CALS Research Advances

Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University’s Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station expand knowledge and advance 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 intiatives. Their work primarily focuses on areas in the College of Agriculture and LIfe Sciences, but the Experiment Station also supports research in other colleges at Iowa State 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.




Dekkers and TuggleAnimal Science professors Jack Dekkers, Chris Tuggle and other colleagues discovered the first naturally occurring pigs without a functioning immune system and are developing a line of pigs uniquely suited to testing medical therapies for people, with support from a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health grant. Their work was highlighted in the 2019 report issued by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and 20 FedByScience research institutions,  Retaking the Field: Science Breakthroughs for Thriving Farms and a Healthier Nation.

Professor Tom Brumm and student in lab with grain in transparent cylinder. Tom Brumm, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, helps farmers in Uganda keep more of their crops by researching and implementing ways to reduce post-harvest losses. Ugandan farmers lose as much as a third of their crops to insects, mold and other pests. Poor storage of maize produces aflatoxin that causes illness in those who eat it. According to Brumm, the food supply in Uganda could be increased by 20 to 30 percent without special seed or fertilizer or mechanization by improving post-harvest grain handling. For example, by sealing maize in air-tight containers that eventually suffocate weevils in the grain.

STRIPS LogoConverting 10 percent of a row-cropped field to strategically placed prairie strips kept soil in place, improved soil quality, enhanced wildlife habitat and dramatically reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loss. The Science-based Trials of Row-crops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project could be used on 9.6 million acres of cropland in Iowa and a large portion of the 170 million acres under similar management in the United States. STRIPS lead researcher Lisa Schulte-Moore discusses implications of this work for Iowa farmers and American eaters in an article in The Conversation

Current CALS Research News

Cover of land tenure report.

Iowa State Survey Shows Farm Owners Make Small Increases in Conservation

INRC Launches Spring Seminar Series on “Water Research Past, Present and Future”

headshot of Daniel Thomson

Daniel Thomson Selected as New Chair of Animal Science at Iowa State University

Honey bee hovering over red clover bloom

New Insights on Honey Bee Health in Ag Landscapes from Iowa Study