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‹‹‹ Contents page for this issue     |     Summer 2009

We can fine tune strawberries – but what about the economy?

By Susan Trulove

Usually, we wait until after research has been completed — or is at least well underway — before writing about it. But the economy was such a big event as we were making story decisions that we had to consider it. So we asked Pamplin College of Business faculty members: What will the research questions be in the years ahead — looking back at the first decade of 2000?

Now that the article deadline is past, some of the more esoteric impetus for the meltdown is settling out. Banks are repaying loans and securities backed by faulty mortgages are old news. Meanwhile, with declining sales of cars, campers, and other goods, people are losing their jobs and foreclosures are on the rise as a result — easier to understand and more heartbreaking. Perhaps revitalizing job markets would be a timely topic for the next issue of the research magazine.

In this issue, we also address another current hot-button issue: healthcare. We share an engineer’s perspective on medical advances for heart disease diagnosis and care; and a wood scientist’s contributions to targeted drug delivery for greater efficacy and fewer side effects.

And we look at research on the oldest of subjects — life on Earth. We celebrate Darwin’s birthday with a look at one aspect of evolution — when and how the biggest life forms became so big over the course of 3.5 billion years.

Whales and sequoias evolved without human intervention. And so did strawberries and many flowers. But now that we know how, we are enhancing the nutrition of tasty fruits and the beauty of flowers. Okay, we know that the gorgeous daylily we feature was developed for its economic appeal as a new product from Southside Virginia for the nursery industry. But it is also important to “Take time to smell the roses” or, in this case, simply enjoy the beauty of maroon and orange petals.

 

DARwin conducts: When the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed on campus in December 2008, DARwin, a robot constructed in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering RoMe La (Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory), was a guest conductor.