Issue: 1043

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online
Feb. 18, 2019

Top Stories

John Pesek, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and emeritus professor of agronomy, died Feb. 11. He was 97.

Farewell to a Legend – John Pesek
John Pesek, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and emeritus professor of agronomy, died Feb. 11. He was 97. Pesek joined the Department of Agronomy in 1950 and served the department and the university for more than 40 years. He was department chair for 26 years, taking one year off from 1987 to 1988 to serve as interim dean of the College of Agriculture. Under Pesek’s supervision, the addition to Agronomy Hall was funded and constructed. He spearheaded the development of the Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering Research Farms, and helped establish the Soil Tilth Laboratory, a USDA-ARS facility now called the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. His research, teaching and extension work focused on soil fertility, application of fertilizers and economics of fertilizer use. Pesek authored more than 70 scientific papers and 15 book chapters. Pesek’s funeral was held Friday, Feb. 15, at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Ames.

  • The Department of Agronomy has added a memorial page to their website on Pesek and his achievements.
  • Of the many accomplishments in Pesek’s career, one that had tremendous impact across the world was his chairing the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council’s committee that developed the 1989 report, Alternative Agriculture.
  • In 2007, Pesek was featured in the first issue of STORIES magazine, the college’s alumni publication.

Pesek Colloquium Now in Its 18th Year
The John Pesek Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture was established in 2001, and has attracted national and internationally recognized speakers. The annual event encourages discussion on topics vital to agricultural sustainability. (See “Marginalia” below for a quote from Pesek at the inaugural colloquium in 2001.) The 2019 colloquium is scheduled for March 28 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. David Montgomery, University of Washington, will speak on “Bringing Our Soils Back to Life.” The Henry A. Wallace Chair in Sustainable Agriculture is the primary sponsor of the Pesek Colloquium. Co-sponsors include CALS, the departments of agronomy and sociology and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. More

From the Pesek Memoir: Coming to Iowa State, Role in Human Relations
In 2016, John Pesek published a life-spanning memoir, Mesquite, Prickly Pear and Rattlesnakes. The memoir is available in the Parks Library, with a copy in both the general collection and in Special Collections & University Archives. The memoir tracks his life from childhood to retirement. Among the chapters, Pesek recounted how he arrived at Iowa State and his involvement in early efforts on human relations and civil rights on campus.


GDCB Zebrafish Research Facility Benefits from Carver Trust Grant
The construction of a new zebrafish research facility in the Advanced Teaching and Research Building will benefit from a $745,545 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. The Carver Trust has previously invested in the research of Jeff Essner and Maura McGrail, genetics, development and cell biology. Essner and McGrail will oversee the research facility, which replaces an aging zebrafish space with a state-of-the-art zebrafish system large enough to expand current research directions and collaborations at Iowa State and beyond. More

Food Scientists’ Research on Soybean Wax Featured in Iowa Soybean Review
Toni Wang and Tao Fei, food science and human nutrition, and their work on soy oil-based waxes and coatings are featured in the February issue of the Iowa Soybean Review magazine (pg. 16). Using high-oleic soybean oil, Wang and her team’s new soybean oil wax product would replace the petroleum-based paraffin wax that usually coats cardboard and other paper products to make them durable and water resistant. More  

ISU Homepage: Thoms Researches Sports Turfgrass Maintenance
In the world of sports, perhaps no issue currently receives more attention than how to better protect athletes from serious injuries like concussions. That's where Adam Thoms, horticulture, comes in. Keeping young athletes safe is his turf – figuratively and literally. His story currently is featured on the ISU homepage.

Teaching and Students

CALS Freshman in Food Science Making His Mark with Waffles
Adam Schonert, a freshman in food science, came to Iowa State to learn more about the science of food. He started cooking waffles at a local cafe in Algoona. His waffles became famous when they were recognized by the Food Network as the best waffles in Iowa and ranked in the top 10 nationwide. This video was produced by Ryan Riley, a video journalist in the College of Human Sciences. More

Women’s Networking Lunch for Graduate Students Scheduled for March 4
The CALS ADVANCE program is sponsoring a Women’s Networking Lunch for postdoctoral and graduate students on March 4, 12 to 1 p.m. in 142 Curtiss Hall. In addition to networking with colleagues from across the college, participants will explore concepts and practical tips from G. McKeown’s book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” The author believes the biggest impacts in life can be made by aligning time and effort with real priorities. RSVP by Feb. 25 to Carla Persaud ( and indicate any dietary restrictions.

Nelda Christian Graduate Fellowship Available from Iowa Pork Foundation
Applications are being accepted for the Iowa Pork Foundation’s annual Nelda Christian Graduate Pork Fellowship. The $2,500 fellowship supports a student studying at the master’s or Ph.D. level at ISU and conducting thesis or dissertation research that will positively impact Iowa’s pork industry. Nelda Christian, who died in 2014, was the spouse of Lauren Christian, a distinguished professor in CALS and an international expert in swine genetics. Lauren Christian died in 1998. Submit applications to David Acker ( by March 31. More

ISU Homepage: CALS Entrepreneur Sells Socks to End Childhood Hunger
Chances are, you grab a pair of socks every morning without giving it too much thought. CALS student entrepreneur Rebecca Lyons ('19 agricultural education) wants you to look at your sock drawer in an entirely different light. Because for Lyons' company Lunchsox, they're not just socks -- they're a vehicle to end childhood hunger. Lyons came up with her company by participating in ISU entrepreneurship courses and programs like CYstarters and the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative's Student Incubator. Her story currently is featured on the ISU homepage. More

