Issue: 1008

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online
June 18, 2018

Top Stories

Iowa Farmland Ownership Tenure Survey to be Released June 28
The results of the 2017 Iowa Farmland Ownership Tenure Survey conducted by ISU Extension and Outreach will be announced June 28 at 10 a.m. in the Horton Room of the ISU Alumni Center. Wendong Zhang and Alejandro Plastina, economics, will announce the findings. A YouTube livestream will be available for those unable to attend. Full results of the survey will be available on the CARD website after the conference. The Iowa Farmland Ownership Tenure Survey, mandated by the state of Iowa, has been conducted every five or 10 years since the 1940s. The survey allows policy-makers and researchers to track ownership and leasing trends in Iowa farmland.


Tuggle to Lead Federally Funded Center of Excellence for Swine Genomics
A new federally funded center of excellence led by ISU scientists will analyze various structures and mechanisms in the swine genome with the goal of allowing pork producers to predict with greater accuracy the traits in their herds. Christopher Tuggle, animal science and USDA national swine genome co-coordinator, will lead the center, which will include personnel at Iowa State, Michigan State, the University of California at Davis and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The $2.5 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is part of a larger effort that also will include similar genomics work with cattle and chickens at other universities. More

Scientists Identify Patterns in How Plants React to the Environment
New research led by Jianming Yu, agronomy, identifies clear patterns in how plants react to different environments that could lead to new ways of predicting crop performance. The study, published recently in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” focuses on phenotypic plasticity, or the way plant traits respond to environmental factors. More

Former Graduate Student Explains Advantages of Using Zebrafish in Research
Laura Schultz, a former graduate research assistant in the lab of Maura McGrail, genetics, development and cell biology, was featured in a First Person article published by The Company of Biologists for a paper published in “Disease Models & Mechanisms.” Her study shows that pediatric brain cancers can arise after mutation of one gene. She explains that the main advantage of zebrafish as a model system for this study is the ease with which gene editing technology can be delivered to the externally fertilized single-cell embryo by simple injection. Schultz is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. More

Teaching and Students

VanDerZanden Begins Term as President of NACTA
ISU hosted a national conference in Ames last week with 325 agricultural teachers from 65 universities and colleges nationwide. The 2018 North American College and Teachers of Agriculture 64th Annual Conference was held June 12-15. Ann Marie VanDerZanden, associate provost for academic programs and professor of horticulture, was the lead organizer for the conference and began her term as president of NACTA at the conclusion of the conference. Erik Christian, a lecturer in agronomy who now works for Land O’Lakes, was awarded the NACTA Judging and Student Services award. More

FSHN Plans Micro-Creamery in CCUR
The first phase of a plan to open a creamery at Iowa State will come to fruition this fall with the opening of a micro-creamery in the Center for Crops Utilization Research pilot plant in the Food Sciences Building. Beginning in August, Stephanie Clark, food science and human nutrition, hopes to train as many as five to six students who will work in the micro-creamery. The milk needed to produce the ice cream, and later, cheese, will come from the ISU Dairy Farm. More

Ag Entrepreneur Students Travel to California to Investigate Gene-Editing Technology
A course project investigating a pioneer gene-editing technique at ISU and elsewhere included a student trip to labs in California where it originated and a video to document the learning process. The spring semester class, offered by the economics department and the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, focused on the technology known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which has the potential of increasing the precision of gene editing. Scientists are using it to research the prevention and treatment of diseases, increase the productivity of crops and livestock, and improve food nutrition among other possibilities. David Krog, entrepreneur in residence with the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, led the course. More

High School Student in Essner’s Lab Honored
For the last year and a half, Merrina Lan, an Ames High School student, worked with several graduate students to conduct graduate-level genetics research in the lab of Jeffrey Essner, genetics development and cell biology. She studied a gene in zebrafish in relation to development in their blood vessels. She was recognized for her work at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. Lan won a fourth place award for her research in cellular and molecular biology. More

Extension and Outreach

Produce Safety Field Days Scheduled for Summer
ISU Extension and Outreach, in partnership with the Iowa Farmers Union and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, will host a series of produce safety field days this summer focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act and horticulture best practices. Extension faculty and staff will serve as speakers for each field day. More

Around the College

CALS Establishes Professional and Scientific Council
CALS has created a Professional and Scientific Council within the college to represent the professional interests of CALS P&S staff. The council will serve as a voice to the university P&S Council, the CALS Dean’s Cabinet and other leaders as appropriate. Jeff Hartwig, animal science and manager of the Swine Teaching and Research Farms, is president; Susan DeBlieck, horticulture, is past president; and Barb McBreen, CALS Communications Service, is secretary. Committees include communications, networking and social events, professional development and mentoring, and recognition and awards. Ex-officio members are the CALS representative to the university P&S Council (Casey Smith) and CALS Interim Senior Associate Dean (Ruth MacDonald).

