URI faculty awarded grants for research, outreach programs that impact state

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College of the Environment and Life Sciences distributes $1 million in USDA funds

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 18, 2006 – The University of Rhode Island College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) has awarded $1 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to faculty members for research and outreach programs that will have a direct impact on residents of Rhode Island.

The grants are part of the College’s CELS CARES initiative – Community Access to Research and Extension Services.

“This is a new initiative that is designed to ensure that the University’s research and outreach activities have a direct relevance to Rhode Islanders,” said Richard Rhodes, associate dean of the College. “The highest priority when judging the proposals was that they be good science and that they are relevant to the region and connect the College to our stakeholders.”

The winning projects also had to “have the potential to make a difference,” added Nancy Fey-Yensan, URI assistant director for land-grant programs who is administering the grants.

The initiative funds a wide variety of projects, from forestry to fish, from helping farm animals to developing new ornamental plants, from addressing obesity in the Latino population to providing after-school science programs for urban youths.

Every dollar of USDA money is matched by non-federal monies as well, boosting the value of each grant.

The winning projects and principal investigators are:

Jeff Adkins, Dept. of Plant Sciences, for the development of new ornamental plants that have desirable characteristics for Rhode Island and are environmentally sound and friendly.

Steve Alm, Dept. of Plant Sciences, for a project to control one of the most widespread pests in the world, root knot nematode, and to explore the use of alternatives to toxic pesticides.

Chris Anderson and Jon Sutinen, Dept. of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, to evaluate the successes and failures in the conservation of sustainable fisheries, work that will have implications in fisheries management and the fishing industry.

Terry Bradley, Dept. of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science, for a project using biotechnology tools to determine the physiological basis of muscle growth in fish, particularly those raised on via aquaculture.

Rebecca Brown, Dept. of Plant Sciences, to identify grasses that are tolerant to the high salt conditions associated with areas adjacent to highways, ultimately to improve roadside vegetation to minimize roadway runoff, erosion, and beauty.

Art Gold, Dept. of Natural Resources Science, to identify attributes of streams that relate to nitrate removal. Stream denitrification is important because it reduces nitrogen entering waterways, especially into Narragansett Bay.

Laura Meyerson, Dept. of Natural Resources Science, to investigate the aggressive invasive plant, Phragmites australis, which is a problem in many Rhode Island wetlands.

Katherine Peterson, Dept. of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science, to study vitamin E and immunity in sheep, which will help improve the health and well-being of farm animals.

Tom Mather, Sarah Rodgers and Nathan Miller, Department of Plant Sciences; Colleen Redding and Joseph Rossi, Cancer Prevention Research Center; Timothy Henry, Brian Mullen, Brandon Edens and Jean-Yves Herve, Department of Computer Science and Statistics; and the 3-D Group for Interactive Visualization, to create an Internet-based health information system for preventing tick bites in the state and reducing tick-borne diseases.

Geoffrey Greene and Linda Sebelia, Dept. of Nutrition and Food Sciences, to investigate factors that influence food behavior and issues of obesity in the Latino population.

Kim Anderson, Phyllis Bocage, Deborah Grossman-Garber, Marcia Morreira and Barbara Nowicki, Cooperative Extension and CELS Student Affairs, to develop an after-school science enrichment program for youth in urban areas.