Recent CALS Spotlights

  • Peter Warren spends much of his day answering serious questions about insects and horticulture for the Pima County Cooperative Extension at the University of Arizona.

    Questions such as:

    “How do I keep kissing bugs out of my house?”

    “How often should I water my new Meyer lemon tree?”

    And, “What the heck is this bug and how do I kill it?”

    So, we decided to ask him a few not-so-serious questions about his job and what makes him tick.

  • Peak tomato season — July through September here on the East Coast — is almost upon us, and the anticipation is palpable. Before we know it, those super sweet, juicy fruits, grown outdoors under the hot sun, will be back in abundance..

    We tend to fetishize summer tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties like Brandywine and , and regard them as the pinnacle of tomato flavor.

    But according scientists who specialize in growing food in hydroponic greenhouses, some tomatoes bred for the indoors are now just as flavorful as the ones grown outdoors in perfect summer conditions.

  • As part of statewide visits, University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart toured the U.S.-Mexico border region of Santa Cruz County, affirming the UA’s commitment to Arizona as the state’s land-grant university.

    Hart's daylong visit included meetings and interaction with community college transfer students, families, extension specialists, agriculturalists and education board members.

    The trip coincided with the 100-year anniversary of the UA's Cooperative Extension, established in 1914 and responsible for translating research into community solutions and economic impact, helping to shape the Arizona of today.

    Cooperative Extension, a program of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has helped grow Arizona's agriculture to a $16.2 billion industry. In 2013 alone, Cooperative Extension served more than 585,000 Arizonans.

  • Kevin Fitzsimmons, Cooperative Extension specialist from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award Apr. 21, 2014. This national honor was given in recognition of Fitzsimmons’ extensive volunteer efforts with Winrock International, a non-profit volunteering organization.

    The award was established in 2003 and is given annually to around 100 individuals, groups and families who have demonstrated exemplary citizenship through volunteering like Fitzsimmons.

  • An international team led by scientists at the University of Arizona and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has discovered what happens on a molecular basis in insects that evolved resistance to genetically engineered cotton plants.

    The findings, reported in the May 19 issue of the journal PLOS ONE, shed light on how the global caterpillar pest called pink bollworm overcomes biotech cotton, which was designed to make an insect-killing bacterial protein called Bt toxin. The results could have major impacts for managing pest resistance to Bt crops.

    Caterpillars of the pink bollworm are one of the most detrimental pests to cotton production worldwide. First detected in the U.S. in 1917, this invasive insect species wreaked havoc on Arizona's cotton-growing industry, with larvae infesting as many as every other cotton boll (the fruit capsule containing the valuable fibers).

  • The University of Arizona's Tierra Seca Club placed 5th overall in the 21 universities represented by student chapters at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management. The meeting was held Feb. 8-14, 2014 in Orlando, Fla.

    Tierra Seca is the University of Arizona's student chapter of the International Society for Range Management. Mitch McClaran, assistant director of the Arizona Experiment Station, serves as Tierra Seca student advisor.

    All eight Terra Seca students who took part in the meeting participated in the Undergraduate Range Management Exam, a test of knowledge for range ecology and management. With the help of advisor Larry Howery, specialist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, every member placed individually in the top half out of 153 students. Three of them placed in the top ten: Alanna Riggs and Anna Collins tied in 8th place; Mike McIntire earned in 9th place.

  • At the University of Arizona, students aren't simply learning the skills they need to head into the working world. They're also getting the opportunity to put those lessons to work through hands-on experiences that build a foundation for the day they leave the UA and begin their careers.

    Thousands of new graduates, the members of the Class of 2014, moved their tassels on Saturday. Some will enter the workforce while other will continue on to pursue advanced degrees. Whatever their next step, numerous UA programs have helped prepare them for whatever happens next.

    Readying students to meet statewide and national demands for a highly skilled workforce is one of the goals of Never Settle, the UA's strategic plan.

  • Bats, let's face it, are kind of creepy. But they're vitally important, not only to their ecosystems, but also to local economies.

    There are more than 1,200 different bat species in existence, and about two-thirds of them eat insects. By chowing down on bugs, they provide free pest-control services that save farmers tons of cash — in the billions of dollars, according to one estimate — in crop damage and insecticide costs.

    That's great for farmers, but also good for the bats. The services they render give people an economic incentive to protect them and their environments. There are plenty of reasons to protect a given species, such as the role it plays in a healthy ecosystem, as well as its intrinsic value as a member of Earth's colorful panoply of beasts. But if those don't warm your heart, it's hard to argue with an animal that saves humans a lot of money.

  • Arizona Assurance, the University of Arizona's promise to financially support Arizona families experiencing barriers to higher education, is graduating its third cohort of students on Saturday.

    The donor-supported institutional financial aid and student retention program helps ensure that low-income Arizona students can get a UA education debt-free.

    The program's third graduating class began in 2010, earning their degrees within four years, representing a promise the UA made to the state in 2008 that it would support low-income Arizona families so students could have an opportunity to graduate without student loans.

  • With underrepresented minority students comprising 17 percent of all graduate students, the University of Arizona's graduate student body is now the most ethnically diverse among all peer Association of American Universities institutions.

    As of this past fall, 17 percent of the UA's graduate enrollment of more than 7,400 students were underrepresented minority students.

    In 2002, underrepresented minority students comprised 12 percent of overall graduate student enrollment. By 2013, that number grew 41 percent. Since 2002, the percentage increase in enrollment for African Americans at the UA was 70 percent. For American Indian students it was 52 percent and for Hispanic students it was 28 percent.