Issue: 1239

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
February 20, 2023 

Dean’s Message

Hello CALS – Last week we had exciting programs on the Iowa State University Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex and the Alliant Energy Solar Farm, both just south of Ames on our farms off State Avenue. This includes construction, programmatic and fiscal accomplishments and planning. For both exciting projects we will have ribbon cutting events this fall… Please watch for lots of great college events coming up as we head for mid-semester and then the rush toward commencement… More

Top Stories

Siddique Aboobucker, agronomy, Iowa State University. Use of “doubled haploid” genetics has become one of the basic technologies underpinning modern corn breeding.

Scientists Exploit Genetic Mutation to Accelerate Plant Breeding Process
Iowa State researchers may have solved a long-standing challenge associated with accelerated development of pure genetic lines. Use of “doubled haploid” genetics has become one of the basic technologies underpinning modern corn breeding. However, DH technology has challenges, as well as advantages. One major bottleneck is that haploid male flowers are usually sterile. This problem requires exposing the seedlings to the toxic chemical colchicine, which spurs genome doubling and returns fertility to the male flowers. Siddique Aboobucker and Thomas Lübberstedt, agronomy, and former agronomy graduate student Liming Zhou, had their research published recently in Nature Plants about a mutation they discovered that restores male fertility in haploids without use of colchicine. The project is supported by the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research in a partnership that involves six plant breeding companies. More  


Researchers Study Growing Crops in Solar Farm’s Footprint
A new Iowa State research project will combine traditional and high-tech uses of the sun’s power by studying how to grow crops and keep bees amid an array of solar panels. Funded by a $1.8 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, most of the research will be conducted a few miles south of Ames, where Alliant Energy plans to begin construction in April on a 1.35 megawatt solar farm. The multidisciplinary team of researchers include Ajay Nair, horticulture; Matt O’Neal, plant pathology, entomology and microbiology; and Anne Kimber, Electric Power Research Center. More  

Teaching and Students

Cultivating a Career in Horticultural Research
Darcy Bonds has always had a green thumb, which led her to major in horticulture at Iowa State. She also has a mind for science and an eye for creativity that have bolstered her expertise in plant biology, computer skills and landscape design. But it wasn’t until she was accepted into the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program through the National Science Foundation and interned at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, that she gained an appreciation for computational biology, too. More  

Poster Competition Open for Baker Plant Breeding Symposium
The 10th annual R.F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium is March 24 at the ISU Alumni Center. The focus will be on crop resiliency and breeding for a sustainable future. A poster competition is available to graduate and undergraduate students. The deadline to submit an abstract is March 10. More  

Extension and Outreach

Extension Resources Explain Pruning Basics
ISU Extension and Outreach horticulture specialists have compiled a variety of materials discussing the basics of pruning woody plants. Removing dead or crowded limbs can improve a tree or shrub’s visual appeal, encourage fruit production and help to ensure a long, productive life. For many shade and fruit trees in Iowa, late winter and early spring are ideal times to prune. More  

Around the College

ISU Professors Participate in National Leadership Program
Aaron Gassmann, plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, and Jianming Yu, agronomy, were selected as participants in the 19th class of the LEAD21 program. This leadership program is aimed at developing leaders in land-grant institutions and their strategic partners who link research, academics and extension for leadership roles at colleges and universities across the nation.

Confiscated Spiders Find New Home at Insect Zoo
The Iowa State University Insect Zoo welcomed 169 baby tarantulas last Tuesday after being selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to receive the spiders, confiscated at the Port of Los Angeles. Ginny Mitchell, Insect Zoo education program coordinator, said this is the first time the Insect Zoo has received confiscated animals from USFWS. Ten of the tarantulas were given to Reiman Gardens and the remaining 159 will be raised in the zoo until they are big enough to be offered to other zoos. More  


Feb. 24: Deadline to Register for BRL Artist Reception
The Biorenewables Research Laboratory collaborated with several local Ames artisans to produce new artwork for the BRL entryway. They are hosting an artist reception on March 3 from 4-6 p.m. in the Sukup Atrium. Registration closes on Friday, Feb. 24. More  

Feb. 26: Faculty Tour of Telling Tales
Jodi Sterle, animal science, will lead a faculty tour of “Telling Tales” on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 2-2:30 p.m. at the Brunnier Art Museum. She will share how for thousands of years, art has told the stories of the connections between animals and the humans who care for them. More  

Feb. 27: High on the Hog Lecture
Jessica Harris, professor emerita at Queens College/City University of New York, will present “High on the Hog: How African Cuisine Transformed America” on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. Co-sponsors of the lecture include the CALS Diversity Program and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. More  

Feb. 27: CALS Staff Council Coffee Talk Question Deadline
The CALS Staff Council Coffee Talk on “Career Development Conversations with your Manager” is scheduled for March 8. Submit questions to the presenters by Feb. 27 via email, cals-staffcouncil@iastate.eduMore  

March 7: CALS Spring Awards Program
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Spring Awards Program, honoring faculty and staff achievements, is March 7 at 4:10 p.m. in Dolezal Auditorium, 127 Curtiss Hall. The program will include brief comments from Dean Robison and recognition of the 2023 CALS faculty and staff award recipients. A wine and cheese reception will follow the program in Harl Commons.

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 Thursday. 


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