University of Saskatchewan

September 23, 2014   

Research News - Issue 6

May 27, 2005
University of Saskatchewan Research News


Research Communications Launches Student Research Coverage on the Web

A new resource devoted to student research achievements is now available at the Student Research News page. The page is produced by David Hutton, who has joined Research Communications for an 18-month term as a student intern. The page will include David’s new regular research column from The Sheaf, his news briefs on student research, and links to his graduate student profiles for On Campus News. Faculty or students are encouraged to contact David at 1425 with news of student research achievements. Student Enrolment Services will link to the page from its sites for both current and prospective students.
David’s writing and photography have appeared in The StarPhoenix, as well as the Green & White and On Campus News. He has also been busy at The Sheaf as reporter-photographer, sports editor and most recently, editor-in-chief. He is currently completing a master’s degree in English.

Llamas' Sex Life Sheds Light on Mammal Reproduction

A U of S-Peruvian research team has found that male llamas and alpacas release a substance in their semen that “primes” their mate’s ovaries to release an egg.
Drs. Gregg Adams and Jaswant Singh, and graduate student Marcelo Ratto from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, worked with collaborator Wilfredo Huanca from San Marcos University in Lima. In experiments at the U of S and the Quimsachata Research Station in Peru, the team discovered the hitherto unknown ovulation-inducing factor in the semen. Until now, the conventional wisdom was that physical stimulation spurred ovulation. A mating session for llamas, alpacas and other camelids typically lasts 30 to 50 minutes, accompanied by loud vocalizations by the male.
The findings, published in the May 11, 2005 issue of Biology of Reproduction, have implications both for managing camelid reproduction and perhaps in opening new windows to understanding reproductive function in other mammals.

New Tagging Method Opens New Avenues in Protein Research

A new protein tagging method developed by assistant professor of chemistry Hideo Iwai and graduate student Sarah Züger promises to allow structural analysis of insoluble or unstable proteins such as prions.
Proteins studied in solution with nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR) cannot be too large, as the molecules' complexity increases with size and quickly overwhelms analytical capacity. To get around this, researchers use a difficult and labour-intensive method called segmental isotopic labeling that extracts NMR signals from sections of larger proteins.
Iwai and Züger developed an in-vivo method that makes this system much simpler and easier, yet permits NMR studies of larger tagged proteins, including some that are insoluble or unstable. The method, successfully demonstrated with a yeast prion, promises to enhance research on similar amyloid-forming proteins such as the prions associated with BSE, peptides in Alzheimer diseases, and others. Details are published in the June 2005 issue of Nature Biotechnology.

Canola-Based Feed Study Receives First Idea to Innovation Grant for U of S

Hank Classen and Andrew Van Kessel, in partnership with the Industry Liaison Office (ILO) and MCN BioProducts, were awarded $114,450 by the NSERC Idea to Innovation (I2I) program - a U of S first - to fund a phase one proof of principle study on canola sinapic acid as a feed supplement for poultry. Developed by Classen and then PhD student Hongyu Qiao and patented by ILO in 2004, the innovation uses sinapic acid to promote growth in monogastric animals and as an alternative to sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics currently fed to livestock to improve growth. The I2I program aims to accelerate pre-competitive development of promising technologies and promote their transfer to Canadian companies. To be eligible, researchers provide a Report of Invention to the ILO. As half of the application is written by the ILO, researchers should notify ILO staff at least one month before the deadline to allow development of a commercialization plan. The next deadline is July 8, 2005.

Canadian Light Source Welcomes First Outside Agency User

Marking an important milestone, the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan on May 27 welcomed its first synchrotron researcher from an outside agency. Allen Pratt, a scientist with Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories in Ottawa, will use X-rays from one of the synchrotron’s beamlines in cutting-edge research that could lead to more environmentally friendly and cost-effective extraction methods for the gold industry. Pratt will study the minerals chalcopyrite and pyrite, commonly known as fool’s gold. He is investigating how to more effectively separate these two minerals and real gold from raw ore during processing.

CBC Quirks & Quarks Annual Question Show Comes to U of S

Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks national science program, will be at Arts 241 (Place Riel Theatre) on June 1 for their annual Question Show. Puzzling science questions solicited from the Saskatchewan public in advance will be answered in a lively format by nine U of S scientists. The free event, organized by U of S Research Communications, will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a book signing and reception to follow. Contact David Hutton at 2506 for more information.

