Two trailblazing UA School of Journalism students have been handpicked for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute.
Amer Taleb and Paul Ingram were among 24 students chosen nationally to participate in the institute, which is being held at the UA School of Journalism May 19-June 2. Students were competitively selected by a panel of journalists at The New York Times from among a national pool of student members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
In addition to Scripps, he's reported for the Associated Press, The Nation, Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Public Media and the Arizona Daily Wildcat, among others. Also, Taleb runs the Tucson Minaret, a news blog about Tucson's Muslim and Arab communities, which is also circulated via print to Muslim prisoners throughout Arizona. This summer he secured an internship with CNN in Atlanta.
Ingram is a master's candidate in the UA School of Journalism who has worked as a freelance reporter for a number of agencies, including Reuters, the Associated Press and TucsonSentinel.com. Ingram has also worked as a science writer and photographer for the UA's Biosphere 2.
"This is an incredible opportunity and honor for these students, selected among the nation's best college journalists to work alongside the nation's best professional journalists," said UA School of Journalism Director David Cuillier. “We are grateful to work with such talented students and honored to continue hosting the workshop for the Times."
The UA has been partnering with The Times since 2008 to offer the institute every other January. Previously, the two-week workshop was offered at Florida International University, but not the UA.
But beginning this year, the UA journalism school will become the exclusive site for the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, which will be offered in odd-numbered years to student members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In even-numbered years, The Times will continue to hold the workshop at Dillard University for student members of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Don Hecker, senior editor at The Times and the workshop's director, said Times' officials decided last year to move the institute to the UA, "a school located right where a key issue for many Latinos, immigration, is a flash point. It's also a home for the Institute that we've come to appreciate for the quality of the facilities it offers."
Students work with veteran journalists from The Times, producing print and multimedia stories on such issues as human smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border, military veterans returning to college and a mother and daughter’s meth addiction.
Twenty-seven UA students have been selected for the program since 2008 and have gone on to careers at media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, The Arizona Republic, Wired Magazine, Arizona Public Media and the Orange County Register.Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsAcademicsByline: UA School of Journalism |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Thursday, May 16, 2013Feature on Front: No
Given the accelerated growth in countries such as China and Japan, coupled with greater wealth, global visibility and power, East Asia has heralded economic miracles; tiger economies.
But there is a consequence, namely in the day-to-day social lives of citizens.
Two recently published books – one authored by University of Arizona researcher Hai Ren, who co-edited to the second volume – indicate that the rise of neoliberal policies and practices and economic decline has been particularly damaging. Neoliberalism indicates market-like practices, such as efforts toward open markets and heavier pushes toward privatization, in a variety of domains, including government, business and education.
"Due to a systematic reduction of government programs and privatization over the past three decades, individuals now have to face all kinds of issues that involve building their own lives," said Ren, a UA associate professor in the department of East Asian studies. "People talk about life as if it were a campaign, and younger people are the ones who are directly dealing with the effects of neoliberal policies and practices."
Ren is the sole author of "The Middle Class in Neoliberal China: Governing Risk, Life-building and Themed Spaces," published by Routledge as part of its Contemporary China Series.
Also, Ren co-edited "Global Futures in East Asia: Youth, Nation, and the New Economy in Uncertain Times" with University of Washington anthropology professor Ann Anagnost and Andrea Arai, a Jackson School of International Studies lecturer at the University of Washington. Stanford University Press published the volume, which is a collection of essays by scholars based in Asia, Australia, Canada and the U.S.
In the volume, scholars speak to the disenfranchisement of employees in post-socialist Beijing, Taiwanese education and culture in neoliberal context, the lives of contemporary college students in South Korea and militarism as an emergent model of self-discipline to compete in the market-based "battleground," among other topics.
For several East Asia countries, the global call to fame dates back to the 1970s. However, the crest swiftly arrived and, now, the social consequences created by neoliberal policies and practices and sharp global competition are increasingly evident.
"This really is important because the whole world was hoping that China would provide this consumer revolution that would bring the global capital out of its doldrums," said Anagnost, lead editor of "Global Futures in East Asia."
