University of Wyoming Extension News

University of Wyoming fills plant sciences department head position

Professor Jim Heitholt

Professor Jim Heitholt

A plant scientist with years of experience teaching students and conducting studies at research and extension centers is the new head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Wyoming.

Jim Heitholt will leave his crop physiology position with Texas A&M University – Commerce and join the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Aug. 18. He is scheduled to attend the Powell Research and Extension Center field day Thursday, July 17, near Powell.

“The appointment is a very exciting time for me personally,” said Heitholt, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with Texas A&M University – Commerce, who also has a joint appointment in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at College Station.

 “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and intend to serve the students, faculty, staff, and college leadership and stakeholders as wisely and enthusiastically as I possibly can,” he said.

Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the college, served as one of two interim department heads during the search to fill theposition.

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UW biomechanics research draws scientist early career award

Jay Gatlin during his nomination at the annual Agricultural Experiment Station awards banquet.

Jay Gatlin, left, during his nomination at the annual Agricultural Experiment Station awards banquet.

Work in the biomechanics of cell division and the cell biology of cancer has earned a Department of Molecular Biology scientist the Early Career Achievement Award from the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) at the University of Wyoming.

Assistant professor Jay Gatlin in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources received the honor Feb. 12 during the AEShonors banquet in Laramie.

“Jay Gatlin’s research accomplishments are absolutely amazing for a scientist at this stage of his career,” said Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the college and AES director. “Having received a perfect score on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant and publishing results of his research from UW in Science are testaments to the quality of hiswork. The college is blessed to have a scientist of Jay’s caliber.”

University of Wyoming president Dick McGinity spoke to the audience and acknowledged the importance of the land-grant university’s mission of boosting the state’s economy and the general well-being of its citizens.

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UW researcher studies anti-cancer resource found in Big Horn Mountains

Valtcho Jeliazkov

Valtcho Jeliazkov

Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains contain a valuable resource that could help fight cancer.

Valtcho Jeliazkov, director of the University of Wyoming’s Sheridan Research and Extension Center, found that accessions (members of a plant collection in a particular location) of Rocky Mountain juniper and creeping junipers contain relatively high concentrations of podophyllotoxin (PPT), which is achemical used to facilitate production of the anti-cancer drugs etoposide, etopophos and teniposide.

“Those drugs are used to treat lung and testicular cancer, neuroblastoma, hepatoma and other tumors,” said Jeliazkov. “Other derivatives of PPT are used to treat psoriasis and malaria and are being tested as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. PPT has also demonstrated antiviral activity.”

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UW molecular biology assistant professor praised for course design,drive for student success

Naomi Ward

Naomi Ward

Turning traditional course design upside down, her enthusiasm for teaching and her drive for student success are among reasonsassistant professor Naomi Ward has received the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award at the University of Wyoming.

Ward, who has a split position between the Department of Molecular Biology (75 percent) and the Department of Botany, is in her sixth year at UW.

“I’d like to express my thanks to the Office of Academic Affairs and the award’s donor (Mary Ellbogen Garland) for this recognition and for the very generous prize,” said Ward, in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I am honored and grateful.”

This year’s other award recipients are Peter Parolin, associate professor in the Department of English, and Doug Russell, associate professor in the Department of Art.

“Naomi is simply a gifted teacher,” said Anne Sylvester, a molecular biology professor and director of Wyoming’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). “She excels not only in content delivery but in designing courses that are relevant and rigorous.”

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UW Extension hosts management-intensive grazing school near Glenrock

Range specialist Mike Smith, center, and others calculate forage during last year's management-intensive grazing session.

Range specialist Mike Smith, center, and others calculate forage at a session during  last year’s management-intensive grazing program.

A four-day school to coax more out of pastures, extend grazing seasons and reduce or eliminate the need for harvested feed is being sponsored at a Glenrock ranch by the University of Wyoming Extension.

The management-intensive grazing school is May 28-May 31 at the Duncan Ranch. Each day has classroom work in the morning followed by hands-on applications of the concepts on the ranch.

The school will teach participants how to design and implement a management-intensive grazing program focused on profitability and pasture production.

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