University of Wyoming Extension News

Mount Moran supercomputer helps UW scientists reach peak performance

Dane Skow, director of the Advanced Research Computing Center in Information Technology at the University of Wyoming, between the Mount Moran supercomputer clusters.

Dane Skow, director of the Advanced Research Computing Center in Information Technology at the University of Wyoming, between the Mount Moran supercomputer clusters. College of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty members are utilizing the supercomputer in their research.

Grab a pencil and write the number 150.

Then add 12 zeros. As in trillions.

That’s how many calculations per second the University of Wyoming’s Mount Moran supercomputer can use to crunch problems like how life forms evolve, modeling the Snowy Range’s water circulatory system and how electrical transmission line capacity is affected by to what region electricity is sent.

That research, being conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy, has more than 530 million pieces of information stemming from hourly readings for five years from about 180 electrical production sites in the Rocky Mountain Power area.

Feel intimidated? Don’t. In 2014, the fastest supercomputers in the world still took more than 40 minutes to simulate one second’s activity in a human brain.

Still, supercomputers are downright handy when munching mountains of data, like the U.S. Department of Energy project. That research is a collaboration among Roger Coupal in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, faculty members in the College of Engineering and Robert Godby in the College of Business.

They are studying all electricity production outlets and sources – wind, solar, coal, hydro – and then predicting what happens to prices, costs and production when transmission capacity is increased in a certain direction, to Denver and the Front Range, for example.

The team’s faithful, fast desktop computer took up to five days to chug through the program and, if there were an error, the team had to run the entire program again, which could take another five days.

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Governor’s Brucellosis Coordination Team meeting in Pinedale

Bruce Hoar

Bruce Hoar

Surveillance results of cattle testing in the Bighorn Mountains in the Bighorn Mountains is among agenda items at the Governor’s Brucellosis Coordination Team meeting Wednesday, April 15, in Pinedale.

The team meets 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Hampton Inn and Suites, 55 Bloomfield Ave., said Bruce Hoar, University of Wyoming brucellosis research coordinator.

Other items include:

* Update on brucellosis cases from Wyoming state veterinarian Jim Logan, and updates on cases from Montana and Idaho

* Discussion of National Academy of Sciences brucellosis study in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

* Wyoming Game and Fish Department update

* Presentation of study that used genomics to study brucellosis transmission

* Discussion of possible delisting of Brucella abortus, the bacterium that causes brucellosis, from the Federal Select Agents list

For more information, contact Hoar at 307-766-3372.

UW Extension bulletin explores new farm bill, importance to Wyoming producers

Nicole Ballenger

Nicole Ballenger

An overview of the new farm bill and the importance to Wyoming is explored in a new bulletin from the University of Wyoming Extension.

The U.S. Farm Bill: Overview, and Program Participation and Importance in Wyoming” (B-1261) describes the origins of America’s farm and food programs, explains how these programs affect agricultural producers and food consumers and highlights the most important policy changes in the 2014 farm bill, said the author, Nicole Ballenger, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 encompasses price and revenue safety nets for growers, conservation of cropland, food assistance for low-income households, rural development programs, support for research and extension at land-grant colleges of agriculture and more.

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UW sophomore joins National Beef Ambassador Team


Rachel Purdy

Rachel Purdy

A sophomore agricultural business student at the University of Wyoming is one of five selected to the 2015 National Beef Ambassador Team.

Rachel Purdy, who is also a UW Ag Ambassador, said growing up on her family’s farm near Pine Bluffs spurred her passion for the beef and agricultural industries and motivated her to become an advocate.

“I really do enjoy consumer events,” Purdy said. “I think it’s a really good way to reach consumers because there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and it’s a good way to educate them and have a good conversation about why we eat beef and how it gets to the consumer’s plate.”

Other team members are Will Pohlman, Arkansas, Alicia Smith, Texas, Kalyn McKibben, Oklahoma, and Demi Snider, Ohio.

Purdy, a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, first competed in the junior level in 2011, where she not only made it to third place, but was inspired – and determined – to make the national team for ages 17-21.

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Food insecurity, hunger, local food movements among topics at UW consumer issues conference

Professor Virginia Vincenti, left, visits with a presenter during last year's consumer issues conference.

Professor Virginia Vincenti visits with a presenter during last year’s consumer issues conference.

Hunger, food deserts – not desserts, deceptive food product claims, local foods movements and a congressman who tries to live on food stamps should provide food for thought at the 14th Consumer Issues Conference in Laramie.

“Food: Perceptions, Practices and Policies” is Oct. 8-10 at the Wyoming Union on the University of Wyoming campus.

There are three tracks: “Local Food,” “Legal and EthicalFood Policy Issues,” and “Global/National Food Markets,” said Dee Pridgen, one of the organizers, a presenter and the Carl M. Williams Professor in the UWCollege of Law.

National efforts to combat childhood and adult obesity, and an awareness of excessive food waste that has spurred food recovery programs are part of the program.

“We wanted to shine a light on these efforts and show how this idea could be applied locally and regionally,” said Pridgen.

USDA school nutrition guidelines that try to get children to eat more nutritious foods are another recent controversy, she said. Audrey Rowe, administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, will participate with local representatives to discuss the issues.

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