In the news / Plant

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UArizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences lead a team received $5M grant from NSF to use machine learning to build models of the nation's watershed systems that can be used to forecast future conditions. Building a platform that can handle the model and the large data transfers needed for this approach is a significant challenge. So, Dr. Condon and her team have partnered with CyVerse, a UArizona-led NSF-funded organization dedicated to providing life scientists with computational infrastructure to handle and analyze large datasets.
 
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A new study, co-authored by University of Arizona researchers provides the first quantitative assessment of environmental policies on deforestation, forest fires and drought impacting the diversity of plants and animals in the Amazon.
 
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Tucson is a place of innovation and ever-changing scientific endeavors. CyVerse has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to help transform farming with artificial intelligence. This will aid in the expansion of resilient farming. Additionally, a sleep study is being conducted to utilize breathing exercises to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health in adults with obstructive sleep apnea.
 
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Dr. Eric Lyons is stepping up as CyVerse principal investigator and project leader, having worked with the project since 2010 and has served as co-principal investigator since 2012. Dr. Lyons succeeds Dr. Parker Antin who joined the project in 2013, following renewal of its 5-year, $50M NSF award.
 
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The Artificial Intelligence Institute for Resilient Agriculture, or AIIRA, is one of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, expanding upon seven institutes funded in 2020. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the University of Arizona will take part in the $20 million institute that aims to transform agriculture through artificial intelligence, focusing on innovative AI-driven methods for agriculture, promote the study of cyber-agricultural systems, and support education, workforce development and community engagement. CyVerse will provide the institute with expertise in cyberinfrastructure, along with education and engagement opportunities for Native Nations, farmers and community stakeholders to address how technological advances in AI can answer agricultural needs.
 
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Despite slowdowns in research suffered by universities around the world due to the pandemic, the University of Arizona has experienced solid growth in the commercialization of university inventions. In the last fiscal year alone UArizona received 274 invention disclosures and launched 17 startups.
 
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Despite slowdowns in research suffered by universities around the world due to the pandemic, the University of Arizona has experienced solid growth in the commercialization of university inventions.
 
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BIO5 Public Affairs student assistant Ryan Hunt discusses how his roles within BIO5 have supported his personal and professional goals.
 
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Dr. Laura Meredith discusses soil microbes, her climate-focused research around the globe, and what it's like to be a woman in STEM.
 
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Tech Launch Arizona is funding the development of five winning software projects aiming to make real societal impact.
 
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Part of a multi-university collaboration, UArizona has received a nearly $1 million USDA grant to expand the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative. They aim to increase understanding of how genetic code affects physical and behavioral traits in crops and livestock and standardize the collection of phenomic information.
 
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Bruce Tabashnik, Head of the Department of Entomology and BIO5 member, was the lead researcher for a recent study that showed that the eradication of the pink bollworm, a pest that destroyed cotton crops, was in part to a coordinated effort between researchers, farmers and the cotton industry.
 
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Dr. Gene Giacomelli, UArizona faculty in Biosystems Engineering, Plant Sciences, and the BIO5 Institute, discusses the importance of educational background in farming. His research at Arizona has focused on CEA system design for climate control and for crop production systems within the UA-CEAC for 20 years. In 2001, he organized and implemented the first Greenhouse Engineering and Crop Production Short Course in Arizona, as the premier component of the CEA Extension program which targets growers of all levels of controlled environments, producing in Vertical Farms, grow rooms, and greenhouses.
 
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Dr. Joel Cuello, UArizona Biosystems Engineering professor and BIO5 member, led a cross-disciplinary team to develop the Air Accordion Photobioreactor, the sustainable tech utilized by the startup AlgaeCell, to produce microalgae for use in pharmaceuticals, supplements, and vaccines.
 
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Vertical farming startups claim they can grow hundreds of times more produce -- usually leafy greens -- per unit area than a traditional open-field farm, while cutting water use by 95% or more. And they can maintain production year-round, with no worries about crop-destroying pests and thus no pesticides, while the plants get exactly the water and nutrients they need. Driving all this is a level of automation that separates the farms, also called plant factories, from typical greenhouses. Dr. Joel Cuello, UArizona professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and BIO5 member says vertical farming is not a panacea for addressing the challenge of meeting the world's prodigiously growing food demand, but a vital component of innovations toward more sustainable farming methods.
 
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The third annual BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship, this year awarded to eight outstanding postdoctoral researchers, grants financial support and facilitates guidance to enrich research and career growth.
 
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For much of the past century, the invasive pink bollworm wreaked havoc in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. A multifaceted strategy eradicated the pest from cotton-producing areas of the region according to a new study led by Regents professor, UArizona Entomology department head, and BIO5 member, Dr. Bruce Tabashnik. According to the study, the eradication program saved U.S. cotton growers $192 million from 2014 to 2019. Through environmentally friendly approaches, it also helped to reduce insecticides sprayed against all cotton pests by 82% and prevented the application of over a million pounds of insecticides per year in Arizona.
 
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Dr. Bruce Walsh received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 International Congress in Quantitative Genetics in honor of his foundational textbooks, teaching, and outreach efforts.