"I just don't think it is going to happen," she said. "Fundamentally, the growth bubble is too shaky."
In "The Middle Class in Neoliberal China," Ren investigated the rise of the new, post-socialist Chinese middle class, studying housing situations, employment, normative values, consumer culture and the production and distribution of wealth among and between other classes of people.
Ren found the middle class society to be a "risk society," and that Chinese citizens have experienced great polarization, in their interactions, in their class systems and within their built environments. This risk society, as Ren defines, is so because of its tremendous responsibility for ushering individual success in the face of declining government support.
"Whether you are employed or unemployed, underemployed, educated or undereducated, how do you behave yourself in this society? In the past, you were assigned a job and, basically, a life was prepared for you," Ren said.
"Now, you have to learn to swim," he said.
"The middle class has become a norm that measures how successful one may become in life-building projects. Without necessary resources and government support, however, citizens have to make a living on their own. Consequently, real inequities emerge rapidly," Ren also said.
"Global Futures in East Asia" was born out of a panel Ren and Arai organized as part of the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in 2004. Subsequently, the book evolved further during a course Anagnost and Arai co-taught from 2006-08. Ultimately, the editors dedicated the book to the students who took the course and aided in the development of the volume.
In the book, contributors explain that although some remain optimistic about participating in the competitive global market and system, that very system has resulted in a shift in life-making practices, such as where people are able to live, how they interface with others – in general, how those from lower socioeconomic bearings attempt to access middle class values and norms.
"But, there is something cruel about this optimism, Ren said adding that "the failure to thrive leads to isolation, humiliation and possibly even death."
Together, then, the two books detail the decades-old presence of neoliberalism in East Asia has created not only economic tensions, but also social fissures.
Of note, Anagnost said part of the effort in producing "Global Futures in East Asia" was to consider not only the state-level and global powers, but the social costs to expanding globalization.
"It is really a question about global capitalism and ways that contradictions play out in different places," Anagnost said.
"There is a horizontal spreading of a value system of economic independence where people must be willing to risk in exchange for economic success," she said. "So people are encouraged to be more entrepreneurial with their lives."
Life, then, becomes a project that requires constant strategizing and negotiating. As such, the "allocation of risk" is shifting from governments and other economic entities to individuals, Anagnost noted.
"Before, it was very clear what your life would be: You went to college, graduated, stepped into a job in one of these corporate entities, then had your pension plan and health care and all of these social supports," Anagnost said.
"That's all gone now, so there is this young generation of young people trying to figure out how to build a life when you see more emphasized placed on individual responsibility," she said, noting that the same is occurring in the U.S., Italy and elsewhere.
"You see people supporting themselves with part-time, piece work; informal and unstable wages; depending a lot on parents," she said.
Anagnost said people must rethink the importance of having a more robust social structure. "We shouldn't be removing things like unemployment benefits, social security and pension plans. Those are important for long-term stability."
Despite the emergence of neoliberal practices and polices, increased global competition and new normative values, at least one oppositional outcropping has occurred: involvement in alternative economies.
"More radical people are starting to think about what should be the criteria for economic success," Anagnost said.
She noted that individuals, in East Asia and elsewhere in the world, have more greatly begun to engage in "alter globalization movements; backing away from the current model of economic growth," Anagnost said.
Notable examples exist around food production and the purchase of goods, where individuals are beginning to grow their own food products and rely on transnational connections.
