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Idaho State University Gibson Jack Creek RNA study on how plants process water has implications for climate change, water management

A solar panel sits near the top of a Douglas Fir tree about 70 feet off the ground somewhere on a steep ridge near Gibson Jack Creek, miles from the nearest trailhead.

“You know those things you enjoy as a child sometimes have applications afterwards,” said John Whiting, an Idaho State University geosciences master’s student, who has accompanied a group of ISU researchers to a study site where he climbed the tree and installed the solar panel about a year ago.

“I usually do the tree climbing, because I am most comfortable with it,” Whiting continued, “I am relatively safe and I usually use a harness, but Sarah doesn’t even like watching me install them.”

ISU students Dylan Refaey and Clarissa Enslin pack equipment up Gibson Jack drainage that will be used in a study on plant transpiration rates. (Photo by Bethany Baker, ISU Photographic Services

He was referring to Sarah Godsey, an ISU geosciences assistant professor who is leading the study at U.S. Forest Service’s Gibson Jack Research Natural Area. In part, the study is one of the many facets of the National Science Foundations Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystems Services (MILES) project that encompasses large regions of Idaho, focusing on the Portneuf, Boise and Coeur d’Alene River watersheds. Gibson Jack Creek is a tributary of the Portneuf River.

The solar panel, along with some batteries that work when the panel isn’t producing energy, help power a variety of sensors that are set up in surrounding trees. These trees each feature ISU-crafted sap-flow sensors (made in part by hypodermic needles that are inserted into the sides of the trees) and the site also includes sensors that measure soil moisture, temperature, relative humidity and photosynthetically-activate radiation, or how much sunlight is available for trees to use.

There are a network of data cables from all of these sensors that lead into a protected plastic box hanging on the tree, where data is collected in a data logger, which is small device researchers can connect laptop computer to and download data.

Sarah Godsey, left, an ISU geosciences assistant professor, and student Dylan Refaey working on equipment at research sites that help measure plant transpiration rates.

Sarah Godsey, left, an ISU geosciences assistant professor, and student Dylan Refaey working on equipment at research sites that help measure plant transpiration rates.

“The MILES grant covers ecosystems services, which is such a broad term, for all the benefits we get from the environment around us that we don’t pay for,” Godsey said. “In this particular part of the MILES project, we are looking at Gibson Jack and plant water use. We want to know how that can relate to stream flow and water quality.”

The researchers here are checking the water transpiration rates of the Douglas Fir trees, measuring the amount of water released by the trees into the air.

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Idaho State University Receives Nuclear Regulatory Production License To Produce Isotopes for Cancer Research

HowardGrimesPressConference IDAHO FALLS – Idaho State University’s Idaho Accelerator Center has achieved a milestone in nuclear medicine that promises hope to cancer patients. Scientists at the Center have used linear accelerators to produce isotopes that now can be assessed in the treatment of cancer.

Furthermore, ISU has received a production license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use nuclear accelerators to produce the isotope copper-67, which has the potential to be more effective than chemotherapy or external radiation for the treatment of some cancers.

“We will be the only university in the western United States with production license to produce this type of cancer-fighting isotope using e-LINAC accelerators,” said Howard Grimes, vice president for research. “The potential medical and commercial implications of producing these isotopes are huge as is the potential to add to our array of cancer fighting treatments.”

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ISU Historians, Political Scientists Participate in Effort to Understand Benefits of Portneuf River Watershed and Help Form Management Decisions

140722PortneufRiverResearch06.JPGPOCATELLO – Idaho State University social scientists are involved in a statewide study devoted to finding practical solutions to some of Idaho’s most important environmental challenges, including locally managing the Portneuf River watershed.

The scope of the National Science Foundation’s Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystems Services (MILES) grant is huge – it encompasses large regions of the entire state and includes researchers from a variety of academic disciplines from ISU, Boise State University and the University of Idaho.

“As we face increasing challenges to our natural resources, it is imperative to understand both the science of our ecological systems and their societal impact,” said Howard Grimes, ISU vice president for research and economic development.  “Our strategy is to engage stakeholders in a process we can envision as the democratization of science so that robust, informed policy decisions can be made.”

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