UD among world’s top universities for production, impact of scientific papers

October 17, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware is listed among the top universities in the world, based on a new report on the production and impact of scientific papers.

The 2012 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities, released Oct. 9 by National Taiwan University, is based on statistics of scientific papers that reflect three major performance criteria: research productivity, research impact and research excellence.

In the rankings of the world’s top universities by fields, UD is listed at 298 overall, just after Sichuan University and just ahead of Shandong University and the University of Nebraska.

In addition to the overall ranking, the report also included rankings of individual subjects areas and fields.

By subject, UD had three in the world’s top 100. Chemical engineering was ranked 38, just behind the University of Minnesota and the University of Queensland and just ahead of the University of Colorado, the University of British Columbia, Hanyang University and Stanford University. Mechanical engineering was ranked 85 and civil engineering 91.

Other subject areas ranked were: Chemistry, which was ranked 129; materials science, 132; environment and ecology, 142; geoscience, 162; electrical engineering, 188; physics, 199; mathematics, 244; plant and animal science, 278; and computer science, 285.

By field of study, UD earned world rankings in engineering, 135; natural sciences, 180; agriculture, 197; and social sciences, 242.

“These rankings highlight the substantial impact being made by our research and scholarship,” said Nancy Brickhouse, interim provost. “Our faculty are thought leaders whose contributions to their fields are impacting fellow scholars around the globe, and we are proud to again be listed among the world’s top universities.”

The Taiwan ranking, formerly published by HEEACT (the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan), evaluates both short-term and long-term research performance of a university.

HEEACT published its first worldwide university ranking based on scientific paper performance in 2007.

Photo by Evan Krape

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Cooperative Extension Annual Conference

October 19, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Cooperative Extension professionals from University of Delaware and Delaware State University met on Tues. Oct. 18, for their annual conference in Dover, to celebrate their unique partnership and excellence in Extension outreach programing that serves Delaware’s families and agricultural constituents.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Linda Kay Benning, executive director of Northeast Cooperative Extension Director and associate director for Extension and Outreach at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, located in Washington, D.C. Benning remarked on Extension’s rich history, the value of its current programming and the future of Extension funding at regional and national levels in the 21st century. Benning addressed the importance in raising awareness of the diverse programming that Cooperative Extension delivers to families, farmers, businesses and industry.

In recognition of Delaware’s Extension contribution the past year, the 2011 Cooperative Extension Awards of Excellence were announced:

Integration of Extension and Research Award:

  • Gordon Johnson, Maggie Moor-Orth, Richard Taylor, Phillip Sylvester, Rose Ogutu, Brigid McCrea, Megan, John Clendaniel, Dahlia O’Brien, Mike Wasylkowski, Lakhe Paudel, and Joann Walston.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Individual:

  • Carol Scott – 4-H Educator Afterschool program “Moving Youth Ahead.”
  • Mary Argo – 4-H Educator in Sussex County.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Team:

  • Tracy Wootten, Maggi Moor-Orth, and Sussex County Master Gardeners:  Brent Marsh, Jessica Clark, Jane Casazza, Susan Trone, Tracy Mulvaney, Mary Perkins, Mary Noel, Mary Hall, Marge Lewis and Linda Peters for:  “Peter Rabbit’s Adventure in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” a mobile theatrical presentation for children.

Outstanding Programming Award:

  • Tracy Wootten, Laurie Wolinski, and Maria Pippidis – for “Annie’s Project” which supports and empowers women in agriculture.
  • Maggie Moor-Orth, Tracy Wootten, and Brian Kunkel – “How Do You Like Me Now – Insects and Their Damage” and;
  • Gordon Johnson, Maria Pippidis, Kathleen Splane, Phillip Sylvester, Anne Camasso, Tracy Wootten, and Cory Whaley – “Food Safety on the Farm”
  • Karen Johnston, Michelle Ernst, and Amelia Uffelman – “4-H Health Rocks Program – Youth tobacco prevention program.”
  • Bill McGowan, “The Resourceful Leader”-Community development and economic gardening initiative.

Recipients of the Director’s Spirit of Extension Awards: Ernesto López, Rhonda Martell, Kathleen Splane and Albert Essel.

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) the association of Extension professionals presented the following awards:

  • Adult Outstanding Volunteer Award- Hetty Francke.
  • Youth Outstanding Volunteer Award- Terra Tatman.
  • Group Outstanding Volunteer Award- Emerson Farms.
  • Friend of Extension- Agilent Technologies.
  • Meritorious Support Service Award- Sharon Webb.

