WHAT WE DID LAST SUMMER
Recently we asked faculty and staff in the College of Agriculture to give us examples of their summer activities. Here are some responses we received:
EXPANDING TIES TO CROP RESEARCH CENTER IN MEXICO
A delegation from ISU’s Plant Sciences Institute visited Mexico to sign an agreement with the International Center for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT). The agreement calls for collaborative research, personnel exchange and education in basic and applied plant sciences between the Plant Sciences Institute and CIMMYT. For several years CIMMYT has collaborated with ISU’s Arnel Hallauer, agronomy; Kendall Lamkey, agronomy/USDA-ARS; Linda Pollak, agronomy/USDA-ARS; and Mike Lee, agronomy. The new agreement builds on that experience and expands it into genomics, bioinformatics and plant transformation. Members of the delegation were Mike Lee; Pat Schnable, agronomy; Colin Scanes, interim director, Plant Sciences Institute; and Prem Paul, associate vice provost for research administration. For more details, see ISU news release.
ON THE TRAIL OF INSECTS IN NEPAL AND THAILAND
Greg Courtney, entomology, traveled to Nepal to conduct a survey of net-winged midges and other insects in waterfalls and mountain streams. The project, funded by the National Geographic Society, also included training of Nepalese scientists and field work in different regions of the country. Courtney’s collections included several newly discovered species. Courtney also visited Thailand to work with students and faculty at Kasetsart and Chiang Mai universities; conduct research on aquatic insects at several national parks; hold a seminar at Kasetsart on biodiversity of insects in Asian waterfalls; and teach an entomology workshop at Andaman Institute.
BRINGING NEW SWINE PROGRAMS TO BULGARIA
Palmer Holden, animal science, worked in Bulgaria for 18 days as a volunteer for Agricultural Cooperative Development International / Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA). The private, non-profit organization provides technical expertise at the request of farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and private and government agencies. Holden worked with swine-farm personnel to develop nutritional, breeding and management programs. He also provided information to faculty members at Trakia University in Stara Zagora.
ASSESSING THE BURNING OF TALL GRAIN PRAIRIES
Forrest Nutter, plant pathology, and minority summer intern Arlene Cruz of the State University of New York, Syracuse, assessed the effects of prescribed burning on the health and productivity of tall grass prairies in Iowa. Cruz used remote sensing to quantify the impacts of biotic plant stresses on prairies and to provide detailed assessments of several tall grass species.
INCREASING AG LITERACY FOR CHICAGO HIGH SCHOOL
Eldon Weber, agricultural education and studies, was a mentor for LaToya Johnson, a minority summer intern from Crete Monee High School, Chicago. Johnson helped to adapt the ISU Pizz-A-Thon program for her school. The program increases agricultural literacy and interest in food-and-fiber education and careers. Teams of students will develop pizzas for the international space station, trace ingredients to their origin (soil) and prepare a marketing report for a space agency or company. Weber will help Johnson locate resources in Chicago to enhance the program.
SEQUESTERING CARBON IN THE LAKE RATHBUN WATERSHED
Lee Burras, agronomy, studied rates of soil carbon sequestration in the Chariton River (Lake Rathbun) watershed in south-central Iowa. The research is part of a larger project to use switchgrass as a biofuel and an environmental "cleaning agent" that lowers atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and improves soil tilth. The project is supported by the Department of Energy, Farm Bureau and Chariton Valley RC&D.
MEASURING STARCH PROPERTIES FROM CORN LINES
Pam White, food science and human nutrition, and minority summer interns Van Tran of Rutgers University and Fayth Davis, a high school student from West Point, Miss., worked on cornstarch projects. Tran measured and compared the functional properties of starches she extracted from five corn lines. Davis evaluated extraction procedures for the amount of residual protein left in starch from several different corn types. A high-quality starch should have low protein content.
PLANNING AG TRAVEL COURSE IN UKRAINE
Sherry Pogranichniy, agronomy, spent three weeks in Ukraine planning an agriculture travel course that will take place next May. She was hosted by the National Agricultural University. Students will learn about Ukraine’s agriculture and emerging market economy. They will tour Ukrainian and American agribusinesses and see cultural and historical sites. Besides Pogranichniy, other group leaders will be Doug Kenealy, animal science; Richard Gladon, horticulture; and Roman Pogranichniy, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine.
EXPLAINING AG BIOTECH IN THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE
Marjorie Faust, animal science, planned and conducted an "Agricultural Biotechnology in the Global Marketplace" symposium at the annual meetings of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science in Baltimore. Topics included biotech crops, production of nutraceuticals from genetically engineered livestock and plants, and communicating biotech to nonscientists. Faust and journalism professor Eric Abbott were presenters.
TASTING THE DIFFERENCES IN PROCESSED SOYBEANS
Lester Wilson, food science and human nutrition, conducted a workshop on the effects of processing on the taste of soybeans and soy products. The session was part of an American Soybean Association processing seminar at the U.S. Trade Center in Mexico City. Wilson used sensory evaluation procedures to evaluate the influence of soybean variety and processing methods on the flavor, texture and color of soyfoods. Participants were able to see, feel and taste differences, and understand causes of differences. Participants included representatives from food companies doing business in Mexico and faculty from Mexican universities.
