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Mike Loizzo / WBAA News

The new head of the Purdue University Extension’s agriculture and natural resources programs says he’ll focus on food security. But that may mean butting heads with activists opposed to genetically-modified crops.

If recent marches against agriculture company Monsanto are any indication, there are plenty of people concerned that too many crops are produced by lab techs first and farmers second.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Termites have long been seen as unique in the animal kingdom – Think about it: how many other species can you name that digest wood? But until a few years ago, it wasn’t affordable to sequence a termite’s entire genome.

Now that the price has come down, Purdue entomology professor Mike Scharf and about 60 colleagues worldwide have developed a gene map and are looking for weak spots in the bugs’ genetic code.

“We can target those particular things in a more efficient way to eventually get better termiticides,” Scharf says.

IU Professor Thinks He's Found Columbus' 'Santa Maria'

May 15, 2014
Adam Jones / https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/4653446909

On Christmas Day in 1492, the flagship of Christopher Columbus’ fleet hit a reef and sank.

More than 500 years later, Indiana University underwater science and diving professor  Charlie Beeker says there’s compelling evidence that a shipwreck near Cap-Haitien is the Santa Maria.

“It’s the right location, it’s the right type of dynamics I would expect of a shipwreck of the time period," Beeker says.  "It’s going to take an investigation to prove it, but as with other shipwrecks, that is what my mission will be.”

courtesy U.S. Navy

Though it’s unclear whether Purdue will get any federal funding from the deal, President Mitch Daniels inked an agreement with the U.S. Navy Thursday to jointly research energy projects.

Daniels was joined in West Lafayette by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who touted his branch of the military as a historical leader in energy initiatives – pointing out Navy ships have transitioned from wind to coal to oil to nuclear power in 238 years on the seas.

Stan Jastrzebski / Courtesy Andy Mesecar

Even before the first case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, turned up in Indiana last week, a Purdue team was trying to thwart the disease. Biology professor Andy Mesecar has been studying MERS for about a year. That’s on top of a decade trying to kill a fatal disease which caused a worldwide panic a decade ago.

A Purdue professor is leading a team that’s discovered a unique astronomical feature.  Dr. Matt Lister says ionized gas clouds were first predicted in the early 1970s.

He and his colleagues found evidence of one while monitoring a quasar three billion light years away from Earth. The cloud caused the refraction of the quasar’s radio waves when it passed in between.

Lister says using a quasar as a type of backlight is one method that will help to identify and learn about such clouds in the future.

Smart grid one focus of Discovery Park workshop

Aug 27, 2013
photo provided

Electricity and the smart grid are topics for discussion over the next two days at Purdue.

The Cyber and Energy centers in Discovery Park, along with several colleges on the West Lafayette campus and Purdue University-Calumet, are hosting the workshop covering electricity systems.

Chemical Engineering professor Joe Pekny says special focus will be on the smart grid. He says that involves making computer technology available to consumers, so they may participate in the next generation electric grid.

Mike Loizzo / WBAA Radio

Indiana’s attorney general is raising awareness of the Wabash River and how it’s an asset to the state. Greg Zoeller is touring stretches of the river by boat.

In Lafayette Tuesday, he talked about the threat posed by the presence of the invasive species of Asian Carp.

“There’s going to be an awful lot that has to be done to address this,” he says. “It’s a national effort. The Great Lakes states really didn’t cause this problem, so I think it is appropriate the federal government step in and kind of help.”

Study suggests trees dealing with climate change

Jul 15, 2013
Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Some trees seem to be adapting to climate change by using less water. That’s the conclusion a team of researchers from several universities has recently published in the journal Nature.

Using atmospheric devices on a 150 foot high tower in the Morgan Monroe State Forest, Indiana University researchers measured how much water vapor and gases were being absorbed and released by the forest.

A Purdue researcher says Asian carp are going where experts thought the fish would not. Specifically, Forestry and Natural Resources Assistant Professor Reuben Goforth says the species are showing greater flexibility in the location and conditions under which they can spawn.

He says what’s not known is if they already have the ability to adapt, or if the fish is evolving in U.S. waters.

“In terms of their evolution, it’s certainly not unheard of for a species to be able to undergo in some level of microevolution to become adapted to new environments relatively quickly.”

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