In memoriam: Friends, colleagues remember Prof. John Dohms

March 10, 2014 under CANR News

In Memoriam: John DohmsThe University of Delaware extends condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of John E. Dohms, a retired professor of animal and food sciences at the University, whose death was confirmed by Newark Police on Feb. 28. Prof. Dohms had been missing since Sept. 13, 2012.

A member of the UD faculty for 32 years, Dr. Dohms retired in 2009 with the rank of professor of microbiology of infectious diseases. His research focused on the pathology of avian disease, and his former students have praised his inspirational teaching and the impact he has had on their lives and careers.

Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said, “We at CANR grieve the loss of a dedicated colleague and friend who touched the lives of numerous students, faculty and staff. John’s contributions and impacts to the ANFS program were unparalleled.”

Limin Kung, S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Animal and Food Sciences, wrote, “John was respected and loved by all of us to the highest degree. At the height of his career, he was one of the best teachers and an excellent researcher. Students UNIVERSALLY loved him, because of his kind and caring nature as a person and mentor. Students flocked to his classes and to him as an academic adviser. Colleagues regularly sought advice and collaborated with him. As important as all other things, John was a good friend to all of us!”

Jack Gelb Jr., chairperson of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, said, “John will be missed by many friends and colleagues in this country who benefited from his service and contributions to the field of animal health. His legacy is reflected in the many fine students he mentored and trained and his sincere desire to make the world a better place.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Dr. Kim Herrman, John’s partner of over 25 years and an alumnus of our ANFS program, as well as many other family members and friends,” Rieger said.

Born in New York City, Dr. Dohms graduated from Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey in 1966. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Bowling Green State University in 1970 and 1972, respectively, and earned his Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology from Ohio State University in 1977.

In addition to being a collegiate lacrosse player and lifelong fan of that sport, Dr. Dohms was an avid athlete and outdoorsman who enjoyed swimming, running, whitewater rafting or biking. He took many trips with his friends to experience the outdoors in Central and South America, Africa, New Zealand and the United States, and to pursue his passions that also included fly-fishing and birding.

He is survived by his partner, Kim A. Herrman of Newark, Del.; his brothers, Peter Dohms of Payson, Ariz., and James Dohms of Bradenton, Fla.; his nine nieces and nephews, as well as numerous friends and colleagues.

The family requests that memorial contributions be made in his name and suggests some of his favorite causes and institutions, including the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware, Trout Unlimited and the National Audubon Society.

Details of a memorial service will be announced at a future date.

Condolences may be left online at www.rtfoard.com.

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Arthur W. Perdue Graduate Fellowship Program to be established at UD

September 19, 2013 under CANR News

Receiving gift from Perdue Company at the Carvel Research Center.  SHOWN: (l to r) Dr. Jack Gelb, chair of ANFS, Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown of Perdue, and Dr. Mark Rieger Dean of CANR.The Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Perdue Farms, has awarded the University of Delaware $125,000 over the next three-years to establish the Arthur W. Perdue Graduate Fellowship in the University’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

“The college is grateful to Perdue for providing funding for one of our greatest needs, graduate education,” said Mark Rieger, dean of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Beyond the funding per se, the gift allows for a closer relationship between UD and Perdue, and we will learn much from each other as we collaborate.”

“The generous contribution from the Perdue Foundation will be used to recruit outstanding graduate students to pursue the Ph.D. degree in poultry science,” said Jack Gelb, professor and chairperson of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “In addition to working with faculty at UD, the chosen students will collaborate with scientists at Perdue, and will travel and attend scientific meetings in the U.S. and abroad. We are proud to be the recipient of this gift and look forward to training top young scientists and future leaders in poultry science.”

As Arthur W. Perdue Fellows, the selected students will focus on possible research through the University’s Avian Biosciences Center in the areas of broiler growth and efficiency, muscle biology and physiology, and emerging infectious avian diseases and their control.

Another area of possible research may focus on intestinal microbiology, physiology and impacts on microbial populations, including those that present foodborne disease challenges.