"The anti-growth model is a shift from ever growing consumption," Anagnost said. "People are increasingly recognizing that the economic system we have is not sustainable. That's the frontier for our next research."Editor: Jennifer FitzenbergerWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Today, citizens of China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are experiencing less access to stable work and government-sponsored support, mounting debt, fewer investments in education and training. The social implications have been striking. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image:
Scientists using images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, have estimated that the planet is bombarded by more than 200 small asteroids or bits of comets per year forming craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) across.Researchers have identified 248 new impact sites on parts of the Martian surface in the past decade, using images from the spacecraft to determine when the craters appeared. The 200-per-year planetwide estimate is a calculation based on the number found in a systematic survey of a portion of the planet. The University of Arizona's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, took pictures of the fresh craters at sites where before and after images had been taken. This combination provided a new way to make direct measurements of the impact rate on Mars and will lead to better age estimates of recent features on Mars, some of which may have been the result of climate change. "It's exciting to find these new craters right after they form," said Ingrid Daubar of the UA, lead author of the paper published online this month by the journal Icarus. "It reminds you Mars is an active planet, and we can study processes that are happening today." These asteroids or comet fragments typically are no more than 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) in diameter. Space rocks too small to reach the ground on Earth cause craters on Mars because the Red Planet has a much thinner atmosphere. HiRISE targeted places where dark spots had appeared during the time between images taken by the spacecraft's Context Camera, or CTX, or cameras on other orbiters. The new estimate of cratering rate is based on a portion of the 248 new craters detected. If comes from a systematic check of a dusty fraction of the planet with CTX since late 2006. The impacts disturb the dust, creating noticeable blast zones. In this part of the research, 44 fresh impact sites were identified. The meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February was about 10 times bigger than the objects that dug the fresh Martian craters. Estimates of the rate at which new craters appear serve as scientists' best yardstick for estimating the ages of exposed landscape surfaces on Mars and other worlds. Daubar and co-authors calculated a rate for how frequently new craters at least 12.8 feet (3.9 meters) in diameter are excavated. The rate is equivalent to an average of one each year on each area of the Martian surface roughly the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Earlier estimates pegged the cratering rate at three to 10 times more craters per year. They were based on studies of craters on the moon and the ages of lunar rocks collected during NASA's Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "Mars now has the best-known current rate of cratering in the solar system," said UA's HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen, a co-author on the paper. MRO has been examining Mars with six instruments since 2006. Daubar is an imaging targeting specialist who has been on the HiRISE uplink operation s team from the very beginning. She is also a graduate student in the UA's department of planetary science and plans on graduating with her doctorate in spring 2014. "There are five of us who help plan the images that HiRISE will take over a two-week cycle," she explained. "We work with science team members across the world to understand their science goals, help select the image targets and compile the commands for the spacecraft and the camera." "The longevity of this mission is providing wonderful opportunities for investigating changes on Mars," said MRO Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo. Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego built and operates the Context Camera. JPL manages the MRO for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, built the orbiter. Editor: Jennifer FitzenbergerWriter: Daniel StolteByline: University Communications/Jet Propulsion LaboratoryHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Taking before and after pictures of Martian terrain, researchers of the UA-led HiRISE imaging experiment have identified almost 250 fresh impact craters on the Red Planet. The results suggest Mars gets pummeled by space rocks less frequently than previously thought, as scientists relied on cratering rates of the moon for their estimates. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image:
UA German studies minor Katherine Weingartner has been selected to participate in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), a year-long, federally-funded fellowship for study and work in Germany.
Among more than 600 applicants, Weingartner was one of 75 chosen.
Weingartner, who recently graduated from the UA with a degree in public management and policy with an environmental policy emphasis and a minor in German Studies, will be participating in the 30th year of the CBYX program, which exists to help individuals gain cultural, theoretical and practical work experience in Germany.
In Germany, she will attend a two-month intensive German language course, study and complete a five-month internship with a German company in her career field.
"Germany is a global leader in international energy policy and the solar industry," Weingartner said, noting that the country also has positioned itself as a leader in the European Union and the international community across multiple fields.
"There could be no better place, I would argue, to study and work in the international energy policy field than in Germany," she said. "Having the opportunity to work, study, and improve my German language skills in Germany will surely benefit me in a future career in international energy policy and I cannot wait to begin the experience abroad."
Contact: Barbara Kosta, professor and head of the German Studies department and an affiliated faculty of women's studies, at 520-621-7385.Categories: Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniResearchStudentsByline: Alexander Ganz, UA Department of German Studies |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, May 15, 2013Feature on Front: No
Magda Mankel looks at immigration from a unique perspective, not only because her mother was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States, but also because she is a major in the UA School of Anthropology who is fascinated with human migrations.
