The Bald and The Beautiful raises money and awareness for cancer research

first_imgHair can often be a means of self-expression. However, sometimes no hairstyle at all can say more than even the most elaborate updo. The Bald and The Beautiful, one of the largest student-run philanthropy events on campus, gives students the opportunity to either shave their heads, donate eight inches of hair or buy hair extensions to raise funds and awareness for cancer research.“It’s cool when you shave your head and you’re walking around campus and you see somebody else that you didn’t know was shaving their head or a girl who got her hair cut super short, it’s just like a cool little bond you share,” Bart Bramanti, a junior and co-chair for the event, said.This year, The Bald and the Beautiful will be held on April 3 and 4 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and April 5 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Duncan Student Center on the Hagerty Family Cafe Stage. Participants can either donate eight inches of their hair for free, shave their head for $15 or purchase colored hair extensions, each color representing a different type of cancer, for $10.Organizer and senior Rachel Belans said she hopes the central location will help make the fundraiser more successful this year.“We switched the location this year,” Belans said. “It used to be in [LaFortune Student Center] so we’re hoping that the new location will be really exciting and maybe help us get more participation this year.”Last year, the event raised around $10,000 and the organizers are hoping to either match that amount or reach $15,000 this year. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $300,000 for pediatric cancer research.The money raised is split between Memorial Hospital in South Bend and St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on childhood cancer research. However, the efforts of The Bald and The Beautiful go beyond just raising money. The event has also sponsored a playroom called “The Bald and The Beautiful Room” in Memorial Hospital and the group also organizes visits to Memorial Hospital a few times a month. On Wednesday, children from the hospital will be coming to the fundraiser for arts and crafts.“We wanted to support the children’s hospital here because those were the kids we could interact with and it’s in South Bend,” Bramanti said. “And the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was the research-related side of it. … We want to donate to a fewer number of places and make more substantial contributions.”The Bald and The Beautiful began in 2009 when some members of the Freshmen Class Council began planning a service event in honor of one of their classmates, Sam Marx, who had been in a battle with cancer during his time on campus. The goal of the event was to keep Sam’s vibrant presence alive on campus after he left for further treatment and to raise awareness for cancer research. At the first The Bald and The Beautiful, 126 students came out to shave their heads.Last year, 258 people preregistered for the event and this year they have 100 individuals registered for donations — including 15 girls who are planning on shaving their heads. Around 500 people ended up participating last year, as people can also walk up the day of and participate.“I have not participated in The Bald and the Beautiful before,” Elisabeth Lasecki, a sophomore who will be donating eight inches of her hair, said in an email. “I decided to participate because I was already planning to chop my hair, so I might as well do it for such an incredible cause.”Bramanti has shaved his head the last two years.“It’s funky. You feel like you have Velcro all over your head,” he said.While shaving your head my not be for everyone, Belans said it lends one a strong emotional connection to those going through cancer.“It [shaving your head] requires a lot of bravery and is a huge emotional challenge for people to go through and do that big empathic thing to stand in solidarity with people with cancer,” she said.Belans has donated her hair three times to The Bald and The Beautiful.“There’s all kinds of things we take for granted and one of the easiest ones is a full head of hair,” Bramanti said. “But on a shaving-your-head basis, you’re stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing what it’s like. It’s an interesting experience. When you shave your head and you’re off campus where people don’t know you, you can get looked at kind of funny, like ‘why does this kid have a shaved head’ and maybe that’s something that people who are going through chemo have to deal with as their hair is growing back. It’s just trying to understand and get a little appreciation for how blessed we are to live the kind of lives we do and do what we can to help those who have to deal with the things we don’t.”Lasecki is still apprehensive about the approaching date for her big haircut, but it excited to do her part for those battling cancer.“I’ve wanted to cut my hair for a while now, but I’m definitely still a bit nervous,” Lasecki said. “I haven’t had short hair since I was pretty young. Nevertheless, I’m just grateful I can do my small part in the ongoing fight against cancer.”Bramanti said if shaving your head has even crossed your mind before, it’s definitely a risk worth taking.“I think everyone will get a little nervous when they think about shaving their head,” Bramanti said. “But, I never looked back. I’m very happy I did it the two times I did. If you haven’t done it and it’s something you’re thinking about, take a little leap of faith. You always have a conversation starter.”Tags: cancer, haircut, philanthropy, the bald and the beautifullast_img read more

Sunflower genetics

first_imgBy April SorrowUniversity of GeorgiaBy unlocking its genetic secrets, University of Georgia researcher Steve Knapp wants to make the sunflower a better agricultural crop or one that can more easily fuel the future. Over the next few years, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professor and Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar plans to tap into the genetic diversity of wild sunflowers. In the process, he will help other genomic scholars sequence the entire sunflower genome. “Genomics will provide resources and information useful in solving problems of agricultural and economic importance,” Knapp said. “Disease resistance, drought tolerance, seed quality, biomass yield as well as ornamental traits will be mapped.” There are 49 native species of sunflower, and 20 of those are genetically connected to the common sunflower. “There is a vast reservoir of diversity,” Knapp said. Worldwide, sunflowers are farmed on more than 60 million acres. Most are used for oil production and to make biodiesel. The plant could be used to produce another alternative fuel — ethanol. Knapp will study the silverleaf and Algodones dune sunflowers. Both are wild, desert-dwelling species. Growing as tall as 21 feet with woody stems, the plants can produce large amounts of cellulosic biomass, which can be converted into ethanol. Their small blooms smell like chocolate, too. But taming a wild species into a domesticated crop that farmers in Georgia or other places can grow economically for fuel or other products can take time. The fastest way to do it is to understand the genes. “First, we need to figure out where the genes are we want to keep, then we introduce them into the modern sunflower,” Knapp said. The sunflower has 17 chromosomes, each containing approximately 2,900 genes. In total, Knapp estimated the sunflower has 40,000 to 50,000 genes. The human genome has 35,000 genes. Each gene will be studied to determine what it controls in the plant. Each gene is kind of like a milepost on a highway, he said. Knowing where they are and what they do will help build the plant’s genetic map, or blueprint, so to speak. “We have the cities but not the road between them,” he said. “There is still a lot we don’t know.” The process of transferring genes from one plant to another isn’t easy. “We make hybrid plants, and then cross them back to get rid of certain undesirable traits, the effects are buffered by crossing back multiple times,” Knapp said. “If the species are closely related, we can bring most traits across, but when they are not, it is more difficult.” Cultivars from Knapp’s research, for example, can be put into private industry screening and breeding programs to determine disease resistance. Knowing ahead of time what genes control disease resistance can speed the process.Knapp’s research is funded by multiple grants, including $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, $500,000 from seed companies to develop better DNA marker technology and $400,000 from the USDA Plant Genome Program. Another $600,000 in funding comes from two grants from the Binational Agriculture Research and Development Agency and the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research specifically to study wild species and disease resistance. (April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Scieces.)last_img read more

Ask the Mayor — April 24, 2019 — Iowa Legislature talks about sports betting

first_imgThe “Ask the Mayor” program on April 24, 2019, offered a better insight to the debate in the Iowa Legislature about sports gambling. Listen back and/or download the program via the audio player below:last_img