U of G Research, Profs Making Headlines

April 04, 2013 - In the News

University of Guelph research and professors are in the news today.

U of G professors have been lending their expertise and insight to recent media reports about the attempted smuggling of highly contagious pathogens out of the country. Two former federal scientists are facing charges after one was arrested on his way to China for carrying vials of live brucella bacteria.

Food science professor Keith Warriner was interviewed by CTV news and Maclean’s magazine about the bacteria. He told both news agencies that brucella is a highly contagious pathogen, more common in the days before pasteurizing milk, that can cause flu-like symptoms for months. Warriner is known for developing decontamination methods to improve food safety.

Pathobiology professor John Prescott was interviewed on the same subject by CBC Radio’s national news. He studies bacterial disease in animals, clinical bacteriology and effective antimicrobial drug use, and has been a member of several national advisory panels.

An op-ed by George Greene, the inaugural Kinross Knowledge Exchange Chair in Environmental Governance, was published today in the Globe and Mail. It looks at the Harper government’s decision to withdraw from the United National Convention to Combat Desertification. Greene is the former director of environment and director-general of policy development at the Canadian International Development. He has worked on environment and sustainable development policy and governance in Canada and internationally for 35 years with governments, industry, NGOs and international organizations.

A study involving Theodore Noseworthy, a professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, was featured Wednesday in the Toronto Star. He and Fabrizio Di Muro of the University of Winnipeg conducted a study that found currency’s physical appearance dramatically affects consumer behaviour.

People are more likely to spend dirty, crumpled currency and hold on to new bills. But in social situations — and especially when they’re looking to impress someone else — people reach for new bills even when they have older higher-denomination currency on hand.

U of G research on hagfish slime, a novel and unlikely source of natural fibres that may one day lessen our dependence on petroleum, was featured by BBC's online news and was reported on the Public Radio International Program The World and on the PBS show NOVA.

The news reports featured Prof. Doug Fudge, research associate Atsuko Negishi and researcher Tim Winegard, all of the Department of Integrative Biology. They are exploring the potential of making synthetic protein-based fibres using hagfish slime threads.

Hagfishes are an ancient group of eel-like, bottom-dwelling animals that have remained relatively unchanged for more than 300 million years. When threatened, hagfishes secrete a gelatinous slime containing mucous and tens of thousands of protein threads. These threads have remarkable mechanical properties and are incredibly strong.They have the potential to be spun and woven into novel biomaterials, which could provide a sustainable alternative to synthetic fibres like nylon and lycra, or spandex, which are made from oil.

Economics professor Ross McKitrick was featured today in the National Post. The opinion piece focused on a study published in march on Earth’s warming and cooling. A faculty member at Guelph since 1996, McKitrick specializes in the economics of environmental policy and has been studying climate change and related policy issues for about 10 years. He has given presentations on climate and environmental policy to the Canadian and U.S. governments.

Kerry Daly, dean of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at Guelph, was quoted in a story published in today’s Toronto Star. The article was on men being away from their children while at work and the challenges they face. Daly, a family relations professor, was a founding director of U of G’s Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being. He was also director of the Father Involvement Research Alliance, a national organization of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers.

DNA barcoding and its U of G creator were featured in a prominent story, video and photo essay that ran in the National Post this past weekend.

The story focused on integrative biology professor Paul Hebert, director of the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and scientific director of the International Barcode of Life project.

The story discusses how DNA barcoding has allowed for the creation of a “digital Noah’s Ark,” helping scientists discover an unexpected treasure trove of new species in the wild. DNA barcoding has also emerged as a watchdog of sorts on food products, being used to trace the origin of food and food contaminants and alleviating consumer fears, the story says.

Developed by Hebert, DNA barcoding is a molecular technique that allows scientists to match up barcodes from specimens of unknown identity to those derived from expert-identified reference specimens. It’s providing new tools for everything from monitoring invasive species to improving pest and disease control to digitizing hundreds of thousands of global specimens.

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