Issue: 1097

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online
March 23, 2020 

Top Stories

CALS Website Provides College-Specific Information for COVID-19
ISU continues to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 and provide updated information on the campus safety page. CALS also has a webpage for college-specific information, contacts and guidelines, along with a list of college events that have been canceled or postponed. Please refer to both websites frequently for updated information. 

Dean Robison: In This Difficult Situation, Notice the Good —And Share It With Us
In a message from Dean Robison on March 20, he encouraged college faculty and staff to share extraordinary efforts happening in their departments and units as the ISU community addresses the COVID-19 outbreak.  For example:

  • Last week, Ben Drescher, animal science, and other members of the farms team, moved 8,000 layer chicks into the new Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm – in less than an hour and in keeping with social distancing and special disinfecting measures. 
  • During the past week Amy Kaleita, agricultural and biosystems engineering, put together a teaching workshop to help her fellow faculty prepare for online teaching. 
  • Arti and Danny Singh, agronomy, crafted new protocols to keep their plant breeding research going while keeping their staff and students safe. 

“Let’s seek out the good and share it,” wrote Robison. Send your examples, thoughts and stories via email to

CALS Summer Study Abroad Cancellations Impact 124
Due to global uncertainty related to COVID-19, ISU has cancelled all study-abroad courses that start before Aug. 15. Colleges are following up with impacted students regarding these trips in the coming days. For CALS, 124 students who’d planned to travel to 18 countries and two U.S. territories are impacted. These include students on seven faculty-led programs, on international internships and summer semester programs.

New Wellness Campaign Targets Students and Employees during COVID-19
Student Health and Wellness, in partnership with ISU WellBeing, has launched the Keep Community, Stay Informed and Be Well campaign during remote work, online instruction and social distancing at ISU. Students and employees are navigating many changes to their daily lives due to the COVID-19 global outbreak. Focusing on and prioritizing wellbeing is essential. The campaign website offers student and employee action plans, along with resources and suggested activities.

ISU Foundation’s Emergency Relief Campaign to Address COVID-19 Impact
The ISU Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign, “Together we are #CycloneStrong” to raise money for supporting students, faculty, staff and programs that are adversely affected by unforeseen circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. More

Livestock and Poultry Appear to be Safe from COVID-19
Jim Roth, veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine, is reaffirming that there’s no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans can sicken livestock and poultry. Meat, milk and eggs remain safe to eat, offering consumers some stability even as the outbreak brings many everyday activities to a halt. More  


Plant-Microbe Relationships Explored for Drought Resiliency
Gwyn Beattie, plant pathology and microbiology, is leading a team of ISU researchers to better understand how soybeans interact with the community of microbes living around their roots, and how these relationships may enhance the crop’s resiliency in the face of drought and other stresses. The project is funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Agricultural Food Research Initiative. More  

New Test Measures Corn Nitrogen Needs with Greater Accuracy
A recently published study led by Marshall McDaniel, agronomy, analyzed a combination of soil tests to gauge corn nitrogen needs more accurately than the standard chemical tests that have been in use for roughly 50 years. The research could result in economic benefits to farmers and improved environmental quality. Research collaborators from ISU include John Sawyer and Michael Castellano, agronomy. More  

New CARD Report Details the State-level Burden of the Trade War
A new CARD Agricultural Policy Review article analyzes the differential effects of the 2018 and 2019 trade tariffs and related cash transfers under the federal Market Facilitation Program. The paper by CALS economists Edward Balistreri and Wendong Zhang, and John Beghin, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is featured in a Successful Farming article.  

Attitudes Toward Beans Focus of New Study
Michelle Heer and Donna Winham, food science and human nutrition, are co-authors of “Bean Preferences Vary by Acculturation Level among Latinas and by Ethnicity with Non-Hispanic White Women” published March 22 in Environmental Research and Public Health. Their research explores differences in consumption frequency, purchasing patterns and attitudes toward dry and canned beans, among Latinas and non-Hispanic white women. Awareness of the attitudes and preferred traits of low-income women suggests ways to message populations to maintain or increase consumption of beans, which have many nutritional benefits. More  

A Social Science Perspective on the Public Accepting Gene-edited Foods
As a sociologist who studies food and agriculture, Carmen Bain, sociology, is often asked whether the public is going to accept gene-edited foods. In an article for SeedWorld, Bain said we need to focus instead on the lessons learned from the GMO debate to consider what factors may enhance or impede public trust. “This will be critical to building the credibility and trustworthiness of the organizations and experts involved,” wrote Bain. More