CBC Writers & Company at U of S

Join host Eleanor Wachtel in discussion with Saskatchewan literary greats Guy Vanderhaeghe and Sharon Butala, together with Alberta’s Fred Stenson, and Métis poet Marilyn Dumont, for a public taping of Writers & Company, CBC Radio’s national arts program.. The event, organized by U of S Research Communications, starts at 7:30 p.m. on June 9 at the St. Thomas More College Auditorium. A book signing will follow. Tickets are available from the Place Riel Information Centre (6988). Contact Jennifer Webber at 1474 for more information.

Scattered Leaves: The Otto Ege Medieval Manuscript Collection

In the early 20th century, Cleveland book collector Otto Ege removed the pages from 50 medieval manuscript books, divided the pages among 40 boxes, and sold the boxes around the world. Some were acquired by the U of S Library.
Thirty-four pages from the collection will comprise the Scattered Leaves exhibit from June 7 – 23 in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery in the Murray Building (4208).
The pages, handwritten on animal-hide parchment from the 12th to 16th centuries, were created before the advent of the printing press and before paper-making technology had reached Europe.
English professor Peter Stoicheff leads an international effort to gather digital images of the Ege manuscripts in a single database.
An all-day series of free public lectures on the manuscripts, Remaking the Book: Digitally Reconstructing the Ege Manuscript Portfolios, will be held June 13, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at St. Thomas More College, Room 344B. Register by calling 5516 or e-mail A free public talk on the manuscripts will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Goodspeed Theatre in the Commerce Building. It will feature keynote speaker Barbara Shailor, a noted medieval book scholar and Deputy Provost for the Arts at Yale University.

Saline-resistance Research Earns Young Scientist Footsteps Award

U of S Plant Sciences graduate student Aaron Beattie (left, with supervisor Brian Rossnagel) has been awarded the Young Scientist Footsteps Award for his research on net blotch in barley, a common fungal pathogen across Canada. Beattie, one of three students to be honored nationally, receives a $5,000 award on behalf of the Council for Biotechnology Information, and a chance to share his work through a media relations campaign. The goal of Beattie’s research is to understand what gene triggers a resistance reaction in barley. The study will allow breeders to predict which resistance genes will be the most durable in the field.
Note: Due to erroneous source material, it was previously reported that Beattie was doing research on “saline resistant crops.” We regret this error.

Innovation and Science Fund Recipients Profiled Online

The work of researchers who are receiving support from Saskatchewan’s Innovation and Science Fund is featured online on the Research website. The page includes brief summaries, as well as a slide show from the Premier’s Innovation and Science Fund Gala on April 15, 2005 at Marquis Hall.

High-Pressure Tactics Aimed at Hessian Fly in Timothy Hay

Agricultural and bioresource engineering assistant professor Lope Tabil, together with colleagues at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, is testing forage compactors that can reliably kill Hessian flies in timothy hay. Canadian producers annually supply about 300,000 metric tonnes, or 10 per cent, of the market in Korea and Japan for this nutritious, easy-to-digest feed, preferred by horse owners and dairy producers. While it has been decades since the last outbreak of the fly – one of the most destructive pests of wheat, barley and rye – timothy producers spend millions in premiums every year for rejection insurance.
The work is being done at the behest of Green Prairie International Inc. and other industry partners, with $68,000 in funding from Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development in Saskatchewan (CARDS).

Research and Scholarship in the Green & White

Archeology professor, forensic investigator, teacher, and champion of First Nations history Ernie Walker is profiled in “Reading the Bones” in the Spring 2005 Green and White. “Our students aren’t getting graduate degrees and driving taxis,” Walker says. “They’re getting graduate degrees and working in their field.”
As we celebrate Saskatchewan’s Centennial, historian Bill Waiser reflects on the birth of a provincial university in his article, “What’s the Big Idea?” He writes, “The political leaders of the day not only believed that the future belonged to the province, but more importantly, that the province could decide and shape that future.”

Saskatchewan Order of Merit Nomination Deadline July 5

Saskatchewan’s leaders in the arts, science, and politics are honoured with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Over the years, the U of S has contributed many members to the Order.
To be eligible, candidates must be current or former long-term residents of Saskatchewan. Any individual or group may submit a nomination. The Saskatchewan Honours Advisory Council recommends up to 10 recipients each year, relying entirely on the nominations and support materials that are submitted. Nomination information is available online. For help in developing nominations of faculty members, contact U of S awards facilitator Mary Walters at 966-2499.

Synchrotron Research News from Around the World

Synchrotrons such as the Canadian Light Source are renowned for their versatility of application to a multitude of scientific disciplines. Keep up to date with news from synchrotrons around the world with News Flash, an e-mail notification service courtesy of, the website about and for researchers using synchrotron light in their work. Signing up is by online form; your information is kept confidential.

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