Extension and Outreach

Agronomy Breeding Program Introduces New Small Grain Crop
A new breeding program is helping farmers looking to diversify. The program, led by Arti Singh, agronomy, is exploring the ways green gram (mung bean) and black gram (urd bean) can be used to accelerate productivity and profitability. Information about the program and the benefits of green gram and black gram can be found in ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Green Gram and Black Gram: Small Grain Legume Crops for the Midwestern United States.” More

Around the College

University Welcomes CALS Endowed Dean Robison
CALS Endowed Dean Daniel Robison began his duties Jan. 21 and is now on campus full time following his transition from West Virginia. He is busy meeting with university leaders and college faculty and staff, while also planning visits around the state to engage with friends and stakeholders. He met with more than 150 alumni at the college sponsored Cyclone women’s basketball game on Feb. 9, and was featured in a radio interview during halftime on the statewide Cyclone Radio Network and broadcasts. Robison’s office is in 138 Curtiss. He can be reached by phone at 294-3830 and by email at

CALS Researchers Honored for One of Year’s Best Ag Engineering Innovations
An invention by FloMetrix, a start-up company founded by Manjit Misra and Yuh-Yuan Shyy, Seed Science Center, has been named one of 2019’s best innovations in agricultural, food and biological engineering and technology. The Real Time In-Line Inclined Flowmeter was recognized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers at the organization’s Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference Feb. 11-13 in Louisville, Ky. More

Agronomy Professor Honored for Seed Industry Dedication and Achievement
Susana Goggi, agronomy, received the Iowa Seed Association’s Honorary Membership Award during its annual Seed Forum on Feb. 13. “Dr. Goggi has demonstration great dedication to the improvement and support of the Iowa seed industry,” said Jim Webster, ISA board president. “Her entire career has been focused on delivery of quality seeds and the education of people that conduct the research, produce the seed or sell the seeds that benefits the nation’s farmers.” More

Agronomy Program for African Plant Breeding Featured in CSA News
The Plant Breeding Education in Africa program is featured in the February issue of CSA News, the official magazine of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. With funding from the Gates Foundation, faculty at ISU have been able to collaborate with universities in Africa to develop a curriculum in plant breeding.

CALS Alum Burns-Thompson Honored as Emerging Iowa Leader
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, regulatory affairs counsel for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, has been named the 2019 Emerging Iowa Leader by CALS. The award was presented at center court of Hilton Coliseum during the college sponsored Cyclone women’s basketball game on Feb. 9. Burns-Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and international agriculture from Iowa State in 2011. More


Feb. 20: Masinde to Present CELT Workshop
Dorothy Masinde, global resource systems and horticulture, will present “A Day in the Life of a Rural African Woman: Bringing Global Experiences into the Classroom” on Feb. 20, 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 2030 Morrill Hall or via zoom. Masinde is associate director for community nutrition with the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and has 30 years of experience. She will provide examples from learning situations in both traditional and nontraditional classrooms. More

Feb. 20: Iowa Learning Farms Webinar
The Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Feb. 20 at 12 p.m. will cover the consequences of farming prairie potholes and management options for these common Iowa landscape features. Amy Kaleita, agricultural and biosystems engineering, will explain this flooding behavior and the effects it has on crops and watersheds. More

Communications Kiosk

Enroll in Okta Multifactor Authentication by March 1 – CALS Now at 40%
March 1 is the deadline for all ISU employees to enroll in Okta multifactor authentication to support improved computer security. As of Feb. 15, approximately 40 percent of CALS faculty and staff had taken this step. Okta, part of the campus suite of Workday systems, is the identity and access security platform that strengthens protection of university information and provides a bulwark against cybercrime. Multifactor authentication adds one additional step to the login process. Okta offers five options to deliver a single-use security code; for example, a text message or phone call delivered to your campus or cell phone. Choose all five or as many as you can. After March 1, multifactor authentication will be required for log-in, so complete this step before that date to ensure a smooth transition — knowing that IT staff may be flooded with questions from around campus from those who haven’t. See a video on Okta and additional instructions.


ISU Library Receives Grant from Silos & Smokestacks
The ISU Library Special Collections and University Archives received $6,286 from the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. The funds will be used to share local stories by screening archival agricultural films from the collection. Events are being planned for 2019 at the Amana Colonies, Living History Farms and the Norman Borlaug Boyhood Farm and Birthplace.


John Pesek on Sustainability: Central for Human Race
“Sustainability of an agriculture that is environmentally benign in relation to world resources, population and the environment is a serious issue – perhaps the central issue for the human race . . . We are overdue in adopting new policies – replacing the old with those that are better and safer for farmers, healthier for consumers, kinder to the environment and ultimately sustainable. After all, we will depend on agriculture for food forever. Even if we do not look forward any farther than we look back to the beginning of agriculture, we are speaking not of decades or centuries but of thousands of years. And our population continues to grow.” John Pesek (1921-2019), Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in agronomy, speaking at the inaugural John Pesek Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture March 1-2, 2001.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online

Julie Stewart, Editor, (515) 294-5616

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online, the newsletter for faculty and staff in Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is published by email every Monday. The deadline for submitting content is 12 p.m. on Friday.


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