Teaching and Students

ABE Stands Alone at #1: Graduate Program Takes Top Ranking
The Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering graduate program has been ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report magazine. "Our faculty have continued to excel in mentoring graduate students, publishing peer-reviewed research in high-impact journals, obtaining competitive grants and receiving national and international awards," said Steven Mickelson, department chair and Charles R. and Jane F. Olsen Professor in Engineering. "They are also leaders in their professional societies and within their peer groups." More  

Video: Microbiology Club Serving Community While Learning
The Microbiology Club offers students interested in microbiology opportunities to share activities and serve their community while studying a microscopic world. Joan Cunnick, animal science, and club members talk about investigating microorganisms and outreach activities in a CALS Communications Service video.  

Extension and Outreach

Monarch Conservation Efforts Continue in Iowa
The latest overwintering monarch population report shows a decline in the species, evidence of the need to restore and reconstruct monarch habitats. The news brings attention to ongoing efforts, say leaders of the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium. “Ongoing research and extension efforts are providing science-based information to help the monarch survive and thrive in Iowa and the greater Midwest,” said Dean Robison. “This is just the right thing to do, and aligned with many other conservation values and goals.” Consortium members collaborated with ISU Extension and Outreach to develop the free publication, 5 Ways to Help the MonarchsMore  

Annual Survey Provides Averages for Custom Farming
ISU Extension and Outreach released the 2020 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey in the March edition of Ag Decision Maker. According to Alejandro Plastina, economics, the report provides custom prices for common farm tasks in Iowa, compiled from 106 respondents. More

Evaluation Shows Increase in Conservation Awareness and Practice
Iowa Learning Farms released its 2019 Evaluation Report detailing the impact of education and outreach initiatives throughout the year. More  

Around the College

Daniel Thomson Begins Today as New Chair of Animal Science
Daniel Thomson, new chair of the Department of Animal Science, begins his tenure at ISU today, March 23. Thomson was scheduled to begin April 6, but requested to start two weeks earlier than planned to be part of the collective effort coping with COVID-19.  John Patience, who has served as interim chair since Jan. 7, will continue as associate chair during the transition. More  

Ruble on Evening Feeding to Encourage Daytime Calving
Marshall Ruble, animal science, contributed to an article on cattle and scheduled births in the March 20 issue of Tri-State Livestock News. Ruble has participated in studies that proved the effectiveness of evening feeding of cattle to encourage daytime calving, and still uses it as a management tool. More

In Memoriam: Jane Lenahan
Jane Lenahan, retired graphic designer, died at Israel Family House Hospice on March 14 after diagnoses of liver and pancreatic cancer in March 2019. She was 67. Lenahan served Iowa State University for 37 years as a graphic designer, most recently with CALS in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach communications office in Curtiss Hall. More  


March 25: Iowa Learning Farms Webinar 
As field days and in-person gatherings are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa Learning Farms will host weekly webinars each Wednesday at noon. Mark Rasmussen, director of the Leopold Center, will focus on carbonate research and the potential for carbon storage in Iowa soils for the first webinar on Wednesday, March 25. More  

Oct. 19-20: Animal Genetics and Genomics
The Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group at ISU is planning a conference for Oct. 19-20 in Ames. The conference will focus on exploring new technologies and the data they offer, their impacts for animal improvement and animal source foods in the developed and developing world, and the role scientists play in public acceptance. More

Communications Kiosk

Associated Press Releases Coronavirus Topical Guide
COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. When referring specifically to the virus, the COVID-19 virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are acceptable. But, because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19. As of March 2020, referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories about COVID-19. While the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, it is clear in this context. Also acceptable on first reference: the new coronavirus; the new virus; COVID-19. (Associated Press Stylebook Online) The Associated Press also has released a coronavirus topical guide. More


NIFA Extends Deadlines Due to COVID-19
Due to the disruptions arising from the national response to COVID-19, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is extending some of its deadlines. NIFA will continue to monitor the situation and post updates to this guidance on its website. More  

COVID-19 Resources for Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding
The National Institutes of Health has developed a website with a list of available resources for applicants and recipients of NIH funding. More  

Nominations Open for 2020 World Food Prize Laureate
The World Food Prize is accepting nominations for the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate through May 1. Details and nomination forms are available in six languages. Also, a nominations webinar will be held on March 30. 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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