Issue: 1294

CALS Online and Dean’s Message
May 6, 2024 

Dean’s Message    

Hello CALS – Here we are at the end of the spring semester with Graduate College Commencement Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum, CALS Convocation (please come out for it!) on Friday at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum, and the Undergraduate Commencement on Saturday at 9 a.m., also in Hilton Coliseum. These are such wonderful, happy events! Do you remember your own graduations?!... This week, Wednesday, May 8, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., we have our CALS Picnic (thanks to Alison Parker and Angie Weeks for making it happen!) behind Curtiss Hall… More 

Top Stories

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will hold its spring convocation Friday, May 10, at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum.

CALS Convocation to Honor Graduating Seniors, May 10
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will hold its spring convocation Friday, May 10, at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Doors open at 8 a.m. The event will also be livestreamed. The CALS Student Council will present its senior awards (see award winners below). Lydia Johnson, agricultural and life sciences education, international agriculture and journalism, is the CALS Convocation speaker. Jenn Behnke, culinary food science, will serve as the CALS student marshal at the university undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. in Hilton Coliseum. The graduate commencement ceremony will take place Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.
CALS Convocation Speaker: Lydia Johnson
Lydia Johnson, agricultural and life sciences education, international agriculture and journalism, is the spring 2024 CALS Convocation student speaker. Johnson credits her positive experience on campus to the connections she has made along the way. Without the passion of her peers, advisors and teachers, she doubts her experience would have been the same. She hopes her fellow graduates know that their unique experiences, both before and after Iowa State, are an important part of who they are and what they will bring to the world. 

CALS Student Marshal: Jenn Behnke
Jenn Behnke, culinary food science, is the spring 2024 CALS student marshal. From growing up cooking dinners for her family to leading unique culinary workshops for the Iowa State community, she has shown innovation and growth during her time on campus. Behnke was selected to receive the C.S. Liew Innovation Impact Award from CALS. Following graduation, she will join Ajinomoto Health and Nutrition North America as an assistant culinary scientist. 

Senior Award Winner: Ian Johnson
Ian Johnson, animal science, is the spring 2024 recipient of the Leadership and Innovation Award given by the CALS Student Council. His desire to drive change is the inspiration behind his pursuit of leadership opportunities on Iowa State’s campus. His most rewarding activity was the implementation of a new Homecoming tradition – the Give What You Can food drive. In its first year, the effort brought in 22,000 pounds of food and hygiene products that were donated to United Way of Story County. 

Senior Award Winner: Sean Prell 
Sean Prell, microbiology, genetics and chemistry, is one of two spring 2024 recipients of the Academic Achievement Award given by the CALS Student Council. He planned to become a veterinarian, but soon after entering college, realized he was too soft-hearted to euthanize dogs as part of his occupation. So he decided to pursue microbiology. Over time, he fell in love with chemistry and genetics, and added them to his roster of majors. He will be attending Harvard Medical School in the fall. 

Senior Award Winner: Ashely Hipnar
Ashely Hipnar, environmental science and global resource systems, is one of two spring 2024 recipients of the Academic Achievement Award given by the CALS Student Council. Her collegiate experience has included the Honors Program and STEM Scholars, as well as the varsity marching band color guard. Hipnar’s also had several international experiences. She plans to attend law school in New York and study climate change using law and regulation. 

Senior Award Winner: Sokhna “Khadija” Mbacke
Sokhna “Khadija” Mbacke, agronomy and horticulture, is the spring 2024 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award given by the CALS Student Council. Her journey at Iowa State has included being deployed overseas as part of the National Guard, undergraduate research and participation in the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which prepares undergraduate students for entry into graduate school. 

Senior Award Winner: Riley Bell
Riley Bell, agricultural and life sciences education, is the spring 2024 recipient of the Outstanding Ambassador of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award given by the CALS Student Council. She came to campus ready to meet new people and try new things. In her first semester, she joined various clubs to help decide where she wanted to take her college experience. She stayed involved with Sigma Alpha and CALS Ambassadors, chairing its philanthropy committee and leading tours for prospective students. 