Curtiss League Named Top Society Program for Fourth Consecutive Year
Curtiss League, the CALS young alumni initiative, was named the Top Society Program at the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association’s annual conference in Boise, June 11-15. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Curtiss League has received this award. Haley Cook, assistant director for alumni relations, leads the Curtiss League program. More

Gleason Elected Vice President, American Phytopathological Society
Mark Gleason, plant pathology and microbiology, was elected incoming vice president for the American Phytopathological Society. He will assume the role at the upcoming International Congress of Plant Pathology in Boston, July 29 to August 3. The position is a four-year commitment; Gleason will eventually serve as president of APS. More

Order Produce Online from Horticulture Station Website
Faculty, staff and students can order fruits and vegetables grown at the Horticulture Research Station through an online produce-ordering website. Pick-up is every Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Harl Commons entrance of Curtiss Hall, on the east side of the building. Produce will also be available for purchase without pre-ordering. More

Former Assistant Dean Hazen Dies at 91
Former College of Agriculture assistant dean Thamon Edson Hazen passed away on May 30. He was 91. Hazen conducted research in the agricultural engineering department before serving as assistant dean from 1973 to 1987. Mark Honeyman, CALS associate dean for operations, was a graduate student in Curtiss Hall when he knew Hazen. Honeyman remembers him as a detail-oriented, generous person. “Dean Hazen was someone who always followed through. He was one of those people that you could always count on to make something happen.” As assistant dean, Hazen helped manage the Experiment Station, the college’s research enterprise, and was involved in many search committees hiring new faculty and staff. Hazen’s primary research area was swine environment production and facilities, such as ventilation, space requirements, feeding/ waterer needs and more. Hazen’s obituary is available online.


June 18: Metagenomics Mondays Seminar Series Continues
The Metagenomics Mondays summer seminar series will continue today, June 18, at 12 to 1 p.m. in 0013 Curtiss Hall, with a presentation by Allen Miller, plant pathology and microbiology, on the soybean aphid virome. The weekly seminar series will run through July 30 and include speakers from veterinary sciences, plant sciences, microbiology, statistics, data science, engineering and more. More

Research Development Announcements and Funding Opportunities

Funding Information, Opportunities and Deadline Reminders
Dates listed are application deadlines. Contact: Roxanne Clemens, Additional information is posted at CALS Pre-Award Resources.

Various dates: NSF Dear Colleague Letter: STEM Education for the Future; solving educational challenges created by the technology revolution. More

July 9: USDA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program. More

July 16 (pre-proposals): Burroughs Wellcome Fund – Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease; contact ISU Foundation ( to express interest. More

July 30: USDA Renewable Resources Extension Act - National Focus Funds. More

Aug. 22: NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site Proposals. More  

Aug. 23: Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences - Education Research. More

Communications Kiosk

Six Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
Rachel Toor, a professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University, offers the following six ways to beat writer’s block in a recent post for The Chronicle of Higher Education. More

  • Work up a sweat. Physical activity leads to intellectual productivity.
  • Take a quick trip. A change of venue often shakes things loose.
  • Just keep at it. Go to your desk and sit there. Typing anything might get you going again.
  • Write a bad first draft. Most can be mined for at least a couple of useful bits.
  • Try the “compost” method. Write down a bunch of bad ideas. In the great pile of waste you usually find something worth cultivating.
  • Remind yourself that even the best writers get stuck.


CALS Alumni Part of New Historically Black Colleges and Universities Connections Project
A recent post on Cardinal Tales introduces the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Connections at Iowa State University project. “There is a rich, but largely unknown history of African Americans who used their Iowa State University education to create successful and impactful careers at historically black colleges and universities,” wrote Shaina Destine, residency librarian, on the HBCU Connections website. Profiles are included for the following CALS alumni. Destine emphasizes that this is meant to be a living platform that can be updated as additional information becomes available. More

  • Rufus Atwood – B.S. in agricultural education, 1923
  • Walker Davis – M.S. in economics and sociology, 1933
  • Willa Ewing – B.S. in botany, 1926; M.S. in horticulture, 1935
  • Cecile Hoover Edwards – Ph.D. in food and nutrition, 1950
  • John Lockett – B.S. in agronomy, 1923; M.S. in agronomy, 1928
  • Jesse Mark – Ph.D. in botany, 1935
  • Benjamin Perry Jr. – M.S. in agricultural economics, 1942
  • Marion Richards Myles – Ph.D. in botany, 1945


CALS Student Intern Shares Importance of Clean Water
When the Water Rocks! team makes classroom visits, they always leave time for questions. A fifth grader recently asked the team what inspired them to do this. Kaleb Baber, senior in agronomy and water resources intern, gave the question some serious thought and shared his answer in a June 15 Iowa Learning Farms blog post. “What inspires me to intern for Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms is the memories I have made thanks to our water resources,” he wrote. “Those memories inspire me to go outside and get up close and personal with nature. They inspire me to do my part in conserving our natural resources. And most of all, they inspire me to share the importance of clean, healthy water with others in hopes that they will make memories of their own.” 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 Friday.


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