#CALSproud COVID-19 Response

Innovation, Collaboration, Excellence

We are #CALSproud of all our faculty, staff and students who are finding innovative ways to excel and overcome challenges during this time of uncertainty and change. Below are some examples of the extraordinary efforts happening throughout the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Feel free to share other efforts happening in your department via email to stories@iastate.edu or use #CALSproud in your social media posts. Let us all lift up and celebrate our awesome college!

Previous experience prepared ABE faculty member for transition to online courses (4/1/20)

Amy Kaleita giving an online class lecture
Amy Kaleita used her previous online course instruction experience to help agricutural and biosystems engineering faculty transition their courses to online formats.

Amy Kaleita, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, used her previous experience in online course instruction to lead a workshop to prepare faculty in her department for the March 23 move to online courses. During the workshop, they went over the logistics of transitioning courses and the various resources available for online coursework.

“In the early days of this transition, we were getting inundated with updates because things were changing so fast,” Kaleita said. “It was nice to get together as a group and look into each other’s eyes and say, ‘We can do this.’”

Read ISU News Service's story to learn more about Kaleita's experience with online course instruction

CALS grad on COVID-19 front lines (3/31/20)

Major General (Ret.) Patrick Murphy (’82, agronomy) works alongside New York Governor Andrew Como as Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Major General Murphy is demonstrating extraordinary service and courage, serving our nation and leading New York’s effort to contain COVID-19.

Video: Burgett on moving classes online (3/30/20)

Christen Burgett, animal science, takes a moment to thank those who have helped make the transition to online classes a smooth and seamless process, including cross campus collaborations. In the video, she includes a home shot of lambs on the ground, a sure sign that spring is here. Burgett recently received the Outstanding Young Teacher award from the American Society of Animal Science and the American Dairy Science Association at the 2020 Midwest Joint Meeting in Omaha. Along with teaching and advising, Burgett coordinates the animal science internship program, co-advises the 130-member Dairy Science Club and coaches the dairy judging team.

Student Feedback (3/30/20)

Submitted by Nancy Boury, assistant professor plant pathology and microbiology:

"Dear Dr. Boury, 

I would just like to reach out and say thank you for all of the hard work you put into this class. It’s easy to see that you care about the success of all of your students and I appreciate the extra things you are doing. I’ve been taking your class online since the beginning of the semester and am proud of my success in it so far. I credit this to how well the material is organized and how much effort you put into preparing this class. 

Thank you for going above and beyond as a professor, it is much appreciated."

Research, environmental health and safety (3/30/20)

Tim Goode, ISU Farms manager, partnered with Bill Diesslin, ISU Environmental Health and Safety to acquire a surplus of disinfectant for use by ISU Farm staff. This partnership will help provide a safe working environment for essential ISU staff who need to be on farms to care for livestock and provide other crucial services.

Statistical Consulting Group offering virtual services (3/30/20)

University Professor Philip Dixon pictured at his home office.
University Professor Philip Dixon working from his home office.

The Statistical Consulting Group is still open for business, despite the move to remote work and social distancing through the remainder of the spring semester.

Members of the team will meet virtually with Iowa State faculty, staff and graduate students who need to use statistics to answer their research questions. Virtual mode is not business as usual, but the team has quickly recalibrated.

“Spring tends to be our busy season, and I want people to know that we’re ready to help,” said University Professor Philip Dixon, who serves as the group’s faculty coordinator. “I have a great group of graduate students, and from our various remote spaces, we’ve been quickly learning new ways to assist people via whatever technology works best for them, whether that’s Skype, Zoom, WebEx or over the phone.”

ECON 334 hosts virtual guest speaker (3/26/20)

BJ Brugman provides a guest lecture virtually to ECON 334 students
BJ Brugman ('12 agricultural business) provided a guest lecture to ECON 334 students March 25.

CALS Curtiss League member BJ Brugman ('12 agricultural business) was the guest lecturer in ECON 334: Entrepreneurship in Agriculture March 25. Brugman virtually shared the story of his startup agtech business, Sentinel, with the 55 students in the class, all while sitting in his apartment in Lyon, France. Read the story here.

Delivering workshops to students virtually (3/26/20)

Members of the CALS Global Programs office offered the Marketing Your Study Abroad Workshop to students via WebEx March 25. The workshop offered students tips on how to incorporate their study abroad experiences into their resumes and answer interview questions using the S.T.A.R. Approach. A link to the recorded webinar can be found on the CALS Study Abroad Office Facebook page.

