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Posts tagged: National Science Foundation

Workshop Discusses Delving Deeper into the Animal Genome

Data gathered from the AgENCODE project will ultimately improve cattle breeding.

Data gathered from the AgENCODE project will ultimately improve cattle breeding.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

The idea that around 80 percent of human DNA is “junk” DNA with no real purpose never sat well with scientists.  So in 2003, researchers funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health started working on a project called ENCODE, which was designed to study the role of non-coding “junk” DNA in genetic expression and to define basic functional units in the human genome.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are spearheading a parallel project called AgENCODE, which takes a similar approach to exploring the mechanics of DNA regulation in key livestock species. “We can identify 70 to 90 percent (or more) of the DNA coding elements in animal genomes, but we don’t know much at all about the non-coding elements,” says ARS National Program Leader Jeffrey Silverstein, who is helping to organize the AgENCODE effort. “We think many of these non-coding segments regulate gene activity, and we need to understand how these segments affect the expression of an animal’s physical traits, which is very important in breeding.” Read more »

NIFA Small Business Grant Could Help Quench Thirst Around the World

Robert Sorber operates the MicroDesal, which may successfully remove heavy metals, nitrates, phosphorus, and bacteria, making water safe to drink.  Photo by Isaac Madsen

Robert Sorber operates the MicroDesal, which may successfully remove heavy metals, nitrates, phosphorus, and bacteria, making water safe to drink. Photo by Isaac Madsen

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Clean drinking water for the world is a pretty tall order, considering that the United Nations says nearly a billion people currently go without it.  But, that’s exactly the vision that Karen Sorber had when she co-founded Micronic Technologies in 2008 as a family business.

Now a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is bringing the company one step closer to making that dream a reality.  Micronic Technologies has introduced “MicroDesal,” a technology that takes well water with unsafe nitrate levels and treats it to the point where the water meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean drinking water safety standards.  Nitrates are unsafe for humans – especially children and pregnant women – and livestock. Read more »

A South Dakotan’s Commitment Advances Women’s History

In recognition of National Women’s History Month, the South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff salutes all of the inspiring, influential women who are making a difference in society at the local, state and national level.  In line with this year’s theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SMART) we draw strength and inspiration through the tenacity of one woman’s journey, Dawn Emily Ottman.

After a career in the military followed by a decade of success as an engineer, Dawn sustained a head injury.  After years of relearning to walk and adjusting to her disability, she made the decision to work when she could, and not give up.  So what’s a woman to do when she spends her life contributing and now finds herself requiring too many “accommodations” in the workplace?  She creates her own job where she can accommodate her disability challenges.   And so it was in 2005, when CanDew Scientific, a small business of one employee and a renewable energy “green engineering” company was formed with assistance received through the Small Business Development Center (SDBC). Centers of this type are funded across the nation in part with assistance from USDA Rural Development. Read more »