Newsletter scientifique #10 - October 2012



The Science and Technology Office would like to invite you to the 2nd Annual French-American Science Festival on Monday, October 29th - Tuesday, October 30th at the Lurie Atrium at Northwestern University’s downtown campus. The festival will comprise of hands-on activities, cafes de sciences, workshops, film presentations, a scientific conference with a keynote speaker and a cocktail and poster session.

We would also like to bring your attention to these call for projects: FACCTS, France and Chicago Collaborating in the Sciences, taking place with the University of Chicago, and AgreenSkills: a new international mobility programme for junior researchers.

Enjoy your read!

Adèle Martial, Scientific attaché
Cécile Camerlynck, Deputy Scientific attaché

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Table of contents



French-American Science festival - Oct 29th & 30th, 2012

After the success of the French-American Science Festival in 2011, we are having a second edition on Monday & Tuesday October 29th, 30th 2012 at Northwestern University - Lurie Atrium.
The theme of the event will be "Sustainable Development", following the initiative of the UNESCO to declare this the topic of discussion for 2012.
The festival will comprise of "hands-on" activities on different topics such as astronomy, high energy physics, biology, mathematics, chemistry, nuclear energy, imagery, tactical illusion, and sustainable energy, and cafes des sciences that show short films on water and waste management followed by a debate with an expert. There will be presenters from the most renowned U.S. and French Scientific Institutions such as Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the CEA, CERN, Les Petits Débrouillards, ENS Paris, and the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris among others. These will be available from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on Monday, October 29th and from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, October 30th.
On Monday, October 29th at 01:30 pm, we will host a scientific conference with keynote speaker Dr. Paul Colonna from the Collège de France/INRA on "Sustainable Bioenergies." Afterwards, from 03:00 to 06:45 pm, there will be a three session workshop debate on "International Science Outreach Programs for Global Sustainability", with a panel of experts from both France and the U.S.. At 07:00 pm, there will be a cocktail and poster session for further discussion of topics between all participants and attendees.
To learn more about this event and sign up, visit our website.


France And Chicago Collaborating in The Sciences (FACCTS)

France And Chicago Collaborating in The Sciences (FACCTS)* is a program designed to enhance science at the University of Chicago by encouraging closer relations between researchers in PSD and BSD and high-level research teams and institutions of higher education in France. It seeks to accomplish this goal by offering seed funding for new projects that promote meaningful academic and scientific exchange, and that show promise of leading to fruitful and sustainable collaboration. The deadline for 2013 proposals is December 10, 2012. Read more

*This program is administered by the France Chicago Center (FCC), and is made possible with the financial support of FCC, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research, BSD, PSD, and the Office for Science and Technology of the French Consulate in Chicago.


AgreenSkills: a new international mobility programme for researchers

AgreenSkills is an international, open, incoming-outgoing mobility programme co-funded by the European Commission in the frame of the COFUND-FP7 People Programme. This programme is coordinated by INRA and Agreenium, a consortium comprising the main French agricultural and veterinary research and higher education organisations. AgreenSkills supports inventive, talented and promising young researchers (post doc), from all disciplines and from all over the world, to develop challenging basic or targeted research projects in the fields of agriculture, environment, food and nutrition and animal health.
AgreenSkills offers incoming and outgoing fellowships with very attractive conditions in terms of salary (+60 %), optimal research conditions, training, networking opportunities as well as personalized support for career development plan. A comprehensive website is online at providing general information, details on the eligibility and selection criteria as well as all necessary documents to apply. AgreenSkills programme, opened on the 15th March 2012, is implemented through a continuous call for submission with two selection rounds per year.
AgreenSkills’ second selection round deadline for application is November 15th, 2012.
The success of the programme is based on the ability of the scientific communities to disseminate the programme to the best and promising young researchers. We would be very thankful if you could promote AgreenSkills programme within your institution by circulating the information regarding its call to the scientific networks, young researchers, labs and institutions that you consider likely to be interested.
To get to the AgreenSkills programme website and to download AgreenSkills Leaflet

