Issue: 1291

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
April 15, 2024

Dean’s Message

Hello CALS Colleagues – Last week was the annual Carl and Marjory Hertz Lecture on Emerging Issues in Agriculture, and we were treated to the executives of Hertz Farm Management, Inc. providing the remarks themselves. It was a great evening of thought-provoking comments and encouragement (watch the lecture recording if you couldn't attend)… This week, we welcome the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dr. Benjamin Withers… We also recognize the most extraordinary work and partnership of Dean Beate Schmittmann over many years – and how the two colleges have grown and thrived together. On behalf of CALS, we extend our greatest appreciation to Beate and warmest welcome to Ben!... More 

Top Stories

For crop improvement, AI provides a new lens to bridge science and practice, said Jianming Yu, agronomy, Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding and director of the Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding.

Yu and Negus Publish AI for Crop Improvement Overview
Questions about artificial intelligence are becoming more pressing in every discipline. For crop improvement, AI provides a new lens to bridge science and practice, said Jianming Yu, agronomy, Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding and director of the Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding. Helping his peers, students and the public become more knowledgeable about the rapidly evolving field of AI has become a mission for Yu. To this end, he and other co-authors, including Karlene Negus, a genetics doctoral student working with him, have published an overview on the role of artificial intelligence in crop improvement in a scholarly compilation, Advances in Agronomy. CALS asked Yu and Negus to review highlights of their new publication and reflect on the uses and implications of AI tools in their field. More 

Teaching and Students

CALS Faculty Receive Miller Fellowship Grants
The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching has announced its Miller Fellowship grants for the 2024-25 academic year, with CALS faculty and instructors leading three of the nine teams receiving support. More  

  • Fostering Economic Literacy Among Principles of Macroeconomics Students – led by Oleksandr Zhylyevskyy, Amani Elobeid and Miyoung Oh, economics. 
  • STEM Learning Enhancement and Development through Artificial Intelligence for Undergraduate Students in Introductory Biology Courses – led by Clark Coffman, genetics, development and cell biology, with colleagues in the School of Education, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and political science. Collaborating faculty include Clyde Campbell and Jelena Kraft, GDCB, and Robert Wallace, ecology, evolution and organismal biology. 
  • Tailored AI Tutoring for Improved Student Outcomes in Animal Science and Engineering Disciplines – led by Karl Kerns, animal science, in collaboration with Thomas Brumm, agricultural and biosystems engineering.

Multidisciplinary Option Lets Students Customize Their Education
The new multidisciplinary option for agricultural studies majors puts students in the driver’s seat, offering a way to navigate many topics that they may be interested in. Within this option, students pick two areas of emphasis within CALS and another emphasis area that can be within CALS or from another academic program at Iowa State. More 

Former CALS Student Selected for Football Honor Society
Easton Dean, a fall 2023 graduate in industrial technology, is one of four Iowa State football players selected for the 2024 National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society. A Kansas native, Dean was a two-year starter and finished his career playing in 50 games as tight end. More 

Graduate Student Club Holding Meat Raffle as Fundraiser
Members of the Association of Graduate Animal Scientists are selling meat bundle raffle tickets for their annual fundraiser. Two winners will receive pork and beef valued at $200. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Winners will be notified May 17. Proceeds will support travel scholarships for AGAS members. More 

Extension and Outreach

Celebrate ISU Extension and Outreach Week April 15-20
ISU Extension and Outreach Week is April 15-20. Iowa’s 100 county extension offices will host “I Spy Cy” activities and educational events throughout the week to thank Iowans for their support of ISU Extension and Outreach throughout the state. More 

Drone Technology Offers Benefits for Planting into Wet Field Conditions
The Iowa State Organic Agriculture Program recently used a drone to frost-seed red clover into fields of hybrid rye. A video of the planting process was recorded at the Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm in Greenfield and is available on the Integrated Pest Management channel. More 

