University of Wyoming Extension News

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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Annual ag day barbecue Sept. 20 at UW

Ag organization students serve during last year's barbecue.

Ag organization students serve during last year’s barbecue.

The 32nd annual Ag Appreciation Day Barbecue at the University of Wyoming is 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, prior to thestart of the University of Wyoming-Florida Atlantic University football game at 2 p.m.

The barbecue will be in the southwest corner of Fan Fest inside the Wyoming Indoor Practice Facility. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and children ages 5 and under eat free.

The event, part of Ag Appreciation Weekend, raises money for College of Agriculture and Natural Resources student scholarships and organizations.

Event sponsors include the college, local businesses, agricultural groups and individual donors. Wyoming beef, pork and lamb sandwiches are prepared and served by members of the college’s student organizations.

Discounted football tickets are also available for Ag Appreciation Weekend. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for youths ages 3-18. Public prices are $40 and $20. Use the promo code AGWEEKEND and go to and follow the prompts.

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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