Science & Technology in the US

National News


EPA Awards Grants in Michigan and Ohio to Improve Water Quality and Reduce Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes - Sept 27th

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced 11 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for projects in Michigan and Ohio to improve water quality and reduce excess nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms in Great Lakes watersheds. Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator for the Great Lakes, highlighted seven GLRI grants for projects to reduce nutrients in the Lake Erie basin at an event today at the University of Toledo-Lake Erie Center. “Harmful algal blooms occur when fertilizer and other nutrients wash into our waterways,” Davis said. “Today’s EPA grants will reduce nutrient runoff and in the process will reduce algal blooms, prevent erosion, protect public health and save money.” Read more


F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012 - Sept 2012

The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and health care costs, are on course to increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next 20 years, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, a report released by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). For the first time, the annual report includes an analysis that forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. By contrast, the analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce health care costs if they reduced the average body mass index of their residents by just 5 percent by 2030. “This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.” The analysis, which was commissioned by TFAH and RWJF and conducted by the National Heart Forum, is based on a peer-reviewed model published last year in The Lancet. Read more

Kids with higher levels of the widely used substance BPA in their bodies are more likely to be obese, according to the first large-scale, nationally representative study to link an environmental chemical with obesity in children and teens. Researchers from NYU School of Medicine acknowledge that their study’s design doesn’t allow them to definitely conclude that BPA, or bisphenol A, caused the children’s obesity. Rates of obesity have been rising for three decades as Americans have become more sedentary. But the findings, in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, add to a growing body of research — in both humans and animals — questioning BPA’s safety, says Philip Landrigan, director of Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "It’s a credible study and it has to be given some attention," says Landrigan, who was not involved with the study. In particular, the study adds to the notion that certain chemicals are "obesogens" that alter the body’s metabolism, making it harder for people to lose weight, even with diet and exercise, says Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who was not involved in the study.Read more


Fueling the fleet, Navy looks to the seas - Sept 24th

Refueling U.S. Navy vessels, at sea and underway, is a costly endeavor in terms of logistics, time, fiscal constraints and threats to national security and sailors at sea. In Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Navy Military Sea Lift Command, the primary supplier of fuel and oil to the U.S. Navy fleet, delivered nearly 600 million gallons of fuel to Navy vessels underway, operating 15 fleet replenishment oilers around the globe. From Seawater to CO2 : Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. "The potential payoff is the ability to produce JP-5 fuel stock at sea reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery with no environmental burden and increasing the Navy’s energy security and independence," says research chemist, Dr. Heather Willauer. NRL has successfully developed and demonstrated technologies for the recovery of CO2 and the production of H2 from seawater using an electrochemical acidification cell, and the conversion of CO2 and H2 to hydrocarbons (organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon) that can be used to produce jet fuel. Read more

Midwest news


Illinois soil nitrogen monitoring – Announcing a new project - Oct 3rd

A great deal of nitrogen from both fertilizer and mineralization of soil organic matter remains in Illinois soils due to the low corn yields and the early death of the crop in dry areas. University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger said that nearly all of it is in the form of nitrate. Some of this will likely be carried over into spring 2013. From both the economic and environmental standpoint, it is important to know how much soil nitrogen remains in fields. “We are initiating a project to sample soils for nitrogen this fall,” Nafziger said. “Funding is being provided by the Council for Best Management Practices, so there will be no cost to producers and others who take samples.” Unlike ammonium, nitrate moves readily in the soil. With no roots present in most fields to take it up, the nitrate in the soil is likely to move downward with water. If the weather stays relatively dry between now and next spring, some nitrate may remain in the soil to be available for next year’s crop. Read more