Norton Named Director of MGWII
Erin Norton has been with the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute since 2015 and was named director in March. In the new role, she will oversee a team of four staff and four student employees, with the goal of educating and improving Iowa’s wine industry. The institute is part of ISU Extension and Outreach and is housed in the Food Sciences Building. More 

Around the College

Christie Talks Importance of Including Women in Agricultural Research
In celebration of International Women in Agriculture Day, Maria Elisa Christie, director of Women and Gender in International Development at the Center for International Research, Education and Development at Virginia Tech, presented “Integrating gender equity in international agricultural research for development.” The lecture took place on March 26 in Curtiss Hall’s Dolezal Auditorium. More 

Join Colleagues for CALS Trivia Night
CALS and the Department of Agronomy are sponsoring a trivia night on April 26 from 4-6 p.m. Enjoy food, games and prizes for the top three teams. The event is open to all CALS faculty, staff and students. Teams can register online

Town Hall Recording Available Online
Dean Robison held a town hall meeting on April 1. A recording of the meeting is now available online

Hertz Lecture Available Online
The Carl and Marjory Hertz Lecture on Emerging Issues in Agriculture presented by leaders from Hertz Farm Management, Inc. on April 9, is now available online


April 16: C-CHANGE Grass to Gas Webinar
The last webinar in the Grass to Gas series is Tuesday, April 16, at noon. INRC Director Matt Helmers will discuss “Grassland ecosystem impacts: making perennial grass to gas a strategy for regenerative farms.” Attendance is free, but registration is required. More 

April 16: Gamma Sigma Delta Award Ceremony
The annual award ceremony for Gamma Sigma Delta, the Iowa Chapter of the Honor Society of Agriculture, is Tuesday, April 16, at 5:30 p.m. in Dolezal Auditorium, 127 Curtiss Hall. Awards will be presented to CALS faculty, staff, students and alumni, along with undergraduate and graduate students being initiated into the society.

May 2: IGNITE Innovation Showcase
The Student Innovation Center is hosting its annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase April 30-May 3. The CALS Showcase, Innovation + Collaboration, is May 2 in 4227 and 4229 SICTR, from 1-4 p.m. It will include Pathways to Innovation and Leadership, Start Something CALS, Science with Practice, Science-Inspired Artwork, first place recipients of the Food Production Development Competition and ISU Creamery. More 

May 8: CALS Faculty and Staff Gathering
CALS faculty and staff are invited to celebrate the end of spring semester at a gathering on May 8 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Harl Commons patio on the east side of Curtiss Hall. Food will be provided, along with ISU wine and beer, and ice cream from the ISU Creamery. The evening will feature “The Ballad of Dean Robison” by Iowa No Mountain Boys. RSVP by May 1. Plus ones are welcome. More 


2024 Innovation at Work: A Partner for Producers
The latest story in the Innovation at Work series highlights how clients of Iowa State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory say the lab’s speed, expertise and devoted service make it the behind-the-scenes foundation of Iowa’s livestock and poultry industries. More 

New Event Ahead of Exams: Cy’s Finals Frenzy
The division of student affairs is hosting the first Cy's Finals Frenzy April 28-30 to promote healthy study habits and personal wellness for students during prep week. Held in the Memorial Union and outside spaces around the building, it features study options, opportunities to play and lots of snacks. Volunteers are sought for various assignments, mostly on Sunday. More 


Leicester: A Multilayered Approach to Science through Public Art
Artist Andrew Leicester has nine public works of art (six sculptures and three floor mosaics) stationed in the Molecular Biology Building. When he was commissioned in 1991, he paired with Hansen Lind Meyer, Inc. to seamlessly blend his art and their architecture. A University Museums’ blog post on April 1 states that each installation showcases Leicester’s research on transgenic animals, where one animal, a “host,” has its DNA altered by inserting a foreign genome. At the time of the Molecular Biology Building’s construction, this was a hotly debated topic with serious moral implications. In response to this, Leicester created “The G-Nome Project” to show the discourse between this breakthrough science and the potential ill-treatment as a result. 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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