UD Cooperative Extension team presented award at national conference

April 10, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Dennis Calvin, chair, eXtension Governing Committee, and director, Penn State University Extension (left) presents the Be, Grow, Create Outstanding Institutional Team Award to (from left) UD's Michele Walfred, Adam Thomas and Christy Mannering.A University of Delaware Cooperative Extension team has been honored by eXtension as a 2014 Be, Grow, Create Outstanding Institutional Team Award winner. The award was presented at the National eXtension Conference and National Extension Directors and Administrators joint meeting on March 26 in Sacramento, Calif.

The UD team includes Carrie Murphy, Phillip Sylvester, Deborah Delaney, Kathleen Splane, Nancy Gainer, Adam Thomas, Christy Mannering and Michele Walfred.

Ask an Expert implementation was a major focus of the team’s work. Jeff Hino, from Oregon State University, worked with members who personalized a marketing concept developed by Oregon State and developed a video for use in a multimedia presentation at the Delaware State Fair.

The team developed the implementation process and the timeframe for delivery. By the time they rolled out Ask an Expert at the State Fair, over 30 staff and volunteers had been trained to respond to questions, “question wranglers” were in place, and a web presence had been developed.

All Extension staff participated in Adobe Connect training in relation to Ask an Expert prior to the State Fair. Since the rollout time period, the team has continued to enhance Ask an Expert with a question of the week feature and additional training sessions as new staff come on board.

At this year’s Delaware Extension Annual Conference, the Ask an Expert sub-committee members were selected and received the Director’s Leadership award.

Terry Meisenbach, eXtension communications and marketing leader, said, “The University of Delaware team, with the help of eXtension leadership members, was able to grasp the multitude of resources available from eXtension. Through Adobe Connect poll pods and a Qualtrics online survey, the team identified some immediate and short-term goals for eXtension implementation. They quickly met that first round of goals and the goals they’re considering now focus on social media development and online course development using Moodle.”

Elbert Dickey, eXtension executive director, added, “An Outstanding Institutional Team has demonstrated the planning, creativity, and commitment to making eXtension a ‘fit’ for its state and institution. An Outstanding team also helps eXtension know just what its state and institution brings to eXtension.”

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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CANR announces 2013 Benton Award winners

July 29, 2013 under CANR News

benton-award-winnersThe University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has announced that Jacquelyn Marchese and Michelle Windle are the winners of the 2013 William J. Benton Graduate Student Awards.

The awards were established in honor of William J. Benton, former CANR associate dean of research and professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Jacquelyn Marchese

Marchese received her master’s degree from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in May. Of the award, she said she was “honored that I was even nominated, so it was pretty cool that I won. I was definitely very grateful.”

Marchese’s research has dealt with bumblebees and how they can be used to pollinate certain crops in Delaware, such as watermelon, cucumbers and strawberries.

After graduating, she decided to take some time off and go on a cross-country road trip before settling into the professional world.

Marchese acknowledged her adviser, Deborah Delaney, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, and the rest of her committee: Gordon Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Vincent D’Amico, supplemental faculty in entomology and wildlife ecology; and Joanne Whalen, Cooperative Extension specialist in entomology and wildlife ecology.

Michelle Windle

Windle, a doctoral student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences who previously received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CANR, said her doctoral research focuses on silage, specifically how to increase the digestibility of starch earlier in the ensiling process to make it more readily available for cows to digest, which will in turn help them have more energy and produce more milk.

In addition to her research, Windle has also been a teaching assistant for many classes in fields as diverse as animal nutrition, which she taught for five years, production and genetics. She has traveled extensively to conduct research and present papers, and has given talks at conferences.

Windle said that it was an honor to receive the award, especially in light of the fact that she has interacted with some past winners. “That was really neat. It was an honor. I’ve known some of the other people who have gotten it, Laura Nemec and Kirsten Hirneisen, and it was an honor to be included with them.”

Windle pointed out that she could not say enough about her adviser Limin Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Animal and Food Sciences who has been exceptionally helpful throughout her time at UD.

“I can’t talk about Dr. Kung enough. The guy is awesome,” she said. “He’s got drive, excitement, he thinks silage is cool, and he’s got the ability to inspire that in other students. He just genuinely wants to see you do well.”

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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3 CANR professors awarded UDRF projects

July 17, 2013 under CANR News

Jeff Buler studies ticks across newark, delawareDelaware has one of the highest incidence rates of Lyme disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The tick-borne disease can have debilitating consequences in humans, dogs, even cats.

University of Delaware scientist Jeffrey Buler aims to see the number of infections decline.

“In urban areas, humans face the greatest exposure to infected ticks along forest edges,” says Buler, who is an assistant professor of wildlife ecology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

With funding from the University of Delaware Research Foundation (UDRF), Buler will use radio telemetry to track bird movements in a network of 21 fragmented patches of forest in and around Newark, Del. He wants to better understand the role that birds may play in dispersing ticks in these forested areas.

UDRF, a private corporation chartered in 1955, awards seed funding on a competitive basis to researchers early in their careers at UD.

“The University of Delaware Research Foundation is tremendously valuable to our research community, particularly in these times of federal funding austerity,” says Charlie Riordan, UD vice provost for research. “These seed funds are critical for our new faculty to collect the preliminary data necessary to establish proof of concept and convince the funding agencies their ideas are worth further investment.”

