Dr. Dana Hawley leads research linking bird immunity and pathogen virulence

From VT News

March 1, 2018  |  As annual flu shot patrons know, immune systems are not perfect and must be constantly reinforced to protect against rapidly evolving pathogens.

New research shows that, in the case of a common backyard bird, imperfect immunity to a dangerous pathogen that causes “bird pink eye” actually makes the pathogen stronger and more dangerous for its next victim.  The findings — from a multi-university team led by ...

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Restoration from streams to wetlands: Can we restore and should we?

Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation hosted Dr. Margaret Palmer from the University of Maryland this morning as part of their Spring Seminar Series.  Dr. Palmer’s presentation, titled “Restoration from streams to wetlands: Can we restore and should we?” engaged a full auditorium to explore the impacts of temporary streams throughout natural, restored and agricultural environments, and to take a closer look at her team’s research differentiating structural versus ecological restoration techniques and evaluation for coastal streams ...

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New Online Course in Fall 2018: Navigating the Social Complexities of Sustainability

Taught by Dr. Marc Stern, a new online course offered this Fall is designed to provide students with a variety of tools for navigating the social complexities of environmental and other sustainability-related initiatives.

Having successfully completed this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the social dimensions of sustainability challenges.
  • Communicate about social science theories effectively.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply social science theories to real-world problem-solving within the context of environmental sustainability.
  • Articulate both the value and limitations of social science theories for problem ...
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French food waste law is changing how stores handle excess food

From National Public Radio


Every morning at a supermarket called Auchan in central Paris, Magdalena Dos Santos has a rendezvous with Ahmed “Doudou” Djerbrani, a driver from the French food bank.

Dos Santos, who runs the deli section of the store, is in charge of supervising the store’s food donations. She sets aside prepared dishes that are nearing their expiration date.

Opening a giant fridge, Dos Santos shows what else the store ...

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Vikesland and Pruden: Effects of nanoparticles on microbes

From VT News

The environment is teeming with microbes. Soil, water, indoor surfaces, our own bodies — any habitat that hasn’t been rigorously sterilized is populated by thousands of species of interdependent bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms.

These webs of microbiota are the biological foundation for larger-scale ecosystems, and small shifts in the microbial community can provoke seismic shifts in the environment.

Nanoparticles are one of a long list of substances that can perturb them, but teasing out their effects is ...

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Frank Aylward awarded 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship

From VT News

Frank O. Aylward, an assistant professor with the Department of Biological Sciences in the Virginia Tech College of Science, has been selected as a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences.

Recipients of 2018 Sloan Research Fellows will receive an award of $65,000, which Aylward will use to fund personnel in his lab and to purchase a server for computational genomic research. “I’m very excited since this will enable some evolutionary ...

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2018 Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Kirk Johnson, Director of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

Kirk Johnson, a world-renowned paleontologist who focuses on fossil plants and the extinction of the dinosaurs, will visit Virginia Tech on Friday, February 16.

He will give a 4 p.m. distinguished lecture, “Natural History in the Age of Humans,” at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a book signing in the theatre’s main lobby.

Dr. Kirk Johnson is the Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural ...

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Dr. Scott Edwards, Harvard Ornithologist, to give MLK Seminar on January 19th

Dr. Scott Edwards, Professor, Harvard University, will give the Seventh Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Seminar in the Biocomplexity Institute Auditorium on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 12:20 pm. His talk is titled, “Genes or gene regulation? Understanding the evolutionary genetics of flightlessness in birds”.

Dr. Edwards is a distinguished scientist at Harvard University. He received his B.A. from Harvard, his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and his postdoctoral training at the University of Florida. Dr. Edwards’ research program uses interdisciplinary ...

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2018 GCC Science Policy Fellowship awarded to James Maze

The Global Change Center recently awarded an Undergraduate Science Policy Fellowship to James Maze to attend the Washington Semester Program during summer semester 2018.

