Fellowship for Outstanding Early Career Scientists Awarded to Rutgers Bioinformaticist Yana Bromberg

Yana Bromberg

Yana Bromberg

How can you tell one microbial species from another? One way is to compare species functional abilities encoded in microbial DNA. To do so experimentally, that is to design and carry out bench experiments to establish the molecular functions of every gene in every microbial genome, is not feasible. Bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary field that combines computer science and biology, enables this kind of biologically relevant analyses in silico, i.e. using computational models.

Beginning this summer, Yana Bromberg, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, will start research to address this question at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Technical University of Munich (TUM-IAS) in Germany, under a TUM-IAS Hans Fischer Fellowship for outstanding early-career scientists. This three-year fellowship supports a Ph.D.-level graduate student to work under Bromberg’s supervision. It also provides financial support that will allow Bromberg to spend time at TUM-IAS refining and developing advanced bioinformatics techniques useful in medical research and industrial applications. [Read more...]

Food Safety in China Still Faces Big Hurdles

China has been scrambling to right its gargantuan processed-food ship ever since six infants died and thousands more were hospitalized with kidney damage in 2008 from milk adulterated with an industrial chemical. But as the latest scandal involving spoiled meat in fast-food shows, the attempted transformation over the last six years has run up against the country’s centuries-old and sprawling food supply chain…"The way I keep explaining China to people is that it’s kind of like the U.S. in the time of Upton Sinclair and ‘The Jungle,’"; said Don Schaffner, a professor of food microbiology at Rutgers University and president of the International Association for Food Protection, referring to the 1906 novel that described unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry and inspired reform. "There is tremendous desire by the Chinese to get it right, but they have a long way to go."

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Student Filmmaker Documents Jim Simon’s Horticultural Innovation Work in Zambia

Jeanpaul Isaacs, right,  recently went to Zambia to make a documentary about the work of James E. Simon, left. Photography: Nick Romanenko

Jeanpaul Isaacs, right, recently went to Zambia to make a documentary about the work of James E. Simon, left. Photography: Nick Romanenko

Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking recent graduate Jeanpaul Isaacs (SAS ’14, SC&I ’14) spent the final semester of his senior year working on a documentary on SEBS Professor of Plant Biology and Pathology Jim Simon’s work with African women farmers to develop markets for their indigenous crops in Zambia. Isaacs previous work was awarded best picture at Campus Moviefest 2013, leading him to a rare stint as a student filmmaker member of Team Oscar at this year’s Oscar award ceremony.  Simon also has been highly awarded for his work, receiving both an AIARD Special Service Award and the Scientific Excellence Award by the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development this year. Read more on Isaac’s activities at Rutgers Magazine.

Rutgers Plant Biologist Jim Simon Recognized by International Agriculture Association

L-R: Mike McGirr, AIARD President, Jim Simon and Albert Ayeni, AIARD Awards Committee Chair. Photo: Susan Schram.

L-R: Mike McGirr, AIARD President, Jim Simon and Albert Ayeni, AIARD Awards Committee Chair. Photo: Susan Schram.

Rutgers Professor James (Jim) Simon, Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, has won the 2014 AIARD Special Service Award in recognition of his collaborative research in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere for over 20 years and his ability to use innovative and transformative approaches that lift people out of poverty. This recognition was bestowed upon him at the 50th anniversary meeting of the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development in Washington, D.C. on June 2.

Simon is internationally known as a leading global researcher for his work in horticulture, medicinal and aromatic plants in which he specializes in plant natural products and new crops. [Read more...]

In Vietnam, Paying Communities to Preserve the Forests

Before the patrollers spotted the interlopers, they heard the sounds of illegal logging. When the two groups finally met, violence erupted and rocks flew, according to one of the patrollers, Huynh Van Nghia…Mr. Nghia and the other patrollers, a band of about 30 farmers, essentially work as freelance park rangers under a 2010 law that established a nationwide incentive program in which companies – mainly state-owned hydropower operations – pay communities to protect watersheds…So far, the payments are "not really paying for environmental services – they’re essentially labor contracts," Pamela McElwee, a professor at Rutgers University who studies environmental policies in Vietnam, said recently in Hanoi.

Read the entire article at NYTimes.com »