bee's intricate system of behaviors. What she learns could yield a genetic model for study of genes in a range of species and enable conjectures about the evolution of social behavior.

Intriguing developments are also taking place in our Department of Poultry Science, where Dr. Thomas Siopes is researching how the amount of daylight turkeys experience acts as a trigger that prompts and synchronizes various physiological activities. What he is learning about how birds respond to day length could improve turkey reproduction and make the birds healthier, and might have implications for human health.

You'll also learn here about a recent finding by Dr. Paul F. Agris, professor of biochemistry in the College, that advances the understanding of how genetic information, encoded in DNA, is decoded for the production of proteins. Dr. Agris and academic colleagues have shown concrete evidence in favor of the 1966 "Wobble Hypothesis" offered by Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule and its double-helix structure, and Agris' own "Modified Wobble Hypothesis," posed in 1991.

Finally, as North Carolina soybean growers brace themselves for the possible eventual arrival of Asiatic soybean rust, a plant disease that appeared in the country late last year, the College is playing a central role in determining when that arrival will be and in preparing growers for the disease. College scientists in the Department of Plant Pathology have developed a Web site at which disease outbreaks will be noted and movement of the disease forecast. The forecasting system was developed by Dr. Charles Main, emeritus professor of plant pathology and an expert on the movement of fungal diseases spread by wind-blown spores.

Along with these stories of diverse research, we bring you news of our student clubs, award-winning achievements of our students and faculty, alumni endeavors and the recent state Extension conference - a vast range of College activity.

Johnny Wynne, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences