Four Consortium scientists invited to present findings at Plant & Animal Genome XXI Conference

In many areas of the life sciences, genomics is a key tool used to address important questions in biology and agriculture scientists are leading the way. The annual Plant & Animal Genome Conference is the largest Ag-Genomics meeting in the world with four UMass Brachypodium Consortium investigators presenting there this winter. At the Brachypodium Genomics workshop, Dr. Elsbeth Walker will tell of progress in understanding the uptake and transport of an important nutrient, iron. Dr. Sam Hazen will present results on the study of growth and biofuel feedstock quality in Brachypodium at the Bioenergy Grass Genomics workshop. Offering incite in the exciting area of meta-genomics, Dr. Jeff Blanchard will discuss global warming and forest soil microbiomes as part of the Ecological Genomics workshop. A leading investigator of Brachypodium population genetics, Dr. Ana Caicedo, will enlighten the Weedy and Invasive Plant Genomics workshop on the evolution of weeds.

The U.S. Department of Energy awards Baskin grant to study cellulose, the most abundant polymer on Earth, in Brachypodium

Biology professor Tobias Baskin has received two new grant awards. He received a $510,000 grant from U.S. Department of Energy (Office of Basic Energy Sciences) for a project entitled "Cellulose and the Control of Growth Anisotropy". This award is a competitive renewal for an on-going project that attempts to understand how the mechanical properties of the cell wall are established by Brachypodium distachyon and how these properties influence the fundamental process of growth.

Undergraduate Brachypodium researcher Mike Veling wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship Award

Since his freshman year in 2009, Mike Veling has worked in Dr. Samuel Hazen’s laboratory in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Mike, a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology junior, is interested in protein-DNA interactions that influence plant biofuel attributes. Recently he gave the inaugural presentation at the 4th Annual Northeast Undergraduate Research Development Symposium in Buddeford, ME. His efforts have been supported by research fellowships from the Commonwealth Honors College. Now he will enjoy up to $7,500 per year for up to two years support from the Goldwater Foundation.

The purpose of the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Program is to nurture and recognize distinction in mathematics, science, and engineering by awarding scholarships to undergraduates that intend to pursue careers in these areas. A total of 1,123 students were nominated by their colleges and universities and 282 were selected for scholarships. Other University of Massachusetts awardees include Microbiology major Benjamin Waldman and Mathematics major Nicolas Zac Reyes. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major Saul Kushinsky was acknowledged by the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation with Honorable Mention.

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