Issue: 1102

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online
April 20, 2020

Top Stories

CALS CARES: Pre-Award Grant Team Helping Faculty College-wide
CALS faculty are encouraged to reach out to members of the College of Agriculture [and Life Sciences] Research Excellence Support (CARES) Pre-Award Team for assistance with grant applications. CALS formed the team to strengthen research development and proposal support for faculty and staff in a funding environment that is increasingly competitive and increasingly complex and cross- or transdisciplinary. Each department or unit within CALS is assigned a CARES Team member, but any of the team members can assist CALS faculty. More

Video: Wiedenhoeft on ‘We're in this Epic Adventure Together’
Mary Wiedenhoeft, agronomy, shares her process of establishing a routine while working from home. In this video, she advises others working or studying from home to eat healthy foods, exercise and maintain structure. More


CARD Report Predicts Major COVID-related Losses for Iowa Agriculture
A new policy analysis by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development predicts economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak will mean steep losses for Iowa agriculture, depending on the extent of the disease and social distancing policies through the year. Co-authors are economics faculty John Crespi (CARD director), Chad Hart, Dermot Hayes, Keri Jacobs and Lee Schulz. More

Sociology Research: Rural Areas at Risk for Serious COVID-19 Outcomes 
Recent research conducted by David Peters, sociology and extension rural sociologist, indicates that rural places may still be at risk for COVID-19 even in the absence of cases, as the pandemic may just be taking hold. This makes rural places statistically invisible, creating a false sense of rural immunity. More

Statistics Faculty Modeling the Tracking and Forecasting of COVID-19 
A team of researchers in the Department of Statistics developed a mathematical model revealing critical characteristics about COVID-19—such as how contagious the virus is and how rapidly it spreads through populations. Applying the model, which calculates COVID-19’s effective reproduction number (R), reveals key insights into how Iowa cases have grown from a few to more than 1,700. More
BBMB Team Works to Develop Portable Viral Tests for Future Pandemics
Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, is the principal investigator for a research group developing a portable, inexpensive technology that could allow people to test for the presence of a virus or antibodies without having to go to a medical facility. The technology is still about a year away, but it could come in handy in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus or for future pandemics. More

Q&A: Kan Wang, International Leader on Biotechnology, Plant Transformation
Kan Wang, agronomy, holder of the ISU Global Professorship in Biotechnology and co-director of the Crop Bioengineering Center, is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of plant biotechnology, plant genetic transformation and genome editing. In a Q&A feature, Wang describes her work, the challenges, what brought her to Iowa State, what she finds most rewarding, and important advances on the horizon. More

Horticulture Research Develops Way to Boost Plants’ Freeze Tolerance
Rajeev Arora, horticulture, has found an inexpensive, natural way to improve spinach plants’ tolerance to freezing temperatures using salicylic acid, an active component of aspirin. Treatment may also increase the plants’ antioxidant levels. More

Teaching and Students

CALS Faculty Find Innovative Ways to Move Hands-on Courses Online
Brad Skaar, animal science, Bob Hartzler, agronomy, and Skyler Rinker, agricultural education and studies, have found innovative ways to move their heavily hands-on courses online. From traveling to and capturing video at various farms to encouraging students to get outside and hunt for weeds, these faculty and their students are rising to the challenges of unprecedented times. More

Video: AGEDS Toilet Paper Toss Welcomes Incoming Students
Learning community peer mentors in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies, led by advising coordinator Ben Chamberlain and academic advisor Nate Dobbels, created a fun video to welcome incoming students and introduce peer mentors and advisors. More

Sigma Alpha Students Raise Funds for Iowa Food Bank
Sigma Alpha, professional sorority for women in agriculture, held a virtual fundraiser to support the Iowa Food Bank to support the organization’s additional needs caused by the impacts of COVID-19. Using the electronic payment program Venmo, the group raised more than $800 by challenging their family and friends to an online game of Bingo, filling card spots with each donation collected. Sigma Alpha continues to meet virtually, advancing their philanthropy and professional development projects using WebEx and social media platforms.

