Nanoscale biosensors

first_imgBy Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaDiabetics who must frequently monitor their blood sugar levels can take heart. University of Georgia research engineers are developing tiny sensors that could eliminate the need for all those finger sticks.”There are lots of problems with the current technology (for measuring blood sugar),” said Guigen Zhang, one of three main researchers on the UGA project. “It’s not particularly accurate or stable, and it’s especially hard for children.”Zhang and his colleagues, bioengineer William Kisaalita and physicist Yiping Zhao, are working to create the first generation of nanoscale biosensors, funded by a four-year, $1 million National Science Foundation grant.Nanotechnology is the study and design of nanoscale systems — literally, measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter.”The idea is to create devices that can be imbedded in the body to monitor conditions — in this case, glucose for diabetes,” said Zhang, a bioengineer in the UGA department of biological and agricultural engineering.”But the application potential for this nanotechnology is very broad,” he said. “We can imagine adapting it for food safety, to monitor the environment (and for) biodefense.”Nanoscale structuresSo, how does one go about making anything, much less a functional structure, on such a small scale?That task, for this project, falls principally to Zhao, who uses a technology called glancing angle deposition (GLAD) to create nanostructures. With GLAD, substances like metal or silicon are heated until they vaporize and are then manipulated to create structures.”The unique part is that these are well-controlled structures, not random,” Zhang said. “The GLAD technology is not new. But using it to make nanostructured devices is relatively new, and using it as we are is very, very new.”Nanoscale problemsHowever, before the scientists start work on the structures, they must first address two basic problems that occur with any biosensor, large or small.One, biofouling, occurs when the sensor mechanism gets blocked. Just as dust particles can interfere with satellite reception, molecules, often proteins, can mar the surface of a nanoscale biosensor.When this happens, “it blocks the reaction of the sensor,” Zhang said, “and interferes with the sensor’s ability to track signals.”The other critical issue is long-term calibration. Sensor devices must be calibrated regularly, in the same way bathroom scales must regularly be adjusted back to zero.Solving the problem of how to recalibrate minute, implanted nanodevices will have broad applications for the whole of nanotechnology, particularly nanobiotechnology, Zhang said.Nanobiosensors will provide more accurate readings, he said, because many tiny sensors are better than one larger one and increase the sensitivity of the sensing.Nanotechnology futuresAlmost 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Many must monitor their glucose level several times each day. And each time they must draw blood from a finger, hand or arm.Helen Brittain, 54, has been sticking her finger five or six times a day for almost 20 years.”You have to get used to it, but I’d rather not have to do it,” she said. “I spend a lot of energy keeping myself balanced.”Creating more accurate and convenient measuring systems will have a “huge social impact,” Zhang said.”We’re excited at many levels by this project,” Zhang said. “By harnessing interdisciplinary expertise through the UGA Faculty of Engineering, we’ve not only brought federal dollars to Georgia but we have the opportunity to play a significant role in very cutting-edge technology.”(Cat Holmes is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

