Some 250 high school students from across the state will gather at the Quabbin Reservoir Thursday, May 14, to participate in a unique competition that will test their environmental knowledge, field work, problem-solving abilities and communication skills, as they take part in the 28th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. (Hampshire Gazette 5/13/15)
News from the Media
Massachusetts Envirothon Takes on Issue of Climate ChangeMay 13, 2015
Massachusetts Dedicates No Money to Lyme Disease Prevention, UMass Laboratory Director CommentsMay 13, 2015
The predawn rumble of pesticide-spraying trucks is a rite of spring in almost 200 Massachusetts communities. Some $11 million is spent in the state each year controlling and counting the pests and educating residents about how to avoid contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus.
Yet no state funds are dedicated to tick-borne diseases, one of which, Lyme, infects at least 5,500 residents a year in Massachusetts and likely many more. (NECN 5/11/15)
UMass Amherst students win ice cream flavor contest with 'Cherry Bomb'April 30, 2015
Forget the No. 2 pencil, UMass students took this final exam with a spoon -- mouthful after mouthful of delicious ice cream. Welcome to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's "scooperbowl", where teams of food sciences majors, mostly seniors set to graduate in a few weeks, submit the flavors they have developed all semester as part of assistant professor Sam Nugen's food science class to a panel of experts and to an assembled throng of hungry students. (April 30, 2015, MassLive)
It’s tick time: Stephen Rich, UMass professor offers adviceApril 28, 2015
Northampton, MA--Spring has sprung, baseball season’s first pitch has been thrown, April’s rains have been falling, and the ticks are back. Even if you can’t see them. Just ask Michael Noonan of Florence. On a Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, Noonan, 62, noticed a red spot the size of a half dollar on the inside of his elbow, with a small dot in the center. The dot was a deer tick. His wife removed it with a pair of tweezers.
“It looked like a little piece of wood,” Noonan said, “except it was moving.” His arm had been hurting all week — since cleaning up leaves in his driveway on Sunday — but Noonan figured he had a spider bite and didn’t think much of it until his wife did some online research. (4/27/15 Hampshire Gazette)
Downtown Springfield features urban designs created by UMass studentsApril 23, 2015
SPRINGFIELD, Mass — Every day pedestrians, drivers and bike and bus riders cruise through downtown Springfield often overlooking abandoned buildings or small side streets, each with a story to tell.
Students from the University of Massachusetts Graduate Urban Design Studio have staged six installations throughout downtown Springfield all using tactical urbanism, an emergent form of urban design that looks at new ways to enliven cities with temporary interventions that are inexpensive and easy to install, according to Frank Sleegers and Michael Di Pasquale, urban design professors at University of Massachusetts Amherst. (The Reminder, MassLive 4/23/15)
‘No smoking gun’: Pipeline environmental impact report cite positives, negatives of routeApril 22, 2015
A new, detailed report on the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline route through western Massachusetts points to its impact on protected open space dedicated to agriculture and conservation, and especially on Franklin County’s primary habitat for rare species habitat, wetlands wildlife habitat and communities of biodiversity. (4/22/15 The Recorder; 5/13/15 Hampshire Gazette)
UMass Amherst Food Scientist Wins National Award, FellowshipsApril 16, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – David Julian McClements, professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an internationally recognized expert in the encapsulation and delivery of bioactive components, recently was honored with the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) Babcock-Hart Award for contributions to food technology that result in improved public health through nutrition. (4/16/2015 News Office Release)
UMass Food Scientist, David Sela, Studies Human Milk for Healthy MicrobesApril 14, 2015
Breast milk seems like a simple nutritious cocktail for feeding babies, but it is so much more than that. It also contains nutrients that feed the beneficial bacteria in a baby’s gut, and it contains substances that can change a baby’s behaviour. So, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she isn’t just feeding it. She is also building a world inside it and simultaneously manipulating it.
To Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who specialises in milk, these acts are all connected. She suspects that substances in milk, by shaping the community of microbes in a baby’s gut, can affect its behaviour in ways that ultimately benefit the mother. It’s a thought-provoking and thus far untested hypothesis, but it’s not far-fetched. Together with graduate student Cary Allen-Blevins and David Sela, a food scientist at the University of Massachussetts, Hinde has laid out her ideas in a paper that fuses neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and microbiology. (National Geographic 4/8/15)
UMass Amherst scientist and international team document songbird's migrationApril 13, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – For more than 50 years, scientists had tantalizing clues suggesting that a tiny, boreal forest songbird known as the blackpoll warbler departs each fall from New England and eastern Canada to migrate nonstop in a direct line over the Atlantic Ocean toward South America, but proof was hard to come by.
Now, for the first time an international team of biologists report “irrefutable evidence” that the birds complete a nonstop flight ranging from about 1,410 to 1,721 miles (2,270 to 2,770 km) in just two to three days, making landfall somewhere in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the islands known as the Greater Antilles, from there going on to northern Venezuela and Columbia.
First author Bill DeLuca, an environmental conservation research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with colleagues at the University of Guelph, Ontario, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and other institutions, says, “For small songbirds, we are only just now beginning to understand the migratory routes that connect temperate breeding grounds to tropical wintering areas. (4/14/15 PRI; 4/10/15 Deccan Chronicle; 4/1/15 News Office)
UMass Amherst Food Scientist Honored for Work with Edible OilsApril 2, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – The American Oil Chemists’ Society has honored University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist Yeonhwa Park with the Timothy L. Mounts Award for her “significant and important contributions in the area of bioactive lipids and their impact on health conditions such as obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.”
