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Plan to grow local food hindered by reduced Extension staff

A draft plan to boost locally grown food was released last week by state officials. Winton Pitcoff, the project manager for the plan, says farmers in rural areas need technical assistance, but UMass Extension has one-third of the staff it had in the 1980s. Republican

DeMoranville interviewed about affects of climate change on cranberries

Higher temperatures and changing rain patterns could affect the state’s cranberry crop in the years ahead, Carolyn DeMoranville, director of the Cranberry Station in Wareham, told the Cape Cod Times. With the climate expected to warm in the decades to come, farmers can expect more insects and more fungal and other plant diseases.

Crosby elected fellow of American Physical Society

Alfred Crosby, Polymer Science and Engineering, has been named a 2015 fellow of the American Physical Society, “for establishing a research program on nature-inspired materials that has gained a worldwide reputation while making a significant and broad impact on the fields of materials science, mechanics and biology.” His election is a recognition by his peers of “outstanding contributions to physics.” Crosby, who joined the faculty in 2002, has more than 15 patents awarded or pending and has written more than 100 scientific publications. He is the co-inventor of Geckskin, the new super-adhesive material that can hold up to 700 pounds on a smooth surface.

Mass. Local Food Action Plan calls for strenthening UMass Extension

A news story in the Hampshire Daily Gazette on the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan released today, Oct. 23, notes that it calls for strengthening UMass Extension’s capacity to provide technical help to farmers and ensuring that federal, state, and local regulation support growth in agriculture and other food businesses while protecting the environment and public health.

Clouston awarded NSF grant expected to lead to a new market for northeastern forest products

Lead investigator Peggi Clouston, Environmental Conservation, has been awarded $390,000, three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that is expected to show that a strong new building material known as cross laminated timber (CLT) can incorporate currently underused wood species grown in the northeast United States, creating a market for local trees and opening jobs in rural communities. Her co-investigators include Alexander Schreyer, also Environmental Conservation. News release

UMass Amherst rises to 106th among 750 research universities worldwide

UMass Amherst has risen to 106 from 115 among research universities worldwide in the 2016 Best Global Universities, a new report by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings also include 22 broad subject areas, where the university is 10th worldwide in agricultural sciences. The second annual Best Global Universities ranking was expanded from 500 universities in 49 countries in its first year to 750 universities in 57 countries for 2016. Universities are ranked based on 12 indicators that measure overall academic research performance and global and regional reputations.

Rawlins' climate research featured on Research Next

The research of Michael Rawlins, Geosciences and manager of the Climate System Research Center, helps the public understand the local and global impacts of a warming climate, and is featured on Research Next.

Markarian takes on new responsibilities as manager for special projects and outreach; steps down from managing iCons

With the hiring of a new full-time program manager for the Integrated Concentration in Sciences (iCONS) program, Jane Markarian has stepped down after seven years managing the program and will take on new responsibilities in her position as CNS manager for special projects and outreach. Markarian will manage new and continuing outreach efforts in CNS, including Eureka!, a collaboration between CNS and Girls Inc. of Holyoke, as well as new K-12 outreach and Women in Science Initiative projects. In her former role, she oversaw the initial visioning, design and eventual delivery of innovative integrated science instruction.

Gross research shows how flipped classrooms increase performance

Research by David Gross, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with colleagues, shows why so-called flipped classroom teaching results in higher grades for students, especially women and those with lower GPAs, as published in CBE Life Sciences Educator.

Whitbourne featured in article about breaking bad relationship habits

Susan K. Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, was featured in a Stylecaster article about bad habits in relationships and how to break them.

Santangelo interviewed about friction and the physics of knots

Christian Santangelo, Physics, was interviewed for a story in Business Insider about how scientists have developed a new equation that explains the forces within an overhand knot. He said, "We know that friction isn’t really well understood, especially when something complicated happens. The fact that the result is encapsulated in a single equation is downright amazing.”

