Community Briefs – 8/23

Aug 222010
Authors: Collegian Staff Report

*Popular Science ranks CSU lab “almost too fun
for credit”*

Colorado State’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory stole sixth place in Popular Science’s analysis of hands-on programs that rock students’ worlds.

The September issue of the national science-forward publication listed the top 15 university labs that seemed “almost too much fun for credit.” CSU’s lab, according to a press release, was named a great place to find your footing as a mechanical or chemical engineer.

Professor Bryan Willson runs the lab, which is funded by corporate partners like Woodward Governor Co., Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere. Willson, researchers and students have received numerous awards for their work in the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.

About 60 students work to improve energy efficiency and test alternative energies in the lab, the same press release said.

University Art Museum receives $120,000 grant

The University Art Museum received nearly $120,000 in Museums for America grant dollars from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Service.

The award, according to a press release, will be used to create an electronic cataloging system for its 3,000 pieces of artwork. The museum is located in the University Center for the Arts and brings in eclectic exhibitions throughout the calendar year.

The Museums for America grant is geared toward financially supporting museums around the country that are working to “sustain cultural heritage, to support lifelong learning and to be centers of community engagement,” the same press release said.

CSU ranked among nation’s best colleges

CSU was rated one of the nation’s best universities, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2011 “America’s Best Colleges” edition.
The university improved in the rankings from last year, moving from the 64th best public university to the 60th best. It is now ranked 124 overall, up from 128, last year.

At CSU, we’re focused on providing an excellent, affordable education and cutting-edge research that advances society,” said CSU President Tony Frank in a press release. “To the extent that any rankings system recognizes that we’re successful in meeting these goals, we appreciate it.”

The U.S. News and World Report also ranked its graduate school program in chemistry as one of the top 50 in the nation, and it listed CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine as second in the nation, according to its most current ranking in 2007.

*CSU scientist finds differences in tomato chromosomes *

Lorinda Anderson, a CSU assistant professor of biology, recently reversed 50 years of existing research when she discovered that the chromosomes of a garden tomato and its relatives don’t share the same organization.

Anderson, who is featured in the current issue of “Cytogenetic and Genetic Research,” made her discovery while studying meiosis in tomatoes, a process fundamental to sexual reproduction.

Anderson and her team took pollen-producing cells from plants ­­–– prior to the production of flowers –– and removed the cell walls. They then added a detergent solution to the cells that caused them to burst and reveal their chromosome structure, allowing researchers to observe similarities and differences between tomato species.

“We’re a long way from understanding what leads to the pairing and recombination of chromosomes,” Anderson said in a press release. “Potentially, you could cross two species to move specific genes, like disease resistance, from a wild species into a commercial variety using natural recombination processes.”

*Researchers find potential fix for woodpecker damage *

CSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers may have found a solution to preventing woodpeckers from causing millions of dollars in damage to utility poles.

By coating utility pole crossarms, the horizontal beams that support electrical wires, in a polyurea elastomer, a coating similar to those applied as truck bed liners, researchers found they could minimize woodpecker damage.

Woodpeckers routinely damage poles by excavating nests, searching for nests and defending their territory, which promotes decay by allowing greater water damage, leads to premature replacement, according to a press release.

To study the effects of the coating, researchers presented 18 woodpeckers with both coated and uncoated poles and observed their progress for 10 days. At the end of the research, they found no measurable damage to the coated crossarms and an average of 29.5 grams of wood pecked away from untreated crossarms.

The coating would cost between $30 and $45 per crossarm and would cost less than using fiberglass crossarms, which cost between $65 and $120 apiece.

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