Senior Award Winner: Brenna Mathers
Brenna Mathers, genetics, is the spring 2024 recipient of the Inclusive Excellence Award given by the CALS Student Council. She knew genetics was her passion, but took every opportunity to build on her experiences, including involvement in clubs and undergraduate research projects. It’s important to Mathers to be a role model for future generations of young girls, especially young women of color, and to encourage them to pursue scientific careers.  

Senior Award Winner: Kelsey Henderson
Kelsey Henderson, agricultural business, is the spring 2024 recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award given by the CALS Student Council. In her time on campus, she has immersed herself in all the opportunities Iowa State offers, rising to officer and committee positions in multiple organizations. Henderson also wanted to make an impact on those around her. She served as a peer mentor and assistant in the college’s career services office, where she was the student chair for the 2024 annual CALS Career Day. 

Class of 2024: Prescott Jeckel
Prescott Jeckel, biochemistry, has gained much experience working in research labs on Iowa State’s campus, as well as completing internships off-campus. His internship at Corteva Agriscience led to the company offering him a full-time job, which he’ll begin after graduation. 

Class of 2024: Olivia Lulich
Olivia Lulich, agricultural and life sciences education, is wrapping up student teaching at Williamsburg High School in eastern Iowa. Teaching students about agronomy, animal science, plant science and agricultural mechanics, she is following in the footsteps of her father.   

Class of 2024: Kaija Dahlberg
Kaija Dahlberg, genetics and nutritional science, celebrates her college achievements as stepping stones on the path to a career in medicine. Throughout her dual-degree program she has worked on and off campus, including as a teaching assistant, an undergraduate research assistant, a medical scribe and a caregiver at Independence Village of Ames. 


Researchers Identify Role of Genes that Boost Disease Resiliency in Rice
Researchers at Iowa State have identified two genes that can help rice defend itself against diseases, including the devastating fungal blast pathogen that regularly causes significant losses of rice production worldwide. The research group’s discovery has been accepted for publication in the scientific journal aBIOTECH. Reuben Peters, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, co-authored the paper with two students in his lab group, Yiling Feng, a PhD student in the Interdepartmental Plant Biology Program, and Tristan Weers, a sophomore in biochemistry. More 

New Report Shares Latest Research on DWR
What if Iowa farmers could collect field drainage and rainfall to supply the right amount of water at the right time for crop production – and improve water quality in the process? That dream is coming closer to reality, thanks to the emerging technology of drainage water recycling already in practice on several Iowa farms. A new eight-page publication updates the status of research on DWR. Matt Helmers, agricultural and biosystems engineering and director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, is a co-author. More 

Teaching and Students

Culinary Science Club Wins Pork Competition
The CYentists, a team of Iowa State Culinary Science Club students, took home first place at the Taste-Student Competition hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. The team of culinary food science majors - Evelyn Greenbury, Christabel Forney and Julain Sinkler, seniors, and Izabele Jaime, junior - attended the annual competition at the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College. The team presented a Japanese-fusion-inspired dish, a red wine and miso glazed pork loin with togarashi Brussels sprouts and potato mochi. More 

Where are Students Traveling this Summer
The CALS Study Abroad office reports that there are 78 students participating in CALS faculty-led programs this summer, five students on summer programs with CALS partner institutions, and six students on Global Resource Systems international internships. Where are they traveling? Greece, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Uganda, France, Kosovo, U.S. Virgin Islands and Ireland.