Scientists Use New Method to Help Reduce Piglet Mortality - Oct 11th

Unlike humans, when pigs are born, they enter the world without any immunity against foreign elements like disease-causing pathogens. Their chance for survival relies heavily on getting enough colostrom—a milk-like substance produced by mammals after giving birth. Newborns that fail to nurse and receive colostrum from the sow within the first 24 hours usually die. That’s because piglets are born with limited energy stores, and colostrum also provides the energy they need to stay alive. For the swine industry, preweaning mortality has long been a major problem, costing an estimated $1.6 billion each year. Now, a new tool may help give these at-risk animals a second chance. To improve neonatal piglet survival, Agricultural Research Service physiologists Jeffrey Vallet, Jeremy Miles, and Lea Rempel at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, have developed a measuring technique referred to as the “immunocrit” that can determine whether neonatal piglets have received adequate colostrum from the sow. Read more

Strengthening a billion-dollar gene in soybeans - Oct 15th

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) does hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year. Matt Hudson and Brian Diers, crop sciences researchers at the University of Illinois and Andrew Bent at the University of Wisconsin, think they may have found a way to strengthen plant resistance. The research has just been published in Science Express. Diers and Hudson, with researchers at Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska, have been studying an area on chromosome 18 called Rhg1 (Resistance to H. glycines) that is known to be the location of the main source of SCN resistance. Rhg1 disrupts the formation and maintenance of potential nematode-feeding sites on plant roots. Read more


Sodium reduction: Scientists produce cheddar with ‘large reductions in sodium’ - Sept 25th

Potassium chloride can successfully reduce the use of sodium chloride in cheddar cheese, with taste profiles similar to full-sodium versions, says a new study from the University of Minnesota. Cheddar cheese could be formulated with potassium chloride (KCl) to produce cheese with sodium levels 53% lower than standard cheddar, according to findings published in Journal of Dairy Science . “Cheese made with [sodium chloride] NaCl + KCl [from Cargill] and NaCl + modified KCl [from Nu-Tek] were similar to cheeses made with NaCl in most respects,” wrote researchers led by Tonya Schoenfuss, PhD, from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “This indicates that KCl can be used successfully to achieve large reductions in sodium when replacing a portion of the NaCl in Cheddar cheese.” Read more

Chicago opts for wellness competition over soda tax - Oct 8th

Pop machines in Chicago government buildings will carry calorie information and city workers will be able to win cash in a health competition paid for by Coca-Cola and other beverage giants under a plan Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled today. Other places are giving the boot to pop machines or taxing sugary drinks, but Emanuel said his approach to the health issue is better because it emphasizes personal responsibility. Appearing Monday at City Hall with representative of the Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper companies, Emanuel said he doesn’t want to pursue cola serving size limits like those recently adopted in New York or to approve a proposed tax on sugary drinks that has popped up at City Hall. Read more

Gene Suppression Can Reduce Cold-induced Sweetening in Potatoes - Oct 15th

Preventing activity of a key enzyme in potatoes could help boost potato quality by putting an end to cold-induced sweetening, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. Cold-induced sweetening, which occurs when potatoes are put in long-term cold storage, causes flavor changes and unwanted dark colors in fried and roasted potatoes. But long-term cold storage is necessary to maintain an adequate supply of potatoes throughout the year. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists found that during cold storage, an enzyme called invertase causes changes in potato sugars—more accumulation of sucrose and a corresponding increase in the amount of glucose and fructose in tubers stored at very low temperatures. At the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wis., plant physiologist Paul Bethke, geneticist Shelley Jansky, and technician Andy Hamernik used a recently developed technology to show that decreasing the activity of invertase is sufficient to enable cold storage of potatoes without compromising the appearance of potato chips or the growth characteristics of the potato plants. Read more


Sweet Sorghum Research: Building on the Past for a Better Future - Sept 17th

Fuel-friendly varieties of sweet sorghum will need durable resistance to insect pests like fall armyworms and diseases such as maize dwarf mosaic. Breeders will also have to incorporate traits that prevent stalks from lodging, or toppling over, as they grow tall. Lodging is a problem because the crop will require mechanical harvesters. Fortunately, the Agricultural Research Service has a long history of sweet sorghum research and germplasm development dating back several decades. Its sizeable germplasm collection contains 2,163 accessions of sweet sorghum from around the world, which are maintained by Gary Pederson and colleagues at ARS’s Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit in Griffin, Georgia. Among other projects, scientists there are assessing the sugar profiles of select sweet sorghum accessions and genetically characterizing them using DNA markers so that plant breeders can develop varieties suited for biofuel production. Read more