Delaware State University recognized two Extension professionals:

  • Bridget McCrea – “1890 Administrator’s Award” for Extension Agriculture and Youth. Development.
  • Andy Wetherhill – “1890 Administrator’s Award for Diversity” in Agricultural Extension programs.

Earlier in the morning, the conference’s 100 attendees separated into agriculture, family and consumer science and 4-H youth development groups and discussed initiatives and exchanged new ideas on how to effectively reach their constituents’ future needs.

The ag group focused on how to enhance an $8 billion agriculture industry given current economic challenges.  Items of note included the ability to understand and anticipate the needs of the ag community, the capacity to engage those needs in a timely fashion and development and implementation of a strategy that creates an understanding and support for the value of Cooperative Extension.

Family and consumer science and EFNEP agents discussed what they see as emerging issues in nutrition, food safety, financial management and family well-being and how best to effectively communicate revised guidelines and research to local constituencies.

Through their diverse programming, 4-H reaffirmed that effective outreach to Delaware’s youth must rest on eight principles: a positive relationship with a caring adult, a safe emotional and physical environment, an inclusive environment, engagement in learning, opportunity for mastery, opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future, opportunity for self-determination and opportunity to value and practice service to others.

Tuesday’s gathering marked the last Extension Conference under the tenure of UD Associate Dean and Director of Cooperative Extension, Janice Seitz, who is retiring in April 2012. The ninth conference however, will not be Seitz’s last. In 2003, Seitz established the Lighthouse Award as a special honor bestowed to an Extension professional who “lights the way for others.” Each year, the holder of the Extension beacon has the responsibility to pass the award onto a deserving colleague. Doug Crouse, 2010 recipient, carefully considered his many options but concluded on one obvious choice, Dr. Jan Seitz, the founder of the award.

The award assures Seitz’s continued involvement in outreach programming and a return to next year’s conference to once again confer the award. But Seitz’s future participation was never in any doubt.  Though stepping out of her leadership role, Seitz plans to lend support and resources whenever needed.   “This is the greatest job I have ever had,” Seitz said. “I love Extension so much.”

Images of the conference are available on the UD Carvel Research and Education Center Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carvel/sets/72157627800614733/

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.

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Stink Bug Season

October 3, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pull up the welcome mat; they’re back. It’s early fall in Delaware, which means pumpkins on the vine, apples on the trees and stink bugs in the house.

“Last year, I got a flood of calls about stink bugs during the last week of September,” said Brian Kunkel, an entomologist with the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension. “Sure enough, this past week, Extension has been hearing from homeowners trying to get rid of stink bugs.”

“As the days grow shorter and the evening temperatures cooler, Delawareans are discovering these uninvited houseguests in their garages, porches and decks, as well as inside the house,” Kunkel said. “The brown marmorated stink bug becomes a nuisance pest when it heads inside to find overwintering sites.”

While merely an annoyance to most homeowners, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) poses an economic threat to Delaware agriculture. Fruit crops seem to be at greatest risk, especially peaches and apples. About 18 percent of the mid-Atlantic apple crop had stink bug damage last year, according to the U.S. Apple Association.

“West Virginia apple orchards experienced significant crop loss last season because of the BMSB,” Kunkel said. “Here at UD, we’re doing everything we can to make sure that we don’t see the kind of crop loss that West Virginia had.”

Several of Kunkel’s colleagues in Extension and UD’s College of Agriculture and Nature Resources are researching BSMBs in soybean, lima bean, sweet corn, field corn and sweet pepper fields.

Two of the most active researchers are Joanne Whalen, the Extension’s integrated pest management specialist, and Bill Cissel, an Extension associate who is investigating stink bugs as part of his graduate studies.

Cissel and Whalen, assisted by two interns, are examining stink bugs in conditions similar to home yards and gardens, too. In UD’s Garden for the Community, a one-third-acre plot on the Newark campus, the duo surveyed stink bug nymphs, adults and egg masses on plants commonly grown in home gardens — tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, eggplant, sunflowers and bell peppers. Plus, they’re studying a plot of ornamental plants to see which plants stink bugs use as hosts.

Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland and the Delaware Soybean Board are some of the partners on one or more of these projects.

Although Delaware has several native stink bugs, BMSBs originates in Asia and were accidentally introduced to the United States. First collected in Allentown, Pa., in 1998, BMSBs have been spreading across the eastern half of the U.S. ever since.