Last summer, Mankel spent six weeks in Arivaca, Ariz., which is about one dozen miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. There, she conducted research with a team of anthropologists and archaeologists led by Jason De León of the University of Michigan.
The team slept in tents, hiked every morning, gathered information and artifacts, and finished their work no later than noon each day due to the dangerously oppressive heat.
“We would wake up at 4 a.m., go hiking, go to these remote desert environments, look for migrant sites and record things from an archaeological perspective,” Mankel said. “We would use total stations (modern surveying instruments), rummage through belongings that we would find and record all of this as a way of creating inventory of the artifacts being left behind by migrants.”
Today, Mankel focuses on what she believes generations of anthropologists will be studying in the future. By finding and cataloguing immigrants’ discarded and deserted belongings – including the range, such as family photos and empty coolers – she expects to grasp not only the hardship of their journey across a vast desert, but better understand whhat led them to take it in the first place.
“Most of my research has focused on undocumented migrants coming from Mexico and making their way into the U.S., through remote desert environments in Southern Arizona.,” Mankel, a UA senior, said. “I’ve looked at that phenomenon from both a sociocultural perspective and an archaeological perspective, because people are leaving behind artifacts, things like backpacks and water bottles, and all things that are essentially material culture."
She noted that archaeologists are interested in the kinds of technology and tools people utilize during migration. But she also emphasized the importance in understanding such journeys from a socio-cultural perspective, saying that "these people have stories, they have insights, and things that are important to talk about, especially today, when immigration is such a highly politicized topic.”
Next year, Mankel will begin work toward a doctoral degree in anthropology at University of Maryland, College Park having received a scholarship to continue researching diasporas, a subject she believed has far-reaching significance.
“Anthropology is really a broad field. Usually people ask me, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ Well, in fact there’s lots of jobs," Mankel said. "There’s humans everywhere. Anthropology is essentially the study of humanity, so you can make that applicable to pretty much anything.”
During her time at the UA, Mankel has had mentors, including associate professor of anthropology Diane Austin, an associate research anthropologist for the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, and anthropology professor T.J. Ferguson, who encouraged her to continue paving her own way by following in the footsteps of others.
"If I were to work at a university I could continue doing research and also I could work with students and be a mentor, help students formulate their ideas and then also keep progressing, keep contributing to this field," Mankel said.
Mankel also sees her research as a way to offer fellow human beings a voice by reporting on their plight and hopes that such work will one day stretch beyond politics and speak to a broader human experience.
“As anthropologists we’re academics, but we also want to incorporate the perspectives of the people we are working with into our work, so that it’s not just a top down approach,” she said. “We want to give a voice to the people we’re working with, and create a more grass roots approach to our work.”
Photos courtesy of Magda MankelCategories: Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsResearchEducationByline: Arizona Assurance |UANow Image: UANow Summary: UA anthropology major Magda Mankel has investigated the experiences of immigrants traveling along the U.S.-Mexico border from a sociocultural and archaeological perspectives. Mankel hopes that studying peoples' discarded and deserted artifacts will better inform sociopolitical conditions and the broader human experience.Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Tuesday, May 14, 2013Feature on Front: No
Four Tucson-area neighborhood are getting $31,000 in grants for improvement projects thanks to a UA partnership.
Want to get involved in the C2E program? Enroll online or support C2E by adding your donation to the Riparian Enhancement and Open Space box on your Tucson Water bill. All contributions help ensure that the C2E fund continues to grow, enabling future investments in our community.
Tucson's Conserve to Enhance (C2E) program, developed in partnership with UA's Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) and the Sonoran Institute, has awarded the grants to the neighborhoods through its newly launched Community Enhancement Project grant program.
C2E links water conservation efforts with local restoration projects and, with the grants, aims to protect and enrich Tucson-area washes and wildlife habitats, an often-underfunded local need.
"The four neighborhoods receiving C2E grants have shown real leadership in improving Tucson’s environment," said C2E program coordinator Candice Rupprecht. "These communities are restoring degraded washes, creating new green spaces and improving wildlife habitat."
