UNC Today: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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UNC Faculty Receive Combined $645,000 in USDA Grants

UNC faculty researchers were recently awarded multiyear grants totaling more than $645,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

UNC biologists Patrick Burns and Susana "Karen" Gomez are the lead project directors on their grants and will conduct separate research projects focused on improving agriculture.

Burns was awarded a $495,975 grant through August 2017 for a project to address early pregnancy loss in beef and dairy cattle, a major problem that translates to millions of dollars lost in meat and milk production.

Burns has conducted extensive research on the topic, having previously received a USDA grant to study the effects of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil on reproductive tissues. His initial findings that fish oil reduces the hormone prostaglandin, which must be blocked during pregnancy, show promise for widening the window for pregnancies to occur.

The current study will examine the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on lipid microdomains and mobility of prostaglandin receptors on the plasma membrane of luteal cells. Outcomes from these studies may allow for the development of new feeding strategies with omega-3 fatty acids to regulate the reproductive cycle and prevent early pregnancy loss in dairy and beef cows

Future outcomes from these studies may allow for the development of new feeding strategies with omega-3 fatty acids to regulate the reproductive cycle and prevent early pregnancy loss in dairy and beef cows.

Gomez is studying three-way interactions involving potatoes, soil fungi and insects. Potato is the fourth most consumed food crop in the world and is a leading vegetable crop in the United States. In Colorado, it is grown year-round in the San Luis Valley and northeastern plains.

Her project also involves two pests of agricultural importance, the potato aphid (phloem-feeding insect), and the cabbage looper (chewing insect). Most plants can form beneficial associations with fungi found in soil -- known as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) -- by obtaining nutrients in exchange for carbon that is supplied to the fungus.

The project outcomes will serve as a foundation to achieve the long-term goals of determining how this ancient symbiosis modulates crop resistance against insects, which could potentially lead to the discovery of genes useful in developing insect-resistant crops.

By employing the symbiosis to modulate above-ground resistance in crops, AMF could be adopted as an environmental-friendly method to manage economically important pests in the field. This method has the potential to enhance resistance by "priming" plant defenses thereby leading to reduced applications of pesticides and phosphate fertilizers.


Grant Details

Patrick Burns and Susana "Karen" Gomez, assistant professors in UNC's School of Biological Sciences, received research funding from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture for these projects:

Title: "Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Bovine Luteal Cell Lipid Microdomains and PGF2a Signaling"
Project Director: Patrick Burns
Funding: $495,975 through Aug. 31, 2017
Faculty Web page: http://www.unco.edu/biology/faculty_staff/burns_patrick.htm

Title: "How do Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Affect Potato-Insect Interactions?"
Project Director: Susana "Karen" Gomez
Funding: $149,930 through Jan. 31, 2016
Faculty Web page: http://www.unco.edu/biology/faculty_staff/gomez_karen.html

Proposals for Research, Dissemination, Faculty Development Grants Due March 28

The Faculty Research and Publications Board invites full-time faculty to submit proposals for the Research, Dissemination and Faculty Development Competition. The spring deadline is Friday, March 28. Proposal guidelines and forms are available on the Office of Sponsored Programs website.

For more information, contact your FRPB representative or Sherry May.

Hours Change for Some Operations during Spring Break

Some campus buildings and services will have reduced operating hours or be closed for spring break March 15-23. Here's where to find information about some of the main ones:

UNC to Host 9Health Fair Again, Volunteers Needed

UNC will again coordinate and host the 9Health Fair in Greeley from 7 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 29, in the University Center. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, and volunteers are needed to assist health-care professionals and to serve in non-medical capacities. No previous medical training is needed. Volunteer positions available and the number needed for each are:

Non-Medical Volunteer Positions

  • Parking lot attendants (20)
  • Traffic directors (inside) (20)
  • Volunteer station attendant (2)
  • Cashier and check in station (15)
  • Ambassadors (30)
  • Interpreters (10)

Medical Assisting Volunteer Positions

  • Phlebotomist (20)
  • Colon cancer screening (4)
  • Blood pressure (15)
  • Height weight and BMI (3)
  • Body fat skin-fold assessment (4)
  • Cardiac risk assessment (2)
  • Diabetes risk assessment (2)
  • Memory screen (2)
  • Metabolic syndrome assessment (2)
  • Vision and eye health (2)

Sign up to volunteer at the 9Health Fair website. Be sure to check the "No" button for the "Are you a medical volunteer?" question unless you're qualified to perform any of the screenings listed and use the "Other" category in the list of non-medical skills.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Nicole Larson at larsonadrianne@gmail.com.

Distinguished Teaching Award Announced, Applications Sought

The Sears Helgoth Distinguished Teaching Award is a new award supported by the generosity of Kathleen Sears and Jim Helgoth and administered by the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. It recognizes UNC's commitment to high-quality and innovative teaching and the historical importance of the teaching mission at UNC by annually rewarding a faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to teaching and learning that result in the enhancement of the intellectual development and lives of our students. Additional information, including eligibility criteria and applications procedures are available on the CEBS website.

Classified Staff Evaluations Due March 31

All final evaluations for classified staff are due in the Human Resources office (Carter 2002, Campus Box 54) by March 31 and new plans for 2014-15 are due April 30. HR advises that you do them both at the same time. If you have any questions about evaluations, contact Sue Stone, 970-351-2631.

Sunset Jazz Series Performance March 13 Free for UNC Community

The Colorado Jazz Orchestra, which includes several UNC jazz faculty, will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, in the University Center's Panorama room as part of the Sunset Jazz Artist Series.

Admission is free for UNC faculty, staff and students with UNC ID; $10 for the general public, $7 for non-UNC students or faculty/staff with ID; and $7 for seniors.

The 17-piece jazz band is made up of professional musicians from the northern Colorado region and includes UNC Jazz faculty John Adler, Andy Dahlke, Nat Wickham, Dana Landry, Erik Applegate, Steve Kovalcheck and Jim White.

Tickets are available at the door only; reservations are not necessary. More information is available at www.uncjazz.com or 970-351-2394.

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