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Virginia Cooperative Extension offers tips for Emergency Preparedness Month

Virginia Cooperative Extension helped to build a more resilient response to disaster around the commonwealth by taking part in National Preparedness Month in September.

The goal of the initiative was to increase the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.

The theme for 2016 was “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”

“Disasters can strike anyone, anywhere, and sometimes without notice. Regardless of the type of disaster, it is wise for you and your family to be prepared,” said Michael Martin, Virginia Cooperative Extension emergency response and preparedness coordinator.

Families can prepare for natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and weather-related power outages, by assembling an emergency kit to keep in their home, car, and on their person; developing a communication plan; and paying attention to local weather conditions and emergency alerts.

One of the first things that you can do is assemble several emergency kits: one for the home, one to leave in a primary mode of transportation, and one that is portable in case it is necessary to abandon your home quickly. An emergency kit should contain enough items to supply food and water for your family for at least three days. Examples of some items your home kit may contain include:

  • one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days;
  • nonperishable food for at least three days;
  • a battery-powered or crank weather radio with extra batteries;
  • a flashlight and extra batteries;
  • a first-aid kit;
  • prescription medications;
  • nonelectric can opener;
  • personal care products; and
  • food and water for pets.

In addition to an emergency kit, Martin encourages every family to have a communication plan with phone numbers of individuals to contact in case of emergencies.

“Since it is possible that family members may get separated during a disaster and may not be able to get in touch with each other, you should identify a person in another locality or even in another state whom each person would contact,” said Martin. “You can also identify a common meeting place in your community should you not be able to access your home. A written plan should be given to each family member to keep with them at all times.”

In an emergency, you may have to leave your home quickly. If evacuation is necessary, listen to the radio for more information and follow the guidance of emergency personnel. Also, make sure that all family members are familiar with:

  • the best exits out of your home;
  • a community meeting place;
  • a local radio station;
  • the location of an emergency kit;
  • plans for care of pets and livestock; and
  • plans for movement of family members with special needs, such as the elderly or disabled.

Martin also suggests that families keep cars at least half-full of fuel because in an emergency fuel may not be available.

For more information on making plans for disaster preparedness, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Ready Virginia website or the Virginia Cooperative Extension storm and emergency preparedness website.

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Researchers examine how a protein molecule may link diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease

Virginia Tech scientists are working to pinpoint why people with diabetes are prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Once we understand this interaction better, we will test specific compounds we recently discovered that could inhibit diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Bin Xu, an assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate.

Amylin, a signaling protein made by the pancreas, is likely a novel contributor, according to Xu, who is also affiliated with the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery, the Fralin Translational Obesity Research Center, and Center for Gerontology.

In people with Type 2 diabetes, amylin is often not well regulated, and hyper-secretion of amylin is common in individuals with pre-diabetes, according to Xu. This signaling molecule is easily able to self-associate and form deleterious aggregates. Toxic aggregates deposit in the pancreas and can also circulate through the body to the heart, kidneys and the brain and cause harm to these tissues.

Xu and his team are interested in how amylin interacts with pancreatic cells and neuronal cells. They initiated their work in 2015 with funding from Virginia Center on Aging and will now extend and expand their study in a diabetic rat model with funding from a recently awarded Commonwealth Health Research Board grant.

Other Virginia Tech members of the research team include David Bevan, a professor of biochemistry, and Ling Wu, a research scientist in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Another collaborator is Shijun Zhang, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“This study is important and exciting not only because of the diseases being studied but also because we are using a multi-pronged approach that combines experimental and computational methods across scales ranging from molecules to animals,” said Bevan.

Obesity-related Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are pressing health problems in the Commonwealth of Virginia, nationally and globally.

Nationwide, about 29.1 million people have diabetes, and 1 out of 4 people do not know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Dec. 5: “Mob” Grazing – Practice and Science Workshop

  • Time: 9 a.m. – noon
  • Where: Alpha Stuart Livestock Arena, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Contact: Ben Tracy ( | 540-231-8259)

Dec. 10: Dairy Science Graduate seminar – Nutritional head start for heifer calfs, the facts

  • Time: 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Where: 340 Wallace Hall
  • Contact: Becky Michael ( | 540-231-6331)

Dec. 11: Characterizing waterborne lead in private water systems webinar

  • Time: 10 – 11 a.m.
  • Where: Online or dial in at 1-855-749-4750, access code 643 108 221
  • Contact: Erin Ling ( | 540-231-9058)

Dec. 14: Christmas at the Hahn Garden

  • Time: 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Where: Hahn Horticulture Garden Pavilion
  • Contact: Stephanie Huckestein ( | 540-231-5970)

Jan. 12: Wednesday Garden Talk series – Gardens for peace and reconciliation

  • Time: 12 – 1 p.m.
  • Where: Hahn Horticulture Garden Pavilion
  • Contact: Stephanie Huckestein ( | 540-231-5970)

Jan. 29-30: Virginia Biological Farming Conference

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Save the date

Nov. 5: Urbana Oyster Festival

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Where: Urbana, Virginia
  • Contact: Bob Lane ( | 757-727-4861)

Nov. 6 – 7: Small-scale and Niche Market Pork Production Conference

  • Time: 1 – 8 p.m.
  • Where: Tidewater AREC, Suffolk, Virginia
  • Contact: Mark Estienne ( | 757-657-6450)

Nov. 13 – 14: Virginia Aquaculture Conference

  • Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Where: Newport News, Virginia
  • Contact: Bob Lane ( | 757-727-4861)

Nov. 17: Forum on Fall Panicum Toxicity in Horses

  • Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Where: Virginia Tech MARE Center, Middleburg, Virginia
  • Contact: Shayan Ghajar ( | 540-687-3521 ext 26)

Dec. 5: “Mob” Grazing – Practice and Science Workshop

  • Time: 9 a.m. – noon
  • Where: Alpha Stuart Livestock Arena, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Contact: Ben Tracy ( | 540-231-8259)
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From the Dean – November 2014

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear Colleagues,

On Oct. 17, the university celebrated the installation of Timothy Sands as the 16th president of Virginia Tech. The installation ceremony, held in Burruss Hall, was attended by many internal and external stakeholders and officials. The guest speaker was France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation and president emerita of Purdue University where she served as president from 2007 to 2012. President Sands’ inaugural address highlighted Virginia Tech’s 21st century array of disciplines and our longstanding leadership in interdisciplinary collaboration that reinforces our future as a balanced and comprehensive institution. He laid out his vision, discussed moving Virginia Tech to a higher rank among U.S. universities, addressed the need for resources to attract and retain talented faculty and staff, and spoke of focusing on philanthropy to provide access to students who would not otherwise be able to experience Virginia Tech. The day’s events ended on the drillfield with a pass in review by the Corps of Cadets and an ice-cream social featuring performances by a variety of student organizations. The installation was the second day of a three-day celebration that started on Thursday with a spirit rally before the Virginia Tech vs. University of Pittsburgh football game and ended on Saturday with a community pizza party and a pick-up basketball game with President Sands in McComas Hall. Many thanks to everyone who participated and contributed to the events.

On Oct. 22, Bruce Alberts joined faculty, staff, and students in the Fralin Auditorium for a talk on STEM education and the role of the scientific community in fostering greater science literacy. Alberts is a prominent biochemist committed to improving science and mathematics education. Formerly the president of the National Academy of Sciences and the editor-in-chief of Science, he is now the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.  Many thanks to Nancy Dudek and Jody Jellison and others for making Alberts’ visit to Virginia Tech such a great success.

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