Exceptional drought

first_imgBy David Emory StooksburyUniversity of GeorgiaScattered showers and thunderstorms slowed Georgia’s slide intodeeper drought during June and July. While conditionsdeteriorated more slowly, northwest and southwest Georgia stillslid into exceptional drought.Bountiful rains have greatly improved conditions in southeast andcoastal Georgia. Parts of inland southeast Georgia, 12 countiesin all, are no longer classified as being in drought.Of Georgia’s remaining 147 counties, drought conditions areexceptional in 37, extreme in 55, severe in 16, moderate in 21and mild in 10, with eight abnormally dry.In late June, no counties were in exceptional drought, butconditions were extreme in 104 and severe in 38. Then, conditionswere moderate in just 15 and mild in only two, and no county wasjust abnormally dry or not in drought.Exceptional drought conditions are expected about once in 100years. This is based on many indicators, including rainfall sinceOct. 1 and over the past 180, 90, 30 and 14 days, soil moisture,stream flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels.Northwest, southwest counties scorchedThese exceptional conditions have developed in 23 northwestGeorgia counties: Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee,Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Douglas, Floyd, Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon,Haralson, Harris, Heard, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Troup,Walker and Whitfield.In southwest Georgia, 14 counties now have exceptional droughtconditions: Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Decatur, Dougherty, Early,Grady, Miller, Mitchell, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole, Terrell andThomas.Soil moisture is near the first percentile in northwest andsouthwest Georgia. At this level, we would expect the soil to bemoister in 99 of 100 years.Several streams in southwest and northwest Georgia are at recordlow flows for early August. These include Ichawaynochaway Creeknear Milford, Spring Creek near Iron City, the Flint River atBainbridge, Cedar Creek near Cedartown and the Oostanaula Rivernear Rome.Other rivers setting record low flows for the date are the Flintnear Griffin and the Chattooga near Clayton.Soil moisture droppingWith temperatures hovering around 100 and many regions gettinglittle to no rain over the past seven to 10 days, soil moisturelevels are dropping quickly statewide.Soil moisture loss to evaporation and plant use is now runningbetween one-quarter and one-third of an inch per day. If theAugust trend of hot days with little to no rain continues, theregions in relatively good shape could find conditionsdeteriorating quickly.Severe drought conditions are in Atkinson, Clinch, Crawford,Crisp, Dooly, Greene, Irwin, Jasper, Lincoln, Macon, Monroe,Peach, Putnam, Taliaferro, Turner and Wilkes counties.Short-term moisture deficits have caused drought conditions todeteriorate especially in the central and southern Savannah RiverValley. Rainfall over the past month has been between 50 percentand 70 percent of normal.Deteriorating conditions have resulted in moderate drought inBulloch, Burke, Columbia, Effingham, Evans, Glascock, Jenkins,McDuffie, Screven, Richmond and Warren counties.Moderate conditions are also in Baldwin, Bibb, Ben Hill, Coffee,Hancock, Houston, Jones, Pulaski, Ware and Wilcox counties.Drought conditions are mild in Bacon, Bleckley, Dodge, JeffDavis, Jefferson, Pierce, Telfair, Twiggs, Washington andWilkinson counties.Helpful rainsMuch of coastal and southeast Georgia had bountiful rains in Juneand July. However, rainfall deficits for the water year (sinceOct. 1) leave eight of these counties classified as abnormallydry: Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Glynn, Libertyand McIntosh.The summer rains have brought Appling, Candler, Emanuel, Johnson,Laurens, Long, Montgomery, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne andWheeler counties back to normal conditions.In these counties rainfall for the water year and the past 180,90, 30 and 14 days has been near or above normal. Soil moisturelevels are near normal for early August.Because of the sandy nature of these counties’ soils, however,agricultural drought can develop quickly if temperatures remainin the middle to upper 90s with little to no rain.Extreme droughtThe remaining 55 Georgia counties are in extreme drought,including most of south-central, west-central, north-central andnortheast Georgia.Across the extreme drought region, soil moisture levels arebetween the 2nd and 5th percentiles. At these levels, we wouldexpect soils to be moister in 95 to 98 of 100 years.Stream flows in this region are generally between the 2nd and 5thpercentiles. With little rain and 100-degree temperatures overthe past week, many of these streams are nearing record lowlevels.Groundwater levels remain low statewide for this time of the year.Relief?No widespread relief is foreseeable. In August and September, thebest hope for widespread drought relief is from tropical weathersystems. Without these, we can expect the drought to worsen overthe next two months.If dry conditions continue, high temperatures during August canbe expected to remain in the middle 90s to low 100s across thepiedmont and coastal plain. The Georgia mountains can expecttemperatures in the upper 80s to middle 90s.Get updated drought information at state drought Web site includes information on how to dealwith the drought.Updated weather information is at University of Georgia network has 71 automated weatherstations statewide.(David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and aprofessor of engineering and atmospheric sciences in theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img read more

