Because of their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, forests provide one way to mitigate climate change. But DEFORESTATION in the highlands of Southeast Asia destroyed nearly 75 million acres of forests between 2000 and 2014 — most of it cleared for crops — according to a new study by postdoc Zhenzhong Zeng, civil engineering professor Eric Wood, and others. That represents a rate of deforestation more than 50 percent higher than estimated by the International Panel on Climate Change, enough to affect global models of climate change. The research, published in Nature Geosciences in June, also warns about the impact of the deforestation on soil retention and water quality.
The proteins known as ENZYMES have long been considered among the most “monogamous” of compounds in the chemistry lab — each one committed to catalyzing a specific chemical reaction. Developments in the lab of chemistry professor Todd Hyster, however, have found that enzymes can be made to be much more “promiscuous” under certain conditions, making them able to catalyze a wide array of chemical processes. In research published in Nature Chemistry, Hyster, postdoc Kyle Biegasiewicz, and grad student Simon Cooper show how exposing enzymes to a combination of photo-sensitive dye and colored light can change the way they function, giving chemists much more control over the variety of reactions they can perform in a lab.