Issue: 1288

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
March 25, 2024 

Dean’s Message

Hello CALS – I know we all agree on GO CYCLONES! Some truly great basketball being played by the Iowa State women and men. Fun! Good luck to the men's team going forward, and welcome back home to the women after a phenomenal season and tournament appearance. This week, the big event for our college is the CALS Spring Awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 27, at 4:10 p.m. in 127 Curtiss Hall (Dolezal Auditorium). I hope very many of you will choose to attend as we celebrate the accomplishments of your colleagues… Also this week, I’ll meet with the MUDS! These are the college’s Morrill, University and Distinguished professors… And next week, Monday, April 1, at 2:15 p.m. in Curtiss Hall's Dolezal Auditorium, we’ll have our spring CALS Town Hall. Please try and turn out for that… More 

Top Stories

Corn cobs may perform better than woodchips as a carbon source to reduce nitrates in water quality bioreactors – and for a lower cost, according to a research team led by Michelle Soupir, agricultural and biosystems engineering.

Corn Cobs: A Better Carbon Source for Bioreactors? 
Corn cobs may perform better than woodchips as a carbon source to reduce nitrates in water quality bioreactors – and for a lower cost, according to a research team led by Michelle Soupir, agricultural and biosystems engineering. The challenge is getting an adequate supply of corn cobs. Iowa State’s pilot-scale mini-bioreactor research site at the Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm near Ames is shown above. More 


Yandeau-Nelson to Present Rossmann Manatt Faculty Seminar
The Rossmann Manatt Faculty Seminar is Wednesday, March 27, at 11 a.m. in 2630 Memorial Union. Marna Yandeau-Nelson, genetics, development and cell biology and recipient of the 2023 Rossmann Manatt Faculty Development Award, will present “Protecting Plant Surfaces in a Changing Climate: Understanding Synthesis, Form and Function of the Plant Cuticle Using Corn Silks as a Model System.” More 

Lab-Grown Liver Organoid to Speed Up Turtle Research
A team of Iowa State researchers led by Nicole Valenzuela, ecology, evolution and organismal biology, developed protocols for growing organoids that mimic a turtle liver, the first organoids developed for a turtle and only the second for any reptile. The discovery will aid deeper study of turtle genetics, including the cause of traits with potential medical applications for humans. More 

Register for CALS Open Academy for Team Science
CALS is hosting a one-day conference designed for faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate students and undergrads interested in collaborative research. Scheduled for April 18 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union, participants will have the opportunity to bring a research poster and submit proposals for lightning talks to showcase ideas for future projects. There will be a research panel and seminar sessions addressing the transformative potential of team science. More 

New Organic Farming Study Addresses Soil Health and Economics
A new, two-year project led by Iowa State builds on decades of work at two organic research sites in Iowa. It will also add a third on-farm research site that brings a new layer of engagement with interested stakeholders. Kathleen Delate, horticulture, agronomy and extension organic specialist, is coordinating the study. The research is funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Organic Center. More 

Teaching and Students

Undergraduates Showcase Research at the Capitol, March 25
Iowa State undergraduates will present results of their academic research during a special presentation at the Iowa Capitol today, March 25. Ashley Hipnar, senior in environmental science and global resource systems, will provide opening remarks. The 18th annual Research in the Capitol event gives students a chance to interact with legislators, state officials and university administrators. The following CALS students will be presenting their research. More  

  • Seth Entriken, senior in genetics 
  • Dani Cortes, junior in genetics 
  • Ashley Hipnar, senior in environmental science and global resource systems 
  • Frances Jackson, senior in agricultural business and accounting 
  • Alex Kurtt, senior in biology and environmental science 
  • Sophia Schmidt, senior in horticulture

Forestry Honor Society Hosts Maple Syrup Day, March 30
The Iowa State chapter of Xi Sigma Pi, the Forestry Honor Society, is holding Maple Syrup Day on Saturday, March 30, from 8-11 a.m. at the Iowa Arboretum. Enjoy all you can eat pancakes along with sausage, fruit, coffee, orange juice and…maple syrup. Learn how maple syrup is produced and enjoy timber sports demonstrations and a live wood-turning display. Cost is $9 for adults, $6 for children 5-10, free for children 4 and under. More 

Semester Abroad Sparks Interest in Public Health
Eden Grimes, a senior in global resource systems and French, spent spring 2023 in a semester-long exchange program at the University of Montreal in Quebec. In addition to advancing her French-speaking fluency, Grimes interned with Grace Marquis in McGill University’s School of Human Nutrition, also located in Quebec. The researchers were studying women in Ghana, Africa, who were raising their food. It opened her eyes to a future in research and a newfound intent to pursue a master’s in public health. More 

