Thursday, January 8, 2009

More than Football Schools

In honor of tonight's college football national championship match-up, we're profiling medical researchers from the two universities vying for the title.

University of Oklahoma (#1)
Linda Wallace, PhD
Professor of Botany

Biofuels are a promising alternative to oil, but questions about the economic and environmental sustainability of a biofuel industry hinder widespread use of alternative fuel sources. Corn, the current option for ethanol production, is acknowledged as a sub-optimal choice.

In 2007 Dr. Linda Wallace garnered the support of the Ecological Society for a gathering of international experts in a symposium to develop a science-based, ecologically and economically sustainable policy for biofuel production.

The researchers want to make sure that any biofuel industry subsidies are based on research demonstrating the environmental stability of the source organisms, to avoid governmental support for a biofuel "solution" that ends up being harmful to the ecosystem. A botanist, Dr. Wallace and her colleagues suggest that a combination of native grasses offers a sustainable alternative to corn-based ethanol. Further research into the topic is being carried out at the University of Oklahoma and other institutions.

University of Florida (#2)
Lynn Bailey, PhD
Professor of Human Nutrition
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Getting just 400 micrograms of folic acid (from vitamin B9) a day can help prevent neural birth defects for pregnant women. And Dr. Lynn Bailey would know, since she's spent the past two decades researching the amount of folic acid to maintain maternal health. Working with the National Academy of Sciences she helped write new dietary intake recommendations.

Her advocacy extends to serving as a science advisor to the NIH, CDC, FDA, Dept. of Agriculture, and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bailey has been on the faculty at UF for over 30 years, teaching human nutrition and setting a strong example for Florida's future science advocates.

So if you're not sure who to cheer for tonight when the Sooners take on the Gators, check out the research going on at their respective universities. If you haven't picked a favorite yet, no reason not to use this as a deciding factor.

Also, if you're interested in medical research and football, check out Myron Rolle who in addition to being one heck of a football player, will be graduating with a pre-med degree from Florida State University in just 2.5 years with a 3.75 GPA. He was recently awarded the Rhodes Scholarship and will likely be heading to Oxford next year to study medical anthropology. He hopes to go to medical school and then open a clinic. An advocate in the making.

co-authored by: H Lewis

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