Extension and Outreach

Agronomists Advise Farmers to Assess Property Following Storms
Deadly storms with multiple tornadoes were reported April 26, causing houses and buildings to be destroyed, with debris spread across streets and potentially into farm fields. Agronomists with ISU Extension and Outreach said farmers should assess their property carefully now, before the spring growing season causes further disguise of debris. More 

Local Food Leader Certification Program Begins June 5
ISU Extension and Outreach is hosting the next virtual Local Food Leader certification this summer. The certification is intended for beginning local food practitioners, although it is open for anyone who is interested in food systems development and collaboration. The summer 2024 cohort begins on June 5 and runs through Aug. 14. More 

Decoding Iowa Farmers’ Understanding of EOF Practices
Widespread adoption of edge-of-field practices—such as saturated buffers, bioreactors and water quality enhancement wetlands—is vital to achieving the goal of 45% nutrient reduction outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. However, few farmers in the state have embraced EOF practices on their land. The Decoding Iowa Farmers’ Understanding of Edge-of-Field Conservation Practices project investigates why. (See May 8 webinar under Calendar below.) More 

Around the College

Woteki Named Volunteer of the Year
Catherine Woteki, food science and human nutrition, was named Volunteer of the Year by the American Society for Nutrition. Woteki is chair of the ASN Foundation Board of Trustees. More 

CSRL Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Luncheon, Film Screening    
The Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2024. The celebration began April 18 with a gala luncheon at Reiman Gardens. Guests enjoyed a film screening of “Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: 20 Years of the Iowa State University – Uganda Program.” More events celebrating this longstanding program will be held in both Ames and Kamuli, Uganda, and will be announced throughout the year.

Inside Impact Features 25 Year Club Inductees
The latest edition of Inside Impact features a handful of the 138 faculty and staff honored by Iowa State’s 25 Year Club. Each shared a memory or accomplishment during those years that’s especially meaningful to them. Philip Dixon, University Professor of Statistics, said a college Master Teacher Award citing his graduate teaching validated his choice to make teaching and mentoring as useful – and fun – as he can for his students. More Lisa Scarbrough, communications specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, cited interviewing women enrolled in Annie’s Project – a national program to strengthen women’s roles in agriculture offered through ISU Extension and Outreach – and sharing their inspiring and thought-provoking stories for more than a decade. More 

NREM Faculty, Staff Discuss Urban Wildlife
Emma Buckardt, Fanny Riand and Adam Janke, natural resource ecology and management, discuss urban wildlife in an article for the April 30 edition of the Iowa State Daily. In most cities there is an abundance of wildlife hidden under people’s noses, Buckardt said. A lot of urban wildlife conservation involves managing the tension between people and wildlife, adds Janke. More 


May 7: Plant Breeding Seminar
Jonathan Wendel, ecology, evolution and organismal biology, will present “Genes, Jeans, Genomes and the Wondrous Cycles of Polyploidy in Plants,” on Tuesday, May 7, at 3:10 p.m. in 3022 Agronomy Hall. More 

May 7: Food Product Development Poster Session
The Culinary Food Science and Food Sciences classes are holding their Food Product Development Poster Session on Tuesday, May 7, from 3-4 p.m. in 210 MacKay Hall. Learn from six teams about their new snack foods. Samples included. More 

May 8: Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Webinar
The Iowa Learning Farms conservation webinar on Wednesday, May 8, at noon will feature Wendong Zhang, Cornell University. He will present “Decoding Iowa Farmers’ Understanding of Edge-of-Field Practices.” More 


Reiman Gardens Hosts Plant Sale, May 11-12
Reiman Gardens' annual plant sale is Saturday, May 11 (9 a.m.-6 p.m.), and Sunday, May 12 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), in the gardens' parking lot, rain or shine. No gardens admission fee is needed. Credit card, check and cash will be accepted as payment. The sale supports several Iowa State student organizations, the gardens and Story County Master Gardener Association. More 

World Food Prize Foundation to Announce 2024 Laureate
The 2024 recipient of the $500,000 World Food Prize will be announced at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 9, at 8:30 a.m. It will also be livestreamed. The global award recognizes an individual who has enhanced human development and confronted hunger by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. 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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