UD Cooperative Extension aids UD researcher at Delaware Ag Week

February 10, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Professor Kent Messer and his team of researchers poll farmers at Ag WeekSometimes, an offer can seem too good to be true. The University of Delaware’s Kent Messer was worried that would be the case with his latest research project — one that promised land owners in the state who owned more than 10 acres of land $50 simply for completing a 30-minute survey and offered up to $40,000 worth of funding to support cost share and landowner incentives to help implement nutrient management practices on private property.

Luckily for Messer and his research team, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension — in conjunction with Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture — was holding Delaware Ag Week in Harrington at the Delaware State Fairgrounds and welcoming around 1,900 visitors, many of them land owners.

“We were able to piggyback on Extension’s work and trust with the farmers,” said Messer, Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC). “Our research was more believable because we were at Ag Day.”

“This is an excellent example of outreach and engagement within UD,” said Michelle Rodgers, associate dean for Cooperative Extension in the University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Cooperative Extension is a key partner in the Ag Week event which provided over 97 educational sessions with over 1900 attendees. Students involved in the survey were introduced to Cooperative Extension programming and through the event were able to meet face to face with their desired survey participants. This is was a win-win for the researchers and the research participants.”

Messer’s project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economics Research Service and at Ag Week, his team conducted a field experiment on nutrient management practices and landowners’ attitudes toward and adoption of those practices.

The USDA project had funding to support cost share and landowner incentives to help implement nutrient management practices on the ground. Messer’s team asked landowners about conservation buffers, areas that are vegetated along streams and ditches either by grass or forest, and asked the landowners how much they would be willing to share the costs of those practices.

Messer singled out Jennifer Volk, extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, for helping to identify practices relevant to Delaware for the survey that are not currently available for cost share. “We didn’t want to fund practices that were already supported by state or federal programs; we want to learn about landowners’ attitudes and behavior related to new practices,” said Messer.

Messer said he combined this project with another one of his National Science Foundation (NSF) projects that focuses on the Murderkill Watershed, which has issues surrounding nutrients. If participants had property in the watershed, they were eligible for an extra $25 for taking the survey.

Survey team members included Walker Jones, a master’s degree student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), Maik Kacinski, a postdoctoral researcher in APEC, Linda Grand and Seth Olson, both seniors in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, and Michael Griner, a student from Delaware Technical Community College.

The research team set up shop in Harrington for four days during Ag Week. With four and sometimes six tablet computers available for survey participants, the team members set up through each day of Ag Week and was able to attract 80 people to participate in the survey, which Messer called a “home run.”

“One of the reasons I love Ag week is that it helped ensure our validity. Our booth had a bright blue University of Delaware sign on it. We were in a UD event. Because, in many cases, you could say that this was a too good to be true offer — $50 for a 30-minute survey. We’ll pay up to $40,000 for you to do nutrient management on your land. Most people will see that survey and throw it in the trash because they think there must be a catch.”

Messer said that he was very happy to be able to conduct his research survey at a Cooperative Extension event.

“I’m fundamentally committed to good research that has Extension components. I think that’s a wonderful pillar of the land grant and these are exciting opportunities to collaborate. This is a time when the Extension efforts helped the research project,” said Messer. “We wouldn’t have been successful without having Extension do what it does and having this program that is servicing the landowners. And we were really just able to take advantage of it and participate in it.”

The next steps for Messer and his team include collecting data via mail from participants who were not at Ag Week and finalizing the results of the study.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


New environmental named professors to give joint seminar Nov. 1

October 22, 2013 under CANR News, Events

Kent Messer, Applied Economics & Statistics.The Delaware Environmental Institute invites the University of Delaware community to a special seminar and reception saluting three outstanding young faculty who were recently appointed to environmental named chairs.

Each of the honorees will present a short talk on his or her area of expertise designed for a broad, interdisciplinary audience beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, in 104 Gore Hall.

Following the talks, a reception will be held in the Gore Hall lobby from 5-6:30 p.m.

The three chairs are five-year career development chairs made possible through the support of the Unidel Foundation. DENIN Director Don Sparks chaired the committee charged with selecting the honorees.

“We are extremely grateful to have been able to attract and retain such outstanding faculty in all areas of environmental research here at UD,” Sparks said. “The committee was particularly pleased to be able to recognize researchers in natural science, social science, and the humanities, and we are looking forward to having a stimulating, interdisciplinary discussion at the event.”