Kunkel said spiders and birds have been known to eat BMSBs (he’s heard reports of house cats eating them, too) but the pest has no recognized natural predator here.

The USDA Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Lab, housed on UD’s campus, is investigating biocontrol measures. Biocontrol introduces natural predators into an environment to control, if not eradicate, the pest problem. But the rigorous research process and government approvals needed for biocontrol measures can take years, even decades.

Delaware’s farmers are asking for help now. So the focus of Whalen and Cissel’s research is on monitoring to determine when to control stink bugs, as well as which insecticides provide the best control.

Field observations in 2010 indicated that stink bug infestations usually start on the perimeters of fields, Cissel noted. “We’re studying whether perimeter applications of insecticides will prevent stink bugs from penetrating the interior parts of soybean fields,” he said.

“In our corn research, we are trying to determine how much damage stink bugs are causing and when the plant is most sensitive to damage — is it when it’s silking, during grain fill or closer to harvest?”

Insect research projects typically run for two to three seasons, and most of the UD studies are in their first year. So it’s too early to discuss preliminary results, Cissel said, especially since the BMSBs weren’t as active this summer as previously.

“We had a really large outbreak last year,” Kunkel said, “but we’re not seeing those kinds of numbers this year.”

Tell that to Kathy Fichter, a resident of Chadds Ford, Pa.

“It’s just as bad as last year and it’s only the beginning of stink bug season here,” said Fichter, who always has a tissue at hand, ready to scoop up stink bugs. “My two sons won’t go near them, and these are boys who like bugs,” she said.

“Our neighborhood seems to be a ‘vacation destination’ for stink bugs. They come here by the hundreds, maybe even thousands,” she added. “My neighbors are in the same predicament. Yet, a few miles away, they aren’t such a nuisance.”

Kunkel isn’t surprised by Fichter’s stink bug woes, even though regional conditions are generally better. “Stink bug outbreaks — and insect outbreaks in general — tend to be localized,” he said. “We often hear of one neighborhood getting slammed while another neighborhood a half-mile away will have very few bugs.”

If the BMSB already has arrived at your house — or you want to make sure it doesn’t — take control measures now. The best thing you can do, Kunkel said, is to seal all cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes and chimneys. Often overlooked, he said, are the cracks that can appear around dryer vents and gaps around window air-conditioning units.

“Try to look on the bright side,” Kunkel said. “Stink bugs that get inside are helping you to winterize your house. Wherever they got in today is where the cold winter winds will, later this year.”

Article by Margo McDonough

This post also appears on UDaily.

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CANR student receives National Garden Clubs Scholarship

June 29, 2011 under CANR News

Matthew Fischel, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has received a $3,500 scholarship from the National Garden Clubs, Inc., one of the leading volunteer gardening organizations in the world. Fischel, a soil chemistry major, was one of 35 recipients, nationwide, of the National Garden Clubs’ scholarship program.

The program promotes study in the fields of agriculture education, horticulture, botany, biology, forestry, agronomy, wildlife science, land management and related areas.

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Delaware agriculture is an $8 billion industry, according to new UD study

March 24, 2011 under CANR News

Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in Delaware, according to a recent study published by the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The study — conducted by UD faculty members Titus Awokuse and Tom Ilvento, with help from graduate student Zachary Johnston — used input-output analysis, taking into account the market value of products sold from on-farm production, revenue from processing and manufacturing of agricultural products, and inter-industry linkages to determine the value added to the economy.

A study of this magnitude had not been conducted since the early 1980s. According to the authors, this new report is much more accurate in its calculations for the true impact of agriculture in Delaware.

Historically, $1.1 billion has been the most commonly cited number for the impact of agriculture in Delaware. “But this is the total market value of agricultural products sold at the farm level, just a small piece of the picture,” according to Awokuse, associate professor and director of graduate studies for food and resource economics.

The new report shows that the processing of farm products adds a previously unaccounted for $3.8 billion. Forestry production and processing add an additional $831 million, with ag-related services (i.e. crop dusting, ditch digging) adding $28 million.

The research project was commissioned by Robin Morgan, dean of the college. “This study was needed because the impact of agriculture in Delaware is much larger than farm receipts and (the impact) should account for processing of agricultural products. Agriculture is a large and vital part of Delaware’s economy, and our understanding of its impact needs to be as accurate as possible,” says Morgan.