Student’s Research in Maize Germplasm Leads to Honduras
Andrew Hokanson, a senior in agronomy, recently returned from a research trip to Honduras. He received project funding through the CALS Office for Academic Innovation and the Office for Research and Discovery via the Innovation in Agriculture Young Scholar Award on the theme of feeding the growing global population without expanding the area of cultivated land. More 

Extension and Outreach

Survey Shows Challenges of Implementing Edge-of-Field Practices
A new research report documents current trends in the adoption and understanding of edge-of-field practices among Iowa farmers and landowners. “Our results indicate that edge-of-field practices such as saturated buffers and bioreactors are poorly understood, despite their robust nutrient reduction potential,” said Wendong Zhang, faculty collaborator with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. More   

Program Connects 59 Veterans to Careers in Iowa Agriculture
A partnership with ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Veterans in Agriculture program helped connect 59 veterans to agricultural careers in Iowa over the past three years, and reached more than 1,300 veterans with educational programming. Funding was provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. More 

Request Portal Open for Summer Programming
Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! have opened the request portal for free programming visits with the Conservation Station trailers and presentations during the upcoming summer months. Visits may be requested for Mondays through Saturdays between June 1 and Aug. 30. There is no cost to request or host an event, thanks to the support of funding partners. More 

Parnell Named Director of Field Extension Education Laboratory
Alan Parnell has been named director of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Field Extension and Education Laboratory, located southwest of campus. The FEEL facility is comprised of 29 acres and more than 400 demonstration plots, and climate-controlled classrooms. More 

Five Counties Receive Master Gardener Award
Five county programs with ISU Extension and Outreach’s Master Gardener program have been awarded the Search for Excellence Award for their commitment to gardening education in local communities. More 

State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa Showcases Young STEM Talent
The 67th State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa is April 4-5 at Hilton Coliseum. The fair, for youth in grades 6-12, will feature more than 600 participants showcasing more than 480 STEM research projects. More 

Around the College

Exploring the World of Organic Agriculture at Iowa State
Organic agriculture can provide many benefits to humans and the environment. Teaching students and the community about those benefits is one of the Organic Agriculture program’s goals. Kathleen Delate, horticulture, has operated Iowa State University’s Organic Agriculture program for the past 25 years. The program aims to educate the public, including Iowa State students, about the latest research and activities related to organic agriculture. More 

Rosentrater and Organic Agriculture Program Receive Sustainability Awards
Kurt Rosentrater, agricultural and biosystems engineering, and the Iowa State University Organic Agriculture Program, each received a 2024 Live Green! Award for Excellence in Sustainability. More 

Taylor Receives Exceptional Service Award
Elwynn Taylor, professor emeritus in agronomy, received the 2024 Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service to Agriculture Award. Taylor was an extension climatologist at Iowa State from 1979-2019 and is well known for his analysis of weather influence on the Midwest. More 


March 25: Horticulture Seminar
Today’s Department of Horticulture Seminar is 4:25-5:15 p.m. in 118 Horticulture Hall. Tina Krug, Landscape Club advisor, will discuss the 2024 National Collegiate Landscaping Competition – why they went and what they learned. More 

March 26: International Women in Agriculture Day
A lecture celebrating International Women in Agriculture Day is Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in Dolezal Auditorium, 127 Curtiss Hall. Maria Elisa Christie, director of Women and Gender in International Development at Virginia Tech, will present “Integrating Gender Equity in International Agriculture Research-for-Development.” A social hour will begin at 6 p.m. with sandwiches and beverages provided. More 

March 27: CALS Spring Awards Program
The CALS Spring Awards Program, honoring faculty and staff achievements, is Wednesday, March 27, at 4:10 p.m. in Dolezal Auditorium, 127 Curtiss Hall. The program will include brief comments from Dean Robison and recognition of the 2024 CALS faculty and staff award recipients. A wine and cheese reception in Harl Commons will follow the program.

April 1: CALS Town Hall
Join Dean Robison for a Town Hall meeting on April 1 at 2:15 p.m. in 127 Curtiss Hall, Dolezal Auditorium.

April 3-4: Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Symposium
The second annual Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Symposium will be held on campus April 3-4. The focus will be on “From Code to Cure:  Bridging the Gap in Biological Sciences.” Faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to attend. Registration is free, but participants are encouraged to register by March 22. More 


U.S. Postal Service Issues Garden Delights
The U.S. Postal Service has issued Garden Delights, four stamps celebrating the flora of America’s spring and summer gardens and the vital role of hummingbirds in their pollination. Each stamp showcases a female ruby-throated hummingbird hovering next to either a zinnia, cigar flower, spotted touch-me-not or sunflower. 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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