Kent Messer, Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair and associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, will present “Maximizing Conservation: The Economic Science of Doing More with Less.”

He will be followed by Holly Michael, Unidel Fraser Russell Chair and assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, who will discuss “Water for a Thirsty Planet: Our Vulnerable Groundwater Resources.”

Adam Rome, Unidel Helen Gouldner Chair and associate professor in the Department of History, will round out the event with “Why Do We Have Environmental Problems? Lessons from History.”

Each talk will be approximately 20-25 minutes long with time allowed for questions from the audience.

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Interdisciplinary study shows honey producers how to market their product

September 11, 2013 under CANR News

DelanyMesserWith honeybees facing a population decline and the number of beginning beekeepers surging, the ability for those beekeepers to properly price and market their product is vital to their success.

To assist the industry, an interdisciplinary team in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has conducted research on consumers’ willingness to pay for honey products originating from different locations.

The team was led by Debbie Delaney, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, and Kent Messer, Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, along with doctoral students Shang Wu and Jacob Fooks.

The study was funded through a grant from the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education (NECRME) and began in December 2012 at the Laboratory of Experimental and Applied Economics in Townsend Hall.

From December through February, the group asked 115 adult participants recruited from the local community questions about their willingness to pay for honey from three specific production origins — local, national, and international.

Once participants provided initial answers, they were given information about honey, such as the benefits of insect pollination and the potential for local honey to ease seasonal allergies and the potential risks of consuming international honey, which in some cases contains no pollen at all or may be not even be from bees, but instead just honey-flavored corn syrup.

“Our results indicate that consumers are willing to pay more for local and U.S. honey, compared to international honey,” Wu said. “With no information given, consumers are willing to pay 20 percent (98 cents) more for a jar of local honey, and 10 percent (48 cents) more for a jar of U.S. honey, compared to a jar of international honey.”

The researchers also found that providing consumers with labeling information about local and international honey changed the consumers’ valuation of the products. When informed by a label about the potential risks involved with consuming international honey, their willingness to pay for local honey increased by 57 percent ($2.78). When provided with information about the pollination benefits of local honey, the valuation for local honey increased by 22 percent ($1.07).

The information about potential allergy benefits, however, did not change the consumers’ willingness to pay.

Importance of local honey

Delaney has helped establish a Honey Producers Working Group, which includes more than 30 honey producers in six different states. The goal of this group is to figure out ways to better market local honey in order to increase consumers’ willingness to pay for their unique product.

“Honey is a very special product,” said Delaney. “First of all, we steal it from very industrious bees. It’s something that’s very varietal and each location is unique.  Honey is artisanal and somewhat like coffee, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s a special product and it can’t just be generic in the supermarket.”

As to concerns about international honey that can be found on the shelves in supermarkets, Delaney said much of it, when studied carefully, has had the pollen removed. “Why has it been removed?” she asked. “Is it because they don’t want us to know that it’s from China, where it’s banned from being imported? Or is it watered down with corn syrup?”

She said there is “definitely an integrity issue with international honey” that goes beyond being diluted. “There is much concern that it’s coming from places where it’s banned and that are known to have contaminants and things like traces of metals.”

Messer echoed these sentiments. “If you go out to the hives at the University of Delaware, you’ll see that honey from bees comes in all different types of flavors and colors,” he said. “That’s because it depends on what plants are blooming that day. But if you go to the grocery store, honey generally looks and tastes the same. To get this consistency, it is not surprising that firms will be tempted to make honey from substances that do not come from bees. Most consumers do not know that, in the United States, there is no legal requirement that something labeled as honey is actually from bees.”

This year, local beekeepers have been facing a serious problem in that the bees are not making as much honey as previous years.

Delaney said that this is primarily due to the unusual amount of rain the area has seen. When there are numerous torrential downpours like the area has experienced this summer, the rain will wash the flowers and hinder the work of the bees as they collect the nectar. In addition, because the bees are stuck inside hives waiting for the weather to improve, they eat a good amount of the stored honey.

“I talked to one beekeeper and he harvested 900 pounds last year and he’s harvesting 100 pounds this year,” Delaney said, adding that the problem is specific to certain regions. She noted that beekeepers in Vermont have said that they are having a great year.