A holistic approach to reduce tick-borne diseases in an urban landscape. Wildlife ecologist Jeff Buler and doctoral student Solny Adalsteinsson will study bird movements in 21 forest fragments in and around Newark, Del., to better understand how birds influence tick survival and distribution. This project will contribute to the development of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy to manage ticks that spread Lyme disease.

Impact of land-use activities on pollinators. Deborah Delaney, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, will survey pollinator communities in northern Delaware to determine pesticide exposure levels in spring-summer 2013 and 2014 during the bloom periods for many trees and shrubs. Exposure risk will be linked with land-use activities such as agriculture, suburban lawns and gardens, roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces.

Exploring plant immortality. Although climate-induced stress has caused plant mortalities worldwide, some plants native to the Baja desert can live over 500 years. Rodrigo Vargas Ramos, assistant professor of plant and soil science, will conduct experiments to understand the physiological mechanisms of resilience of long-lived plants in arid ecosystems, with special emphasis on carbon allocation.

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photo by Danielle Quigley

To read about the rest of the UDRF projects, check out the full article on UDaily.

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UD hosts Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference

April 17, 2013 under CANR News

Colonial Academic Alliance undergraduate research conference morning poster session

The University of Delaware played host to this year’s Colonial Academic Alliance (CAA) Undergraduate Research Conference. UD, which last held the conference in 2004, organized the April 12-14 event, which boasted approximately 80 students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.

UD junior Angela Carcione, a wildlife conservation and entomology double major and Honors Program student, presented her research on the genetics of honeybees.

Carcione’s research took her to the Arnot Teaching and Research Forest in Ithaca, N.Y., where she and her fellow students discovered a stock of survivor feral bees. She is attempting to uncover whether these feral bees are genetically distinct from managed commercial bees, and what enables these wild bees to survive.

Carcione suggested that the conference offers a perfect platform to network and to hone her presentation skills.

“When people question me about my research, it helps me to realize what I understand and what I don’t. Because of events like this, I can go home and research what I don’t understand, and I can become a stronger presenter for the next time,” said Carcione, who is advised by Deborah Delaney, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.

To read more about the CAA Undergraduate Research Conference, check out the full article on UDaily.

Article by Gregory Holt

Photos by Doug Baker

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How insects survive the long, cold winter

February 3, 2011 under CANR News

Baby, it’s cold outside. Time to put another log on the fire, wrap up in a thick sweater, or make a steaming mug of tea. These human adaptations to cold weather are quick, easy and get the job done. Even more effective, of course, is the central heating that is ubiquitous in our homes, offices and schools.

It takes a lot more effort for other mammals, birds and insects to make the necessary adaptations to survive harsh weather. Next week, we’ll look at animal and bird strategies; today we’ll see how insects make it through the winter.

In many species, insects adapt to the cold by dying off; it’s the larval stage of the species that goes through winter. Insects that do over-winter as adults usually enter a hibernation-like state called diapause.

“Insects don’t technically hibernate in winter but many go into diapause, a dormant state that allows them to withstand cold temperatures,” says Brian Kunkel, a UD Cooperative Extension entomologist.

The mourning cloak butterfly exists in a type of diapause called freeze susceptible. It avoids freezing in much the way that car owners do — by adding anti-freeze. This butterfly replaces the water in its body with antifreeze compounds — called cryoprotectants — which supercool its bodily fluids and tissues.

The other form of diapause, called freeze tolerant, is used infrequently by North American insects but is a common strategy of Southern Hemisphere insects. In this type of diapause, the insect freezes its bodily fluids.

Not all insects go into diapause in winter. A few, like the stonefly and mayfly, can be seen out and about in their adult form. The best time to look for stoneflies is after a snowfall — these small dark critters are much easier to spot in the snow.

The social insects take a middle-of-the-road approach to winter. They don’t enter diapause, like many butterflies, but they’re not bounding about, full of pep, like stoneflies. Social insects that live through winter in Delaware include honeybees, termites and a number of different ants.

Many of the social insects, including ants, consolidate their living quarters during the winter, says Deborah Delaney, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In late fall they move deeper into their nests and close up the exit with soil, leaves and other organic materials.

Honeybees slow down in winter and stick close to the hive. The focus is on eating and huddling close to each other on cold days, notes Delaney.

When the hive temperature drops below 64 degrees, honeybees cluster together into a carefully organized, compact ball. The interior bees generate warmth by vibrating their wing muscles. The outer bees are motionless, acting as an insulation layer. The colder the temperature outside, the tighter the cluster. A single bee can increase heat production 25-fold.

The honeybees take turns enjoying the warmth in the middle of the huddle and then move to the outside. Not surprisingly, the queen bee reigns supreme in the middle and never takes a turn on the outskirts of the huddle.

Despite huddling and other strategies, winter takes a toll on honeybees, says Delaney. Hives that may have had a peak of 60,000 bees in the summer may diminish to 20,000 bees by mid-winter. Some hives are totally lost, due to insufficient food or other factors.

Worker honeybees toiled long hours in the fall, collecting nectar to feed and maintain the colony until spring. If their work wasn’t adequate, there is nothing they — or Delaney — can do about it now, in the depths of winter.

Nonetheless, Delaney checks on the hives at UD’s Apiary about two to three times a week this time of year. “I hold my ear to each hive and if I hear buzzing inside, I know everything is good,” she says.

“The hives are kind of like my fourth child,” admits Delaney, who is the mother of three small children.

Article by Margo McDonough

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

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