It’s the Montgomery Burns Award for outstanding achievement: USDA edition

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the recipients of their excellence in agricultural research awards. The awards will be presented at the 132nd APLU Annual Meeting, Nov.10-12 in San Diego, California.

Who writes this shit.

The awards honor research excellence in three categories – National Excellence in Multistate Research, Excellence in Research Leadership, and National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion. APLU, NIFA, and the Experiment Station Section of APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly present the awards annually.

“Research efforts of our nation’s land-grant universities develop and harness 21st century science-based knowledge and solutions required to improve crop yield and quality, nutritional value, food safety, the environment, and other advances that will drive rural prosperity and economic development,” said NIFA Director J. Scott Angle. “NIFA is proud to be a contributor to these successful research endeavors through our agricultural investments. It gives me great honor to congratulate this year’s award recipients.”

Who talks like this? No one.

The National Excellence in Multistate Research Award recognizes experiment station scientists who are conducting exemplary research and outreach efforts across multiple states. The 2019 award goes to a multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension educators from 39 institutions from across the United States whose work focused on enhancing microbial food safety using risk analysis. The group tackled complex problems across the food production and processing systems like examining foodborne pathogens and food contamination processes and developing devices to help improve food pathogen prediction and detection. The group has helped improve food safety policy, developed novel irrigation water quality assessment tools, and implemented interventions to protect produce from pathogens. They’ve also developed learning materials for the food industry and consumers.

The Excellence in Research Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have served with exemplary distinction, enhancing regional and national research missions, as well as the land-grant ideal. Individuals must have multiple extraordinary service activities, contribute to systematic efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion, as well as significant accomplishments in the agricultural sciences.

The 2019 Leadership recipients are:

Joe P. Colletti, Senior Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, for tireless advocacy for team science and science with practice;

Cameron Faustman, former Associate Dean College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources and Associate Director of Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Connecticut, for strong engagement and impact with the region’s research association;

Bret W. Hess, former Director of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station and Associate Dean for research, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming for enthusiastic and visionary advancements with strategic initiatives;

Saied Mostaghimi, Director, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as an advocate for interdisciplinary research collaborations in agriculture and natural resources; and

Mortimer H. Neufville, President and Chief Executive Officer, 1890 Universities Foundation known for creating and implementing mission-aligned academic, research and Extension programs.

The National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion Award recognizes an individual’s work to empower groups and effectively enhance inclusion within organizations. The award recognizes efforts that aspire to achieve consistent, holistic and inclusive excellence. The 2019 award goes to Jeff Jacobsen, North Central Regional Association Executive Director, for his leadership and team management in crafting and implementing strategies that champion a long-term diversity and inclusion agenda for the 1862 Experiment Stations (ES) and 1890 research programs at Land-grant Institutions. A permanent Diversity Catalyst Committee was created and consistently catalyzes a long-term change in ES culture that promotes diversity and inclusion with research leaders and their research communities.
 
 

Don’t spread poop spread kindness

So to the couple of readers who took me to task recently. I’ll say the same thing I did in 1986; go publish your own paper and stop complaining.

You want food safety for free?

Amanda Woods of the New York Post  writes the Windy City has its own “Mad Pooper.”

Ke Hu, 46, was busted on Oct. 15 in Chicago’s south side neighborhood of Bridgeport after authorities identified him as a man “wanted for using feces and food to deface vehicles and storefronts” back in June, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Police say Hu wore white gloves and carried a brown paper bag as he traipsed through the neighborhood in the early morning hours, smearing dung all over people’s property, the paper reported. Video posted to YouTube by Book Club Chicago catches the crappy culprit in the act — targeting a parked SUV.

He mostly defaced parked cars, but once sullied a storefront, according to the report. It was not immediately clear if the poop was Hu’s own.

Oh and most people in Brisbabe think that Canada ends in Banff.

Pete Townsend’s solo career was so much more interesting.

So hard done by: Not

I built this electronic community originally as the Food Safety Network beginning in Jan. 1993. I consider it one big food safety family.

I provided a health update, not because I sought sympathy, but because I thought I should let the family know what was going on and why my writing had declined.

Australia is currently burning, and every time someone who has just lost everything is interviewed, they talk about how grateful they are for what they have and how they will plunge ahead.

It’s the Australian way, and I am very much of that attitude.

I am not wallowing, I am grateful that Deb will be here in a few minutes for the next four hours (not sure we can go for a walk, there is so much smoke in Brisbane from the fires 100km away that health warnings have been issued).

I’ll continue to teach her about hockey (in Australia you have to call it ice hockey).

And look at these two. They have arrived in Paris, where it’s 5C, and they have no winter clothes, because we are spoiled in Brisbane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’ll figure it out and have a great time.

How blessed am I to have so much family?

 

Somehow I lost my way

Maybe it was Kansas.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife was helping me into a diaper.

The next day I was trying out a walker so I don’t fall so much.

