CANR’s Summer Institute accepting applications for 2014 session

February 18, 2014 under CANR News

CANR summer institute is now accepting applicationsThe University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will offer a 10-week Summer Institute for underrepresented populations of undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing graduate degrees in the agricultural and natural resource sciences.

The Summer Institute will be held on the UD campus in Newark from Monday, June 9, through Friday, Aug. 15.

The program is now accepting applications and the application deadline is April 1. The program is open to students at UD as well as other universities. Enrollment is limited to five undergraduate students and preference is given to students who are completing the junior year of their academic program.

The Summer Institute is intended to provide participating students with an opportunity to learn about the varied and exciting opportunities available in graduate education in the college.

Past Summer Institute scholars conducted research in a variety of topics at CANR, such as studying rice blast disease in rice, heading to coastal communities to poll beachgoers on their opinions about offshore energy production and looking at arsenic in mushrooms and its effect on the human diet.

To read more about past Summer Institute sessions, click here.

Since 2009, 21 students have completed the Summer Institute program.

Maria Pautler, program coordinator, has kept in touch with Summer Institute alumni. “Former participants have found the program quite helpful in discerning their future education options. Several students are now enrolled in graduate programs within the CANR,” said Pautler. “Other students have been accepted into graduate schools in the agricultural and natural resources sciences, such as Ross University Veterinary School, George Washington University and Michigan State University.”

Travel expenses and housing costs provided in University residence halls will be covered. Transportation from residence halls to CANR facilities will be discussed. All students will also receive a stipend to help cover costs of participation.

For more information, contact Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean, at jtsims@udel.edu.

To download an application, click here.

Share

Global symposium held at UD leads to publication of nutrient management papers

August 12, 2013 under CANR News

Nutrient Management symposiumTom Sims, professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, recently served as the guest editor for a special collection of papers for the Journal of Environmental Quality (JEQ) titled “Nutrient Management Challenges and Progress in China.”

The collection is the result of work completed after leading researchers from China attended the Global Issues in Nutrient Management: Science, Technology and Policy symposium hosted by UD in 2011.

The symposium was co-sponsored by UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the University of Pennsylvania, the Delaware Environmental Institute, China Agricultural University, Wageningen University and UD’s Institute for Global Studies.

The goal of the symposium was to foster global discussions on nutrient management-related research and policy issues pertaining to the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population while protecting environmental resources.

“After the conference, a number of scientists from China who attended were quite interested in publishing their findings in a major international journal,” said Sims. “I approached the editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality and asked if he would be interested in a special collection of papers that could be published as a group and focus on the topics that were covered at this conference, specifically about the agri-environmental situation in China.”

The special collection for the JEQ featured six papers in all, two co-authored by Sims and the rest authored by scholars from China and Europe who attended the symposium.

The papers included:

  • “Advances and Challenges for Nutrient Management in China in the 21st Century” by J.T. Sims, L. Ma, O. Oenema, Z. Dou and F.S. Zhang;
  • “An Analysis of Developments and Challenges in Nutrient Management in China” by L. Ma, W.F. Zhang, W.Q. Ma, G.L. Velthof, O. Oenema and F. S. Zhang;
  • “The Driving Forces for Nitrogen and Phosphorus Flows in the Food Chain of China, 1980 to 2010” by Y. Hou, L. Ma, Z.L. Gao, F.H. Wang, J.T. Sims, W.Q. Ma and F.S. Zhang;
  • “An Analysis of China’s Fertilizer Policies: Impacts on the Industry, Food Security, and the Environment” by Yuxuan Li, Weifeng Zhang, Lin Ma, Gaoqiang Huang, Oene Oenema, Fusuo Zhang and Zhengxia Dou;
  • “Phosphorus in China’s Intensive Vegetable Production Systems: Overfertilization, Soil Enrichment, and Environmental Implications” by Zhengjuan Yan, Pengpeng Liu, Yuhong Li, Lin Ma, Ashok Alva, Zhengxia Dou, Qing Chen and Fusuo Zhang; and
  • “Nitrogen and Phosphorus Use Efficiencies in Dairy Production in China” by Z.H. Bai, L. Ma, O. Oenema, Q. Chen and F.S. Zhang.

The papers represent the latest in an ongoing collaboration between CANR and China Agricultural University (CAU) that dates back to 2008, when Sims was invited to make a keynote presentation at the Second International Nutrient Management Workshop, held in Shijiazhuang, China.

At that time, Sims said, “At CANR, our nutrient management efforts have been recognized globally. By using our years of research and extension experience on nutrient management in Delaware, we hope to put China’s researchers in a better position to solve their agri-environmental problems.”

Since then, the relationship between CANR and CAU has grown.

In 2009, CANR signed a general agreement with CAU and also formalized, in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, a memorandum of understanding with the CAU College of Resources and Environmental Sciences (CRES).