Now that the research team has data in hand, Delaney said she plans to have another Honey Producers Working Group meeting to inform beekeepers about how they can encourage customers to buy from local honey artisans.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley


Messer named Unidel environmental chair

August 19, 2013 under CANR News

Kent Messer - EconomicsThree University of Delaware faculty members have been appointed to new chairs for environmental research through the generous support of the Unidel Foundation. Kent Messer has been named the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment, Holly Michael has been named the Unidel Fraser Russell Chair for the Environment, and Adam Rome has been named the Unidel Helen Gouldner Chair for the Environment.

Interim Provost Nancy Brickhouse announced the positions, all of which are five-year career development chairs, today. The positions are effective Sept. 1.

“I am pleased to announce these well-deserved appointments, which recognize the accomplishments of three outstanding faculty members who are doing valuable work in the field of environmental research,” Brickhouse said. “Kent Messer is making important contributions in the study of land use and sustainable development, Holly Michael has received national attention for her work in coastal groundwater and its significance for understanding and protecting the environment, and Adam Rome has won praise for his research and writing on the history of the environmental movement.”

Brickhouse added that the University is deeply appreciative of the Unidel Foundation for its funding of the chairs, which support “The Initiative for the Planet” milestone in UD’s Path to Prominence strategic plan.

In addition, Brickhouse thanked the committee that reviewed the candidates for the career development chairs. Donald L. Sparks, director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), chaired the group, which also included Dominic DiToro, Edward C. Davis Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; McKay Jenkins, Cornelius A. Tilghman Sr. Professor of English; James Kendra, director of the Disaster Research Center; George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies; and Cathy Wu, Unidel Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.

Kent Messer

Messer’s research interests include environmental conservation with a focus on land use and sustainable development.

He is managing editor of the journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review and co-author of the 2011 textbook Mathematical Programming for Agricultural, Environmental and Resource Economics.

Messer is co-principal investigator on a three-year, $6-million National Science Foundation grant to establish a regional water resources network, as the Delaware Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) partners with similar programs in Rhode Island and Vermont.

Messer, who joined the UD faculty in 2007, is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Economic and Statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with joint appointments in the Department of Economics in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the School of Marine Science and Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

He is director of UD’s Laboratory for Experimental and Applied Economics and an affiliate of the Delaware Environmental Institute.

Messer received his doctorate in resource economics from Cornell University in 2003.

The Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment is a five-year career development chair named in honor of the former chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees.

To read more about the Unidel environmental chairs, check out the full article on UDaily.


Grad students work with distribution center to lower electric bill

December 20, 2012 under CANR News

UD Grad students help D&S lower lighting billUniversity of Delaware graduate students Monali Phukan and Qiang Li worked this semester at a warehouse owned by D&S Warehousing Inc., a full service distribution center in the Newark area, in an effort to solve a logistical problem for the company.

After discussing options with Stephen Dawson, president of D&S, the two decided to look at the lighting system in one of the warehouses with a goal of creating a model to show how the company could lower that building’s monthly electric bill while at the same time increasing luminosity.

The project was part of a class taught by Kent Messer, associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics.

Phukan explained how she and Li, who are both master’s degree students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, went about the project. “First we found out the current layout of the lights. That told us the type of lights used and how they were placed,” said Phukan, explaining that they turned off all the lights in the warehouse to gauge the brightness discrepancies between two different types of lights used there — T12 and T5 fluorescent lights.

“T12 uses 200 watts and T5 uses 216 watts. It might look like T12 is better than T5. However, the brightness experiment told us that T5 is twice as bright as a T12, which meant, we could provide 2.2 footcandles of light — as recommended by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — using fewer T5s,” said Phukan.

Under the current setup, the warehouse’s electric bill is roughly $4,000 a month, about 30 percent of which is used up on lighting. Using the numbers crunched by Phukan and Li, the warehouse’s lighting bill would be reduced to $562 a month, a savings of nearly $800.

The annual savings in one 175,000-square-foot building is $9,600 per year.

In addition to lowering the monthly bill, utilizing the lights in this manner would also improve the lighting in the warehouse, making it easier for workers to see and to operate their equipment.

Dawson said that he had total faith in the numbers presented to him by the students because, unlike someone trying to sell him a product, the only motive the students had was to get a good grade. “The benefit of having UD students come out is it’s totally unbiased,” said Dawson. “There’s no agenda for these students other than doing well in school and understanding what they’re doing.”

He also noted that he was thrilled to see UD students engaged in the Newark community, taking the lessons they learned in the classroom and applying them to real world situations. “I think that this is a model of what should be done at the University. Getting people out into the environment, letting them do something that is real and concrete,” said Dawson. “This is something that’s tangible, that’s actually going to happen. This is not just theory; the work that they did was real work and it’s going to have real value.”

