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News from the Media

  • The Forest And The Trees: Western Mass’ Solar Siting Problem

    December 13, 2023

    Dwayne Breger, extension professor of Environmental Conservation and director of the UMass Clean Energy Extension, is quoted in an article on locating solar farms in forests. He says the field of solar energy has evolved from grassroots installations to installations backed by corporations. “As the market has now unveiled itself in fury, in the 2000s and 2020s and so forth, not just in Massachusetts but around the country, once again capitalism has taken over and we’ve got the big players that are just crowding out everyone else,” Breger said.

  • Researchers Develop Grassroots Framework for Managing Environmental Commons

    December 10, 2023

    A team of sustainability scientists, led by senior author Ana Quiñónez Camarillo and co-author, Timothy Randhir, have developed a community-based framework to help assess and respond to ecological threats. The framework is based on the local perception of threats, consequences, and solutions (TCS) which are easier to understand than "extremely theoretical scientific frameworks," Randhir says. “One of the biggest issues facing international sustainability efforts is that smaller,​ less economically developed ​countries often don’t have the resources to conduct nuanced, in-depth surveys of local people and the local environment in the threatened area,” says Quiñónez Camarillo. 

  • 'False Springs' Force Massachusetts Growers to Adapt

    December 6, 2023

    Susan Scheufele, production agriculture leader at UMass Extension, says warmer and wetter weather is creating a false spring. Farmers “might start to see more bacterial diseases or diseases that we think of as more southern or mid-Atlantic diseases,” she says.

  • Plant Nurseries Aid Climate-Driven Spread of Invasive Species

    December 6, 2023

    New UMass Amherst research is the first to precisely map how plant nurseries exacerbate the climate-driven spread of 80% of plant species. Bethany Bradley, professor of environmental conservation and senior author of two recently published papers, says one of the major hurdles in addressing the threat of invasive species is determining when and where a species crosses the line from being non-native to invasive. 

  • Maine Apple Growers Hurt by 50% Loss, Insurance Inequities

    November 26, 2023

    Jon Clements, Extension Fruit Educator, is quoted in a story on Maine’s worst apple harvest in over a decade. “Crop insurance is a safety net. It’ll never make up for having a good crop,” Clements says. “And like any other type of insurance, it’s not mandatory. Some growers just don’t buy crop insurance.”

  • Cranberries Remain Massachusetts Top Food Crop; The UMass Cranberry Station is One Reason Why

    November 23, 2023

    The UMass Cranberry Station is essential in supporting the commonwealth's top food crop. Despite challenges, like fruit rot, early frost, and record rainfall, Massachusetts farmers grew 200 million pounds of cranberries last year. The research facility in Wareham provides invaluable research to growers, helping them overcome such challenges. The station is critically important to the cranberry industry,” says John Mason, president of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association.

  • Why Does Paxlovid, COVID-19 Anti-Viral Drug, Make Things Taste Bitter?

    November 20, 2023

    Alissa Nolden, food science, is quoted on research related to “Paxlovid mouth,” a metallic aftertaste that can be caused by the COVID-19 antiviral drug. The research finds that the drug activates one of the tongue’s bitter taste receptors. Nolden calls the study “a good first step,” but hopes to see further research supporting the findings.

  • Elon Musk Was Once a Climate Hero. But Research Suggests He Still is a "Super-Emitter"

    November 19, 2023

    An article examining billionaire Elon Musk’s environmental record cites research by Jared Starr, environmental conservation, which found that Americans who are in the top 10% of earners are responsible for 40% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. “Musk is a complicated figure. On one hand, he’s played a critical role in popularising EV and battery storage with Tesla. On the other, he’s flying space tourists on missions that create a huge amount of pollution. Private jets also use a lot of fossil fuel, so he would himself be in the super-emitter category," Starr explains. 

  • Microplastic-Eating Plankton May Be Worsening Crisis in Oceans, Say Scientists

    November 15, 2023

    A collaborative research team led by UMass Amherst revealed that rotifers, a kind of microscopic zooplankton common in both fresh and ocean water, can chew apart microplastics, breaking them down into even smaller--and potentially more dangerous--nanoplastics. “Humans produce enormous amounts of plastics, and yet we don’t have an effective way of recycling them,” says Baoshan Xing, Distinguished Professor of environmental and soil chemistry. 