Other states’ news


Corks and screw caps: Can wine consumers taste the variation? - Sept 20th

To help winemakers determine the best caps for their wine bottles, researchers at the University of California, Davis, are studying the performance — specifically the variability — within different types of closures. Their goal is to determine whether consumers can taste the difference in wines that are bottled and capped exactly the same — a difference that could be attributed only to variation among each type of wine closure. The researchers — including a wine chemist, a medical radiologist and a biomedical engineer — are evaluating 600 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc wine, each sealed with one of three different types of closures: natural cork, screw caps or synthetic cork. The study will monitor changes in the wine during aging, culminating in a sensory evaluation to determine if wine experts and consumers can taste the different levels of oxidation that occur in the wine due to variability within each type of closure. Read more

New Research Shows Fish Protein Could Be Future of Fat-Reduction in Fried Foods - Sept 25th

The possibility of fried seafood with significantly reduced fat may not be that far-fetched. Thanks to donations from the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF), researchers at Oregon State University have been working on a project that drastically reduces the fat content in fried seafood using fish protein found in surimi. Surimi, refined fish proteins that can be made from a variety of species, is popularly used for a fried dish (fried surimi seafood) in Asian countries with a very low fat content (approximately 2 percent), which initially peaked Dr. Jae Park’s interest into further researching its fat blocking properties. “After doing some initial tests with typical fried US products like chicken nuggets and French fries, we saw that the fried surimi product was consistently low in fat,” said Dr. Jae Park, professor at OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology and OSU Seafood Research and Education Center (Astoria, OR). “We thought if it’s the fish protein that is minimizing the fat uptake, how can we use that on other fried seafood to get the same results?” Read more


New ‘Frankenstein’ Grass Could Be Huge For Biofuel Industry- Sept 14th

Now here is a GMO I can get behind: starchier grass. A research partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of California, Berkeley has yielded a variety of switchgrass 250 times starchier than other varieties. More starch means more sugars to ferment into ethanol, making this super grass a huge boon for biofuel users. Scientists created this “Frankenstein” grass by inserting a specific corn gene into the switchgrass. The gene keeps the grass from aging, leaving it to languish in its youthful starchiness without entering its adult phases of flowering, seed production and growth. The starch that would otherwise be used by the plant for nourishing flower buds and blossoms stays in the stem instead. In addition to getting the crops just right, the research team is also monitoring water use needed to grow these crops, recognizing that “water availability could be the single most limiting factor in U.S. biomass production.” Read more

ARS Researchers Flying Higher With New Jet Fuels - Sept 20th

In 2011, U.S. airlines burned through nearly 19 billion gallons of fuel, which goes a long way in explaining the establishment of “FARM to FLY,” a partnership among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Airlines for America, Inc., the Boeing Company, and others to advance the development and production of aviation biofuel. Work by ARS scientists and their university and industry partners will help ensure that this effort pays off. ARS chemist Terry Isbell is managing the workflow for scientists and support staff throughout the 4-year project, which is funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “We’re looking for the ideal plant oils—and the ways to produce them—for making hydrotreated renewable jet fuel,” Isbell says, who works in the ARS Bio-Oils Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. “By taking a complete supply-chain systems approach, we’ll be able to reduce the costs of these fuels and make them more competitive with petroleum jet fuel.” Read more

Finding the Right Biofuels for the Southeast: A Range of Alternatives - Sept 27th

Thanks to sunny skies and long growing seasons, farms and forests in the southeastern United States will play a major role in efforts to produce biomass for biofuels that reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. And Agricultural Research Service scientists are focused on finding ways to tap into the region’s potential. Government mandates call for producing up to 36 billion gallons of biofuel to help meet the nation’s transportation needs by 2022. While 15 billion gallons of that is expected to come from grain ethanol, the remaining 21 billion gallons will be derived from other feedstocks, such as sugarcane; perennial grasses, like switchgrass; and oilseed crops, such as rapeseed, pennycress, camelina, and soybean. Read more