Bioenergy conference

first_imgUniversity of GeorgiaThe latest information about alternative fuels and the current and future projects planned for this new industry in the Southeast will be the focus of the third annual Southeast Bioenergy Conference Aug. 12-13 in Tifton, Ga.The keynote speaker will be Ron Fagen, president and CEO of Fagen Inc. “The man and his company have the best handle on the pulse of the industry, and he will share his insights for the future,” said Craig Kvien, a professor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a conference organizer.Gale Buchanan, a U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary, will give an update on the country’s future energy needs. Jose Luis Oliverio, vice president of Dedini Industries de Base, will talk about the Brazilian biofuel market and why it has been successful.“We will have speakers from across the world sharing their experiences and vision for the Southeast,” Kvien said. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Georgia state Sen. Ross Tolleson and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss are also scheduled to attend. Registration is $175 before July 31, and $225 after. College students get in free. For more information, go to the Web site Or, call (229) 386-7274.last_img read more

Pesticide Applicator Classes

first_imgCertified pesticide applicators need recertification training and credits to keep their licenses up-to-date. To help provide this training, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has planned pesticide applicator recertification classes in Savannah, Griffin and Cartersville this February.The Savannah class is set for Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens on Canebrake Road in Savannah. The registration fee is $50 and rises to $60 after Feb. 4.The Griffin class will be held Feb. 18 on the UGA campus on Experiment Street in Griffin, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Cartersville class, also set for Feb. 18, will be held by web conference at the Bartow County Extension Office on West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The registration fee for the Griffin and Cartersville classes is $50 and rises to $60 after Feb. 10. The topics vary slightly at each location but will include an introduction to invasive pests, integrated pest management, understanding and preventing resistance to pesticides, getting the most from pesticide labels, recent changes in pesticide regulations and UGA resources available for use in managing pests.Certified applicators can earn five hours of Georgia Commercial Pesticide Credit for attending a class. This credit can be divided over categories 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 41. Private applicators can earn up to two credit hours.Experts from UGA Extension, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Arrow Exterminators will teach the classes. For a complete schedule or to register online, visit the website For more information, call (770) 229-3477 or send an email to read more