Extension and Outreach

FACTS Assessment Now Updated Weekly
Beginning April 15, farmers will have weekly updates using modeling that combines soil, weather and crop information. FACTS (Forecast and Assessment of Cropping sysTemS) will be updated with new data every Wednesday, continuing through harvest. More

Water Rocks! Increases Online Environmental Learning
Two streaming video programs are available from Water Rocks!, the statewide water education program based at ISU. “Water Rocks! Unplugged” is a weekly studio session featuring Water Rocks! music and associated lessons. “Water Rocks! Out of the Box” is a series of short natural resources lessons with at-home activities. More

Around the College

COVID-19 Protocols at ISU Research Farms
When it comes to developing policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, ISU research farms are unique for several reasons. The farms have livestock/animals, which require daily care, 7 days a week, without exception. In addition, preparation for the upcoming growing season involves daily seasonal activities of seed, soil and field preparations, crop pest management operations, orchard pruning, orchard and vineyard spraying, and related crop production activities. COVID-19 protocols at ISU research farms are posted online. More

Thomson on Animal Agriculture and COVID-19
In an April 14 article for Drovers, Dr. Dan Thomson, chair of animal science, joins two other experts to address questions on whether or not animal agriculture is connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. More  

Agriculture Honor Society Announces Award Winners
Gamma Sigma Delta, the Iowa Chapter of the Honor Society of Agriculture, has announced its annual award winners, although the ceremony was not held this year due to COVID-19. The honor society also welcomed four faculty, 43 undergraduate students and 32 veterinary medicine and graduate students into its Iowa Chapter. The following CALS faculty, students and alumni were presented awards at the ceremony. More 

  • Research Mission Award – Stephanie Hansen, animal science.
  • Teaching Mission Award – Christen Burgett, animal science.
  • Extension Mission Award – Larry Tranel, dairy field specialist, and Erin Hodgson, entomology.
  • International Mission Award – Dirk Maier, agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Christopher Tuggle, animal science.
  • Senior Scholarship – Emily Franciskato, genetics.
  • Sophomore Scholarship – Kasey Sullivan, microbiology.
  • Distinguished Achievement in Agriculture Award – Mark Rasmussen, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. 
  • Alumni Award of Merit – Michael Pugh, owner/operator of Westwood Embryo Services.

Presentations from Egg Industry Issues Forum Available Online
Virtual presentations from the 2020 Egg Industry Issues Forum are now available online. The forum is an annual education and outreach event organized and facilitated by the Egg Industry Center in CALS. The forum provides the latest developments and priority issues concerning the U.S. egg industry. More


April 22: Iowa Learning Farms Webinar
Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, April 22, at noon on the importance of including trees in Iowa’s water quality conversation. Billy Beck, national resource ecology and management and extension forestry specialist, will discuss the benefits that trees and forestry provide for both water quality and on-farm income. More

May 15: Water Quality Research Proposal Deadline
The Iowa Nutrient Research Center is accepting proposals for research that can help landowners, farmers, agribusiness and others improve water quality by reducing nitrate and phosphorus in the state’s waterways. There are six main research topic areas prioritized for funding consideration. Proposals are due by May 15. More

Communications Kiosk

Masks, Respirators, Ventilators
An N95 mask is a specific type of tight-fitting, cup-shaped face mask that covers the nose and mouth, filters the air, and is used by workers in such settings as construction and health care. They are technically respirators, but the preferred term is masks to avoid confusion with ventilators. Respirators like the N95 are distinct from surgical masks, which also cover the nose and mouth but fit loosely. A ventilator is a machine that helps people breath; breathing machine is acceptable. (Associated Press Stylebook Online)


VPR Event April 28: Interdisciplinary Research on COVID-19  
The Office of the Vice President for Research is facilitating a virtual networking event to explore collaborative interdisciplinary research opportunities addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be held via Zoom on April 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. Interested faculty need to register by noon on Thursday, April 23. More

AAAS Offers Free Access to Science Magazine Information on COVID-19
The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Science family of journals has developed a website to provide timely research, analysis and news about COVID-19. The content does not require AAAS membership, but is available for free access. More


An Interactive Way to Tour ISU Art on Campus Collection
The Art on Campus Digital Map allows users to navigate through the Iowa State campus and explore highlights from the public art collection. The map shows information and images of individual works of art as well as show them in relationship to University Museums’ locations and in the larger context of campus. 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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