“The University of Delaware has been serving the needs of the poultry industry on Delmarva for more than 50 years,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of food safety and quality at Perdue Farms. “We’re pleased to establish a new legacy of learning and higher education through this grant from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation. We value the opportunity to provide research opportunities to aspiring scientists whose work will benefit not only Perdue, but others in the poultry industry. We see this as a mutually beneficial partnership.”

About Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms is the parent company of Perdue Foods and Perdue AgriBusiness, and represents the Perdue family ownership.  Since its beginning on Arthur Perdue’s farm in 1920, through expansion into agribusiness and the introduction of the Perdue brand of chicken and turkey under Frank Perdue, to the third-generation of family leadership with chairman Jim Perdue, Perdue Farms has remained a family-owned, family-operated business dedicated to making Perdue the most trusted name in food and agricultural products. To learn more about Perdue, visit the website.

The Arthur W. Perdue Foundation is funded through the estates of Arthur W. Perdue and Frank Perdue. The foundation provides grants on behalf of Perdue Farms in communities where large numbers of company associates live and work.

Photos by Doug Baker

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Food Bank of Delaware, UD to celebrate fifth annual Evening in the Garden

August 15, 2013 under CANR News

Evening in the GardenThe Food Bank of Delaware and University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community with their fifth annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 6-8 p.m.

The evening will feature wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries.

In addition, the evening’s menu includes garden-fresh foods straight from the Garden for the Community. Students from the Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware will serve up eggplant polpettes, ratatouille, spicy grilled chicken with roasted corn salsa, fish tacos, soba noodles with Swiss chard, pine nuts and peppers, assorted desserts and much more. The UDairy Creamery will also serve ice cream.

“It’s hard to believe we are heading into our fifth year for Evening in the Garden,” said Patricia Beebe, Food Bank of Delaware president and CEO. “Each year the event and our partnership with the University grows. Last year guests had a wonderful time touring the garden, enjoying foods prepared by our own students and tasting local wines and beers. We look forward to another successful evening of increasing awareness of the issue of hunger in Delaware and raising money to help alleviate it.”

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Food Bank of Delaware for the Evening in the Garden event,” said CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “We are very proud of the partnerships we have grown throughout the years with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Evening in the Garden is no exception. This event brings the community together to help support a great cause: the Food Bank of Delaware and their mission to provide food for struggling Delaware families.”

Sue Fuhrmann has attended the event since its inception and said, “Evening in the Garden showcases delicious, creative food, good wines, fun music, bountiful gardens to stroll and fine fellowship. Even better, it supports local agriculture and job training efforts. Not to miss.”

Tickets for the event are $40 per person or $15 per student (must show student ID). The price includes dinner, wine, beer and entertainment. Ticket prices increase by $10 on Aug. 29.

To purchase tickets, contact Kim Turner at 302-444-8074 or kturner@fbd.org.

Online registration is also available at this Food Bank of Delaware website.

Attendees are also asked to bring a bag of canned goods for the food bank’s hunger-relief efforts.

To learn more about the Garden for the Community, visit the website.

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College partnership brings ice cream truck to UD

June 12, 2013 under CANR News

The UDairy Creamery has now been equipped with an ice cream truckThanks to a partnership between the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the UDairy Creamery will now be equipped with an ice cream truck, allowing for students from UD to get hands-on experience with a real-world business.

The UDairy Creamery ice cream truck will make its debut on Friday, June 14, with staff members handing out free ice cream at the UD Farmers Market being held in Mentors’ Circle from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

In addition to the farmers market, the ice cream truck will also be at the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park in Wilmington on Saturday, June 29, and Sunday, June 30, and at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, which starts on Thursday, July 18.

The truck is decked out with assorted black and white cow and ice cream cone spots, cow ears that can be placed below the side view mirrors and a speaker to play the UD alma mater and fight song, among other UD-themed music.

The truck will serve parts of UD’s main campus as well as be able to bring ice cream to events on UD’s Wilmington and southern Delaware campus locations. It will be stocked with a rotating list of between 10-20 flavors carried in freezers that make transporting the ice cream to those far reaching events that much easier.

