Department of Biological Sciences (Biology)

Becca Dickstein: Azure sage catches eyes
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By Rebecca Dickstein

Azure sage (Salvia azurea), also called sky blue sage, blue sage and pitcher sage, is a prairie plant from the mint family, native to the grasslands of the Great Plains. Both its common and Latin names give clues to azure sage’s flowers, which come in sky blue to light blue, and (rarely) white, appearing in late summer and early fall. The flowers are two-lipped bell-shaped calyxes, a quarter-inch to half-inch long.

After pollination, seeds form, which can be collected in mid- to late fall. Azure sage is easy to propagate from seed, which may be sown in the fall as well as the spring....

People: Honors & Awards
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University of North Texas Distinguished Research Professor Richard Dixon earned the Phytochemical Society of North America’s Phytochemical Pioneer Award for his significant contributions to phytochemical research over his career. Dixon’s work includes basic studies on enzymes and metabolic pathways; researching the invention of a new, stronger plant-based carbon fiber; researching the impact of grape seed extract on Alzheimer's disease, and developing more digestible and cattle-friendly alfalfa and improved bioenergy crops.

Heath Hen as gateway bird for de-extinction inches closer to reality
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By Sara Brown

The first phase of a ground-breaking project to bring the heath hen back from extinction has been successfully completed, scientists told a group of Vineyard donors this week. With DNA sequencing of both the extinct bird and its closest living relative complete, the path to bringing back the heath hen is not only getting more tangible, but scientists say the heath hen could be “the gateway bird” for avian de-extinction, paving the way to bringing back other extinct species or saving endangered animals.

Less than a year and a half ago, Ryan Phelan and Stewart Brand came to the Vineyard...

Researcher earns lifetime career award
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Richard Dixon, a distinguished research professor at the University of North Texas, earned the Phytochemical Society of North America’s Phytochemical Pioneer Award.

Phytochemicals are natural plant chemicals, and a part of Dixon’s research activity.

He received the award at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the society’s annual meeting recently.

Insight Denton: Are there Asian Giant Hornets in Denton?
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Are there Asian giant hornets in Denton?

It’s unlikely. According to University of North Texas professor and insect expert Jim Kennedy, North Texas is home to several large wasps that could be confused with those big hornets, including Sphecius speciosus, or the cicada killer.

Sphecius speciosus are common in this area and emerge in late June and early July. While they typically live until September or October, many are succumbing to the current heat wave and their bodies are turning up where they might otherwise be hidden.

Cicada killers are large, though typically not as large as an Asian...