Tool-using Orangutans and improving cotton at the genome level

A ScienceNow article in Wired.com features the work of a faculty member from psychology:

Primatologist Dorothy Fragaszy of the University of Georgia in Athens says orangutans might have ideas of the sort that Gruber describes, but that’s not the most plausible explanation. Fragaszy cautions that Gruber cites only one study that discusses orangutans developing stick skills in the wild — and she says that work isn’t conclusive about when orangutans begin experimenting. “I would say [the orphans] were somewhere along the normal process of learning about [tool use], which involves watching and trying,” when they left the wild. “They had enough practice,” she adds, “that they [could] do it later, in this simpler situation.”

And Science Daily features an article about clues to cotton fiber improvement that discusses work (and quotes) plant biology professor Andrew Paterson:

The DOE JGI's contribution of sequencing and assembling the 760-million basepair genome stems from a Community Sequencing Program proposal led by University of Georgia professor Andrew Paterson. "This study represents the first time that a polyploid plant was compared to its progenitors over the entire genome," he said. "This study reveals evolutionary processes salient to all plants and provides a strategy to better understand the genome of many other crops, such as canola, wheat, and peanut."

Congratulations to these faculty members for their efforts to get their work into the public sphere. It is a difficult and important spect of the academic mission to share research insights as widely as possible, and we can all hope to improve on our abilities to communicate with the writers and editors who help disseminate this information.

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