Elephant, ‘Junk DNA’ Research Making Headlines, Profs in the News

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History professor Susan Nance is making headlines today, offering insight and commentary on The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus decision to phase out elephants – an iconic part of their shows for more than 100 years – by 2018. She was interviewed by The Atlantic and was a guest on National Public Radio’s morning news magazine, Morning Edition on Thursday. Nance studies the history of the entertainment industry and animal management in the American circus. She is the author of Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus, which examines elephant behaviour and how both circus people and elephants struggled behind the scenes to meet the profit necessities of the entertainment business.

Integrative Biology professor Ryan Gregory was featured in a story in Thursday’s  New York Times. The article focuses on the debate over “junk DNA” and highlights Gregory’s work at U of G, including photographs of his lab. Gregory says that the size of an animal’s or plant’s genome has essentially no relationship with its complexity, because the vast majority of its DNA is “junk.” He is part of a cross-campus U of G research group that is using the tools of ecologists – and those of philosophers and computer scientists – to look more closely inside DNA.

Geography professor Evan Fraser was part of a panel discussion on food that aired Monday night on TVO’s The Agenda. Fraser sat down with host Steve Paikin to discuss where food falls short on an international scale, and possible solutions. Fraser, who joined U of G in 2010 as a Canada Research Chair in Global Human Security, is the co-author of Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. Most recently, he created “Feeding Nine Billion,” a project intended to spark discussion about feeding the Earth’s ballooning human population.

Prof. Sylvain Charlebois was interviewed for two separate CBC news stories March 2 on McDonald’s and corporate franchising and  Coca-Cola’s recent decision to reduce sugar in its soft drinks. A marketing and consumer studies professor in the College of Business and Economics, Charlebois studies food policy and distribution.

History professor Matthew Hayday was quoted in a March 1 article that ran in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun on the importance of “history” in the value of objects. Hayday researches national identity, including how national and regional holidays and commemorative events are celebrated and bilingualism.