  • Climate Scientists Fear the “Uncharted Territory” Earth Has Entered

    November 13, 2023

    Ezra Markowitz, environmental conservation, comments on a new “state of the climate report” that warns, “Life on planet Earth is under siege.” Markowitz says individual behaviors need to be framed as collective action to combat climate change. “It’s about becoming a part of a larger movement,” he says.

  • Ware’s Public Water System Needs Millions in Repairs

    November 12, 2023

    Christine Hatch, Earth, geographic and climate sciences, comments in an article about a proposal to privatize management of the water system in the Town of Ware. “How do you ensure that the public good is really preserved? … I really just have a very difficult time believing that you can have the profit motive coexist with the public good of providing inexpensive, safe drinking water,” Hatch says.

  • Cranberry Growers Are Bringing Wetlands Back from the Dead

    November 11, 2023

    Christine Hatch, Earth, geographic and climate sciences explains how former cranberry bogs can be restored back into wetlands. “This is such a slam-dunk in terms of restoration,” she says. “[Cranberries are] an iconic state crop. However, some of these lands just aren’t going to turn a profit.” 

  • Zara Dowling Set to Present at Ashfield Solar Forum

    November 2, 2023

    Zara Dowling, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Environmental Conservation, will participate in a public forum on Nov. 6 about expanding solar power in the town of Ashfield. Dowling led a class last year where students worked with municipalities to develop solar energy plans. She will be presenting the finished project created for Ashfield by student Grace Theberge.

  • Christine Hatch, Extension Professor, discusses her research and teaching focusing on wetlands

    October 25, 2023

    Christine Hatch, Extension Professor, Earth, geographic and climate sciences, discusses her research and teaching focusing on wetlands and her involvement with the Eureka! at UMass, program that mentors eighth through 12th grade girls in pursuing education and careers in STEM fields. Hatch also discusses the Integrated Concentration in STEM (iCons) Program for UMass Amherst undergraduates.

  • On The Trail of the Silver King: An Unprecedented Look at Tarpon Migration

    October 25, 2023

    Andy Danylchuk, professor of fish conservation, and Lucas Griffin, a postdoctoral researcher in environmental conservation discuss their first-of-its-kind dataset on tarpon showing that there are two distinct subgroups of tarpon, known to anglers as the "Silver King," which has immediate implications for fish conservation efforts. “Tarpon along the Atlantic coast have a different set of conservation priorities than those in the Gulf, but because many converge in the Keys, our science indicates that policies and management for tarpon needs to be regional, not state by state,” says Danylchuk.

  • Vegan Cheese Made from Fermented Peas Could Taste More Like Dairy

    October 24, 2023

    David Julian McClements, distinguished professor of food science, comments in an article about how vegan cheese made from fermented peas may taste more like dairy cheese. When a mixture of pea protein and sunflower oil is fermented with lactic acid-producing bacteria, it develops a firm texture and produces flavor compounds found in dairy cheese. 

  • UMass Amherst Researchers Studying Solutions for Challenges Facing Cranberry Farmers

    October 19, 2023

    Researchers at the Cranberry Station received a grant to study cranberry fruit rot, a disease worsened by climate change, and its impacts on the cranberry industry. “Rot is a major problem because once fruits are rotted, that is a quality concern and growers cannot sell the produce if rot levels are beyond 20%,” said Leela Uppala, assistant professor of plant pathology. “We see truckloads [of cranberries] getting rejected by handlers.”

  • Unveiling the Science Behind ‘Fishy’ Odor

    October 18, 2023

    Eric Decker, food science, describes how fresh fish should not smell overly "fishy" and more like mild seaweed in this article.

  • Hilary Sandler Worries About The Effect of Warming Temperatures on Cranberry Growth

    October 17, 2023

    Hilary Sandler, director of the UMass Cranberry Station, comments on the late harvest of cranberries on Cape Cod, caused by warmer temperatures in September fueled by climate change. She says cool nighttime temperatures help cranberries gain their red color. “We’ve been waiting for color and that’s always balanced with the longer the fruit are on the vines, the more rot you are going to get, so it’s always a very anxious time,” Sandler says.

  • Gov. Healey Declares October "Massachusetts Cranberry Month"

    October 4, 2023

    Recent improvements to the UMass Amherst Cranberry Station in East Wareham are included in coverage of Gov. Maura Healey’s declaration of October as “Massachusetts Cranberry Month.” The station plays an essential role in supporting cranberry growers and the state’s top commercially grown food crop.