That’s fairly humbling.

I haven’t been able to write as much as I used to, and don’t know if I ever will, because as my doctor told me recently, you’re a smart guy, you know what’s going on, and I do – most of the time.

Last Monday I was writing at home and developed a full-on seizure and could only speak gobbylgook. Amy asked me what’s her name and all I could mutter was, Bo.

I never call her Bo.

My capacity to speak returned after a couple of minutes, but I soon announced, I feel another one coming on. This time I lost consciousness, stopped breathing and woke up in the hospital. Spent the week there.

Amy and Sorenne are off to France in a few hours – she is a French professor – but somehow, we now live in this country (that would be Australia) that awarded my family support to pay for caregivers who make sure I don’t fall over when we walk to get groceries.

It’s cheaper to keep me in the home rather than an institution.

None of the money goes to us, but it means we get a weekly cleaner (who has the most fabulous tools) and I get about 3 hours of assisted care daily from these nice people. I’m getting extra hours while the family is in France.

Amy said, what kind of country do we live in?

A compassionate one.

 

 

I hate facebook

I still can’t believe I get quoted on average once a day in the weirdest places.

Guess we did some neat work over the years.

The introduction of a new technology, such as a human enhancement technology, may induce apprehension and concern among the general public. Social media enable individuals to find information and share their insights and concerns regarding new technologies. This results in an abundance of viewpoints that guides the individual’s acceptance and decision-making. A relevant question for this special issue is to what extent attitudes toward human enhancement technologies are influenced by online cues that signal the views of other people without obvious relevant expertise, such as online comments (social proof). An online experiment focusing on the enhancement of human health and the functioning of the human body through the application of nanotechnology in food was conducted. The study investigated to what extent social proof impacted views on the application of nanotechnology in food.

The valence of comments on a fake Facebook image with four comments was manipulated (positive, negative, mixed). A representative sample of Dutch Internet users (n = 289) completed the study. Perceptions, feelings, behavior, and information need were measured. Results showed that comment valence had a significant effect on risk perception, benefit perception and attitude: the more positive the comments read by the participants, the lower risk perception, the higher benefit perception and the more positive the attitude toward nanodesigned food. Significant interaction effects of initial feelings of dread and comment valence were further found for risk perception and willingness to buy. In contrast, there were no significant interactions of initial feelings of optimism and comment valence. Implications for risk communication regarding human enhancement technologies are discussed.

Risk and benefit perceptions of human enhancement technologies: The effects of Facebook comments on the acceptance of nanodesigned food

Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies

Margot Kuttschreuter and Femke Hilverda

DOI: 10.1002/hbe2.177

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/hbe2.177

Couple of good Brantford,Ontario (that’s in Canada) boys in The Band.

Keeping with the geneticts theme, 50,000-year-old gene reveals how deadliest malaria parasite jumped from gorillas to humans

Molly Campbell of Technology Networks writes in a study published last week  in PLOS Biolgy, researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Montpellier have reconstructed a ~50,000-year-old gene sequence acquired by the ancestor of Plasmodium falciparum. The acquisition of the gene sequence enabled the parasite to infect human red blood cells.
The gene, known as Rh5, enabled the parasite to infect both gorillas and humans for a limited period of time. The study provides insight in the molecular mechanisms behind this jump.

Malaria causes 435,000 deaths per year on average, with ~61% occurring in children <5 years of age. P. falciparum is the of seven species of parasite that can cause malaria in a family known as the Laverania and causes the deadliest form of the infectious disease; in 2017, this parasite accounted for 99.7% of cases in Africa.

The Laverania parasites originated in African great apes; however, they are now restricted to their own specific host species. Three parasite species are confined to chimpanzees, and three are combined to gorillas. What about the seventh, you ask?

Pfalciparum only infects humans now, as it switched host from gorillas. This process whereby a disease is transmitted to humans from an animal is known as zoonosis. But how exactly did the switching of the parasite from gorillas to humans occur at the molecular level?

Gavin Wright, lead author of the study and Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “In the history of mankind, Plasmodium falciparum malaria has arguably been responsible for more human deaths than any other disease. So, it is both important and fascinating to understand the molecular pathways that enabled this deadly parasite to infect humans.”
The evolution of P. falciparum and malaria

The scientists conducted genome sequencing of all seven Laverania parasite species, and uncovered a section of DNA that had been transferred from a gorilla parasite, Plasmodium adleri,  to the ancestor of P. falciparum. The gene sequence included Rh5, a gene that produces the protein reticulocyte binding-like protein 5, which binds to a protein receptor in human red blood cells known as basigin. The interaction of this protein and its receptor is critical for the P. falciparum parasite to infect humans, and thus Rh5 is showing promise as a potential malaria vaccine target. If scientists can disrupt the interaction, the parasite cannot enter the red blood cell and cause disease.

