Perspectives Online

The drought response — and more

Dean Johnny Wynne

Some distinct themes are present in this issue of Perspectives, each depicting the range of response and the extensive reach of the College’s research, extension and academic programs.

One theme is water — the College’s work in response to the recent drought and accompanying water shortage that has been affecting the state. It’s a subject that is treated from several angles in this issue, including an extensive feature that outlines the College’s efforts to develop water-saving and water-cleansing technologies to ensure that we have enough clean water to drink; a report about a wastewater treatment system that potentially offers significant water conservation; news of drought-tolerant “Showstopper” plant cultivars; and a “You Decide” piece from Extension economist Dr. Michael Walden, explaining incentives-based water usage plans.

Second is an international theme, with features on the contributions of College faculty in Ghana at the Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program, the experiences of faculty and students in Uruguay studying organic agriculture systems, and the activities of CALS study-abroad participants in Australia.

Some of these stories also could be part of another running theme in this issue — the work of outstanding students. Among students you’ll learn about are agricultural business management senior Robby Manning, plant biology graduate student Amanda Saville, landscape design student Preston Montague, award-winning poultry science major Jessica Nixon, and molecular and structural biochemistry undergraduate research assistant Glenna Wink.

Wink is part of a research team led by Dr. Carla Mattos in the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry. In studies of cellular processes regulated by switches that control the frequency and timing of interactions between proteins, Mattos and her team have discovered reasons behind cancerous cellular interactions.

In other news of research potentially relevant to human health, two Crop Science Department researchers have shown that silencing a specific gene in burley tobacco plants significantly reduces harmful carcinogens in cured tobacco leaves. The finding could lead to tobacco products with reduced amounts of cancer-causing agents — and may also help with tobacco plants that are being used to create pharmaceuticals or other high-value products.

Current CALS events reported here include the 2008 Cooperative Extension regional conferences, the 4-H Summit on Youth and Families and a student masquerade ball fund raiser. We also bring news of a number of alumni achievements, as our CALS graduates have earned honors and taken significant leadership positions throughout the state. Look into our Giving section for announcements of important new scholarship endowments and other gifts in support of the College.

There is truly something for everyone in this Spring issue, reflecting the diversity, comprehensive reach and ongoing impact of the College’s programs.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences