Issue: 1281

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
January 29, 2024 

Dean’s Message

Good Morning CALS – As I wrote in last Monday's note, I spent last week in Florida visiting alumni and donors while attending ISU Foundation events, including the big events on Wednesday evening. The first of those events was a special CALS reception before the main ISU Foundation event, where we had a great visit with about 60 CALS alumni and family. David Acker and I made some remarks, then we went around the room and had everyone introduce themselves. There was a good deal of AGR-Farmhouse rivalry talked about, career paths explained, and family connections to Iowa State and the college over multiple generations touted! Great fun… More 

Top Stories

Iowa State alumnus Paxton Williams’ portrayal of the agricultural scientist will highlight the university’s second annual observance of George Washington Carver Day in Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 1.

One-Man Show Highlights Second Carver Day Celebration
Iowa State alumnus Paxton Williams’ portrayal of the agricultural scientist will highlight the university’s second annual observance of George Washington Carver Day in Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 1. The event also will recognize CALS students Molly Simmons, senior in environmental science, and Morgan Lang, junior in global resource systems, members of the team that placed first in the annual Food Insecurity Challenge, a campus competition that educates students about local and global hunger issues and challenges them to develop solutions. Registration and beverages begin at 5 p.m., and the program starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Durham Great Hall. The Carver Day event is free, but an RSVP registration is encouraged by Tuesday, Jan. 30. The program also will be livestreamed. More 

University Museums Opens Three Carver Exhibitions
University Museums will open three exhibitions about George Washington Carver on Thursday, Feb. 1, running through July. Specific programs related to each of these exhibits will be held throughout the spring and early summer. More  

  • George Washington Carver, The Student and Innovator exhibition is in the first floor Dean’s Art Gallery in Curtiss Hall. It explores through portraiture the influence Iowa State faculty, administration and students had on the success of Carver as an innovator. 
  • George Washington Carver, The Student and Artist exhibition is in the Farm House Museum. It contains several works of art attributed to Carver and those who influenced him at Iowa State. It also takes a brief look at Carver’s artistic and military connections to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. 
  • George Washington Carver, The Student and Visionary is a self-guided tour that explores, through historical and contemporary portraiture, the encouragement of young Carver by Iowa State faculty and administration and the impact that had on the visionary he became.  


Herbarium Expands Collection, Offers Window into Plant History
Iowa State’s Ada Hayden Herbarium – established in the university’s earliest days and built in part by contributions from some of its most celebrated scholars – expanded this fall when it absorbed the University of Northern Iowa’s collection. It now holds more than 700,000 preserved plant, fungal and algal specimens, a valuable resource for research and instruction. Lynn Clark, ecology, evolution and organismal biology, is director of the herbarium. Deb Lewis, EEOB, is curator. More 

Move What Matters: Precise Crop Inputs
Patrick Schnable, director of the Plant Sciences Institute and Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics, got excited when he learned Liang Dong had developed a nitrogen sensor. Dong, the Vikram L. Dalal Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a PSI Scholar recruited to Iowa State by Schnable to do collaborative research that helps agriculture. Nitrogen monitoring is a problem. Failing to use enough on a corn crop puts yields and profitability at risk. Use too much, and it wastes money and potentially harms the environment. Accurate nitrogen testing can be a challenge, though, because factors like soil makeup, weather and crop genetics can interfere. Dong’s innovation addresses this problem and led to founding EnGeniousAg LLC, the latest business launched by Schnable. The business partnership includes Dong; Mike Castellano, agronomy and the William T. Frankenberger Professor in Soil Science; and Schnable’s son James, an agronomist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. More 

Faculty Mentors Needed for GWC Summer Research Internship Program
The 29th George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program will host collegiate scholars from across the U.S. and its territories on campus from June 3 to Aug. 1. Faculty mentors are needed to provide research lab or field experience for students. Details are in an email from Theressa Cooper, assistant dean for diversity, sent to college faculty and staff on Jan. 25 (via Alison Parker at 1:08 p.m.). Applications are due Feb. 15. More 

Teaching and Students

Students Create Snacks for GPC Ingredient Challenge
Eight student teams will compete in the GPC Ingredient Application Challenge on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 5:15 p.m. in the Culinary Discovery Lab, 2379 Food Sciences Building. All are welcome to stop by and taste the snacks created by the student teams and vote for their favorite. More 

Extension and Outreach

Latest Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll Now Available
Although they wear many hats, perform many jobs and are referred to using many terms, it turns out the people who grow Iowa’s crops and livestock prefer to be called “farmers,” according to the 2023 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. The poll examines issues that matter to rural Iowans and is conducted by sociologists with ISU Extension and Outreach. More 

Virtual Field Day to Focus on Woodchips and Water Quality
A new project that studies woodchips used for bioreactors will be the focus of a virtual field day on Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. with Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and the Conservation Learning Group. The field day will include live discussion with Michelle Soupir and Ji Yeow Law, agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Billy Beck, extension forestry specialist. More 

Schulz Offers Pork Market Edition of “Would You Rather”
"Would You Rather" is an age-old game. Would you rather be super-fast or super-strong? Would you rather have more time or more money? The best "Would You Rather" questions make people think about what they value most. With pork producers facing tough economic times, Lee Schulz, extension economist, offers some "Would You Rather" questions that may provide some perspective. More  

  • Would you rather have a free market or supply management? 
  • Would you rather have demand that weakened or demand that never materialized? 
  • Would you rather have more risk or less risk? 

