CALS Research Advances

Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University’s Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station advance knowledge and connections between basic science and its application in the fields of agronomy, animal science, food safety, ecology, plant pathology, the social sciences and beyond – building on 130 years of scientific leadership. 

The Experiment Station's work represents scientists in 15 departments and 25 centers, institutes and initiatives focused primarily on areas in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Experiment Station also supports research in other ISU colleges and cooperates with researchers in other states and countries working with us on critical problems.

CALS Research Strengths

CALS ranks at the top of 59 agricultural colleges nationally for the number of faculty publishing findings in scientific journals, according to a recent Academic Analytics comparison. It also ranked first for the number of faculty with federal research grants and second for the total number of federal grants. Over the past eight years, CALS-supported scientists have brought in $400 million in sponsored funding, approximately $50 million per year. (December 2017 data)

These discoveries and inventions frequently are patented and licensed for development into products and services:

  • Research by CALS faculty and staff account for 80 percent of Iowa State University's 377 active technology licensing and option agreements.
  • CALS and the Experiment Station received the largest share of royalty income at Iowa State for the last three fiscal years.
  • Nine of the top 20 income-producing technologies at Iowa State came from research in CALS and the Experiment Station.

How our Research is Funded

CALS Funding - Fiscal Year 2018

funding chart FY 2018

Research Highlights

CALS scientists Lamont, Beavis and RaoThree CALS researchers have received prestigious national honors for 2019. Two are named as 2019 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are Susan Lamont, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Department of Animal Science, and  William Beavis, professor and the G.F. Sprague Chair in Agronomy. The National Academy of Inventors named Guru Rao, an associate vice president for research at Iowa State, as one of its 2019 fellows.

Black cattle grazing on pastureA new white paper by an Iowa Beef Center team explores "The Relationship Between Carcass Merit and Maternal Traits in Beef Cattle: A Case Study and Literature Review." The paper, prepared for Certified Angus Beef LLC, evaluates the relationship between carcass merit and maternal reproduction in beef cattle, with a case study based on a research breeding project in which purebred Angus cattle have been selected for marbling or intramuscular fat for over 20 years. The research is featured in an article in the Certified Angus Beef Cattleman.  

Sign for Franklin Community Garden, Des Moines.Jan Thompson, Morrill Professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University, is the principal investigator for a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a framework for analysis of food, energy and water systems for greater Des Moines. She will work with a Sustainable Cities Research Team that includes scientists from a wide range of disciplines at Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Texas at Arlington. The group's innovative approach aims to help cities conserve building and transportation energy, reduce environmental impacts and improve city sustainability. 

Attitudes Toward Beans Focus of New Study
Donna Winham, a professor of food science and human nutrition, and Michelle M. Heer, a former FSHN undergraduate, co-authored the article, “Bean Preferences Vary by Acculturation Level among Latinas and by Ethnicity with Non-Hispanic White Women," published March 22 in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The research explores differences in consumption frequency, purchasing patterns and attitudes toward dry and canned beans, among Latinas and non-Hispanic white women. Researchers suggest ways to use the data to support consumption of beans, which have many nutritional benefits.

Current CALS Research News

Iowa Nutrient Research Center Invites New Proposals for Water Quality Research

Asheesh Singh with computer screens behind him

Innovative Iowa State University Scientist Advances Machine Learning as Tool for Crop Breeding

Monarch Conservation Efforts Continue in Iowa

Gwyn Beattie in lab with soybean plants

Iowa State Researchers Explore Plant-Microbe Relationships for Drought Resiliency