A recognized international expert in edible oil applications and health and nutrition of lipids, Park will receive a plaque, a $750 honorarium and will deliver the award lecture, “Conjugated Linoleic Acid: 30-year Research,” at the AOCS annual meeting in Orlando in May. The AOCS announced Park’s honor and other award winners this week in its member magazine, Inform. (4/2/15 News Office Release)
UMass Amherst study shows ‘hydropeaking’ can reduce downstream river flowsMarch 31, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – In the first-of-its-kind study of the environmental effects of hydropeaking, that is releasing water at hydropower dams to meet peak daily electricity demand, two University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers say their unexpected findings suggest that about 10 percent of released water may be permanently lost, making that water unavailable to downstream users and wildlife. Hydrogeologist Brian Yellen says, “The most interesting thing we found is something we weren’t looking for. That is, in this 13-mile stretch of the river, about 10 percent of water released from the dam every day gets pushed into the aquifer and is lost permanently.” (3/31/15 UMass Press Release)
Million Dollar QuestionMarch 18, 2015
It’s difficult to predict the impact this winter will have on dollar spot pressure. Experts, including Dr. Geunhwa Jung, associate professor of turfgrass pathology at the University of Massachusetts, helps provide insight in order to control this costly turf pathogen. (Golf Course Industry, 3/17/15)
Non-native Plants in U.S.: Widespread, and Plenty of Space to InvadeMarch 12, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – A new study, the first comprehensive assessment of native vs. non-native plant distribution in the continental United States, finds non-native plant species are much more widespread than natives, a finding that lead author Bethany Bradley at the University of Massachusetts Amherst called “very surprising.” ( Croplife.com 3/11/15; News Office Release)
Disease guide: A head start on healthy turfMarch 11, 2015
Amherst, Mass--M. Bess Dicklow, recently retired extension plant pathology specialist, reports on Northeast turf issues. Across the country, the first months of the calendar year offer a slower pace for green industry businesses (unless you’re plowing, of course). But now is the time to keep disease on the radar. There’s no real hibernation in landscaping. Diseases crop sooner than you might think.Here is your guide to weed and disease issues for the first quarter of 2015. (3/10/15 Lawn & Landscape)
'Nature's Medicine Cabinet' helps bees reduce disease load says Lynn Adler, Evolutionary EcologistFebruary 18, 2015
AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in plant nectar.
In this early and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Dartmouth College studied hundreds of eastern bumblebees, Bombus impatiens, and their intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi, using eight separate toxic chemicals known as secondary metabolites produced by plants to protect themselves against predators.
They found that toxic chemicals in nectar reduced infection levels of the common bumblebee parasite by as much as 81 percent by seven days after infection. UMass Amherst evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler says, “We found that eating some of these compounds reduced pathogen load in the bumblebee’s gut, which not only may help the individual bees, but likely reduced the pathogen Crithidia spore load in their feces, which in turn should lead to a lower likelihood of transmitting the disease to other bees. (UPI.com, 2/18/15; Entomology Today, 2/18/15; Science Newsline,2/18/15;ChinaTopix.com, 2/18/15;The Independent [U.K.], 2/18/15; Phys.org, 2/17/15; News Office release, 2/18/15)
“Excipient foods” show promise in enhancing nutrient bioavailibility, reports David McClements, Food ScienceJanuary 14, 2015
David J. McClements, food science, says recent studies show that “the bioavailability of certain nutraceuticals can be increased by consuming them with other foods.” The story says excipient foods show promise in increasing the bioavailability of functional nutrients. (Nutraingredients.com, 1/14/15)
Winter onions? UNH and UMass-Amherst scientists show they can grow themJanuary 13, 2015
In response to high demand for year-round local produce, University of New Hampshire researchers, in collaboration with UMass-Amherst Extension collegues, Amanda Brown and Ruth Hazzard, report they have successfully grown bulbing onions planted in fall for a spring harvest with the aid of inexpensive low tunnels.
The new research, funded by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) and Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education), may provide additional marketing opportunities for growers in cold climates. Some of these growers have been trying to meet the demands for fresh, year-round, locally grown produce. (Foster's Daily Democrat 1/13/15, HortTechnology 12/14)
Foods contain fewer health nutrients than in the past, Decker commentsJanuary 12, 2015
Eric Decker, food science, comments in a story about how many foods contain fewer health nutrients than in the past. He says, for instance, that salmon is still one of the best sources of omega-3, but not as much as it contained a decade ago. He says the way to overcome this is to eat more salmon. (Shape magazine, 1/8/15)
Jon Clements, UMass Extension, says top issue facing apple growers in 2015 could be market volatility.January 7, 2015
It’s a new year – what issues are going to have an impact on your business in 2015? Clements remarked, " The top issue facing apple growers this year is the unknown challenges and the pitfalls of marketing a large apple crop. Consider the recent Seattle dockworkers strike, which has slowed exports in a year of a record-breaking apple crop in Washington state. The global economy has expanded the apple business dramatically, but volatility in that market and/or infrastructure issues could make a big impact on U.S orchardists. And of course China — is it possible we could get out of the apple growing business and let China supply all our apples? It has happened in the electronics industry." (Growing Produce 01/06/15)
Preventing Agroterrorism story quotes Dean Steve GoodwinJanuary 1, 2015
Steven Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, comments in a story about efforts to prevent agroterrorism. Goodwin says public land-grant universities play an important role in insuring food security. He also says efforts to develop urban agricultural activities have begun to complement the wider efforts to promote food production. (University Business January 2015)