McClements tells Science News nanoparticles made from same ingredients as food

David J. McClements, Food Science, interviewed for a story about the use of nanoparticles in food, says most of the new particles he studies are made from the same ingredients as food and break down in the body in similar ways to ordinary food. Science News

Meehan, Subbaswamy, and Story celebrate $52 million Design Building construction

State and university officials celebrated construction of the $52 million Design Building on the Amherst campus. The state-of-the-art teaching facility is being built with innovative wood construction technologies and will feature exposed structural and mechanical elements to demonstrate techniques. Event speakers included UMass President Martin Meehan; UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy; State Rep. Ellen Story; UMass Amherst Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Katherine Newman, and Joseph Naughton, University of Massachusetts Building Authority director of capital projects. News release

Jerry awarded $3.5M NIEHS grant to study breast cancer risk, environmental exposure

A research consortium led by Joseph Jerry, Veterinary and Animal Sciences, has been awarded a $3.5 million, five-year grant by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences to study breast cancer risk and environmental exposure to common chemicals found in cosmetics and household products. News release

Catanzaro interviewed by AP about delay in NE foliage

There has been international news coverage of an Associated Press story on how the change in the New England foliage has been delayed this year, but is still expected to provide a spectacular display. Paul Catanzaro, extension research professor, Environmental Conservation, said foliage season in New England has been delayed by between a week and 10 days this year. This story received extension coverage, including the New York Times, ABC News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Daily Mail, and Yahoo Singapore.

DeConto models suggest curbing carbon emissions may prevent Antarctica melt

Robert M. DeConto, Geosciences, told the New Scientist that his computer models indicate that if carbon emissions are curtailed, that may prevent the melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet.

Tropp featured on PBS News Hour series on Race Matters

Linda Tropp, Psychological and Brain Sciences, was a featured interview on the PBS NewsHour's ongoing Race Matters series. Discussions of race can cause anxiety and tension, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to engage in productive dialogue, she told PBS's Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Tropp studies how members of different groups approach and experience contact with each other, and how group differences in power or status affect views of and expectations for cross-group relations.

Plant Biology's Biodiversity of Plant Secondary Metabolites: From Pathways to Ecosystems symposium

This year's annual Plant Biology Graduate Program Symposium, organized by Li-Jun Ma, Jennifer Normanly, Danny Schnell, and Elizabeth Vierling, all Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, focused on how the many different chemicals made by plants are critical not only to plant survival, but also have been the source of much of the world’s medicines. Five internationally prominent scientists presented to a large audience from all over the northeast.

Clark's lice research highlighted

Research on lice by John Clark, Veterinary and Animal Sciences, was highlighted in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat.

Whitbourne interviewed about age and gratitude

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, interviewed in an article examining how age impacts our brains ability to feel thankful. Toronto Globe and Mail

Rich interviewed by Globe about EEE risk to humans

Stephen Rich, microbiology, was interviewed in an article examining the threat of transmitting Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) that mosquitos continue to pose to humans during the fall months. Boston Globe

Hardy profiled in Guardian video about Andes ice cap research

Douglas Hardy, Geosciences, was profiled in a video featurette about his team’s research into weather patterns tracked at the top of the Quelccaya ice cap in the Peruvian Andes. The Guardian

Santangelo interviewed about the physics of knots

Christian Santangelo, Physics, was interviewed in article examining new research on the physics behind knots, and what makes some knots stronger than others. Physics Central

Chien and Joshi find essential bacterial protease controls cell growth and division

Peter Chien, and lead author Kamal Joshi, doctoral candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, report finding how an essential bacterial protease controls cell growth and division, as appearing in CELL. News release

Autio interviewed by Globe about the best apples for baking

Wesley R. Autio, director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, said that what gives apples a firm texture is the structure and thickness of the fruit cell walls, which are determined by genetics. Autio will be giving a presentation at the Boston Public Market Oct. 22 on apples and which ones are the best for baking. Boston Globe