James is majoring in Water: Resources, Policy, and Management at Virginia Tech. He is interested in integrating engineering-based solutions with government policy to solve problems related to water quality and water scarcity.

During spring semester 2017, James partnered with four graduate students to create an environmental policy addressing climate change. He and his team were finalists in the ...

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Klaus Moeltner’s research examines the impact of climate change on household budgets

From VT News

January 9, 2018 | In a study involving 19 European Union nations, researchers have found that future climate change will make power outages more costly for European households.

The study is the first to consider the effect temperatures have on household power outage costs and to incorporate the role of climate change when analyzing such costs.

“Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our planet today and we need to examine how it can impact household expenses,” said ...

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Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, Science Museum of Virginia, to speak in Fralin Hall on January 25th

Please join us for a special lecture in Fralin Auditorium on Thursday evening, January 25, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.! The Hahn Horticultural Garden, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, and the Global Change Center are pleased to welcome Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, a Climate and Earth Scientist from the Science Museum of Virginia. Dr. Hoffman is passionate about communicating science with broad audiences and is a talented speaker. His lecture will be titled: “Birds, Bees, Flowers, Trees: The Phenological Impacts of Climate Change”.

The community is ...

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Brian Romans is on a sea expedition to study ice sheet response to climate change

From VT News

January 3, 2018 | Geosciences Associate Professor Brian Romans is setting sail for the Southern Ocean with a group of scientists who will drill into the ocean floor offshore of West Antarctica to better understand how polar ice sheets respond to climate change.

Romans’ two-month trip, departing Jan. 5 from New Zealand, is part of the International Ocean Discovery Program, Expedition 374. Working alongside 30 geologists and paleoclimatologists from around the world, Romans will drill ...

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Europe’s refuge crisis could be worsened by future warming

From National Geographic

In recent years, a refugee crisis has gripped the European Union, as unrest in Syria and elsewhere has sent hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe’s shores, seeking safe harbor.

Now, a new study says that if all else were to remain equal—a necessary but major if—the stresses of climate change could drive more migrants into the European Union in future years.

As warming worsens, these ...

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Leandro Castello’s research explores links between deforestation and fisheries yields in the Amazon

From VT News:

The conversion of tropical forests to crop and pastureland has long been a concern for scientists, as forest loss can lead to decreased rainfall, increased droughts, and degraded freshwater ecosystems. A new study points to another unexpected consequence: changes in fish production.

The study, led by Leandro Castello, assistant professor of fisheries in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, explores how deforestation along the Amazon River floodplain affects fisheries yields. The study was published online Dec. ...

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Congratulations to Cayelan Carey!

Cayelan Carey has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO):

From the announcement:

“The Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award honors an early-career scientist for outstanding and balanced contributions to research, education and society. Cayelan Carey is the 2018 recipient of the Yentsch-Schindler Award for outstanding and balanced contributions to research on the causes and effects of cyanobacterial blooms, science training, and broader societal issues such as ...

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Dude…Where’d this weed come from?

Globalization and other human activities such as domestication can influence population structure of the earth’s flora and fauna, having broad implications for biodiversity.  For example, Cannabis sativa (a.k.a. hemp/marijuana) has been used by humans for diverse purposes including medicine, spirituality, entertainment, and as a source of fiber for thousands of years.  Because of its broad utility, this plant has been subject to extensive cultivation, artificial selection, and global trade.  As a result, the origins and historical patterns of genetic diversity of marijuana ...

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Brian Strahm named Research Fellow and spends 6 months in New Zealand

From VT News

When most Americans think of New Zealand, images of sprawling fantasy landscapes may come to mind; however for Brian Strahm, associate professor of forest soils and biogeochemistry in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, it’s all about trees.

Strahm was named a Research Fellow of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development through its Co-operative Research Program for Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agriculture Systems. The organization is an international body of 35 countries designed ...

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