It can seem a pretty daunting challenge when you serve on a committee charged with bringing about major institutional change, overcoming obstacles and structural constraints shaped by history and human nature over 150 years. But the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty has moved swiftly, boldly and with determination to forge a better future for Colorado State University despite its relative newness in the institution's long life. President Tony Frank established the committee in May 2014, making the announcement in a message to campus titled Shifting our Trajectory, acknowledging the need to change the climate for women at CSU. Members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty include Erica Suchman, Tammy Donahue, Ellen Fisher, Cori Wong, Cynthia Brown, Jennifer Nyborg, Diana Prieto, and Paul Doherty. Frank charged the standing committee with designing strategies and promoting activities that would enhance gender equality and the status of women faculty at CSU.
Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Diana Wall was recognized March 1 by the Ecological Society of America, which announced that she will receive its highest honor, the 2017 Eminent Ecologist Award, at the society's annual meeting in August. The award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Wall, a world-renowned soil ecologist and director of CSU's School of Global Environmental Sustainability, said that she was deeply honored by this recognition. "I am excited to join such an esteemed group of ecologists as we work towards a future in which ecology takes center stage," she said. The Ecological Society of America has more than 10,000 members worldwide. Sixty-four ecologists have received this top honor since it was first awarded in 1953. Wall recently returned from Antarctica - her 27th year "on the ice" - with a team of researchers from CSU and across the United States. She studies soil nematodes, or roundworms, in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the coldest, driest and windiest ecosystems on the planet.
John McKay, an associate professor in CSU's Department of Bioagricultureal Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project - Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) - which will automate the phenotyping of plant roots in agricultural fields and allow researchers to learn more about the genetic composition of the plants based on their roots. "This grant will allow us to scale up our research and look at roots in thousands of research plots and millions of plants," said McKay. "Previously, we were limited by the number of plants we could harvest by hand which meant we lacked the power to identify genes underlying important variation in root traits, including the ideal root systems for maximizing water and nutrient use efficiency." The project will employ two different approaches - pulling the plants out of the ground using a machine currently deployed to examine above-ground material and examing the soil around the plants by using novel, automated sampling the soil throughout the growing season. The researchers are interested in learning which nutrients each plant genotype is using and how much carbon remains in the soil.[Archive]