The College of Agriculture Faculty/Staff Newsletter
Iowa State University
September 7, 2001
A SUMMER SAMPLER:
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 of the responses we received:
STUDYING EMERGING TRADE ISSUES IN CHINA
A team of ISU and USDA agricultural economists traveled to China to evaluate that country’s capacity to expand meat imports under World Trade Organization accession, which may occur soon. The team, which included researchers from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, visited farms, markets and processing plants and met with policymakers, industry groups and foreign commodity associations. The visit helped the team to better understand emerging issues affecting Chinese agriculture and also to foster a spirit of cooperation.
AGRONOMY DISTANCE ED PROGRAM MARKS 100TH STUDENT
Over the summer, ISU’s Master of Science in Agronomy Distance Education Program admitted its 100th student. The program for professional agronomists started with 15 students in the fall of 1998. Its first two graduates received their degrees last spring. The 100th student is Michael Dennis, an agronomy agent with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in New York. As of this fall, the program has admitted 105 students.
BACKPACKING TOWARD LEADERSHIP
For the 18th year, Jim Pease, animal ecology, led a wilderness leadership course to Isle Royale National Park on Lake Superior in Michigan. The six adults in the course spent a week backpacking through the park and learning how to lead youth on similar trips. After they receive certification, they go on to lead youth on backpacking trips for 4-H and other youth programs. In other years, Pease also has taught canoeing and sea kayaking. Youth who take part in these activities learn basic biology and ecology of wilderness areas. "In the long-run, we hope such knowledge and experience helps them to make intelligent and informed decisions about the future of such areas," said Pease.
RETURN TO VIETNAM FOR INVITED SWINE SEMINARS
Palmer Holden, animal science, returned to Vietnam 30 years after serving there with the Army during the Vietnam War. Holden was invited to present 10 swine production seminars, from Hanoi in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south. Seminar students included producers, university faculty members, agriculture department officials and associated industry representatives. In Vietnam, pork production varies from backyard-sized pens of three to five pigs up to units of 500 or more sows.
APPLYING AG KNOWLEDGE TO NUCLEAR WASTE STUDY
Toby Ewing, agronomy, spent six weeks working on the Yucca Mountain Project, a proposed nuclear waste repository. The U.S. Department of Energy has been studying whether Yucca Mountain, Nev., is a suitable place for a geologic repository for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At the DOE’s Berkeley Lab, earth scientists are studying whether the site adequately meets geological criteria. Ewing’s work on sequestration of pollutants in rocks (like sand grains and gravel in Iowa aquifers) turned out to be applicable to the lab’s research. He and others developed a computer model to examine the movement of dissolved pollutants in rock. Said Ewing: "My work wasn’t very agricultural, but it's an example of how what we ag types know is applicable in many arenas." He continues to work with researchers at Berkeley and ISU’s Ames Lab to improve the model.
IMPROVING AG INTERNSHIPS, HERE AND ABROAD
Lynn Jones, agricultural education and studies, consulted with faculty in China and Australia on improving agricultural internships. Jones conducts research on the impact of internships. He consulted with faculty at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing on developing internships for their new MBA in agribusiness. In Australia he worked with University of Western Sydney faculty on an internship program for a systems agricultural degree. In Iowa Jones worked with ISU agricultural education students who were interning in 30 Midwestern agribusinesses. Jones said: "Internationally, internships and other forms of experiential learning are growing by leaps and bounds. Domestically, a growing number of major agricultural employers are only offering positions to new graduates who’ve served curriculum-based internships."
ORGANIZER FOR INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY MEETING
Early in the summer, Mike Bell, sociology, returned from a sabbatical in New Zealand, where he had been a visiting professor at the University of Otago’s Center for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment. He then traveled to England, where he was an organizer for the New Natures, New Cultures, New Technologies Conference at Cambridge University, sponsored by the International Sociological Association.
PORK QUALITY RESEARCH LANDS ON COVER OF JOURNAL
An ISU animal science team’s research was featured this summer on the cover of Mammalian Genome, published by the International Mammalian Genome Society. The journal featured two papers on a project to understand the genetic control of pork quality. The project, funded by a consortium of industry groups, began in 1996 and is led by Max Rothschild. The papers reported finding several genetic regions associated with meat quality and two genes linked to some of the regions. The journal cover pictured a Berkshire boar raised on ISU’s Swine Teaching Farm. The papers’ authors are Massoud Malek, Jack Dekkers, Hakkyo Lee, Tom Baas, Ken Prusa, Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan and Rothschild.
PIGS IN HOOPS GRACE COVER OF ALTERNATIVE AG JOURNAL
The most recent issue of the American Journal of Alternative Agriculture featured a cover photo of hoop structures for pigs at an ISU research farm. Inside the journal were research papers authored or co-authored by Mark Honeyman, animal science, on a Swedish deep-bedded feeder pig production system; Clare Hindrichs, sociology, on a study of farmer support for sustainable agriculture research; and Cornelia Flora, sociology, on an assessment of federally funded sustainable agriculture research in the north-central region.
MEET ME AT THE MEAT PLANT IN MASON CITY
Twenty-eight meat science faculty, staff and graduate students spent a day in July touring the ASE (Armour-Swift-Eckrich) plant in Mason City. The tour, led by Joe Cordray, was arranged through the ISU/ConAgra Foods Meat and Poultry Training Program. The plant, which has 230 employees, annually produces 80 million pounds of summer sausage, frankfurters, smoked sausage, ham, bacon and other processed products.
STARCH AND EXCHANGES IN THREE COUNTRIES
Jay-lin Jane, food science and human nutrition, visited three countries to talk about starch research and to develop new ties with other universities. In June, Jane gave an invited lecture at the Oresund Regional Research Conference on Starch in Sweden. She was one of only two non-European participants at the conference. She also visited Lund University and the Norwegian Food Research Institute to lecture and discuss research and student exchanges. In July, Jane co-chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Biodegradable Polymer held at Oxford, England. Also in July, she traveled to China to explore collaborative programs with the College of Food Science at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
EVALUATING GENETICALLY ALTERED CORN IN HUMAN FOOD
Charles Hurburgh, agricultural and biosystems engineering, took part in a second EPA Scientific Advisory Panel meeting on StarLink, a genetically altered corn variety, July 16-19 in Washington, D.C. The panel urged the EPA to maintain its ban on using the corn in human food, saying there was not enough evidence to establish if StarLink caused allergic reactions. Hurburgh was one of 16 physicians and independent scientists on the panel, which was asked by the EPA to evaluate if a tolerance level could be established for StarLink in human food.
MYCOTOXINS AND THREE-TOED SLOTHS
Suzanne Hendrich, food science and human nutrition, gave a workshop and lecture on mycotoxins at the Costa Rican Food Science Congress in August. She said she also enjoyed viewing the natural sights, including hummingbirds, butterflies and three-toed sloths.
HORTICULTURE AND HEAT: WHAT IOWANS AND FINNS SHARE IN COMMON
Rajeev Arora, horticulture, presented an invited talk on cold acclimation in rhododendron at the 6th International Plant Cold Hardiness Symposium in Helsinki, Finland. Aside from the science presented at the conference, Arora learned more about the Finns’ love of saunas. "They don't know that in Ames we have our own sauna in the summer," Arora said.
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