Drone Research

first_imgGeorgia House Resolution 744 created a committee to study the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in the state. Created as a result of public concern, the committee will look at the uses of these remote-controlled, airplane-like devices, equipped with cameras and used by law enforcement agencies and other government authorities, to determine whether they invade privacy.University of Georgia scientist Clint Waltz in Griffin, Georgia, has been using an aerial drone to reduce the amount of time he and his technician spend documenting data in fields. They also use the drone to gather supplemental data through bird’s-eye-view photographs of research plots.Waltz is uncovering how his research benefits from the use of his drone, or what looks like a miniature helicopter with a camera mounted underneath it.“Photo documentation is essential to our research, and the drone can take aerial photos of the effects of different fertilizer and pesticide treatments on various grasses,” said Waltz, UGA Extension’s turfgrass specialist. “It can go up 50 or 60 feet and take a photo, which helps us measure treatment effects.”The drone Waltz uses on the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences campus in Griffin is lightweight, weighing under 5 pounds. “It’s very small, like 2 feet by 2 feet, but it can fly 700 feet away from you. You have to keep it in your line of sight at all times,” explains Clay Bennett, Waltz’s research technician and the drone’s on-the-ground “pilot.”Bennett says he has heard of companies wanting to use drones for commercial applications. “They want to use them as part of their business model. We want to use it for research – not to make money,” he said.At UGA, research data is recorded from individual research plots by human technicians who look for differences with the human eye. “Now, I can add one, large image of five treatments replicated on 20 plots. That one image with the sun in the same location can improve our accuracy and recommendations,” Waltz said.Waltz says that, in theory, a drone could fly over a field of row crops in less than an hour and return to the farmer with a photograph that would help him target pesticide applications.“This is precision agriculture. The technology already exists in precision ag to use infrared cameras to take photos over fields. These images indicate stressed areas. It takes a photo of hot and cold spots in the field and certain areas show up red, orange, blue or green. It’s not a very pretty picture, but it’s very helpful to farmers,” he said. “An image from our drone is a very high quality image.”Infrared photos can also indicate dry spots in fields. A drone camera photograph could be used to identify areas on a golf course that need irrigation, Waltz said. “A (golf course) superintendent comes to work, sends out the drone to take photos of all of the greens, identifies the dry spots and sends his staff out to apply irrigation just in those areas,” he said. “In the afternoon, he could send it out to take photos of all 18 greens and see the effect of the irrigation. This would also save a lot of labor for his staff.”Golf course superintendents can also use drones to inspect the condition of their courses. “Maybe there’s frost, and you need to delay opening until 10 a.m.,” he said. “You could report that over social media.”Waltz feels aerial images taken by drones could help indicate diseased areas, but not weeds. “Picking up weed (presence) is difficult because you’re looking at green on green. Disease issues, on the other hand, would be brown and could be identified early,” he said. “A grower wouldn’t have to apply blanket sprays. He could identify the problem area, mark it and spray just that area with a low label rate. The amount of pesticide applied would be reduced, and thus, the cost goes down.”For sod growers, Waltz sees drones being used to identify “off-variety grass” in fields. “The grower could then pull out grasses that are contaminants or are not the same variety that he’s growing. A drone could fly over a 500-acre sod farm in an hour or two and bring back a photo the grower could use to pinpoint and pull out the impurities,” Waltz said.It takes Bennett 15 minutes to fly the drone over UGA turfgrass plots once a week to take photos. The UGA Griffin turfgrass program purchased its first drone last year for $300.“That first one had some issues. The one we have now cost $1,200 and we’ve just had to replace one blade,” he said. “The $300 was basically a toy, and the $1,200 model is much more precise. Now I can turn the camera different angles and even take video. The first one wouldn’t hold still and take good images. The stability of the second one has made all the difference.”Images from the drone camera are downloaded directly onto a smartphone.Waltz says aerial technology has come a long way since his college days. “In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, one of my professors was using satellite images and pictures taken from airplanes for similar purposes. That methodology is still cost-prohibitive for turfgrass research. Now, with an inexpensive drone and minimal training, it’s something an individual can do without NASA or hiring a private pilot,” he said.The drone Waltz uses is the same model that crashed on the White House lawn. “We don’t plan to use it that way, obviously,” he said. “Like many things, drones can be misused. But when they are used responsibly, they have the ability to significantly help agricultural research.”For more information on UGA turfgrass research, go to read more

History of Vermont Printers Now Available

first_imgThe Lane Press, Inc. announced the availability of the book A Celebration of Vermont Printers 1904 – 2004. Published by Lane Press to recognize Vermont printers and to commemorate its 100th anniversary, the book features interviews of 20 prominent contributors to the states printing industry, a history of printing techniques, and the changing role of technology during this time. Putting ink on paper is one of the central acts of a civilized society, the book begins. For private messages, a pen will do. But for spreading public informationanything from advertising to sacred textsprinting has long been the medium that has joined the individuals in a culture.How important is printing to the Vermont economy? Today there are 119 commercial printing businesses that employ more than 3,600 people with sales of more than half a billion dollars.Authored by Chris Granstrom with oral histories by The Vermont Folklife Center and photography by Michael Sipe, the book is a compilation of stories and images that bring to life the important role printers play in the dissemination of information, our ideals, and the freedoms we enjoy as a result of the printing industry.In the preface of the book, Philip Drumheller, president of Lane Press, says that more than anything else, this is a people story. This is a story about families, fathers and sons, and a lot of great individuals, lively characters who make the story of printing in Vermont both appealing and engaging. The oral history interviews with noted printing professionals bring the printing history alive through the stories they tell.Rocky Stinehour, founder of Stinehour Press in Lunenburg, Vermont, spoke at length during his oral history interview about the role of technology in printing. Printing has always been a technologically driven business, right from the get-go. I mean, putting those scribes out of business that were making those beautiful handmade books. There were books long before printing came along, and beautiful books, and great books, but printing did something. Printing was a tool and it took pens out of the hands of the scribes and they had to start setting type. The technology may change, but the book remains.A Celebration of Vermont Printers 1904 2004 is available in hard and soft cover at is external).last_img read more