Wuestenberg Named Extension Agricultural Climatology Specialist
Madelynn Wuestenberg joined ISU Extension and Outreach on Jan. 2 as an agricultural climatology specialist. “This role will build capacity within extension to deliver timely research-based information and tools for agriculture and natural resources stakeholders as they respond to extreme weather and adapt to changing climate conditions,” said Jamie Benning, assistant director for agriculture and natural resources with ISU Extension and Outreach. More 

Around the College

Lewis Curates Unique Campus Library
Deb Lewis safeguards more than 700,000 plant and fungi specimens held in Iowa State's Ada Hayden Herbarium, where she has been the curator since 1984. The herbarium was founded in 1870. Seeing plants preserved by scientists who are among Iowa State's most celebrated early scholars is one of the joys of Lewis' job. That includes samples collected by George Washington Carver, Charles Bessey and Ada Hayden. Stewarding the specimens provides Lewis a gratifying link to botanical history, but interacting with present-day plant lovers has just as much to do with remaining in her post for 40 years. More 

For Meyers, Farm Manager Gig Provides a Lot of Fun Days
Nathan Meyers is the manager at the Agricultural Engineering/Agronomy Farm west of Ames, one of the university's 15 research and demonstration farms across the state. Like most ISU farm managers, he's part of a team that supports faculty research projects. In Meyers' case, that's more than 50 faculty – mostly from agronomy, agricultural and biosystems engineering, entomology and plant pathology – and thousands of research plots across a 1,300-acre mixture of 14 farm properties. But Meyers also has kept his precision agriculture duties, the role for which he was first hired in 2011. Since then, Meyers has become the go-to guy for staff at all the ISU research farms around the state. More 

Microbiology Program Partners with Design on Art Installation
The College of Design and the Microbiology Program have collaborated on an art installation that is part of an exhibition – Beauty Investigated: Dilemmas, Projects and Promises – running from Jan. 18-Feb. 22 in Gallery 181, College of Design. The art explores the synergy between microbial attributes of swarming and cutting-edge AI technology. More 

CALS Spaces Available in Student Innovation Center
A reminder that the college has two Collaborative Learning Labs available in the Student Innovation Center for student engagement and collaboration, including capstone projects, student team or club meetings, presentations or recruiting. Learning Lab 4227 seats 26 and Learning Lab 4229 seats 16. Both rooms have moveable tables and AV-65” monitors with HDMI cable and cameras for virtual meeting capabilities. To reserve classroom space for fall 2024, contact Marcy Cheville ( Scheduling monitors outside the rooms in the SICTR can be used to book a room for that day only. To reserve a room on your own through Outlook, contact Ben Boecker ( to receive access to the SICTR 4227 and 4229 calendars.

Fill Out Conflict of Interest and Commitment Disclosure
Dean Robison sent an email on Jan. 24 about filing updated Conflict of Interest and Commitment materials. All faculty, P&S staff, contract staff, graduate assistants and postdoctoral scholars are required to disclose whether they believe they have a conflict. For those supervising other P&S or contract staff, or graduate students or post docs, please ensure this process is completed.


Jan 31: Walter Suza Medallion Celebration
A medallion celebration for Walter Suza, agronomy and the newest holder of the George Washington Carver Chair, is Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 9-10 a.m. in 142 Curtiss Hall. Light refreshments will be provided.

Jan. 31: Scientific Exploration Art Walk
Docent Rick Bartosh will lead an art walk in the Advanced Teaching and Research Building on Wednesday, Jan. 31, from noon to 1 p.m. Participants will see art representing the scientific advancements discovered at Iowa State. More 

Feb. 2: CALS Chat with the Dean
Dean Robison will host a CALS Chat on Friday, Feb. 2, from 2-3 p.m. in Agronomy Hall’s second floor commons. The informal, drop-in event will be an opportunity for casual conversation.

Communications Kiosk

Altogether vs. All Together
Altogether means “wholly” or “entirely” (that story is altogether false). All together refers to a unity of time or place (the family will be all together at Thanksgiving). (The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, pg. 310)


Register for ISCORE 2024
Registration is open for the 2024 Thomas L. Hill Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity. The forum is free and open to the Iowa State community and will be held Feb. 29 in the Memorial Union. A half-day preconference for faculty, staff and graduate students is scheduled for Feb. 28. More 


ISU Dining Chef Wins IPPA Taste Competition
Joshua Wilkins, Chef de Cuisine with ISU Dining, won first place at the 37th annual Taste contest hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. This year’s event challenged the nine participating chefs to prepare an entrée featuring boneless pork loin. Wilkins created a “classic Italian soul food,” which also earned the People’s Choice award by those who attended a tasting reception. Taste is a Pork Checkoff-funded culinary competition designed to inspire innovative and exciting ways to menu pork in restaurants. It traditionally kicks off Iowa Pork Congress week in Des Moines. 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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