UM Scientist’s Space Seeds Onboard for NASA’s SpaceX-2 Launch

Experiment could lead the way to growing edible crops on Mars, moon in future

Seedling Growth Experiment Team

John Z. Kiss (right foreground), dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School, stands with his hand on the experimental containers with seeds that will be launched on SpaceX2 for the Seedling Growth experiment on the ISS. Kiss is shown with the personnel at NASA’s Ames Research Center who are involved in the preparation of the space experiment.

OXFORD, Miss. – When NASA launches SpaceX-2 Friday (March 1) at Cape Canaveral, University of Mississippi Graduate School Dean John Z. Kiss will be there observing with great pleasure and high expectations.

That’s because Kiss’ seedling growth experiment will be onboard the vessel, which has the International Space Station as its destination. The launch is set for 9:10 a.m. (CST).

Kiss, also a professor of biology, is principal investigator on “Novel Explorations into the Interactions between Light and Gravity Sensing in Plants.” Part of the Fundamental Space Biology program at NASA, the program is designed to study light and gravity signaling in plants and their effects on cell growth and proliferation. It also has a strong relevance for improving crop species on Earth to obtain increased production and sustainability.

“We will be at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for the launch,” Kiss said. “While we have known of the date for some time, the ‘formal’ announcement of the launch is a big milestone.”Read the story …

Farming Mars and the Moon Focus of Study Led By UM Dean

Scientists studying use of plants in spaceflight life-support systems

OXFORD, Miss. – The question of how to grow edible and useable crops on the moon and Mars is being explored by a University of Mississippi administrator directing a cutting-edge research project aboard the International Space Station.

 

John Z. Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School and professor of biology, is principal investigator on “Novel Explorations into the Interactions between Light and Gravity Sensing in Plants.” Part of the Fundamental Space Biology program at NASA, the program is designed to study light and gravity signaling in plants and their effects on cell growth and proliferation. It also has a strong relevance for improving crop species on Earth to obtain increased production and sustainability.

Read the story …

Farming Mars and the Moon Focus of Study Led By UM Dean

Scientists studying use of plants in spaceflight life-support systems

OXFORD, Miss. – The question of how to grow edible and useable crops on the moon and Mars is being explored by a University of Mississippi administrator directing a cutting-edge research project aboard the International Space Station.

 

John Z. Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School and professor of biology, is principal investigator on “Novel Explorations into the Interactions between Light and Gravity Sensing in Plants.” Part of the Fundamental Space Biology program at NASA, the program is designed to study light and gravity signaling in plants and their effects on cell growth and proliferation. It also has a strong relevance for improving crop species on Earth to obtain increased production and sustainability.

Read the story …

Love of Snakes Sends UM Student to Ethiopia

Tim Colston named Fulbright Scholar

Tim Colston - UM Fulbright Scholar

Tim Colston has collected animals, including butterflies, frogs and snakes, since he was a child.

OXFORD, Miss. – Animals have always fascinated Tim Colston, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Mississippi. As a child, he set up a large screened tent and filled it with butterflies and potted flowers to see which plants they would visit most often.

Later, while watching and waiting for toad eggs to hatch, he discovered a garter snake with a full belly, instead of the eggs. With Jake the garter snake as a childhood roommate, Colston, of Oklahoma City, was paving a path to study herpetology.

His lifelong efforts have paid off with a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholarship, and his Fulbright project will take him to Ethiopia for the next eight months, where he will be affiliated with Abebe Getahun of Addis Ababa University. Using DNA and other new technologies, he intends to promote conservation awareness of Ethiopia’s unique, diverse and highly endemic reptile fauna by investigating how geology, geography, changing climate and other factors have influenced the structure of those reptile communities.

He hopes to fill a critical gap by contributing significant knowledge about reptile diversity and by providing novel or more efficient analytical approaches to the field.Read the story …

Biology Boot Camp Jump-starts College Life for Incoming Freshmen

UM biology instructor Beckie Symula discusses gene transcription during the pilot Biology Boot Camp, a one-week, pre-college experience designed to introduce incoming freshmen to the university and its freshman-level biology course for science majors. UM photo by Nathan Latil.

OXFORD, Miss. – Here’s the question: How can four nucleotides code for 20 amino acids?

With that, biology instructor Beckie Symula plunges ahead into her discussion on gene transcription with 87 incoming freshmen participating in a pilot Biology Boot Camp, a new effort to acquaint incoming students with the rigors of life as a science undergraduate at the University of Mississippi.

Lucile McCook, director of Biology Boot Camp, said that while lectures are a core component of the four-day intensive camp, “it’s really about developing a learning community for the freshmen to thrive.”Read the story …

Students Surprise Biology Professor with Advising Award Nomination

OXFORD, Miss. – When students describe Jason Hoeksema, they use words like “mentor,” “dedicated” and “enthusiastic.”

To Hoeksema’s students, it comes as no surprise that he was awarded the University of Mississippi’s 2012 Academic Advising Network’s Excellence in Advising Award. In fact, they were the ones to nominate the assistant professor of biology.

“I would be hard pressed to nominate another individual as deserving of recognition for excellence in advising as Dr. Jason Hoeksema,” said Kristopher Henning, who received his master’s in biology in 2011 under Hoeksema’s direction. “He has exemplified my conception of an ideal adviser – serving as a glue that not only promotes respect and socialization amongst the members of my lab, but in addition, helping to foster these qualities amongst many of the undergraduate and graduate students of the department.”Read the story …