Newswise — The winter 2008 issue of Virginia Tech Research magazine features eight research projects at the university, from the highly complex search for ways to prevent mosquitoes from transmitting disease to humans to a relatively straightforward evaluation of horses on 114 farms in Virginia, which revealed that 51 percent are overweight.

Mosquitoes have sheltered viruses and parasites for millions of years. Now scientists with the Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Research Group at Virginia Tech are discovering how the mosquito's immune system works with the aim of helping mosquitoes rebuff invasion by viruses. Meanwhile, Christina George of Manassas, Va., a gutsy undergraduate, is helping establish a sustainable mosquito-borne virus surveillance center in Mali to determine the high-risk areas of mosquito-borne infections and provide enough data and information for the Mali people to apply for additional funding and support.

Just as with humans, obesity in horses results in a number of health problems. The culprit appears to be pastures " augmented for cattle " that are too rich for horses. Researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are now doing pasture and forage research, and developing exercise regimes.

In other research featured in the winter issue,

"¢ Virginia Tech's Center for Geospatial Information Technology is replacing decades-old paper flood maps with digital maps using updated terrain data, information about land use;

"¢ Researchers from Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service are rerouting trails in the Shenandoah National Park to protect rare plant species and other park features while still enabling access by visitors;

"¢ Yesterday's students, now today's teachers and researchers, are helping to preserve wildlife and habitats in Madagascar;

"¢ Three professors from the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management conducted an extensive, multistage kitchen-use research project that looked at 1) who is cooking, 2) how people cook, 3) what people have in their kitchens, 4) what people do in their kitchens, and 5) what people want in their kitchens;

"¢ And Virginia Tech researchers are partners in long-standing international research projects that have brought the world closer to understanding the sun and the mysterious subatomic particles called neutrinos. Meanwhile, in an underground laboratory in Giles County, near the university's Blacksburg campus, physics researchers in the College of Science are initiating new neutrino studies.

Virginia Tech Research magazine is available on the web at

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