Innovating Agriculture from Lab to Field
The deadline for application to the Plant Systems Biology Program is December 15, 2013 and the deadline for the Molecular Plant Breeding Program is March 1, 2014.
Researchers expand understanding of microRNAs
(October 2013) Discovered just two decades ago, tiny molecules called microRNAs are now known to be powerful agents in regulating gene expression. Yet they aren’t well understood. A team of UNL biologists has uncovered important clues about how plant cells regulate microRNAs, a step toward better understanding how crops respond to stress, such as droughts.
Bin Yu, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences and member of UNL’s Center for Plant Science Innovation; Shuxin Zhang, post-doctoral research associate; and their colleagues made their discoveries in Arabidopsis, a well-known plant model. But their findings also could be important to understanding microRNAs in humans and other organisms. The team’s findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Biofuels research clears hurdle
(September 2013) UNL plant scientists Ed Cahoon and Tom Clemente aim to super-charge plants like Camelina for biofuel production. DOE requires Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy program recipients to demonstrate progress to continue receiving funding, and the UNL Center for Plant Science Innovation researchers recently cleared that hurdle.
Mackenzie named 2013 ASPB Fellow
(April 2013) Dr. Sally Mackenzie has been named a 2013 Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). The Fellow of ASPB award was established in 2007 to recognize distinguished and long-term contributions to plant biology and service to the Society by current members in areas including research, education, and professional and public service. Dr. Mackenzie has served on numerous ASPB committees including the Executive Committee (2007 to present), the Public Affairs Committee (2009-present), and the Publications Committee, which she has chaired since 2006 and also on the editorial board of Plant Physiology.
Special recognition to Dr. Ray Chollet, Professor Emeritus, who was also named a 2013 Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and to Dr. Brian Larkins, Associate Vice Chancellor for Life Sciences, who is the recipient of the 2013 Stephen Hales Prize.
Lorenz is a DuPont Young Professor
Aaron Lorenz, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, is one of nine professors in the nation to be honored by the DuPont Young Professors program.
The awards are given to advance key research that is relevant to DuPont. Lorenz is part of the 2012 class of honorees.
Lorenz has been at UNL since 2010. He was honored for his work in the optimization of genomic selection for plant breeding. The award is $25,000 per year, renewed for up to three years.
Lorenz received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture-plant science from the University of Minnesota, a master’s in plant breeding from Iowa State University and a doctorate in plant breeding and genomics from the University of Wisconsin.
NSF award aids Basset's coenzyme Q research
Nearly all organisms — from animals and plants to many bacteria — require the micronutrient ubiquinone, or coenzyme Q, for survival. Humans produce it in their bodies and consume it in their diets. But scientists don’t understand how cells produce this vital compound.
Gilles Basset, an assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, is using a new approach to study this elusive nutrient. His research may lead to improving human health. A faculty member in UNL’s Center for Plant Science Innovation, Basset studies how plants synthesize and metabolize chemicals beneficial to health.
He’s expanding his ubiquinone research with a five-year, $784,820 Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER Award, from the National Science Foundation. This prestigious award helps outstanding pre-tenure faculty develop as teacher-scholars and researchers.
“We know that they are very important, but we don’t understand how living organisms make these compounds,” Basset said of ubiquinones. “Understanding how they are made will allow us to, for instance, improve plant-based food.”
Significant advances in knowledge within the plant sciences will be necessary to achieve sustainable agricultural systems and a steady supply of renewable resources, including biofuels. To accomplish these goals the Plant Sciences Program trains students in an integrative manner, allowing them to explore the frontiers of knowledge and gain experience for a variety of career opportunities.