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"Food: Strategies for Growing Enough for Everyone" is Focus of Free 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science

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09 January 2012

"Food: Strategies for Growing Enough for Everyone" is the focus of the 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, which begins on 21 January 2012. This series of six public lectures on consecutive Saturday mornings is designed as a free minicourse for the general public. The lectures take place from 11:00 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. No registration is required.

This event features Penn State faculty members whose research is on the frontiers of scientific efforts to provide food security on planet Earth. The lectures include:


Nina Fedoroff

Lecture #1 on 21 January: "Where Will the Food Come From in a Hotter, More Crowded World?"

Speaker: Nina Fedoroff, the Evan Pugh Professor of Life Sciences at Penn State, a DistinguishedProfessor of Biosciences at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, and the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Snapshot: The climate is warming. Water tables are falling everywhere. Biodiversity is under pressure. There is not enough farm land. And yet today’s human population of 7 billion will race past 9 billion by 2050. Can we increase the food supply and still shrink the ecological footprint of agriculture?


Christina Grozinger

#2 on 28 January: "The Global Pollinator Crisis"

Speaker: Christina Grozinger, associate professor of Entomology and director of the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research

Snapshot: Seventy percent of our agricultural crops -- particularly micronutrient-rich fruit, vegetable, and nut crops -- require the help of animal pollinators like bees in order to produce seed and fruit. However, pollinator populations have been in decline worldwide. What are the causes and consequences of this decline, and what can we do about it?


Marilyn Roossinck

#3 on 4 February: "The Good Bugs:  Why Agriculture Needs Microbes"

Speaker: Marilyn Roossinck, professor of plant pathology and biology

Snapshot: Modern agriculture does its best to rid food crops of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, but wild plants thrive while they are full of these "bugs." Hear a Penn State scientist describe what she is discovering about how microbes -- including viruses -- benefit their host plants. Learn how her research is revealing ways that microbes can make agriculture more sustainable.


David Hughes#4 on 11 February: "Novel Solutions to Complex Diseases for Subsistence Agriculture"

Speaker: David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology

Snapshot: Human trade and migration have homogenized the world such that every pest is everywhere -- bringing together organisms that normally would not meet and leading to catastrophic problems for agriculture. Learn how pests and disease cripple poor subsistence farmers, how global trade compounds this problem, and how agricultural universities such as Penn State contain the solutions.


Bruce McPheron#5 on 18 February: "Feeding the Future: From the Lab Bench to the Dinner Table"

Speaker: Bruce McPheron, professor of entomology and dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences

Snapshot: Which creative research experiments today might most quickly boost food production on our stressed planet? Hear an insider's insights from the Dean of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences about research projects with food crops and farm animals that could change the world.


Jonathan Lynch#6 on 25 February: "Roots of the Second Green Revolution"

Speaker: Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition

Snapshot: One billion are hungry in the third world, where crop yields are low because of drought and low soil fertility. In rich nations, intensive use of irrigation and fertilizers is causing environmental havoc. Can we develop new crops with better root systems that would boost yields in poor nations while reducing environmental damage in rich nations?


The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. The 2012 series features Penn State faculty members in the Eberly College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at (814) 863-0901 or by e-mail at CLM29@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures, is available here.

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