Recent CALS Spotlights

  • Arizona’s students will soon have more choices when it comes to pursuing a career in veterinary medicine while minimizing educational debt. University of Arizona and UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty are planning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program (link:, slated to open in August 2016. Applications for the 2016-17 academic year will be accepted once the university receives a Letter of Reasonable Assurance of Accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association. The UA DVM Program not only will be the first public veterinary medical education program in Arizona, but the first of its kind in the United States. We sat down recently with Sharon Dial, research scientist in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, and Dave Besselsen, director and attending veterinarian for University Animal Care, for a preview of what the UA DVM Program will have to offer.

  • Once you understand how something works, the next step is to figure out how to keep it working.

    That is precisely the goal of Donato Romagnolo and Ornella Selmin of the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Romagnolo and Selmin hold faculty appointments in the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the College and Agriculture of Life Sciences and share a laboratory at the Cancer Center.

    Knowing that the BRCA1 gene functions as a tumor suppressor, Romagnolo and Selmin are working on a way to keep the gene from being repressed through epigenetic changes caused by environmental factors.

    Roughly 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer diagnoses are a direct result of an inherited mutation on the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. But what is causing the other 90 percent?

  • To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Forbes Building, Provost Andrew Comrie, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Shane Burgess, and Forbes lobby donors dedicated the new Forbes Lobby and Career Center on October 10 and kicked off the next 100 years.

    The College of Agriculture was the first academic unit of the University of Arizona and in 1915 the impressive new Forbes Building (originally Agricultural Hall) was the pride of the College. The departments within it consisted of Animal Husbandry, Agricultural Chemistry, Agronomy, Horticulture, Plant Breeding, Home Economics and Agricultural Extension and they formed the basic structure that still prevails: teaching, research, and extension.

  • "So, I've got to figure out a way to grow three years' worth of food here — on a planet where nothing grows," says Mark Watney, the botanist who ends up stranded on the red planet in Ridley Scott’s new film, "The Martian."

    Watney, whose character is played by actor Matt Damon, later engineers a way to grow potatoes on Mars and remarks, "I am the greatest botanist on this planet."

    Despite never saying it explicitly in the novel on which the film is based, author Andy Weir has revealed that "The Martian" is set in the near future; the NASA crew lands on Mars in November 2035.

    But UA scientists already have figured out how to grow food on the freeze-dried planet, including sweet potatoes and strawberries — roughly 20 years ahead of Mars' "greatest botanist." Watch video here.

  • Ninety percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5, which is why it is so important to monitor the progress of infants, babies and toddlers as they grow.

    Are they hearing well? Do they see clearly? Are they developing fine motor skills and speech on pace with their peers? 

    Parents in Pinal County are learning the answers to these formative questions about their children — and finding out what to do if help is needed — through an early childhood health program led by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, which is part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Pinal County parents can sign up to have personnel from the UA Cooperative Extension screen their child for free by calling 520-836-5221.

  • University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart announced Monday that the new home for the UA’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program will be its newest campus: University of Arizona Oro Valley. See video here.

  • University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences PhD candidate and Norman E. Borlaug LEAP fellow, Paul Kachapulula, remembers the two-hour walk from his tiny village in Zambia to the school in the nearest town with fondness: “We were just a big ball of children, running down the path on the way to school!” 

  • Katy Prudic, assistant research professor in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology, is invited to the White House to participate in the citizen science forum on September 30th, 2015.

    Prudic is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the eButterfly citizen science project that is maximizing the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of butterfly observations, photographs, and collections made each year by recreational and professional butterfly enthusiasts.

  • Thanks to support from University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the hard work and dedication of community volunteers, interns and AmeriCorps members, Tucson Village Farm expanded its reach this summer to include additional infrastructure, acreage, outdoor classrooms and programming on the west side of Campbell Avenue in Tucson, Arizona.

    A program of UA CALS and the UA Cooperative Extension, Pima County, Tucson Village Farm (TVF), on the east side of Campbell Avenue, is an education-based farm that reconnects youth to a healthy food system and teaches them how to grow, prepare, and eat fresh food, which empowers them to make healthy life choices.

  • Spring White. Marine Blue. Mexican Yellow. Sleepy Orange.

    These are just a few of the butterfly species found in and around Tucson, and North America is home to hundreds more. But with so many species in so many places, it can be overwhelming for humans to keep track of the lives of Lepidoptera.