Showing compassion for students

Barb Clawson and her son working from home
Barb Clawson and her son

Barb Clawson, program coordinator in the Department of Horticulture, continues to mentor and care for CALS students remotely. She even sent a special message to undergraduate students with a photo of her and her son while she was working from home, urging patience, communication, and understanding while emphasizing professors’ commitment to excellence.

Connecting faculty, students with resources

Department of Agronomy team members have created a departmental COVID-19 webpage with quick links, including recordings of Zoom educational sessions faculty can view to prepare for online instruction. They also have been working to get students access to laptops to use for online learning.

Distinguished Professor Robert Horton Jr. records online lecture in empty classroom
Distinguished Professor Robert Horton Jr. (agronomy) records an online lecture in an empty classroom.

Students confident in move to online courses

Virginia M. Hanson, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies, shared the following comment sent by a CALS student regarding Iowa State's decision to move all courses online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester:

"I feel extremely comfortable with how this and other courses are moving because you and all my professors have been awesome during these uncertain times! Thank you for making this as stress free as possible and easy for students!"

Hanson said, "The CALS community is already pretty resilient - our students have mitigated crises in their lives if they are from farm backgrounds. I'm happy to read in quite a few emails from AGEDS students that they are finding their professors and advisers on the ball, too."

Faculty finding success in online delivery of courses

Submitted by Bertan Turhan, assistant professor, Department of Economics:

"I met with my students on Webex. All of the students attended and (surprisingly) nobody left during the lecture. Webex performed very well. I used two different accounts to participate in the lecture. I used one of them on my iPad and I shared my iPad screen so that they were all able to see what I was writing. I used notability to write on. The second account was via my computer so that I watched myself to see how my iPad screen and my voice were received. Everything went smooth and fine for today. Especially for graduate courses, I think teaching on iPad or another tablet via programs such as notability is great. Students seems to really like it."

Submitted by Betsy Hoffman, professor, Department of Economics:

"I taught my first undergraduate class (Econ 344) on Webex through Canvas this afternoon. I also taught it synchronously with slides posted and online chat. Almost everyone was there on their computers. I don’t think anyone was on a cell phone. Students were attentive and participated more than usual, I think because of the live online chat feature. I would say the class went extremely well and the students told me they were grateful for a synchronous class. They said they miss being on campus."

Submitted by Kevin Kimle, associate teaching professor, Department of Economics:

"Going against CELT guidance, I did three classes today [Monday] live using Zoom and it went well (and recorded them also). I think I had all 55 students in Econ 334 on at the same time, and it worked well. They answered questions, I could call on them, the white board tool worked, no barking dogs, etc."

Plant breeding research continues, but at a safe distance

Arti Singh and Danny Singh in the Department of Agronomy created individual workstations and updated protocols to keep their plant breeding research moving while following social distancing guidelines. Each station includes dust masks and protective eye gear to help prevent accidental touching of the face, as well as proper disinfectants used at the beginning and end of each day.

Birds have arrived at the new poultry facility

The CALS Research Farms team moved 8,000 chickens into the new Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm facility March 16. The new poultry facility will prepare Iowa State students for careers in poultry, egg and related agriculture industries, as well as provide an opportunity for the public to see and learn about Iowa egg production systems.

BioCentury Research Farm Manager Andy Suby holding N95 masks
BCRF Manager Andy Suby holding N95 masks that were donated to Thielen Student Health Center

Masks donated to Thielen Student Health Center

BioCentury Research Farm Manager Andy Suby gathered 69 N95 masks from the farm, as well as from Iowa State's Digital Agriculture Innovations Team and Bioeconomy Institute, to donate to Thielen Student Health Center.

CARES Pre-Award team providing support remotely

Asrun Kristmundsdottir, program coordinator with the CARES Pre-Award Team, worked with the pre-award team members to move their research pre-award activities off-campus to their homes. All CARES Team meetings were moved to a virtual format and they took the more challenging step to ensure all pre-award work with CALS researchers facilitated by the CARES Team would occur at their homes. As CALS Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti said, "The leadership by Asrun and the 'esprit de corps' exhibited by our CARES Team are phenomenal!"

Keep people, animals safe and healthy

Associate Dean Mark Honeyman and Research Farms Manager Tim Goode have been working with CALS Research Farms team members throughout the state to enhance short-term and long-term preparedness to deal with this ongoing crisis and keep people and animals healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday Afternoon Club moved online

Max Rothschild, distinguished professor in animal science, organized a Friday Afternoon Club meeting via Zoom for animal science faculty. Typically, this social gathering is held either at a bar or someone's home. With social distancing in place due to COVID-19, Rothschild invited faculty to grab their favorite adult beverage and join the FAC via Zoom.