If the Alex Smith story becomes a movie, Alex Smith doesn’t want to see it.“Heck no,” he said, “I wouldn’t watch it.”Smith is living it and already documented the long journey back from breaking his right leg and needing 17 surgeries to rehab. As inspiring as it is to teammates and coaches, his story on the field this season has little to do with the 2018 injury that looked career-threatening at the time and is more about Smith leading Washington from 2-7 to NFC East champion as a veteran quarterback who has been there before.“Once you are out there and the whistle blows, this is a result-oriented game and you really have to be accountable to your teammates, to the coaches, to everybody in this building that’s depending on you,” Smith said. “At the end of the day once you step on that field, you better be able to hold up your end.”Smith has done that and more, proving coach Ron Rivera right that the offence worked better with an experienced hand at the wheel. Five touchdowns and five interceptions in six starts don’t stand out as glimmering numbers, but the 5-1 record has everything to do with the 36-year-old managing the offence in a way 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins never could.Haskins lost five of his six starts and has since been released, Kyle Allen won one of his before getting hurt and now this is Smith’s team — even if the limitations from a strained right calf in his surgically repaired leg force Rivera to rotate backup Taylor Heinicke in at times Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rivera said, “It’s something we most certainly have to look at,” but the Buccaneers are zeroing in on Smith.“When Alex Smith plays quarterback, they’re a heck of a football team,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “They’re an extremely well-coached team, a ton of talent on that defensive front, but Alex Smith is really the key to everything.”How is that possible? Arians gives Smith credit for throwing the ball so quickly he avoids sacks. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson, who was Kansas City’s offensive co-ordinator for three years with Smith, points to decision-making. Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor praises Smith’s efficiency.Smith isn’t immune to mistakes. He just knows when he can afford to take a risk.“He finds a way to move the team down the field,” Taylor said. “He’s always been a quarterback that has a really high football IQ.”It’s night and day for Washington’s offence from Haskins to Smith. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson said, “Having a vet at the quarterback position changes dramatically” because Smith’s presence relaxes everyone else in the huddle.“It’s a different feeling when he’s back there,” receiver Steven Sims said. “Everything about him is professional. It’s everything you want in a quarterback.”He also wins. Smith is just the fifth quarterback in NFL history to lead three different teams to the playoffs after doing so for San Francisco and Kansas City.Rivera is quick to point to Washington’s five-game winning streak with Smith as the starter, and that reputation has followed him for years.“You talk about a proven winner, he’s the epitome of that,” Pederson said. “What he’s overcome in his career on and off the football field and what he’s come through and to see him out there playing now, I’ve been so happy for him.”Smith brushes off the narrative now as the most impressive comeback in football, if not all of sports. Since the summer, he hit the milestones of being cleared to practice, making the roster, playing in another NFL game, starting for the first time since 2018 and winning again — and shied away from the spotlight.“One thing I could say about Alex is he never makes it about him,” receiver Terry McLaurin said. “He has every reason to kind of (say), ‘Look at my comeback story, look what I’ve done,’ but he makes it about the team. He’s always trying to figure out ways you can make it easier on us as receivers, make it easy on the whole offence and play complementary football.”Complementary football got Washington into the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, which is why the previous regime traded for and signed Smith to a $94 million extension a couple of years ago. His experience has been worth every penny this season.”Certainly, I think when you are older and have been in some of these situations, there’s a comfort level that maybe you do have that you don’t realize,” Smith said. “For me, it’s all about being able to go out there and help us win football games.”___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLStephen Whyno, The Associated Press
Alongside Dennis van Engelsdorp, associate professor at the University of Maryland (UMD) in Entomology named for the fifth year in a row for his work in honey bee and pollinator health, Yiping Qi, associate professor in Plant Science, represented the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources on the Web of Science 2020 list of Highly Cited Researchers for the first time. This list includes influential scientists based on the impact of their academic publications over the course of the year. In addition to this honor, Qi is already making waves in 2021 with a new high-profile publication in Nature Plants introducing SpRY, a newly engineered variant of the famed gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. SpRY essentially removes the barriers of what can and can’t be targeted for gene editing, making it possible for the first time to target nearly any genomic sequence in plants for potential mutation. As the preeminent innovator in the field, this discovery is the latest of Qi’s in a long string of influential tools for genome editing in plants.
“It is an honor, an encouragement, and a recognition of my contribution to the science community,” says Qi of his distinction as a 2020 Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher. “But we are not just making contributions to the academic literature. In my lab, we are constantly pushing new tools for improved gene editing out to scientists to make an impact.”
With SpRY, Qi is especially excited for the limitless possibilities it opens up for genome editing in plants and crops. “We have largely overcome the major bottleneck in plant genome editing, which is the targeting scope restrictions associated with CRISPR-Cas9. With this new toolbox, we pretty much removed this restriction, and we can target almost anywhere in the plant genome.”
The original CRISPR-Cas9 tool that kicked off the gene editing craze was tied to targeting a specific short sequence of DNA known as a PAM sequence. The short sequence is what the CRISPR systems typically use to identify where to make their molecular cuts in DNA. However, the new SpRY variant introduced by Qi can move beyond these traditional PAM sequences in ways that was never possible before.
“This unleashes the full potential of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing for plant genetics and crop improvement,” says an excited Qi. “Researchers will now be able to edit anywhere within their favorable genes, without questioning whether the sites are editable or not. The new tools make genome editing more powerful, more accessible, and more versatile so that many of the editing outcomes which were previously hard to achieve can now be all realized.”
According to Qi, this will have a major impact on translational research in the gene editing field, as well as on crop breeding as a whole. “This new CRISPR-Cas9 technology will play an important role in food security, nutrition, and safety. CRISPR tools are already widely used for introducing tailored mutations into crops for enhanced yield, nutrition, biotic and abiotic stress resistance, and more. With this new tool in the toolbox, we can speed up evolution and the agricultural revolution. I expect many plant biologists and breeders will use the toolbox in different crops. The list of potential applications of this new toolbox is endless.”
Researcher expands plant genome editing with newly engineered variant of CRISPR-Cas9 (2021, January 22)
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While most of us are now more fastidious about keeping our homes and workplaces clean, on board the International Space Station, cleanliness is imperative. Of high importance is anti-bacterial measures, since bacteria tends to build up in the constantly-recycled air inside the ISS. Every Saturday in space is “cleaning day” where surfaces are wiped down, and the astronauts vacuum and collect trash.
But there’s one spot on board the station where cleaning is a no-no. But don’t worry, its all for science!
The MatISS experiment, or the Microbial Aerosol Tethering on Innovative Surfaces in the International Space Station tests out five advanced materials and how well they can prevent illness-causing microorganisms from settling and growing in microgravity. MatISS also has provided insight into how biofilms attach to surfaces in microgravity conditions.
The experiment is sponsored by the French space agency CNES and was conceived of in 2016. Three iterations of the experiment have been used on the ISS.
The first was MatISS-1, and it had four sample holders set up in for six months in three different locations in the European Columbus laboratory module. This provided some baseline data points for researchers, as when they were returned to Earth, researchers characterized the deposits on each surface and used the control material to establish a reference for the level and type of contamination.
MatISS-2 had four identical sample holders containing three different types of materials, installed in a single location in Columbus. This study aimed to better understand how contamination spreads over time across the hydrophobic (water-repellant) and control surfaces. The upgraded Matiss-2.5 was set up to study how contamination spreads — this time spatially — across the hydrophobic surfaces using patterned samples. This experiment ran for a year and recently the samples were returned to Earth and are now undergoing analysis.
The samples are made of a diverse mix of advanced materials, such as self-assembly monolayers, green polymers, ceramic polymers and water-repellent hybrid silica. The smart materials should stop bacteria from sticking and growing over large areas, and effectively making them easier to clean and more hygienic. The experiment hopes to figure out which materials work the best.
ESA says that “understanding the effectiveness and potential use of these materials will be essential to the design of future spacecraft, especially those carrying humans father out in space.”
Long-duration human space missions will certainly need to limit biocontamination of astronaut habitats.
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