Steve Dawson with the studentsDawson stressed that the project centered on a real business issue that will result in real dollar savings.

While he raved about how the students’ research was going to help his company save on its monthly electric bill, Dawson was quick to point out that the study would have an equal impact in another vital area: employee safety.

“The benefits that aren’t showing up in here is that it’s going to increase safety and it’s going to reduce damage, and those are big concerns in warehousing and distribution,” said Dawson.

This isn’t the first time a student from Messer’s class has taken the knowledge learned in the classroom and applied it to the local community. In 2011, Priyanka Jain, helped the city of Newark optimize its trash collection routes.

Messer said that it is ultimately up to his students to decide what they are going to do with their final project but that he is always thrilled when they go out and help the local community. “In my classes, I encourage my students to extend their academic knowledge to address real world challenges,” he said.  Monali and Charlie’s work is an excellent example of situations that are beneficial for all involved.”

He added, “This example demonstrates the promise of UD and local business working together to both enhance the educational experience and improve the local economy. Not only does the proposed solution save D&S money, but the solution also is environmentally friendly as it will reduce its electricity consumption and help improve worker safety. It has been gratifying to see the excitement of the students be matched by the enthusiasm of D&S.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


UD’s Messer gauges Delaware beachgoers’ reactions to offshore energy

October 8, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware’s Kent Messer leads a research team that is conducting two studies at the Delaware coast to determine how people would react to offshore energy production and how that could impact the state’s economy.

The first study was conducted at Cape Henlopen and Rehoboth Beach and involved students surveying beachgoers to see how open they were to the idea of offshore energy, specifically wind turbines and oil drilling platforms.

“The question was how close these turbines and platforms could come to shore before people would no longer want to visit Rehoboth Beach or Cape Henlopen that day,” said Messer, associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). “Would it negatively impact their experience to the point where they didn’t want to be there anymore?”

Other faculty members involved in the research team include Joshua Duke, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics; George Parsons, professor of economics and in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment; and Janet Johnson, associate professor of political science and international relations in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The students involved in this survey were Walker Jones of Virginia State University, who attended the CANR Summer Institute; Seth Olsen, a CANR sophomore who is also a Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) Scholar; and Jacob Fooks, a UD doctoral level student studying business and economics.

Using a computer simulation, passersby who participated in the survey were given the option to have oil platforms or wind turbines, or both, off the coast of Delaware at various distances.

The idea behind the project was that if participants moved the objects closer to the beach, it would result in lower energy costs, especially with regard to wind turbines that lose efficiency the farther out to sea they are located, but the objects would also have a bigger impact on the coastal view.

Moving the objects away from the beach would result in higher energy costs but beach visitors would have a less obstructed view.

“If you go to the gulf coast of Mexico, you see oil rigs off the coast. We don’t have them in the Atlantic but it could happen,” said Messer. “So we used virtual reality simulations, presenting pictures of the Delaware shore and imagining what these structures would look like at various distances.”

The researchers allowed people to indicate the distance at which structures could be placed offshore before they would no longer want to visit that area, choosing to go elsewhere instead.

Messer said that 500 people participated in one stage or another of the survey, with 148 completing the entire 30-minute survey.

The group’s findings indicated that people would be more open to viewing wind turbines off the coast than oil platforms, and that people were generally very open to the idea of having wind turbines at the beach if it resulted in lower energy costs. In fact, only about 30 percent of participants indicated that the presence of wind turbines would detract from their beach experience, while 60 percent indicated the same for oil platforms.

On average, research participants were willing to have the wind turbines just over 2.5 miles off shore before they would no longer have made their visit to the Delaware beaches.  In comparison, on average, Delaware beach visitation would have been affected by oil platforms if they were approximately 6 miles from shore with a significant portion of the respondents reporting that even at 10 miles from shore they would no longer visit the Delaware beaches.

“An interesting result of this study is that visitors to Delaware’s beaches were comfortable with wind turbines at distances from shore that were significantly shorter than the current permitted area which is 13 miles from shore. Whether due to finding the turbines visually appealing or liking having better fishing closer to shore by the creation of artificial reefs around the turbines, there is a significant percentage of the population that approved of the turbines at a closer than we ever imagined they would.” Messer said.

Wind turbines and hotels

The other study involves Messer, his faculty collaborators and his students trying to gauge how proximity to the UD wind turbine on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes impacts a tourist’s willingness to stay at certain hotels in southern Delaware.