CVPS declares 23-cent per share dividend

first_imgRUTLAND, VT — (Marketwire) — 05/06/09 — On May 5, 2009, the board of directors of Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE: CV) declared a quarterly dividend of 23 cents per share on the issued and outstanding shares of common stock, $6 par value, payable Aug. 14, 2009 to stockholders of record at the close of business Aug. 4, 2009. The board of directors also declared dividends on the outstanding preferred stock, $100 par value, of $1.04 per share on the 4.15% dividend series; $1.17 per share on the 4.65% dividend series; $1.19 per share on the 4.75% dividend series; $1.34375 per share on the 5.375% dividend series; and $2.075 per share on the 8.30% dividend series, payable July 1, 2009 to stockholders of record at the close of business June 19, 2009.CVPS is Vermont’s largest electric utility, serving approximately 159,000 customers statewide. The company’s non-regulated subsidiary, Catamount Resources Corporation, sells and rents electric water heaters through a subsidiary, SmartEnergy Water Heating Services.last_img read more

Draker Labs move reflects growth, future expansion

first_imgDraker Labs, a provider of high performance turnkey monitoring systems for large commercial and utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, is moving into new, larger offices on April 1, 2011. The company’s new offices will be located in the Maltex building at 431 Pine Street in Burlington, VT. The move reflects significant growth the company experienced during 2010 as well as future expansion plans.Commenting on the upcoming move, Draker CEO Charles ‘Chach’ Curtis noted that the company doubled its staff in the past 12 months and expects to do so again in the coming year. ‘The original Draker building has served us well over the past 10 years but given recent and projected growth we knew we needed more space. The new facility will more than double our current space and allow us to continue to expand as needed.’ Curtis added that, ‘We are excited to be moving into the Maltex building, a beautifully renovated historic property situated near Lake Champlain and at the center of what is fast becoming a hub for technology companies located in the Burlington area.’Draker’s new offices are being outfitted to accommodate the company’s manufacturing, operations, hardware and software development, and sales and marketing groups. Draker’s executive offices will also be located at the new facility. The company will continue to maintain a west coast operations and sales office located at 1029 H Street, Suite 301 in Sacramento, CA.Draker’s main phone and fax numbers will remain unchanged. Effective April 1, 2011, the company’s new address will be:Draker Labs431 Pine Street, Suite 114Burlington, VT 05401About Draker LaboratoriesDraker Laboratories provides highly accurate and reliable monitoring solutions that help owners and operators of commercial and utility-scale PV systems maximize the efficiency and profitability of their solar assets.  As a supplier of complete, end-to-end monitoring solutions, Draker provides turnkey systems that combine proven field instrumentation with an intuitive Web-based data management system and unmatched customer support. For more information, visit is external).(March 24, 2011 – Burlington, VT) Draker Labslast_img read more

Registration is now open for the Citizens Bank Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival August 7