The research team at the University of Montpellier wanted to understand further the ancestral origins of P. falciparum. They therefore adopted ancestral sequence reconstruction to effectively “reconstruct” the Rh5 DNA sequence that had been transferred to the ancestor of P. falciparum all those 50,000 years ago. The scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute then created synthetic copies of the Rh5 gene in the laboratory, enabling the molecular interactions of the encoded Rh5 protein to be explored.
Interestingly, the study findings demonstrate that the transferred Rh5 protein possessed dual binding ability for the red blood cell receptor in both humans and gorillas – thus demonstrating how P. falciparum was able to switch hosts.

Francis Galaway, first author of the study and Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The fact that this ancestral RH5 protein was able to bind to the red blood cell receptor basigin from both humans and gorillas, immediately provided a molecular explanation for how P. falciparum evolved to infect humans.”

But how did P. falciparum become restricted to humans? The researchers identified six differences between the ancestral Rh5 gene sequence, and the current sequence observed in P. falciparum. Surprisingly, one specific mutation resulted in the complete loss of ability to bind the gorilla form of basigin, depicting how the parasite became restricted to humans.

Franck Prugnolle, from the University of Montpellier, said: “It’s fascinating to be able to ‘resurrect’ ancestral genes such as the one which allowed Plasmodium falciparum to jump from gorillas to humans. We’ve discovered not only how a species host switch has occurred, but the individual mutation which has then restricted P. falciparum to a single host species.”

The scientists hypothesize that the genetic transfer of the Rh5 gene occurred when a gorilla cell was infected with two species of the Plasmodium parasite in parallel – known as introgression.

This form of introgression is extremely rare. Of the seven Laverania species, genomic analyses have revealed only a few instances of this occurring over a span of approximately one million years.

We all skate into the fog sometimes: University students protest in Tehran after 200 fall victim to food poisoning

More than 200 students at the University of Science and Technology in Tehran have been taken to the hospital for food poisoning at the university’s canteen since Tuesday October 15, Iranian media reported.

The students have staged a sit-in in front of the University in protest to the situation, the reports said.

A student union official told the semi-official news agency ISNA late Wednesday that the Union has called on officials to present a report on the situation within a week, “otherwise, protest gatherings will continue.” This means that the gatherings have been suspended for the time being.

A brain is a terrible thing to lose

I called my sister about 4 a.m., her time.

She was patient enough.

Hubby answered the phone and said, Doug, it’s 4 a.m.

I apologized.

A few hours later I called my partner, thinking it was evening; it was 5:30a.m.

She was not pleased.

We only get up that early for hockey.

Through the infrastucture of Brisbane (that’s in Queensland, Australia) I know I have people lined up to care for me.

Still, a brain is a terrible thing to lose. And I watched it in my grandfather and grandmother 40 years ago.

Balloon-wiping teacher goes viral in video teaching critical bathroom-wiping skills

Kristi Pahr of Yahoo writes that parents expect their kids to learn a number of things in preschool—the alphabet and number sense, maybe how to write their name, socialization and the beginnings of conflict resolution. But not many parents expect their kids to learn how to, ahem, wipe their butts in preschool. That’s usually the kind of thing we expect to teach at home. Handwashing? Yes. Butt-wiping? Doesn’t happen at my kid’s preschool.

A video, that appears to be of a classroom abroad, shared widely on social media showed us what we’ve been missing. This absolutely brilliant teacher came up with the best wipe-teaching hack ever. By attaching two balloons to a small chair, she showed kids the perfect front-to-back technique, while showing them how to balance on the potty. We all stress the importance of proper handwashing, cough covers, and nose-blowing and expect those to be, if not taught in preschool, at least brushed-up on and practiced. Maybe it’s time for bottom-cleanliness to take center-stage in American preschools as well.

The origins of the video are unknown, but various versions shared online have been fairly well-received, with parents around the Twittersphere acknowledging the sheer genius of the balloon models.

Wish I’d had a Halloween like this: Pennsylvania police urge parents to check for THC-laced Nerds Rope edibles

Danielle Garrand of CBS reports that parents have been encouraged to check their children’s Halloween candy for years to ensure the tasty treats are safe for kids to eat. This spooky season, Pennsylvania police are urging caregivers to be on the lookout once again — for drug-laced edibles.

The Johnstown Police Department issued a warning on their Facebook page Thursday morning after authorities said they discovered “Nerds Rope edibles containing 400mg of THC” while fulfilling a search warrant in Stoneycreek Township. The department also recently seized 60 pounds of marijuana from the area, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

“During this Halloween, we urge parents to be ever vigilant in checking their children’s candy before allowing them to consume those treats,” wrote the department. “Drug laced edibles are package like regular candy and may be hard to distinguish from the real candy.”

The authorities included photos of the edibles labeled as “Nerds Rope” with warning labels dubbing the items “for medical use only.” The label also urged those who may use the product to “keep out of reach of children and animals.”

The candy manufacturer that produces Nerds, Ferrara Candy Company, issued a statement saying it is “working with the relevant authorities.”