Melinda Litvinas, manager of the UDairy Creamery, said she has dreamed of having an ice cream truck since she arrived at UD in the winter of 2010.

“It makes everything much more efficient from an operational standpoint because we’re not loading freezers onto a van and worried about electricity, and we’re not limited in the amount of space that we have,” said Litvinas. “This allows us to be out and about longer and with more ice cream and more flavors to serve more people.”

Mark Rieger, CANR dean, said the partnership of the two colleges in bringing the ice cream truck to the University is “yet another way that UD demonstrates its commitment to quality undergraduate education.”

He added the project would bring students from the two colleges together in an atmosphere designed to foster creativity. “CANR students will work side-by-side with Lerner students to find new markets and learn to be entrepreneurial with our UDairy Creamery ice cream. Real-world experience is a value that both colleges strongly support.”

Bruce Weber, Lerner dean, echoed those sentiments, saying, “An essential element of the Lerner College’s strategy is to emphasize experience driven learning more than any other business school, and this is just a perfect fit with that objective.”

Weber also stressed the importance of interdisciplinary partnerships. “Interdisciplinary is not optional,” he said. “We’ve got to be doing it and we’ve got to be doing more of it. There’s no longer an argument for siloed disciplinary based activities in universities. The exciting activities in universities now are at the intersections of fields – combine entrepreneurship with a dairy farm that makes ice cream and the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.”

The partnership established between the two colleges involves the UDairy Creamery and the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, an academic program at the University made possible by alumnus Charles W. Horn and his wife Patricia that is centered on entrepreneurial education.

Dan Freeman, associate professor of business administration and director of the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, said the program is open to all students at the University, not just those who attend the Lerner College.

The Horn Program, he said, “offers a variety of courses, degree programs and co-curricular activities, all aimed at helping students to learn about entrepreneurship and develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the knowledge and skills needed to be entrepreneurial.”

Freeman said that teaming with the UDairy Creamery made sense because it allows entrepreneurial students the ability to get hands-on experience in a real-world setting.

Freeman plans to integrate the truck into the Horn Program curricula for youth programs and its Introduction to Entrepreneurship course. Students will learn about the economics of the truck, generate and screen opportunities for deploying the truck, formulate operational and go-to-market plans, and then implement the plans.

They will also get to see how well their financial forecast maps on to real-world profit and loss from following their plans.

“It’s a known business but at the same time it can be a new business each and every time you drive out of the driveway. From an entrepreneurial education standpoint, that is perfect,” said Freeman.

“I know it’s cliché but it’s definitely win-win,” said Weber. “We’re doing something that’s going to bring the UDairy Creamery product to lots more places, but it’s also going to provide an entrepreneurial experience to a lot of students. It’s a perfect example of experience driven learning.”

For more information, visit the UDairy Creamery website, follow the creamery on Twitterand visit the Facebook page.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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Summer program in Costa Rica stresses sustainable development, agriculture

May 16, 2013 under CANR News

Dean of AG, Mark Rieger, in the botanic garden outside of Townsend HallStudents from the University of Delaware interested in sustainable development and agriculture are encouraged to apply for the second session of the Consortium for Sustainability beginning June 23 at Costa Rica’s EARTH University.

The event involves a consortium of universities including the University of Florida, Michigan State University and Penn State University, among others, that will send faculty and students to study in Costa Rica for two four-week sessions. Mark Rieger, dean of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, spearheaded the consortium when he served as associate dean and professor in the University of Florida’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I saw a couple of friends from Michigan State and Penn State when I went down to EARTH University in 2007 for a global conference on higher education in agriculture,” explained Rieger.

Finding similarities and overlapping areas of research between the students and professors at the different institutions, Rieger asked, “‘Why don’t we think about a consortium of universities that would all contribute to one program? Then we could still have our semi-autonomous goals, things that we want to accomplish in our own universities, but we could also collaborate and share because we’re doing the same things.’”

The consortium was created soon afterward and Rieger said that he couldn’t think of a better place for it to happen than at EARTH University.

