Issue: 464

College News

Ag Business Club Earns National Honors

The Iowa State University Agricultural Business Club was named the 2007 National Outstanding Chapter and received the National Creative Club Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) at the annual meeting of the student section of AAEA July 29-31 in Portland, Ore.

College Awards Scholarships to 4-H Exhibitors at State Fair

Eight 4-H exhibitors at the Iowa State Fair have earned $500 scholarships from the College. The science-related exhibits were given up to 40 points for scientific thought, 20 points for thoroughness, 30 points for creativity and 10 points for appearance and design. Students had to be in ninth grade or above to enter and scholarships are valid for students who enter majors within the College. The winners included: Jessie Hammerand from Dubuque County; Devin De Weerd, Sioux County; Landon Worden, Wright County; Michelle Stewart, Bremer County; Brandt Heitman, Iowa County; Brittany Jurgemeyer, Cerro Gordo County; Andy Pringnitz, Dickinson County; and Allison Schantz, Washington County.

EEOB Expert Featured in NPR Story on Climate Change

Diane Debinski, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, studies the links between species extinctions and climate change. She was quoted in an Aug. 8 story on National Public Radio about a purple snail that some believe is the first species to become extinct as a result of global warming. Listen to the audio or read the story text here:

New Treatment for Glaucoma Shows Promise in Lab

Iowa State researchers have developed a new technique that successfully treated rats for blindness caused by glaucoma. One of the leaders of the six-year project is Donald Sakaguchi, neuroscientist and associate professor of genetics, development and cell biology. Sakaguchi has an Experiment Station research appointment.

Insect Zoo Attracts Attention at Iowa State Fair

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is featuring the Insect Zoo in its display at the Iowa State Fair. The display is located on the main floor of the Agriculture Building. The zoo was open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students, faculty and staff from the entomology department kept busy educating and entertaining fair attendees. This weekend, during the same time slot, the ISU Insect Zoo will be open again, showing off its Madagascar hissing cockroaches, giant milipedes and exotic insects. For more about the zoo:

Why Sweet Corn is Sweet and Other Good Fortunes

For the past 20 years, Martha James has created a successful scientific career at Iowa State as an associate scientist in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. In the lab and in the cornfield, she researches how plants make starch.

PFI Field Day Celebrates Leopold Center Work Aug. 25

What's been the impact of sustainable agriculture practices in northwest Iowa over the past 20 years and what lies ahead? That's the question O'Brien County organic farmer Paul Mugge hopes to answer when he and his wife Karen host an Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on Aug. 25 to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of ISU's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Learn more:

ProBeef '07 International Conference at ISU in September

Iowa State is the site for the ProBeef '07 International Conference: A Global View of the Ethanol Industry and Beef Cattle Production. Vigortone Ag Products is teaming up with Iowa State University Extension and ISU's Iowa Beef Center to host the Sept. 5-7 conference for beef producers, nutritionists and biorenewable and cattle industry professionals.

Wendall Featured in Plant Genomics Movie for Kids

Jonathan Wendel, chair of the ecology, evolution and organismal biology department, is featured in a 23-minute, MTV-style movie about plant genomics for high school and grade school students. The "Secrets of Plant Genomes Revealed!" features three scientists who are experts studying the genomics of cotton, corn and potatoes. Wendel's segment on cotton starts out in a corn field and jumps to the largest cotton field in Iowa -- Wendel's research plants in the greenhouse on top of Bessey Hall. The National Science Foundation commissioned Minnesota Public Television to produce the video, which will soon be available on the web to schools and teachers nationwide.

Regents Review New Century Farm Bioprocessing Lab

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, met Aug. 1-2 in Cedar Falls and reviewed Iowa State's plans for a bioprocessing research laboratory, which will be the main facility of the New Century Farm along Highway 30 west of Ames, and granted approval to begin construction. Research at the $19 million, 23,000-square-foot facility will address some of the critical questions facing biorenewables related to optimal species and crop rotations, selective breeding to improve crops, environmental impact of new biomass crops and storage and transportation issues. Construction could begin in late fall and wrap up in fall 2008.

Regents Approve Name Change for Plant Sciences Center

At its August meeting, the Regents approved the university's request to change the name of one of its centers from the Center for Designer Crops (created in 1999 as part of the Plant Sciences Institute) to the Center for Metabolic Biology. College faculty member Basil Nikolau, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, is director of the center. The change reflects a desire to expand the scope of the center to support needed research in the area of metabolic networks and systems. The goal of the center is a better understanding of metabolism in order to improve the nutritional quality of agricultural products and discover new biorenewable industrial feeds. Funding for the center is provided by several university units including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Report Outlines Beginning Farmer Options for Farm Bill

Payment limits and commodity programs usually dominate debates about federal farm legislation, but a report prepared for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture shows that options to help beginning farmers may be just as important for the future of agriculture. The report, the outcome of a research project co-led by Mike Duffy, director of ISU's Beginning Farmer Center, examines proposals for beginning farmers and ranchers that are recommended for the 2007 Farm Bill. Details:

Deadlines & Reminders

Aug. 13: Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm field day, 5 p.m., near Lewis

Aug. 14: Muscatine Island Research and Demonstration Farm field day, 6:30 p.m., Fruitland

Communication Kiosk

Use of Compelled or Impelled Depends on Choices

If you are compelled to do something, you have no choice. "Nixon was compelled by the unanimous Supreme Court decision to turn over the tapes." If you are impelled to do something, you may not like it, but you are convinced that it must be done. "The voter disliked some candidates, but was impelled by the income-tax issue to vote a straight party ticket." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., 2003)


Hilton Chair Florida to Present Lecture Sept. 19

Richard Florida, the Helen LeBaron Hilton Chair in the College of Human Sciences, will give a lecture on Sept 19. Florida has gained recognition for two books, "The Rise of the Creative Class" and "The Flight of the Creative Class." Florida will share his expertise on economic competitiveness, demographic trends and cultural and technological innovation. The lecture is open to the public. It will begin at 8 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium.

Rural Youth Summit Call for Papers

The Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy is organizing a Rural Youth Summit to be held in Ames at the Scheman Center Oct. 26-27. The summit will address the needs of youth living rural areas. About 200 youth are expected to attend. Organizers are seeking research presentations on local foods, new farmer opportunities and challenges, resource conservation, rural diversity, recreation and entertainment opportunities and social networking idea.

Arabidopsis' Ability to Self Pollinate Goes Way Back

The ability of plants to self-pollinate -- a big factor in the spread of weeds -- is much older than previously thought in Arabidopsis thaliana, a widely used research model species, according to two new papers in Science Express and Nature Genetics. This is of broad interest, as Arabidopsis is likely to become an important model for identifying the genetic basis of evolutionary change. The mustard-like plant started self-pollinating at least a million years ago, say plant geneticists at the University of Southern California. In 2004, an estimate from North Carolina State University reported that A. thaliana began self-pollinating in the last 400,000 years. Self-pollination, or selfing, confers a major advantage to weedy species. A selfing plant can invade new territory by itself and colonize it alone. The potential downside of self-pollination -- inbreeding depression -- is averted by rare sexual breeding. According to an older study, 1 percent of all A. thaliana have received pollen from other plants of the species. (Eureka Alert, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Aug. 7)

Internal Voices

Economists Offer Opinions on Ethanol's Boom

Two ISU agricultural economists were sources for an Aug. 8 New York Times article, "Ethanol Is Feeding Hot Market for Farmland." William Edwards talked about his study of farm rents that found a 10 percent jump this spring compared with last year and the largest increase since he started tracking farm rents in 1994. In Iowa, about one-fourth of farmland is owned by people 75 or older, said Michael Duffy. Another fourth is owned by people 65 to 74 years old. Unknown is what will come of land prices if corn loses its place in the ethanol world and is surpassed by another source like cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass. "Right now, a lot are still betting that corn-based ethanol will be around a while," said Duffy, who also is director of ISU's Beginning Farmer Center. He noted two other farming booms, in the 1910s and the 1970s, which were each later followed by periods of depression. "In five years, corn-based ethanol will be around," Duffy said. "Fifteen years? I'm not as convinced." More:

External Voices

Twinkies Result From International Nexus of Suppliers

"When I began researching the ingredients for Twinkies, I naively thought that their raw materials were extracted from nuts, beans, fruit, seeds or leaves, and that they came from the United States. ...Although eight of the ingredients in the beloved little snack cake come from domestic corn and three from soybeans, there are others - including thiamine mononitrate - that come from petroleum. Chinese petroleum. Chinese refineries and Chinese factories. ...So much for the great 'All-American' snack food. When you bite into a Twinkie, you are chewing on an international nexus of suppliers." --Steve Ettlinger, author of the book "Twinkie, Deconstructed," (Los Angeles Times op-ed, May 29,,0,3636830.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail)


KINZE Parades 150 Years of Corn Planting KINZE

Manufacturing, Inc., "paraded" 150 years of corn planting history with more than 20 entries in the Fourth of July parade in Williamsburg, according to information provided by College alumnus Dwight Hughes of Cedar Rapids. Much of the equipment in the entries -- which ranged from a wooden hand planter and a horse-drawn, one-row planter to today's ultramodern precision technology plants with sizes up to 90 feet wide -- came from the collection of KINZE president Jon Kinzenbaw, who also participated in the parade. He and his daughter Susanne Veatch, a KINZE vice president and ISU alum, donated a model 3500 KINZE planter last December to the agricultural and biosystems engineering department. Earlier this year, Jon and Marcia Kinzenbaw established the Kinze Manufacturing Professorship in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and ABE faculty member Stuart Birrell was named to it. KINZE Manufacturing, Inc., located in Williamsburg, is a recognized technology leader and innovator of planters for row crop production as well as grain auger wagons.

Ag and Life Sciences Online

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