The winning projects for 2013 are:
- Henry Elementary WINS! – Wash Improvement and Neighborhood Sustainability, submitted by Henry Elementary
- The First Avenue/Seneca Greening and Beautification Project, submitted by the Northwest and El Cortez Neighborhoods
- The Mitchell Park Wildlife Habitat & Green Infrastructure Project, submitted by the Mountain/First Avenue Neighborhood
- Jefferson Park's Vine Avenue Green Corridor, submitted by the Jefferson Park Neighborhood
These one-year projects will be publicly accessible and will serve as demonstration sites and visible community assets that allow Tucson Water customers to see how their contributions are invested to benefit of the local environment.
How does Tucson's C2E program work? In three ways:
- By helping individuals save water and track their resulting financial savings
- Encouraging donations
- Funding enhancement projects for riparian restoration and urban waterways.
To date, C2E participants have saved more than 2.2 million gallons of water. Funding for C2E is provided by program participants who have donated money based on their water savings, and from Tucson Water customers who have donated via the Riparian Enhancement and Open Space check box on their Tucson Water bill.
C2E is a collaboration of the Sonoran Institute and the UA Water Resources Research Center, and is run by a 12-member Community Advisory Board. For more information or to enroll in the C2E program, visit the C2E website. For more than two years, C2E has worked to connect water-saving efforts with water restoration projects to ensure that conservation translates into environmental benefits.Categories: Social Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: OutreachResearchStaffByline: Jessica Schlievert, UA Water Resources Research Center |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, May 13, 2013Feature on Front: No
Genes – the bits of DNA that code for proteins – make up about 2 percent of the human genome. The rest consists of a genetic material known as noncoding DNA, and scientists have spent years puzzling over why this material exists in such voluminous quantities.Now, a new study offers an unexpected insight: The large majority of noncoding DNA, which is abundant in many living things, may not actually be needed for complex life, according to an advance online publication in Nature. The clues lie in the genome of the carnivorous bladderwort plant, Utricularia gibba. The U. gibba genome is the smallest ever to be sequenced from a complex, multicellular plant. The researchers who deciphered the DNA say that 97 percent of the genome consists of genes and small pieces of DNA that control those genes. It appears that the plant has been busy deleting noncoding DNA, sometimes also called "junk" DNA, from its genetic material over many generations, the scientists say. This may explain the difference between bladderworts and species with large amounts of noncoding DNA, like corn and tobacco – and humans. Eric Lyons, an assistant professor in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, led the comparative analysis of the bladderwort genome to unravel its complex evolutionary history. His research team provided the analytical software for this task. The study was directed by Luis Herrera-Estrella, who leads the Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidad, or LANGEBIO, in Mexico, and Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo, with contributions from scientists in the United States, Mexico, China, Singapore, Spain and Germany. "The big story is that only 3 percent of the bladderwort's genetic material is so-called 'junk' DNA," Albert said. "Somehow, this plant has purged most of what makes up plant genomes. What that says is that you can have a perfectly good multicellular plant with lots of different cells, organs, tissue types and flowers, and you can do it without the junk. Junk is not needed." Noncoding DNA is DNA that doesn't code for any proteins. This includes mobile elements called jumping genes that have the ability to copy (or cut) and paste themselves into new locations of the genome, and thus increase its size. Scientists have spent countless hours puzzling over why noncoding DNA exists – and in such copious amounts. A recent series of papers from ENCODE, a highly publicized international research project, began to offer an explanation, saying that the majority of noncoding DNA (about 80 percent) appeared to play a role in biochemical functions such as regulation and promotion of DNA conversion into its relative, RNA, which for genes, feeds into the machinery that makes proteins. The new U. gibba genome suggests that having a bunch of noncoding DNA is not crucial for complex life. The bladderwort is an eccentric and complicated plant. It lives in aquatic habitats like freshwater wetlands, and it has developed corresponding, highly specialized hunting methods. To capture prey, the plant pumps water from tiny chambers called bladders, turning each into a vacuum that can suck in and trap unsuspecting critters. The U. gibba genome has about 80 million DNA base pairs – a miniscule number compared to other complex plants – and the deletion of noncoding DNA appears to account for most of that