Using the Cape May-Lewes Ferry as their “floating lab,” Messer and his students auctioned off lottery tickets to willing participants in which the participants could win a free stay at one of three Lewes area locations:  UD’s Virden Center, the Hotel Blue and the Beacon Motel.

Messer explained that the three hotels currently sell hotel rooms either with a view of the UD wind turbine or without a view of the turbine. The goal of this study is to measure how willing people might be to pay to see the turbine (or to avoid seeing them) and, because the hotels are at different distances from the turbine, how proximity to the wind turbine impacts tourist behavior. Overall, about 57 percent of people showed no difference or a preference for a room with a view of the turbine. This number was higher for the more luxurious Hotel Blue than for the other two. The difference in bid amount between the rooms with and without the windmill views was about 11 percent for the Virden Center and the Beacon Motel, and 17 percent for Hotel Blue. These results suggest that some visitors are sensitive to viewing wind turbines and would prefer views without them.

National implications

Messer said that both of these impacts have regional and national implications given growing interest in offshore energy, particularly wind.

“It is important to find out the sense of comfort people have with offshore energy production and who those people are,” Messer said, noting that different classes of people would include those on day trips, longtime beachgoers and coastal residents.

The research projects are funded through UD’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Teisha Fooks

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


CANR Summer Institute starts scholars on road to success

August 23, 2012 under CANR News

As the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Summer Institute comes to a close, this year’s participants, Bianca Riddick and Walker Jones, are heading home having completed research projects and gotten a feel for the UD campus.

“I think it’s going to be bittersweet,” said Riddick. “I’m going to miss it when I’m ready to go home. It’s grown on me.”

The 10-week Summer Institute is designed for underrepresented populations of undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing graduate degrees in the agricultural and natural resource sciences. It is intended to provide these students with an opportunity to learn about the varied and exciting opportunities available in graduate education at the college.

Bianca Riddick

Riddick, who will be a junior at Norfolk (Va.) State University as a pre-med student majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, said that her time at the Summer Institute was instructive as she conducted research for the first time on a subject out of her normal area of study: rice.

“I never thought I’d be working with rice,” said Riddick. “I really don’t care too much for rice, but some people depend on rice so it’s good to contribute to the research of this disease.”

The disease in question is known as “rice blast” and Riddick studied the interaction between the rice blast fungus and a bacterium that has the potential to be a bio-control agent for the disease. Specifically, Riddick looked at a handful of fungal genes in rice blast to see how they react — if they turn on or off — to the bacterium in order to get a better idea of how the disease-causing agent is defending itself against the bio-control agent.

The reason behind looking for a bio-control solution to the rice blast problem is that it has the potential to be more cost efficient and environmentally friendly than applying pesticides.

Riddick is studying in the laboratory of Nicole Donofrio, who said that she has been amazed at how quickly Riddick picks things up, especially since this is her first time conducting research.

Donofrio, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, said of Riddick, “she is one of those people who just gets it. A lot of people, when they first start research, and this was the case with me too when I was an undergrad, have a pretty shallow learning curve. I had to make a lot of mistakes and Bianca is a rare student because she retains all of this information we’re throwing at her on the first try.”

Donofrio said that she has been so impressed with Riddick this year that she is going to ask her to come back next summer.

Riddick said that she has really enjoyed her time at the Summer Institute, calling it “a really good experience. It has everything laid out for you, you just have to come here and give your time. And I think that it’s a really good eye-opener.”

She also said that she has enjoyed the UDairy Creamery, with her favorite flavor being Cookies and Cream.

Walker Jones

Like Riddick, Jones also had to conduct research in an area outside of his wheelhouse.

As a senior at Virginia State University, Jones studies agricultural business and economics, but he spent the summer with Kent Messer helping him conduct a study on how beachgoers at Cape Henlopen and Rehoboth Beach would behave if there were offshore energy production providing renewable or lower energy costs but also affecting the aesthetics of the beach.

While conducting a study on the beach may sound like a summer job that is every undergraduate’s dream, Messer explained that Jones’ job was tougher than it sounds.

“This is actually really hard work. Going to the beach sounds really fun until you spend six days standing on the beach being told, ‘No, we will not participate in your study.’ And it’s 95 degrees, and you’re sweating and your relief is that you get to go hang out inside of a tent,” said Messer, associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics.

