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Research & Development

Pammla Petrucka
Passionate about Nursing: Pammla Petrucka's Story

I am passionate about nursing. I began my career by training for a nursing diploma and went on to earn a B.Sc. and then a Ph.D. I wanted to put my skills to work in the part of the world that most needed them, so I went to work in East Africa. While working there in 2011 I became a volunteer with Academics Without Borders, under whose auspices I worked with the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery. Our goal was to improve the school’s program so that it could offer a B.Sc. in Nursing to nurses who already had a diploma in the profession. I worked with the AKU faculty and administration at their Kenyan, Ugandan, and Tanzanian campuses.

Tanzanian nurses

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Getting to Life on Land

Early Devonian (ca 410 million BCE) riverside landscape: Artist Zhenzhen Deng, Peking University
Plant roots built beachhead for life on land

Plants – even relatively small ones – played a crucial role in establishing a beachhead for life on land, according to recent work by an international team from China, the U.S., the U.K., and the University of Saskatchewan.

The team, led by paleobiologist Jinzhuang Xue from Peking University in Beijing, looked at paleosols – ancient soils that have turned to stone over millions of years – from the Xujiachong Formation of Yunnan, China. The site is unusual in that it has preserved traces of rhizomes, that is the underground systems of plants, that grew there 410 million years ago.

Team member Jim Basinger, a paleobiologist at the U of S, explained that below-ground traces of plant life are not often preserved in the geological record since soils are prone to erosion and disturbance over time.

“Soils are subject to a lot of reworking by physical processes such as erosion and redistribution of sediments, as well as biological processes like invertebrates digging through them,” he said. “Rather than protecting the remains of plants, soil environments actually promote destruction of plant remains.”

The Yunnan site is doubly unusual in that evidence of both rhizomes and above-ground stems of the plant were preserved. Full story...

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