Issue: 1262

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
August 21, 2023

Dean’s Message

Good Morning CALS – Welcome to the fall semester. That pretty much says it all! Recall and take on the energy, the anticipation, the opportunity, the trepidation, the wonder and the worry to the start of the school year, as you each experienced time and time again over the years when you were a student. It is, of course, the same now for our students and forever more. They are primed and ready to go, and we surely have the best students anywhere – motivated by purpose and intent. I like to say that those of us – students, staff and faculty engaged in the work of a college of agriculture and life sciences (or other versions of the same at peer land grant universities) – are here because we are people of purpose. We are determined to work in areas that are bigger than ourselves, that will make a difference on the land, in the lab and in our communities – from the local to the global level. It is what sets us apart – we are not here and invested in our disciplines by accident or happenstance - it is for purpose… More 

Top Stories

His Majesty William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, King of Busoga, Uganda, and several members of his administration, were in Iowa Aug. 11-18 to learn about the state’s agriculture and sign a memorandum of cooperation and understanding with Iowa State.

King of Busoga Visits Iowa State, Signs MOU
His Majesty William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, King of Busoga, Uganda, and several members of his administration, were in Iowa Aug. 11-18 to learn about the state’s agriculture and sign a memorandum of cooperation and understanding with Iowa State. The MOU, signed by His Majesty and Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen, serves as an agreement between Iowa State and The Busoga Kingdom to continue efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of Ugandans. More 


Zebrafish Play Key Role in Fighting Human Disorders
In an essay for The Conversation, Raquel Espin-Palazón, genetics, development and cell biology, and Gabrielle Dubansky, master’s candidate in molecular, cellular and development biology, are learning about human blood disorders by studying zebrafish because approximately 70% of their genes have similar analogs in humans. Using zebrafish allows scientists to test theories more quickly, which can lead to solutions to real-world problems. More 

Teaching and Students

Setting Incoming Agronomy Students Up for Success, One Trip at a Time
What better way to begin your time as an agronomy student than loading up on a bus, traveling around parts of the state and getting to know fellow classmates and instructors? For the past 25 years (minus one year due to COVID), the Department of Agronomy has been taking incoming freshmen students on the annual Agronomy New Student Learning Community field trip the Friday and Saturday before the fall semester begins. More 

New Student BBQ Scheduled for Aug. 29
The CALS Student Council is hosting its annual freshman and transfer student barbecue on Aug. 29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Iowa Farm Bureau Pavilion in Kildee Hall. Booths will be set up to learn about and join different CALS clubs.

Students Explore Food Systems in Iowa and California
A group of students explored how food systems in Iowa and California compare to each other during a Study USA trip to California. Seven students participated in the inaugural course led by Kate Gilbert and Erin Bergquist, food science and human nutrition. The Study USA program, offered through CALS, provides opportunities for students to learn about diverse cultures, food and agriculture systems, natural resources and life sciences within the United States. More 

Extension and Outreach

Conservation Station Debuts at International Conference
The new Conservation Station educational trailer made its public debut at the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s international conference in Des Moines Aug. 6. The new trailer replaces the original Conservation Station that has been seen all across Iowa, logging some 400 visits and traveling around 150,000 miles since 2010. More 

Master Conservationists Invited to Statewide Meeting
Graduates of Iowa State’s Master Conservationist Program are invited to gather in the Loess Hills this September for a statewide meetup. The Master Conservationist Program started in Iowa in the 1990s, but was redesigned and reinvigorated in 2017. Since then, more than 700 people have completed the curriculum that combines online lectures about statewide efforts for conservation and land stewardship with in-person lessons led by local natural resources professionals. Graduates are encouraged to volunteer in their communities and continue to stay engaged with one another and local instructors. This statewide meeting will be the first of its kind. More 

Around the College

Yu Leads Iowa State’s Baker Center for Plant Breeding
Jianming Yu, agronomy and Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding, is the new director of the Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding. As director, Yu plans to enhance plant breeding programs for diverse crops – from major row crops to emerging crops, and use new and future technologies available in the plant breeding field. More 

Robertson Named Fellow of American Phytopathological Society
Alison Robertson, plant pathology, entomology and microbiology, has been named a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society. She leads a research-based extension program designed to increase awareness of the effect of disease on yield and grain quality of corn and soybean, to enhance understanding of the disease triangle, to improve disease diagnosis skills, and to encourage the use of effective and sustainable disease management practices. More 


Aug. 23: SoyFest
In recognition of Soybean Month in Iowa, the Iowa Soybean Research Center is hosting SoyFest on Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Marston Hall and Parks Library. The educational event will include free food, games, a special drawing for students, giveaways and short demonstrations by several researchers. More  

Aug. 23: McNay Research Farm Annual Field Day 
The annual field day at the McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm will be Aug. 23, at 3:30 p.m. The program will provide research-based information on both crops and livestock. More  

Aug. 26: Bug Village ‘23
Iowa State University’s Insect Zoo is hosting Bug Village ’23 on Saturday, Aug. 26. An open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Advanced Teaching and Research Building, 2213 Pammel Drive. More than 150 species of living arthropods will be on display, along with Pollinator Olympics and Roach Races with a name the racetrack contest. Entomology graduate students will host Insect Collecting 101 from 2:30-5 p.m. at ATRB. Insect light collecting will take place from 7-10 p.m. at Carr Park, near the intersection of Carr Drive and Meadowlane Avenue in Ames. More   


Chemists Build Synthetic Catalysts to Break Down Biomass
An Iowa State chemist’s research group is building nanospheres that act as super enzymes to break down the plant fibers in biomass such as crop residues. The new catalysts could make biomass a practical source of sugars that can be converted into fuels and chemicals. More 

Artist Addresses Climate Change with Exhibition at Iowa State
The Brunnier Art Museum is hosting the exhibition “Future Unfolding,” featuring the newly commissioned cameo engraved glass work “Outliving Glaciers,” by award-winning artist and environmentalist April Surgent. The exhibition opens Tuesday, Aug. 22, with free admission for the public. A curator's tour of “Future Unfolding” will be held Sunday, Aug. 27, from 2-3 p.m. More 


The Tradition of Giving Apples to Teachers
There are several theories about how apples came to be a gift for teachers, but as explained in a blog post on, the tradition may have originated for more practical reasons. On the American frontier, families were often responsible for housing and providing for teachers if they wanted their children to attend school. Because apples were an abundant crop, students would bring teachers apples as a form of sustenance and a token of appreciation. It’s also interesting to note that school often starts in September, which is peak harvest time for many different kinds of apples in the Northern Hemisphere. 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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