size discrepancy, the researchers say. U. gibba has about 28,500 genes, comparable to relatives like grape and tomato, which have much larger genomes of about 490 and 780 million base pairs, respectively. In addition to it being unusually lean, the plant's genome had another surprise in store for the researchers once they asked UA plant genomics expert Lyons to take a closer look. "I thought, 'this should be easy given how small this genome is,'" said Lyons, "But as I looked more closely, I couldn't make heads or tails of what had happened inside this genome." Over the course of its evolutionary history, Lyons soon discovered, the plant had undergone three rounds of duplications of its entire genome. That is, at three distinct times in the course of its evolution, the bladderwort's genome doubled in size, with offspring receiving two full copies of the species' entire genome. Unlike in animals, where duplication of genetic material is usually detrimental – Down syndrome, for example, is caused by an extra copy of only one chromosome – the process is very common in plants. The combination of the plant's unusually small genome and its history of genome duplications made for a challenging puzzle. "What made this so difficult is not just the fact that it duplicated, but it duplicated and then random pieces were removed," Lyons explained. "Most of the genes that were duplicated are lost over evolutionary time. This process happened repeatedly. It duplicates, and then three quarters of the genes are lost, it duplicates again, and then three quarters of that are lost, and so on." "It turned out to be this phenomenal puzzle, and I would spend hours in front of a computer grabbing pieces of various genomes trying to find which pieces match," he said. "Deciphering a genome is a matter of taking all these puzzle pieces and getting them to line up so we can see that there is a particular pattern of duplication followed by gene loss." Lyons' research team develops the specialized software to allow researchers all over the world to study genomes and manipulate biological data with the same ease as handling organisms. The computational power for running these analyses is provided by iPlant's cyberinfrastructure, a $100 million project funded by the National Science Foundation and based in the UA's BIO5 Institute. "If I'm an entomologist, I want to go out to the field, find my favorite insect, and be able to pick them up, look at them up close, and identify things that are different," Lyons said. "When I recognize something interesting, say, a spur on the leg of a beetle, I want to be able to quickly go to all my other beetle specimens and see if they have this spur. We need to be able to do the same thing with genomic data. That is what my group has focused on – bringing these kinds of data to life." Lyons explained that with ever-faster advances in technology, sequencing a genome has become the easy part. "The bottleneck is making sense of those data and transforming them from information to knowledge." Lyons likened the task of making sense of the bladderwort genome to cutting up pages of text into small squares and piecing them back together. "There is a lot of white space on those pages, and like with a puzzle, you have no way of knowing which square goes where if there are many identical squares," he explained. "That is exactly the problem we're facing when we assemble genomes." The authors of this study argue that organisms may not bulk up on genetic junk for reasons of benefit. Instead, they say, some species – such as the bladderwort studied here – may simply have an inherent, mechanistic bias toward deleting a great deal of noncoding DNA while others have a built-in bias in the opposite direction — toward DNA insertion and duplication. These biases are not due to the fact that one way of behaving is more helpful than the other, but because there are two innate ways to behave and all organisms adhere to them to one degree or the other. The place that organisms occupy on this sliding scale of forces depends in part on the extent to which Darwin's natural selection pressure is able to counter or enhance these intrinsic biases. "There is this idea that a genome exists at a balance between how fast it is being chopped up and how fast it is growing," Lyons explained. "In the case of U. gibba, we think what might have happened is there was this mechanism in place that kept chewing away at the DNA, removing through selection almost all active jumping genes in the process, thus taking away the genome's ability to grow. The only way it can escape from shrinking out of existence is to double the entire genome every now and then." "Why? We don't know," Lyons said. "It might simply be an evolutionary just-so story. Those plants that double their genomes live to tell the tale and those that don't vanish." Editor: Jennifer FitzenbergerWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Charlotte Hsu/University of Buffalo and Daniel Stolte/UANewsExtra Info:
The study was supported by CONACYT (Mexico), Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences and the National Science Foundation.Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The newly sequenced genome of the carnivorous bladderwort plant contradicts the notion that vast quantities of noncoding DNA are crucial for complex life. UA researchers helped solve the puzzle by providing specialized genome analyses and computational software. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image:
Yulex Corporation, an agricultural-based biomaterials company, will provide the University of Arizona a $3 million, five-year grant focused on breeding and agronomic development of the guayule plant, which holds great promise for the sustainable production of biorubber for medical, consumer and industrial applications.Dennis Ray, a University Distinguished Professor in the School of Plant Sciences at the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a world-recognized guayule expert, will lead the effort to produce a higher yielding rubber crop and to substantially decrease guayule's harvest cycle time. Yulex and the UA will apply classical breeding along with modern tools for marker-assisted breeding to Guayule lines to select traits for the crop improvement program. Ray's research interests focus on evaluating new crops and products for cultivation and processing in arid environments. The UA has supported Phoenix-based Yulex since the company's inception. Yulex's first experimental crops were planted on the grounds of the campus, and the University substantially contributed to Yulex's agronomic development successes. More than 2,000 rubber-producing plants are known, but only two have been used commercially: the well-known rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, and guayule (Parthenium argentatum). Guyaule is an industrial crop that does not compete against food or fiber crops. It is a renewable source of natural rubber latex that can replace petroleum-based synthetics, lessen reliance on imported tropical rubber, and requires relatively little water with no pesticides. Guayule has been known as a source of rubber since the pre-Columbian peoples of Mexico used it to form balls for their games. "The UA has a long and storied history of working on the development of guayule as a new industrial crop for Arizona," said Ray, who holds a joint appointment in the UA's School of Natural Resources and the Environment. "That there is now a guayule industry is due in part to the work of a number of UA researchers over the past 20 years, and that I have been part of this work is very exciting and fulfilling." "Commercial production of guayule was always our goal, and we look forward to a continued and productive collaboration with Yulex Corporation, the world leader in developing different biomaterials from guayule. The goal of our work will be to increase the rubber content in Yulex's guayule lines and to decrease the time to harvest to help in the sustainable cultivation of guayule in Arizona." Yulex Corporation has developed a portfolio of biomaterials derived from the U.S. guayule plant. The company's innovative materials are designed to replace traditional tropical or petroleum based rubber for consumer, industrial and medical markets, with the residual agricultural materials utilized as a feedstock for bioenergy. Yulex collaborates with customers to develop and market highly differentiated, premium performance products in an ecologically responsible, sustainable manner. "Yulex is pleased to be providing this grant to the University of Arizona," said Jeff Martin, CEO, president and co-founder of Yulex Corporation. "The University has some of the best breeders in the world, and this grant will enable the most comprehensive breeding program ever undertaken." "Yulex's extensive research and development in plant breeding, agronomic best practices and harvest technologies are fundamental to the continued advancement of guayule as a new industrial crop and to the expansion of our global licensing program," Martin added. Tech Launch Arizona, or TLA, a technology commercialization center at the UA, assisted with this partnership. Licensing manager Tod McCauley reflected on the collaboration involved in bringing Yulex into a partnership with UA. "The heavy lifting was done by UA's Office of Research and Contract Analysis, as Dick Haney did the services agreement," McCauley said. "I have been involved from the beginning supporting progress. Dr. Ray really deserves a lot of credit as it was his vision. I think back to the first meeting with Yulex to discuss this idea, and now it's very nice to see it come to fruition." TLA was designed to consolidate the UA's efforts related to moving knowledge and inventions from campus to market. By facilitating the transfer of discoveries at the UA into intellectual property, inventions and technology, TLA provides a robust entrepreneurial approach to company start-ups and technology investment. Editor: Jennifer FitzenbergerWriter: Daniel StolteByline: University CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA Distinguished Professor Dennis Ray will lead the effort of breeding guayule, a rubber-producing plant suited for arid environments, to achieve higher yields and reduced harvest cycle time. Tech Launch Arizona, a technology commercialization center at the UA, assisted with this partnership.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: