CABNR Dean visits research sites overseas

7/27/2007 7:00:00 AM

Dean David Thawley of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources recently visited the overseas research sites of Lauren Saito in Uzbekistan and Sudeep Chandra in Mongolia to gain perspective on their progress and their outreach to the world. Both are faculty in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science.

Saito's research attempts to find a solution for the Uzbekistan's water issues. She focuses on how irrigated water can be used efficiently.

"This project looks at how irrigation water—after being used—is disposed of," Thawley said. "They're looking at potential uses for that water, particularly in stimulating a fish-breeding industry by using the water to create ponds and terminal lakes."

Saito is also observing the obstacles that prevent the local population from having clean drinking water.

"The research is designed to observe what existing impediments prevent the promotion of good drinking water," said Chandra, who accompanied the dean to Uzbekistan.

Thawley said the project can hold some answers to water conservation issues in Nevada as well, since the terrain and climate in Uzbekistan are similar to Nevada.

"This is one of the rare occasions where research potentially impact both the economic development in the host country and give us some information about our own land," Thawley said.

Thawley then visited Chandra's research site in Mongolia for a week, living in yurts without running water and electricity.

"It's a beautiful part of the world and it's untouched," Thawley said. "There were no paved roads for miles."

Chandra's research is a collaborative project with the Mongolian Institute of Geoecology, the University of California, Davis, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and other organizations like the Taimen Conservation fund.

Chandra aims to help conserve and save Taiman Trout, the largest remaining trout species in the world, by promoting catch-and-release, sustainable fly fishing. Chandra is also attempting to find out more about the biology and habits of the fish, which are unknown.

The research both promotes the conservation of the trout species and benefits the region. The funds generated from conserving the fish will be donated to the local communities.

"The basic idea of the project is to have businesses bid on different parts of the river so they can catch-and-release each fish and keep the money in the local countryside for the people to use," Chandra said.

Chandra hopes the research will not only conserve the fish but the local traditional culture as well. The money from the businesses' bids can be used to fund the reconstruction of local Buddhist monasteries.

"Mongolia is undergoing rapid economic development and like in any young democracy, everything can happen quickly and traditions can disappear," Chandra said. "I hope rebuilding monasteries can get monks to continue teaching about the importance of nature and culture."

Thawley continues to tour foreign nations for CABNR, visiting research sites and working with other agricultural schools. On the same trip to Mongolia and Uzbekistan, he also visited the National Agriculture University in Kazakhstan to assist them with the contractual agreement on forming a doctorate program.

Thawley emphasized the importance of research in areas like Central Asia.

"I've made a particular point with focusing in Central Asia because the climate and land is similar to the Nevada and the Great Basin," Thawley said.

Chandra expressed his appreciation with the dean's willingness to visit and understands the significance of Dean Thawley coming to the research sites.

"It's important to have administrators within the University promote the program," Chandra said. "It was also nice to have a colleague to share ideas with and who provided creative solutions for the research."

Both Chandra and Thawley also stressed the importance of keeping in touch with other countries in a quickly globalizing world.

"One of the major ways to promoting globalization is allowing exchanges and transfers of knowledge between different cultures," Chandra said.


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