For researchers in Dr. Juan Zalapa’s Cranberry Genetics and Genomics Lab, part of the USDA-ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cranberries are more than a side dish on their Thanksgiving tables, they are the main course in their daily studies.
Daily tasks of the Zalapa lab include using modern molecular genetic tools combined with classical breeding strategies to improve the fruit yield and other qualities of cranberries, making them part of a healthy diet while at the same time helping Wisconsin cranberry producers grow more cranberries in increasingly sustainable ways to ensure that Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in production. In addition to their work in the lab, the Zalapa group has been actively involved in making their cranberry research available to the public through outreach events, serving over 4,000 people in nine diverse events over the past year alone. Due to this commitment to outreach, Dr. Zalapa’s lab was recently sponsored by the National Science Foundation as an exhibitor at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. on April 25-27. This was a four day extravaganza at one of the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) festivals in the world with over with over 325,000 attendees and 3,000 hands-on exhibits. Read the entire article here.