In addition to the total industry impact, the report provides separate results by county and for several key agricultural commodities: poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables, corn, soybeans, wheat, greenhouse, nursery and horticultural products.

With Delaware’s long history of poultry production, it was no surprise to the authors that the majority of the economic value of agriculture comes from the production and processing of poultry products, with an industry output of $3.2 billion and over 13,000 jobs.

The report also provides a summary of statistics relative to the changing face of agriculture in Delaware, noting there are fewer farms in Delaware, but the size and productivity of farming operations has increased over time.

Awokuse notes that this trend is in large part because “both technological and biological innovations within agriculture now allow a single operator to be more productive and maintain a larger operation, hence the consolidation of farms across the state.”

And, according to the authors, the state of Delaware agriculture will continue to change.

“Farmers are being asked to produce more on less and less acreage and they turn to science and technology to make that happen. Agriculture is a modern, efficient, technologically advanced industry, even if the image is still rooted in a 19th century image of farming,” says Ilvento, professor and chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics. “Changing that image, assisting farmers to find modern solutions, and promoting the importance of agriculture — that’s what our college is all about.”

A full version of the report can be viewed online.

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

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Kent Messer co-authors new book

February 17, 2011 under CANR News

Kent Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics and assistant professor of economics, has written a book on Mathematical Programming for Agricultural, Environmental and Resource Economics. The book is co-authored by Harry M. Kaiser of Cornell University.

Finding that many mathematical programming textbooks don’t cover natural resource and environmental issues, Messer said that he and Kaiser decided to write a book that would address these. “My passion is the world of environmental and resource economics and I also work in agricultural economics, and so while there are many books on operations research and math programming, they end up being targeted towards MBA students. I thought that there are some unique applications to natural resource and environmental problems that these books just don’t cover. And those are the areas that I am most interested in.”

Messer said that Kaiser does a lot of work on agricultural marketing, and since he had an interest in the subject too, they both decided to combine their interests and turn them into a book. “We were really pleased to have Wiley and Sons, a top flight publisher, be willing to publish this book, which will provide a global distribution network.”

The book is divided into two parts, with 13 chapters total. Each chapter contains at least 20 exercises and several research examples.

Messer said that the goal was “to make a reader-friendly textbook that would be great in the classroom and would develop the foundation of quantitative skills needed for research. Thus, the textbook doesn’t just cover theory, but also provides instruction on how to bridge the gap between ‘here are the techniques and here’s how you apply them to research.’”

The book is geared toward graduate students as well as upper level undergraduates who might be looking at doing research in the area.

Messer said he plans to use the book in his future classes but also notes that he has been using parts of the book in his course in a paper version for the past four years. “My previous students have been great at ‘proofing’ the chapters and testing problems.”

For more information about the book, see the website.

This article is an excerpt from a larger UDaily article “Books in Brief.”  Books in Brief is a roundup of recent books by University of Delaware faculty, staff and alumni. For the full article, click here.

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UD program teaches female entrepreneurs about ag business

January 13, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, in conjunction with the University of Maryland, is offering a series of classes focused on the business of agriculture, geared specifically to women.

The classes begin Jan. 26 and are part of a national program called Annie’s Project. The registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 14.

“Annie’s Project developed as a way to empower farm wives,” says Tracy Wootten, Cooperative Extension horticultural agent for Sussex County. “It was designed for women who work with their husbands on family farms to help take them to the next level of knowledge. But the program is equally appropriate for those who have never been a part of agriculture but would like to be.”

The eight-part series focuses on the myriad aspects of managing a farm or other agricultural operation. Topics covered include risk management, production, marketing, computer and other technological issues, financial affairs, and human resources.

Special guest lectures will be presented by Robin Talley, of the USDA Farm Service Agency, who will speak about updates to the agency’s programs, and by Buck Smith, who will discuss effective estate planning.

Annie’s Project encourages females in agriculture to build professional networks. The class format encourages such networking via a dinner and social networking period at the beginning of each three-hour class session.

The program runs from Wednesday, Jan. 26, to Wednesday, March 16. It will be offered at UD Extension’s Paradee Center, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover. The cost of the course, including meals and materials, is $75. Registration ends Friday, Jan. 14.

The class is limited to 25 participants but late registrants will be accepted if any space is still available.

For more information, call Tracy Wootten at 302-856-7303 or email her at [wootten@udel.edu], or call Maria Pippidis at 302-831-2506 or email her at [pippidis@udel.edu].

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