Unique Science Investigations Workshop Connects Polar Scientists with Teachers and Students

PolarICE 5

Educators L to R: Tom Grych, Jennifer Smolyn, Dolores Taylor, Carolyn Laymon, Kimberly Kellam, Kelly Terry, Denise Hardoy, Sue Morrow, and Stacia Lothian. Dr. Bridgette Clarkston – workshop co-facilitator from California State University – is bending down in the front row.

The best way to teach science is hands on, right? That’s the conventional way, but the polar regions and the obstacle of over 9,000 miles between cutting-edge polar science and the scientists, teachers and students who could benefit from this interaction demand another way.

In June, Rutgers University departments of Marine and Coastal Sciences and 4-H Youth Development kicked off a unique Science Investigations (Sci-I) project, a four-day workshop for 21 educators in New Jersey and California who participated first-hand in an open-ended polar science investigation. The response was enthusiastic.

“The best part of this project is that it will help me bring real world experiences into my classroom and will support me thinking about how to teach authentic science,” said Matthew Fichter of Cranford Middle School, New Jersey.

Through hands-on activities, group discussions, scientist panels and field trips the teachers explored the data to make sense of it and to develop questions and hypothesis that were testable and finally to communicate their initial results.

[Read more…]

Rutgers 250: NJAES Breed of the Month – Dogwood

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Scarlet Fire™ Extends Ornamental Dogwood Season

The Rutgers 250 All-Star Variety for June, 2016 is the ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree. This is the first Cornus kousa variety released in over 45 years to the ornamental nursery market. Rutgers plant breeder Tom Molnar, continued the decades of work started by renowned breeder and professor emeritus Elwin Orton in the 1970s.

Scarlet Fire™ is a gorgeous deep pink to fuchsia-bracted dogwood tree, known for its deep, consistently pink bracts that contrast beautifully with its dark green foliage. This tree blooms in late May to early June, making it one of the latest-blooming dogwood tree varieties developed at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

[Read more…]

Tropical Plant Called Moringa Shows Promise in Health, Anti-Aging Products

Prof. Ilya Raskin holds moringa seeds. Photo courtesy of Ilya Raskin.

Prof. Ilya Raskin holds moringa seeds. Photo courtesy of Ilya Raskin.

Ilya Raskin, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, and his lab study the health benefits of crops and medicinal plants around the world, including the tropical plant, Moringa oleifera, also known as the horseradish tree, which is showing promise in helping revitalize aging skin. Raskin and his team are researching healthful compounds in plants around the world in an effort to find cures and treatments for ailments afflicting hundreds of millions of people. Read more at Rutgers Today.

Marine Ecologist Malin Pinsky Pens Op-Ed to Mark Earth Day

Malin Pinsky.

Malin Pinsky.

To mark Earth Day on April 22, Malin Pinsky, marine ecologist in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources and an affiliate of the Rutgers Climate Institute, penned an op-ed for Dow Jones & Company website, MarketWatch. He writes, “If we continue on our current path of carbon emissions, we can expect ocean warming to accelerate, with temperatures rising twice as much in the next 40 years as they did in the past 140, further disrupting ocean life and the people who rely on it.” Read more of Malin Pinsky’s op-ed here.

4-H Salutes New Jersey Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

Monmouth County 4-H Volunteer.

4-H volunteer at the Monmouth County fair.

Each year, thousands of volunteers in New Jersey donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. These volunteers will be among the millions across the country who will be spotlighted during National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, 2016.

One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the New Jersey 4-H Youth Development Program. Over 2,500 adult volunteers have served as club leaders, project leaders, resource leaders and judges throughout New Jersey during the past year.

“Volunteers are the backbone of the 4-H program. They provide the guidance and support that helps 4-H boys and girls in grades K-13 (one year out of high school) develop confidence and valuable life skills, says Jeannette Rea Keywood, State 4-H Agent, Department of 4-H Youth Development. [Read more…]

Nutrition Professor Publishes Book on Mediterranean Diet Pioneers, Ancel and Margaret Keys

Joseph Dixon book coverJoseph Dixon, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, has self-published a new book, Genius and Partnership: Ancel and Margaret Keys and the Discovery of the Mediterranean Diet.

The book centers on physiologist Ancel Keys and his wife and co-researcher Margaret Keys, a biochemist, as they scour the world for clues to the causes of heart attacks that were killing American men at an alarming rate in the 1950s. Their journey leads to the start of the groundbreaking Seven Countries Study and contributions to the discovery of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It also led to their writing three New York Times best-selling cookbooks that promoted the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. [Read more…]

New Study on the Relationship Between Climate Change and Disease Vectors

L-R: Nina Fefferman, Andrea Egizi and Dina Fonseca.

L-R: Nina Fefferman, Andrea Egizi and Dina Fonseca.

Research findings using an invasive mosquito species and published in a joint paper authored by Andrea Egizi, a graduate of the Rutgers’ ecology and evolution doctoral program, Nina Fefferman, associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Dina Fonseca, professor in the Department of Entomology, underscore how hard it is to predict  future risk from disease transmission in the face of climate change. Read more at Rutgers Today.

Jim Murphy Elected 2014 Fellow of Crop Science Society of America

Jim Murphy.

Jim Murphy.

Jim Murphy, extension specialist in turfgrass management, was named a Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) Fellow for 2014, the highest recognition bestowed by the society. Murphy and 11 other fellows were recognized by the international science organization at its Nov. 3 annual meeting in Long Beach, CA.

CSSA fellows, who make up just 0.3 percent of the society membership, are elected based on professional achievements and meritorious service, as well as outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service and research. [Read more…]

Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology and Evolution Earns Competitive EPA STAR Fellowship

Molly MacLeod presenting her research at the Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course at the Snyder Farm, in Pittstown, NJ, in 2012.

Molly MacLeod presenting her research at the Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course at the Snyder Farm, in Pittstown, NJ, in 2012.

Molly MacLeod, Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolution in Prof. Rachael Winfree’s pollination ecology lab, has been awarded a two-year U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowship.

MacLeod’s research is focused on a four-year field experiment to explore questions about plant-pollinator networks and the restoration of both crop-pollinating and rare bee species.

Approximately 1,500 STAR fellowships have been awarded to students in every state and most territories since the program began in 1995. The EPA STAR graduate fellowship is a highly competitive program that supports master’s and doctoral candidates in environmental studies.

According to its website, “students can pursue degrees in traditionally recognized environmental disciplines as well as other fields such as social anthropology, urban and regional planning, and decision sciences.”  The fellowships have helped to “educate new academic researchers, government scientists, science teachers and environmental engineers.”

Rutgers Alumnus (GSNB ’12) Named Executive Director of U.S. Botanic Garden

Ari Novy, GSNB '12, is a plant biologist.

Ari Novy, GSNB ’12, is a plant biologist.

The Architect of the Capitol, the unit that administers the United States Botanic Garden, announced last week the appointment of Ari Novy, Ph.D., as executive director of the Garden.

Novy’s connection with Rutgers goes back to 2006 when he began working as a graduate research fellow. He received his doctorate in 2012 from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Department of Plant Biology and Pathology. His dissertation director was Jean Marie Hartman of the Department of Landscape Architecture, where he also served as a teaching assistant.

In his new position, Novy is responsible for leading and planning day-to-day operations and major programs at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. [Read more…]