OBSERVING 100TH GRADUATE OF MOLECULAR BREEDING COURSE
This summer the Plant Molecular Breeding Short Course noted its 100th graduate since the program began in 1997. The course is organized by Mike Lee, agronomy. Professional plant breeders and geneticists come from around the world to attend the three-day course on the latest applications of genetics and genomics to crop improvement. Classes are small (10-15 students) and intensive (11 hours per day) and include laboratory, computer, lecture and discussion sessions.
STUDYING THE LANDSCAPES OF MERRY OLD ENGLAND
Horticulture faculty William Graves, Jeff Iles and Cynthia Haynes led a group of 25 undergraduate students on a 12-day trip to study landscape horticulture in England. From London to the Cornwall district in southwestern England, students learned about some of the world’s most famous gardens, parks and landscapes.
VISITING A SNAKE FARM AND OTHER LESSONS ON CHINA
Al Hasselman, agronomy, and Lynn Jones, agricultural education and studies, led a group of undergraduate students to China. At Hangzhou University, the students studied history, Chinese medicine, Mandarin and other subjects. They visited a snake farm, a hospital, a medicine museum and other sites. In Beijing, the students attended classes on the economic development of rural China. The host school was the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The students learned about the development of western China and visited agricultural and historical locations.
DEMONSTRATING AG ECONOMICS WEB SITE IN BERLIN
Stan Johnson, vice provost for extension, and Sorrel Brown, ISU Extension, attended the Triennial Conference for the International Association of Agricultural Economics in Berlin. Brown’s office, Information Development - Expanding Awareness (IDEA), manages the review process for the association’s Journal of Agricultural Economics and developed a new Web site for the group. At the conference, Brown demonstrated the Web site’s features to the 1,000 participants.
HELPING CHINA BUILD RURAL AND AGRICULTURE EXTENSION
Robert Wisner, economics; Denise Bjelland, international agriculture programs; Barbara Woods, extension communications; and Deb Van Arkel, county extension education director, spent a month in China working with Zhejiang University on a U.S. Information Agency project on democratic institution building and rural and agriculture extension. They helped to develop curriculum for the university’s newly established rural development major. The ISU team also traveled to rural areas where they observed and met with villagers engaged in newly established enterprises, community leaders involved in youth development and local government officials responsible for implementing China’s agricultural economic reform initiatives.
LISTENING TO EUROPEANS TALK ABOUT FOOD
A dozen ISU faculty and staff traveled to England and Belgium to learn more about European consumers’ attitudes on food issues. The group met with scientists, activists, business people and government and university leaders. Most discussions focused on genetically modified seed and the use of GMO crops in feed and food products. Consumer demand to have a say in these issues was evident at every meeting the ISU visitors attended. ISU participants were from food science and human nutrition, economics, agronomy, Center for Crops Utilization Research, Meat
Export Research Center, ISU Extension and ag communications.
FOCUSING ON LATINO STUDENTS IN MARSHALLTOWN
Ed Munoz, sociology, and minority summer intern Marvin Rodas of Humboldt State University worked on a focus group project with Latino students from Marshalltown. The research team is investigating students’ attitudes and perceptions related to substance abuse and substance prevention programs. The focus group also will assess the level of cultural and structural assimilation of Latino students in Marshalltown community life.
FILLING THE GAP IN IOWA GAP ANALYSIS
Kathy Andersen, animal ecology, and minority summer intern Robert Begay of Crownpoint Institute of Technology worked on the Iowa Gap Analysis Project. Gap analysis is a scientific method for identifying the degree to which native animal species and natural communities are represented on conservation lands. Begay worked with GIS technology and database development.
ASKING ‘HOW’S THE WEATHER?’ IN OFF-CAMPUS COURSE
Elwynn Taylor, agronomy, and minority summer intern Randy Twocrow of Oglala Lakota College reviewed the off-campus course on introduction to weather. Twocrow learned and evaluated the course’s teaching methods and worked to improve them.
USING STREAMING TECHNOLOGIES IN GEOLOGIC HISTORY
Doug Yarger, agronomy/geological and atmospheric sciences, and minority summer intern Warren Roan of Haskell University worked on a project in geologic history. Roan learned how to use streaming technologies to prepare learning modules.
IMPROVING PROPERTIES OF SYRUP-MAKING ENZYME
Clark Ford, food science and human nutrition, and minority summer intern Melissa Abreu, a high school student from Newhall, Calif., worked on the genetic engineering of glucoamylase, an enzyme used in the industrial process of converting corn starch into corn syrup. Abreu helped to make and test mutations in the enzyme to improve its functional properties.
TESTING CLONED TREES AND OTHER GENETIC EXPERIMENTS
Rick Hall, forestry, and minority summer intern Thomas Easely of Alabama A&M University conducted progeny tests for a poplar clone development program. Easley also gained experience as new tree genetics experiments were established. Easley began his graduate work this fall in ISU’s forestry department.
HELPING HAND AT THE ISU FARMS
Mark Honeyman, Research and Demonstration Farms, worked with minority summer intern Waylon Red Tomahawk of Cankdeska Cikana Community College on projects in organic livestock production and swine research. Red Tomahawk also helped out during field days and with other farm and office tasks.
TALKING HEALTH TO THE WORLD’S SPROUT GROWERS
Suzanne Hendrich, food science and human nutrition, gave a talk on the potential health benefits of sprouts and saponins at the International Sprout Growers Symposium in Vancouver. Saponins are natural ingredients found in many plants. (While in British Columbia, Hendrich took her seven-year-old nephew fishing, and they both caught their first coho salmon.)
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