first_imgTeam registration is now open for the Citizens Bank Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. This year’s festival is Sunday, August 7th at Burlington’s Waterfront Park. Each team is comprised of 21 paddlers who race head to head in 41 foot long dragon boats over a 300 meter course. Festival organizers encourage everyone to join together with your co-workers, friends, and family and form a team. No paddling experience is necessary, it’s all for fun, friendly competition, and raising money to fund programs to help friends and neighbors living with a cancer diagnosis. Online registration is easy. Just visit is external) for complete festival information and registration details. Every team gets a free one hour practice session in July. Space is limited so organize your team right away. The festival has become one of Vermont’s most popular summer events with over 20,000 paddlers and spectators annually. It’s all about community with entertainment, food vendors, a silent auction, raffles and more. The core of Dragonheart Vermont’s mission is to give back to the community and over the last five years the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival has raised over $435,000 to support critical cancer programs in Vermont. This year, Dragonheart is expanding its community mission. With the on-going support of presenting sponsor Citizens Bank and other local businesses and organizations, the festival has set a goal to raise $250,000 to launch Survivorship NOW, a new Dragonheart Vermont initiative to help bridge the gap cancer survivors face between treatment and recovery. The Network on Wellness will promote opportunities for therapeutic treatments, strengthening programs, education, and networking to better serve cancer survivors in our community. The initiative has the strong endorsement of cancer survivors, doctors, and health care institutions in our area. The need is real and Survivorship NOW promises cancer survivors a network of services that will help them live well with cancer. Linda Dyer, Dragonheart Vermont, Executive Director:‘Our Dragonheart organization is excited about putting our efforts toward helping to promote more opportunities for wellness for cancer survivors in our community. As a breast cancer survivor and supporter organization, we have seen firsthand how valuable fitness, camaraderie, and connection can be. Our hope is that all cancer survivors in our community will have the chance to get the programs needed to live each day to the fullest.’ Marni Willams, Team Captain of Paddling in Vein states:‘We are honored to take part in the LCDBF for the 6th year in a row. Many of our members have been touched one way or another by cancer and we look forward to this opportunity to pay forward the efforts that have been made on behalf of those affected.’ Visit is external) for complete details.last_img read more

Vermont treasurer cautions US debt ceiling impasse could impact state’s credit rating

first_imgWhile federal negotiations continue on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Vermont’s State Treasurer is cautioning that the seeming impasse could negatively impact Vermont’s hard-earned Triple-A bond credit rating.                 ‘Yesterday, we learned from Moody’s Investor Services that even the highest-rated states, including Vermont, would have their ratings reviewed next week in light of the continued U.S. debt ceiling debate,’ said State Treasurer Beth Pearce. ‘However, I’m confident Vermont’s track record of fiscal responsibility will serve us well in any rating review. Vermont has the highest credit rating in New England, one of the highest ratings in the country, a strong cash position and healthy reserves.’                 Pearce said such disappointing news concerns her because the State’s high bond rating enables Vermont to borrow funds for critical infrastructure needs at very low rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments. On July 13, Moody’s placed the U.S. government’s debt ratings on review for possible downgrade. Moody’s informed the Treasurer’s Office that it also was concerned that states would be negatively impacted by disruptions caused by the failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.                 State and federal governments sell bonds to investors to borrow money to make investments in areas such as public infrastructure. In Vermont, money raised by a bond sale funds a wide range of capital purposes, including State building construction and maintenance, health and public safety, and pollution control projects. The higher such bonds are rated, the more creditworthy a rating agency evaluates the bond issuer to be. Vermont bonds are rated Triple-A by Moody’s and Fitch Ratings and Double-A+ by the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service.                 ‘The debate in Washington is a painful reminder that even though Vermont is fiscally sound and we are responsibly managing our finances through this economic downturn, we also are affected by national public policy decisions. It would be regrettable if all of the hard work and sacrifice that State government, employees and taxpayers have made to earn Vermont’s excellent ratings is put at risk due to events beyond our control,’ said Pearce.                 Vermont’s next general obligation bond sale is not scheduled until mid-October and Pearce said the State has sufficient cash balances and receipts to delay that sale even further if necessary.                 ‘We are fortunate that we can get through any short- or even medium-term bond market disruption,’ explained Pearce. ‘Many states are not in such an advantageous position. If a resolution to the debt ceiling issue is not forthcoming, debt markets will be volatile. States and municipalities with lower credit ratings may have difficulty accessing the market at affordable interest rates, if at all. I remain hopeful, however, that a resolution will take place before the deadline.’                 The Treasurer’s Office has worked closely with State officials to review rating agency concerns and to develop contingency plans. Vermont has sufficient liquid cash reserves to manage delays in receipt of federal funds, and all of its existing debt is fixed rate and long term, which protects it from both rising interest rates and ‘rollover’ risk.last_img read more