Recent CALS Spotlights

  • Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) stood up on the Senate floor last week and attempted to get $4.2 million for the University of Arizona to start a veterinary program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Shortly after he finished talking, the nay votes overwhelmed the yeas, and the amendment was voted down.

    In his office, Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) who has his two University of Arizona diplomas hanging behind his desk, remains on a mission. Early in the week Orr, a former associate professor at the university, thought he could get the funding from the House, despite the lack of success of veterinary appropriations in the Senate. But later this week, the House only agreed to give the university $3.5 million for Cooperative Extension support. Without the support of the House and Senate, Orr will have to come up with some other way to squeeze the money he wants to create the University of Arizona’s first veterinary school and surgical program — before the budget is finalized.

  • When Apollo astronauts stood on the Moon and looked back at the Earth, they were the first humans to see our planet as a completely isolated system, bounded on all sides by black. Now, 45 years later, "Earthlight," a new documentary produced by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona, explores the challenges facing the human race and how the technology we are designing to return to the Moon might be extremely useful here on Earth as well.

    The film's tagline, "Is learning to live on the moon, the key to living sustainably on Earth," leads the audience into a exploration of the current food challenges our civilization faces through the lens of UA scientists who are building a greenhouse that may someday be used on the Moon.

  • The University of Arizona played a significant role in the first-ever Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, in which participants from 62 countries gathered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to present the world’s largest collection of sustainable agricultural innovations.

    The event focused on the 40 percent of the world that, like Arizona, produces food and other bio-based products in arid environments. Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, the forum highlighted the Middle East and Africa.

    The UA was the official Knowledge Partner for the event –  the only university selected to play this major role. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, via its Global Initiative for Strategic Agriculture in Dry Lands, worked in cooperation with the UA Office of Global Initiatives to coordinate the UA's participation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation served as Global Development Partner.

  • How would picking the brains of CEOs and company leaders while you were a college student change your perspective? Twenty-six of the nation’s top agriculture students are about to find out how it will impact them.

    Including Zane Gouker, a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences undergraduate majoring in animal sciences. Gouker, a resident of Lakeside, Ariz., has been selected to serve as Agriculture Future of America’s Campus Ambassador for the University of Arizona. He is president of the UA Collegiate Livestock Growers Association.

    AFA has named nine Student Advisory Team members and 17 Campus Ambassadors for the 2014-15 year. These students represent 24 schools from 22 states across the country. Throughout their time of service, they will interact with agribusiness leaders, campus faculty and fellow students as they represent AFA.

  • The main University of Arizona campus has nearly 9,000 woody plans and cactus on record, representing about 550 species from six continents.

    There are many trees throughout campus with significant history, including some who have been in campus since its origins.

    "In the early years of the university, during territorial period, one of the major needs in the state was economic growth," said Tanya Quist, Ph.D., director of the UA Campus Arboretum. "Many of our faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences travelled worldwide to bring back plants that could perhaps be introduced here as an agricultural commodity."

  • Most Arizonans know that our water supply is low. We face this challenge, along with climate extremes, political and policy relationships with other states and the federal government over water, as well as the need to balance our state’s natural wonders with effective resource use.

    A critical part of the University of Arizona’s unique land-grant mission is to work on these issues and provide sustainable solutions for today and in the future.

    Employing and training the next generation of scientists is not enough. We know that we have to share the knowledge and discoveries we’re making, in real time, with everyone who plays a role in Arizona’s water future – from state leaders and water professionals to land managers and even children learning about water in school.

  • Big fires are as certain as taxes in the Southwest, fueled lately by drought, overgrown forests and climate change.

    Wildfires are burning hundreds of thousands of acres, changing landscapes, destroying homes and costing more than a billion dollars a year. Preparing teams to fight them and repairing burned land to reduce flooding after a wildfire costs millions more.

    Last year, one wildfire also cost the lives of 19 Arizona firefighters.

    The mounting challenges brought more than 150 scientists and land managers together in Tucson, Ariz., this week to brainstorm the best strategies to help Southwestern ecosystems and communities adapt to wildfire.

  • Tucson Village Farm, a working urban farm built by and for the youth of the Tucson community, was recognized on Wednesday for its innovative approach to nutrition education and focus on urban youth from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds when National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo and Arizona 4-H Executives honored the farm with a visit to kick off National Nutrition Month.

    Sirangelo recognized the farm as a model program for the nation in helping to educate students about sustainability while also serving as a unique community model for fostering economic development. Tucson Village Farm is a program of the University of Arizona's Cooperative Extension, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

  • University of Arizona scientists have helped discover a microbe that is set to play a significant role in future global warming. The methane-producing organism was first identified in soils in northern Sweden that were once frozen year-round but have begun to thaw under the effect of globally rising temperatures.

    As global warming continues, researchers warn that massive amounts of greenhouse gases from carbon stored in permafrost around the world – which makes up almost a quarter of the Earth's land surface – are likely to be released, further accelerating climate change.

    The team made the discovery, published in the journal Nature Communications, by using DNA from soil samples and reconstructing a near-complete genome of the microbe, bypassing traditional methods of cultivating microbes in the lab. The researchers showed the organism and its close relatives live not just in thawing permafrost but also in many other methane-producing habitats worldwide.

  • John Koprowski and Scott Bonar, School of Natural Resources and the Environment faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, were honored on February 7, 2014 for significant contributions to fish and wildlife research.

    A professor of wildlife and fisheries science, Koprowski received the Outstanding Professional Service Award from the Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society. He was honored for his contributions for the conservation and management of wildlife.

    Since joining the University of Arizona in 2000, Koprowski has offered courses in ecology, conservation of mammals and the challenges of wildlife management in the “sky islands” of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. His research program centers on endangered and threatened species and ecosystems undergoing rapid change. Koprowski directs the UA’s Mt. Graham Red Squirrel Monitoring Program