Messer said that Jones was integral in getting the study conducted, as he conversed directly with state officials from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, getting the permission for the group to set up their tent at Cape Henlopen. Messer credited Jones with securing a “great spot” for the research project and said that it was a huge help to be able to give Jones such a high level of responsibility.

The research project involved having a computer simulation show participants images of wind turbines and oil drilling platforms as options for offshore energy. The participants were able to move the turbines or platforms closer or farther away from the beach, with the idea being that the closer the objects got, especially the wind turbines, the energy costs would be lower but the aesthetics of the beach would be affected.

Jones said that the group found that more people were open to the idea of having wind turbines present and closer to the shore, rather than oil platforms. “The (Gulf of Mexico) oil spill tragedy is still ringing true with some people and they don’t want that to happen again so when they see the picture of an oil platform they’d say, ‘No, I don’t like it,’” said Jones.

Jones said that he has enjoyed his time at UD, especially the fact that there are so many researchers on campus conducting a wide range of research in different departments.

He also said that he “really enjoyed how cooperative things went here, and how easily approachable the administration is around here.”

Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean and the T.A. Baker Professor of Plant and Soil Science, said that the Summer Institute was launched four years ago to “provide outstanding students such as Walker and Bianca with the opportunity to work with faculty mentors and learn more about graduate education in the agricultural and natural resource sciences.”

Sims continued that many of the 16 Summer Institute participants have “since entered graduate or professional schools both at UD and other top graduate programs. I’m sure that Walker’s exposure to the exciting new field of experimental economics and Bianca’s experiences in plant molecular biology have better prepared them for similar opportunities — we wish them well and look forward to continuing to work with similar dedicated students in the future.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley and courtesy Kent Messer

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Joshua Duke Elected President of NAREA

May 25, 2012 under CANR News

Joshua M. Duke, professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, has been elected president for the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA), a group of 250 agricultural and resource economists focused on promoting education and research on economic and social problems related to the environment, natural resource use, agricultural production, and economic development.

Duke has held every major position within the organization, from being an elected member of the executive board, to serving as co-editor with Titus Awokuse, chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics, of the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, the official publication of the NAREA. Duke also served as workshop organizer and on the local arrangements committee for the annual meeting. He received the distinguished member award from the group in 2010, only the third UD recipient after Conrado M. Gempesaw II, former dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, and Steve Hastings, professor and associate chair in the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

Duke said that he is honored to be elected president and is incredibly excited for the opportunity to head such a great organization. “My career benefited tremendously from the collegiality, sharing of research, and networking opportunities afforded by NAREA,” said Duke. “One of my goals as president will be to recruit the next group of leaders to the organization.” He will begin his 3-year term in June and he said that he is most looking forward to organizing the program for the 2013 annual meeting. “It’s a great opportunity to shape an annual meeting by categorizing selected-paper panels and inviting renowned experts to speak,” said Duke.

Awokuse said of Duke being named president, “I’m excited about the election of Joshua Duke as the next president-elect of NAREA.  This is a great honor for Josh and it is a culmination of his many years of faithful service to NAREA in various roles. As a friend and colleague for over a decade, I can attest to Josh’s passion for professional excellence and commitment to a life of service to others.  As leader, he will lead the organization to greater heights.”

Duke will be the 4th faculty member to serve as president for the NAREA from the University of Delaware. Past presidents include Gempesaw, Gerald Cole, emeritus professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, and Hastings.

There are other strong ties between the NAREA and the University of Delaware as well, as Awokuse, John Bernard, Tom Ilvento, professors of food and resource economics, and Kent Messer, associate professor of food and resource economics, are also involved in the organization.

For more information about NAREA, visit their website.


UD students plant trees to sequester carbon in Milford Neck

April 21, 2011 under CANR News

UD students plant trees in carbon sequestration project at Milford NeckUniversity of Delaware Professor Kent Messer and his students went to the state’s Milford Neck region on Saturday, April 16, to start a project that aims to plant more than 55,000 trees over a 60-acre plot of land — work that will result in the sequestration of an estimated 17,500 tons of carbon.

The team planted 5,000 trees in the initial weekend and, in addition to carbon sequestration, Messer said the trees will provide direct benefits for biodiversity and water quality in the region.

Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, jumped at the opportunity to have his students gain valuable hands-on sustainable development experience while also providing a beneficial service to the environment.

“I want my students to not only learn in the classroom, but also to get involved with environmental projects in the local community and region,” he said.

Read more at UDaily >


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.