Science & Technology in France

At the National level


Report on the sustainable development of beekeeping - Oct 12th

Beekeeping is an important sector of the agricultural economy, as the role played by the populations of bees in pollination and the production of honey. Like European beekeeping, French beekeeping is insufficiently structured. To understand these issues, the French Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has decided to implement a comprehensive action plan (2013-2015) for beekeeping. Read more (French article)

Institutions / Universities


ANSES proposes a more stringent EU level classification for bisphenol A as a substance toxic to reproduction - Sept 26th

ANSES is in charge of providing support to the French authorities for the implementation of the European regulation concerning the classification and labelling of chemicals. In keeping with the work the Agency has conducted on bisphenol A, it has filed a proposal with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to revise the classification of this substance in order to make it more stringent on the EU level with regard to reproductive toxicity. Read more


Anses celebrates science! - Oct 2012

For the Science Festival, from October 10th to 14th, three laboratories of the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) offer to the general public to discover the diversity of their scientific work and share a few days of the lives of researchers.

  1. Ploufragan (Côtes d’Armor): "Balance Diet and Food Hygiene have fun"
  2. Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais): "Eat fish, why & how?"
  3. Dozulé (Calvados): "Become researcher in equine health!"
    Read more (French article)

Companies and Research Cluster


"Next generation": Roquette launches vegetable protein research initiative - Oct 8th

French ingredients giant Roquette has launched a pea protein research programme dedicated to, “the next generation of plant-based proteins”. The company has been researching and working with pea proteins for decades but the new initiative – called PROTEOV – is the result of an intensified research effort and broadening of scope to the other three major nutrient sources at Roquette: Potato, wheat and corn. Roquette director of nutrition and health programmes, Anne Cortier, told us from Roquette’s headquarters near Lille in the north of France, that a combination of environmental, nutritional and food formulation concerns were driving forces behind PROTEOV. Read more

Get in touch with science

Many organizations give you the opportunity to learn and improve your mind about agriculture and food science. Please find below some of website about these:


Website to see

For the United States information

Federal agencies

JPEG : The department of Energy provides a new revue to describe how the Office of Science is working towards greater energy security.

JPEG : The most information on this website focus on the drought this summer.


JPEG : This month you will find an article about Functional Foods, and some other tips about nutrition and dietetics.

News articles

JPEG : News from the United States covering advancements in science and technology (French articles).

For France information

Research centers

JPEG : It’s Science Festival in October in France. You will have articles about this theme and about Bisphenol A this month.

JPEG : The Research news from the CNRS are about biodiversity, obesity and X-rays this month.

JPEG : GMO, diabete and cancer are the highlights for October.

Information centers

JPEG : News from France on advancements in science and technology (French articles).

JPEG : Agriculture production, French Food and Food Policies are explained through several articles.

Coming events

Vision for a Sustainable Planet - International Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Duke Energy Center and the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati Hotel Cincinnati, Ohio October 21-24, 2012
Advanced Energy 2012 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center New York, New York October 30-31, 2012
Ventilation and Air Quality for Livestock Systems Field Day Agricultural Engineering Farm
3606 S. Race Street
Urbana, Illinois November 7, 2012
2012 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Annual Meeting Hyatt Regency Sacramento, California November 8-9, 2012
12th Annual Iowa Organic Conference University of Iowa Memorial Union
125 North Madison Street
Iowa City, IA 52242 November 18-19, 2012
2012 AGMasters Conference iHotel and Conference Center Champaign, Illinois November 26-27, 2012
2012 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Hilton Americas-Houston Houston, Texas November 27-29, 2012


French Office for Science and Technology at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC - website:
Consulate General of France in Chicago - website:


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Last modified on 17/10/2012

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