“EARTH University has, by virtue of the name and what they do, a sustainable agriculture focus,” said Rieger.

Rieger explained sustainability, specifically sustainable agriculture, as “a system of agriculture — or culture if you want to talk about development — that allows for the current population to be successful without detracting from future generations to also be successful.”

For those interested in sustainability, EARTH — which stands for Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda (School of Agriculture in the Humid Tropical Region) — is an excellent place to study as the campus is situated on more than 8,000 acres of land and has a working dairy, a botanic garden and a native forest.

Rieger said that it is important for students who are interested in sustainable development to get a hands-on experience, especially one in an area as vital to the future of the planet as Costa Rica.

“Most of the people in the world don’t live in North America, they live in tropical zones which are very vulnerable areas,” he said. “You’ve got to grow food and sustain the population, and I think a lot of agriculture development is going to happen in that tropical band around east Africa, South America and southern Asia. That’s where the population is.”

The opportunity is not solely limited to students interested in agriculture, as Rieger stressed that there are many aspects of sustainability covered at EARTH University.

The students will also not be studying only on campus, as participants will head out to local areas to learn firsthand about real world sustainability issues, a teaching model employed at EARTH that Rieger said is not fully utilized at most universities in the United States.

“At EARTH it is a very different educational model. It’s a learn by doing model,” said Rieger. He explained that every student at EARTH University is required to go out and do some type of community service in local areas every Wednesday to gain real world experience.

“These are kids that are going to be leading agricultural crews and the idea is that they need to understand what a laborer is going through in order to effectively lead them,” he said. “And a lot of it is swinging a machete and killing weeds by hand or uprooting things, just very basic manual labor to go along with the courses they get taught in leadership, management, agricultural economics and entrepreneurship. But they’re actually getting out every week so they understand what it’s like — the whole 360 degree view of what happens in an agricultural enterprise.”

To apply for the second session of EARTH University’s Consortium for Sustainability, visit this website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Ambre Alexander

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University of Delaware plant and soil sciences chair named AAAS Fellow

December 3, 2012 under CANR News

Blake C. Meyers, chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Designation as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.

Meyers received the award in large part because of his contributions to bioinformatics and plant functional genomics of model and crop plants, especially in the area of small RNA biology.

Meyers explained that he has been involved in the field of plant genomics for more than 15 years, with the most intensive research taking place at the laboratory he established at UD’s Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Noting that he has an ongoing and long-running collaboration with Pamela J. Green, the Crawford H. Greenewalt Endowed Chair in Plant Molecular Biology, Meyers said that the collaboration helped him to focus on small RNAs as a particularly productive field in which to apply his work on “next-generation” DNA sequencing technologies.

“Collaborative research is key to our success, as we’ve worked with experts in rice, maize, soybean, model plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula, tomato, numerous other plants, fungi and even chickens, contributing our expertise and tools, and learning from our collaborators, their biological materials, and the comparisons we’ve made across organisms and their genomes,” said Meyers.

Meyers said of the AAAS announcement, “It is really a tremendous honor, because it reflects a recognition by my scientific peers of the quality and impact of both the work of my lab and my own contributions to science. The AAAS is a remarkable organization so I’m really thankful to be elected a fellow.”

He also said the honor would not have been possible without the help of the many researchers with whom he has collaborated over the years. “The honor should be shared with my past and present lab members, as I’ve been lucky to work with excellent lab members over the 10 years that I’ve been at the University of Delaware.”

Meyers said the recognition is to be shared by UD as well, as he has had “strong institutional encouragement and support from the University, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and my department, including excellent peers, top-tier facilities in which to carry out our work and access and support with the latest generation of technologies that my lab requires to carry out its work.”

Meyers has also participated in activities shaping the future of bioinformatics in plant biology.

“Like many plant biologists, I feel a responsibility to help advance agriculture which has tremendous challenges due to population growth, environmental pressures and climate change, and increasing demands on natural resources,” said Meyers. “The AAAS has long promoted science as the means to help address issues such as these, so their recognition of my work is quite gratifying.”

Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said of Meyers, “Dr. Meyers’ work in plant genetics and molecular biology is known around the world and reflects extremely well on the college and the University of Delaware.”

Rieger added he is “thrilled that AAAS has recognized his research. He is one of the youngest faculty that I know to have received this recognition, and I predict he’ll have an even greater impact on his discipline in the coming years.”

About Blake C. Meyers

Blake C. Meyers received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California Davis.

He joined the UD faculty in 2002 and was named the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Plants and Soil Sciences in 2010.

Meyers’ lab has pioneered the application to mRNA and small RNA analyses of what was the first of the now-popular “next-generation” DNA sequencing technologies. Research in his laboratory is supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and industry.

About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

Founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Evan Krape

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Members of UD, Delaware community celebrate green roof completion

October 3, 2012 under CANR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and members of the Delaware community joined University of Delaware students and faculty on Friday, Sept. 28, at Colburn Laboratory to celebrate the completion of the University’s first green roof on a classroom building.

The environmentally friendly green roof was made possible thanks to grant funding and some unique engineering by the school’s landscape design program.

“This new green roof project at the University of Delaware is a great example of the power of public-private partnerships,” Carper said. “With support from the state of Delaware, DuPont and the University of Delaware, this project is helping to lower energy use, clean the air and teach sustainable environmental practices to future generations at the same time.”

Mark Rieger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said at the celebration, “It’s great to see horticulture — and I’m speaking as a horticulturist now — come to the intersection of engineering and art.”

Chad Nelson, assistant professor of landscape design, thanked all of those who helped the project along the way. “I knew when we started that we could do this, that we could get a green roof on campus but I knew that it wouldn’t be easy,” said Nelson. “I really want people to see the roof and think of other places on campus or in the community where people might be interested in starting new projects. Green roofs, while they aren’t the entire answer, really are a beautiful and effective way of helping us to address some serious issues.”

About 600 engineering students take classes in the Colburn Lab’s one-story classroom wing, where indoor temperatures have been known to reach 86 degrees due to heat transfer from its southern exposure, wide expanses of glass and flat roof. Installing reduced wattage lights, ventilation maintenance and other measures failed to reduce temperatures to levels low enough for learning.

Among the chronically overheated were Annette Shine, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and her teaching assistant, Kathy Phillips, who thought a green roof might make a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly difference.

They connected with Nelson and student Aaron Hallett who were interested in starting a green roof project on campus.

The resulting green roof plan offers a variety of environmental, educational and fiscal benefits such as:

  • An insulating effect, with 4-inch deep plantings reducing the temperature of the roof and keeping the classrooms and occupants below cooler by six degrees or more;
  • Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by reducing demand on building HVAC systems;
  • A sponge effect, absorbing storm water runoff to improve water quality in nearby waterways;
  • A teaching tool, allowing engineering students to study “green engineering” solutions in a living classroom;
  • An opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in growing the plants and installing the system;
  • A less costly option than replacing the building’s HVAC, reduced energy costs from operating the existing system with less demand — and a more attractive view from the three-story portion of the building overlooking the roof.

Built in the 1960s, the one-story building had been originally designed to have additional stories added later, so an initial study found the existing roof structure could support the additional weight.

With that key question answered, the project moved forward, with total costs of $72,000. The project received a $40,000 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program grant, administered by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Energy and Climate, plus a $10,000 from the DuPont Clear into the Future program for environmentally-beneficial projects protecting the Delaware Estuaries and $5,000 each from two UD programs, the University of Delaware Energy Institute and the University of Delaware Sustainability Fund.

Instead of using a membrane system that would cover the whole roof, Nelson opted for a modular system consisting of 2-foot by 2-foot plastic trays that could be installed by students and volunteers and moved for roof maintenance. A safety railing was installed around the roof edge, along with a locking door for roof access.

Beginning last spring, students from CANR propagated heat-hardy plants including several varieties of colorful sedum, plus chives and crocus. The students then established them in the trays with help from local Girl Scouts and began moving them to the roof into a pattern that echoes the layout of the building below.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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