Issue: 1247

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
April 24, 2023 

Dean’s Message

Hello CALS Colleagues – This is the season of spring and of commencement! My daffodils have endured up-and-down temperatures, hail, wind and rain – and still they stubbornly and beautifully declare spring is here. Some of our farmers statewide got a jump on planting when the weather was warm and dry a couple weeks ago. For some, the seed will take hold and be good; for others, the optimism was perhaps too much, and they’ll have to replant after the cold, wet weather… More

Top Stories

Manjit Misra, Seed Science Center at Iowa State University.

Misra Named Director of USDA-NIFA 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced today that Manjit Misra will be its new director. He will assume his role on May 8, with a swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. As he takes on this national leadership position, Misra will retire from Iowa State after a nearly 45-year career as a faculty member in agricultural and biosystems engineering and 32 years as director of the university’s Seed Science Center. A retirement celebration is being held in his honor today in the Garden Room at Reiman Gardens, from 3-5 p.m. RSVPs are requested. More  

USAID Taps Iowa State Experts to Boost Agriculture Education, Research in Kosovo
More than a dozen Iowa State faculty and staff will be working with colleagues at universities in Kosovo over the next five years to boost the nation’s agricultural economy, providing guidance on topics such as applied research, industry engagement, curriculum development, teaching methods and student services. The efforts are part of a $4 million cooperative agreement from the United States Agency for International Development to the University of Iowa, which is partnering with Iowa State and the Kosova Education Center, a Pristina-based educational training nonprofit. Curtis Youngs, animal science and Ensminger Endowed Chair of International Animal Agriculture, is leading Iowa State’s involvement in the initiative. More  


Innovation at Work: Smarter Farming with Better Data
Advances in precision and digital agriculture created at Iowa State are focused more than ever on data, innovations that can boost yields and profits while improving sustainability. Often by building their own products or partnering with companies, Iowa State researchers give farmers tools for making better decisions. More  

Teaching and Students

Agricultural Communication Major Approved for Fall Semester
The Iowa Board of Regents approved a new undergraduate major at its April 20 meeting – Bachelor of Science in agricultural communication. Housed in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies, the new major will offer core coursework in foundational agricultural communication. Students will have the flexibility to choose pathways in agriculture and various communication courses, including those from Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. More  

New Scholarships Available to Eastern Iowa Students
Iowa State is offering $1.5 million in new scholarships for students from Linn, Johnson, Clayton and Fayette counties who pursue studies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Leonard and Evelyn Dolezal Scholarship Program was made possible through the Dolezal estate. The Dolezal scholarships are being offered in partnership with the city of Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Kirkwood Community College and local school districts. Andy Zehr, CALS director of marketing and new student programs, said Cedar Rapids is an “economic industry powerhouse” in Iowa, with “great agriculture and food production companies looking to Iowa State to provide some of their workforce.” More  

Chenus Puts Environmental Science in the Spotlight
What does environmental action have to do with theater? As a senior in environmental science and performing arts, Valentine Chenus believes the two go hand-in-hand when it comes to spreading a message and making an impact. More  

Extension and Outreach

Iowans Reminded to Share the Roadways
With planting season underway, Iowans are reminded to share the roadways responsibly. Steve Freeman, agricultural and biosystems engineering and rural farm safety expert, offers advice for both farmers and rural motorists. More  

Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference is May 17
A robust farm economy, soil health and land values are topics that will be addressed at the 95th annual Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference on May 17 in Ames. Sponsored by CALS and ISU Extension and Outreach, it is the longest running conference at Iowa State. More  

Extension Horticulturists Provide Tree Planting Tips
Planting trees add beauty to a landscape, improve air quality, provide wildlife habitat and reduce home energy consumption. Horticulturists with ISU Extension and Outreach answer questions about how to best plant new trees to ensure a successful outcome. More  

Around the College

Wendel Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Jonathan Wendel, ecology, evolution and organismal biology, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. An evolutionary biologist, Wendel has helped shed light on the process and importance of genome doubling in plants. More  

Regents Approve Faculty Promotions
The state Board of Regents approved promotion and tenure for 75 faculty members, including the following from CALS. More  

  • Promoted to Professor (already tenured): Sotirios Archontoulis, agronomy; Ajay Nair, horticulture; Kurt Rosentrater, agricultural and biosystems engineering; and Jeanne Serb, ecology, evolution and organismal biology.
  • Promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure: Jennifer Bundy, animal science; Nicholas Peters, plant pathology, entomology and microbiology; Shuyang Qu, agricultural education and studies; Brett Ramirez, agricultural and biosystems engineering; and Arti Singh, agronomy.

Fernando Receives Outstanding Alumnus Award
Rohan Fernando, professor emeritus of animal science, received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno’s Top Dog Alumni Awards ceremony on April 22. His efforts have focused primarily on theory and methods for use of genetic markers in breeding and for genetic evaluations of crossbred animals. More  

Edelman Receives Rural Leadership Award
Mark Edelman, professor emeritus of economics and former director of the Community Vitality Center, received the Rand Fisher Rural Leadership Award at the annual Iowa Rural Summit, held earlier this month in Ames. Sponsored by the Iowa Area Development Group Community Foundation, Edelman was recognized for his work to strengthen rural Iowa. More  

CALS Convocation to Honor Graduating Seniors, May 12
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will hold its spring convocation Friday, May 12, at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum. (Please note the time change from previous semesters.) Doors open at 8 a.m. The event will also be livestreamed. The university undergraduate commencement ceremony is Saturday, May 13, at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum. The graduate commencement ceremony will take place Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.

Staff Council to Host Tour of New Feed Mill
The CALS Staff Council has scheduled a tour of the new Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex on May 15 from 3-4 p.m. Learn about the equipment, plans and processes in this new facility before it’s officially commissioned. Space is limited, so please register soon to ensure a spot.  

Town Hall Recording Available Online
Dean Robison held a Town Hall meeting on April 13. A recording of the meeting is now available online.  


April 24: Retirement Celebration for Manjit Misra
A retirement celebration for Manjit Misra, director of the Seed Science Center, is today, April 24, from 3-5 p.m. in the Garden Room at Reiman Gardens. There will be brief remarks at 4 p.m. Please RSVP online.  

April 24: United Way Food Drive Begins
The United Way of Story County 2023 Live United Food Drive begins today, April 24. Drop off sites on campus include the Curtiss Hall first floor rotunda and Kildee Hall atrium. Donations benefit the SHOP, Sloss House Pantry, Bone Appetite at Vet Med and more than 15 local pantries. More   

April 29: Antique Tractor Show
The Antique Tractor Club at Iowa State is holding a spring tractor show on Saturday, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Molecular Biology Building, Lot 29. A pedal tractor raffle will be held at 1:30 p.m. Faculty and staff are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and enjoy the show. The Titanium Lunchbox food truck will be there, along with Dairy Science Club ice cream.

May 2: Science with Practice Poster Session
This semester’s Science with Practice poster session open house is May 2 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Kildee Hall atrium. Science with Practice is a CALS experiential learning and work program for undergraduate students in agriculture.  


Library Announces Innovation Bookshelf
An Innovation Bookshelf is now available in the Fireplace Reading Room in Parks Library and online. Both spaces contain the curated collection of 200 (and counting) print and e-book titles, selected by Iowa State librarians and outside subject experts. More  

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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