This memorandum outlined a range of joint research and academic activities between UD, UPenn and CAU.  It led to the initiation of a variety of collaborative activities and supported multiple trips to CAU by CANR faculty.

CANR also hosted a CAU delegation, sponsored a symposium by leading CAU scientists at the 2009 international meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America, and hosted four young CAU scientists — one for 18 months — to discuss and design joint research projects.

A “3+2” master of science degree program between CANR and CRES has been discussed that would allow CAU students to complete their undergraduate degree in three years at CAU then enter a two-year master of science degree program at UD, receiving two degrees in a five-year period.

Article by Adam Thomas

Share

Unified campus food drive to benefit Food Bank of Delaware

September 19, 2012 under CANR News

According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 22 percent of Delawareans struggle to put food on the table. Only two states have higher percentages of residents who do not have enough money for food.

The Food Bank of Delaware distributed 6.2 million pounds of food last year, providing help to one out of every four residents in the First State.

Many partners helped provide the food distributed by the Food Bank. For example, the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community — a cooperative partnership between UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), CANR Ag College Council, Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and the Food Bank of Delaware — donated 16,484 pounds of fresh, locally grown vegetables in 2012.

While these recent efforts by UD and the Food Bank of Delaware have gone a long way to help those in need, there is still more that can be done.

With this in mind, a new program called Blue Hens CAN has been established, to help the entire UD community join forces to meet the needs of Delawareans straining to afford food.

“Over the years, various UD groups and organizations have successfully organized collections of food throughout the year,” says Susan Hall, deputy dean of the College of Health Sciences (CHS). “Our hope is that this unified, campuswide effort will synthesize all of these individual campaigns and ultimately result in a much larger donation for the Food Bank.”

“Blue Hens CAN is our service mission in action,” says UD President Patrick Harker. “I know this active, engaged campus community — a community that lives the principle of service every day — can come together to help end hunger in Delaware. I’m thrilled that we’re partnering with the Food Bank of Delaware — such a vital organization to so many families — and I’m excited to see the outcome of our efforts.”

“The support we have received from the University of Delaware community has been outstanding,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are looking forward to a coordinated food drive amongst all members of the University in order to collect more food for Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. We hope the excitement surrounding Blue Hens CAN will bring in not only food, but enthusiasm for helping to alleviate hunger in the First State.”

The program, a joint venture between CHS, CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware, is scheduled for the week of Nov. 12-16.

“The plan is that — thanks to the help of UD Parking and Transportation Services — each day of the week, we will have a UD bus parked at a different campus location for an advertised period of several hours,” explains CANR deputy dean Tom Sims. “Student volunteers, led by clubs in CANR and CHS, will be on hand to accept and record donations from various groups and help load them into the vehicle.”

The bus will be parked on north, east, west, south and central campuses for one day each during the week, with the exact bus locations to be determined at a later date.

Prizes will be awarded for participation, and the hope is that Blue Hens CAN will become an annual event, similar to the UD campus blood drive, where groups throughout the university join together to benefit a single cause.

“There is so much need, even in our small state,” says Sims, “and this is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to make a difference.”

Article by Diane Kukich and Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

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.

Share

Food Bank of Delaware, UD to celebrate harvest with Evening in the Garden

July 12, 2012 under CANR News

The 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 the fourth annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, Aug. 9, 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. The Food Bank of Delaware’s culinary team will serve roasted vegetable salad, Asian coleslaw, potato and goat cheese salad, Caesar salad with shrimp, salmon with tomatillo sauce, chicken chimichurri with onion rings and assorted desserts. The UDairy Creamery will also serve ice cream.

“We’re proud of our collaboration with the University of Delaware,” said Patricia Beebe, Food Bank of Delaware president and CEO. “Last year’s event sold out with more than 200 attendees. Guests toured the garden, tasted local wines and beers and enjoyed a garden-fresh menu. We hope to sell out again this year. One-hundred percent of proceeds from this event help us to provide emergency food to Delawareans who are struggling to put meals on the table.”

“The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is very happy to continue our wonderful partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean. “The Garden for the Community has been a rewarding experience for our students, faculty, and many in the local community who help produce literally tons of fresh vegetables for the Food Bank each year. In 2012, we’ll expand our partnership University-wide as we work with the College of Health Sciences to lead the first unified food drive for UD this fall, collecting food for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Tickets for the Evening in the Garden 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. 2.

To purchase tickets, contact Kim Kostes at 302-444-8074 or via email at kkostes@fbd.org.

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

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

University reaches articulation agreement with Longwood Gardens

January 13, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware and Longwood Gardens have reached a five-year articulation agreement that will allow students who graduate from Longwood’s Professional Gardener Program to complete their bachelor of science degrees in the agriculture and natural resources major in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

The Professional Gardener Program at Longwood Gardens is a two-year, tuition-free program offered every year to approximately eight individuals who have obtained at least a high school diploma and have one year of horticulture experience. The program trains students to be gardeners skilled in the art and science of horticulture. Students work in all areas of the garden and receive classroom instruction from Longwood staff and outside instructors, some of whom are professors at UD.

Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, was heavily involved in the process for the University and said she is excited for the benefits that the program offers for both the University and Longwood Gardens.

Concerning the benefits for UD, Yackoski said she is excited to have students from the Professional Gardener Program attending the University and bringing their real-world experiences to the classroom. “For the students who choose to continue at UD, I’m confident they will make a positive impact on other UD students by sharing their horticulture knowledge and the experiences they had during their time at Longwood.  It’s a win win for everyone involved.”

Doug Needham, the head of the education department at Longwood Gardens, Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, and UD Provost Tom Apple signed the agreement by the beginning of December, 2011, which delighted Yackoski. “Our goal was for the articulation to be approved by the end of 2011 and we were thrilled when that goal was accomplished.”

Working with Yackoski on getting the agreement finalized were individuals from UD and Longwood Gardens. They included Tom Sims, deputy dean of CANR and the T.A. Baker Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences; Bob Lyons, professor in UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; and Needham and Brian Trader, Longwood’s coordinator of domestic and international studies.

Lyons said he is “very excited about this new articulation agreement because it adds an undergraduate dimension to the already strong graduate program relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware.  It also recognizes a high standard of rigor by Longwood’s course work instructors who are committed to excellence in the classroom.”

Said Needham of the agreement, “Education is deeply embedded in our mission at Longwood Gardens, and we are passionate about providing our students with a rigorous academic experience, coupled with experiential learning through rotational work internships in the gardens.”

Because of this, Needham said, “It is critical to us that our students have the option to continue their education toward a baccalaureate degree, and we are very pleased to further our ongoing educational partnership with the University of Delaware through this articulation agreement. Graduates of our two-year Professional Gardener Program now will be able to transfer their coursework and complete a B.S. in agriculture and natural resources at UD.”

Trader, who is also an adjunct faculty member at UD, said that his role in the agreement was to meet with faculty from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and familiarize them with the classes being taught in the Professional Gardener Program to make sure the courses were of the same caliber as the courses being taught at UD.

Of the Professional Gardener Program, Trader said that it is “really a program that allows students to couple academic learning in the classroom with an immersive hands-on applicable experience in the gardens.”

Longwood currently has an articulation program with Temple University, and Trader said that about a dozen students from the Professional Gardener Program have received their degrees from Temple or are currently taking advantage of the opportunity. He said that after the success with the Temple articulation program, it only made sense to try to form one with UD.

“Longwood already has a strong association with UD because of the Longwood graduate program and because most of the Ph.D. staff here at Longwood are adjunct faculty at UD,” said Trader. “Some of the students in the program come from Delaware and the opportunity CANR provides is very attractive to our students.”

Trader also sees the benefits for both sides, saying that for Longwood, “It shows the caliber or the strength of the academics that we’re delivering here. It will allow us to recruit better and it could potentially increase some of the diversity and enrollment in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, not necessarily in number but in background and experience.”

Now that the agreement has been finalized, Yackoski said that she looks forward to seeing the relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware grow even stronger. “We’ve had a relationship with Longwood for quite some time, but this has made it even stronger. They have a lot of the same goals that we have, which includes helping students grow and be the best they can be.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Evan Krape

This article was originally published on UDaily

Share

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences cultivates next leaders

November 28, 2011 under CANR News

University of Delaware-trained plant and soil scientists continue to build on the institution’s stellar reputation, with six winning recent national honors.

One graduate student and five graduate alumni of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) were presented awards by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) at the national meetings of the societies in San Antonio, Texas.

Honorees are alumni Josh McGrath, Chad Penn and Amy Shober, who were advised by Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean and T.A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry; Daniel Strawn and Kirk Scheckel, who were advised by Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry and director of the Delaware Environmental Institute; and Sudarshan Dutta, who recently completed his doctorate under the direction of Shreeram Inamdar, associate professor of plant and soil sciences.

Josh McGrath, a distinguished young CANR alumnus who earned his doctorate degree in plant and soil sciences in 2004, received the SSSA S6 Young Scholar Award, which recognizes young scientists who have made an outstanding contribution in Soil and Water Management and Conservation within seven years of completing their Ph.D.

McGrath is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, and his research interests include nutrient management and environmental sustainability. McGrath leads an active research and extension program aimed at providing science-based, reliable and cutting-edge information in the arena of agricultural nutrient management, nutrient use efficiency, non-point source nutrient pollution and water quality protection.

In just a few short years, McGrath’s work has become widely recognized for its impact on sustaining agricultural productivity and improving environmental quality in the mid-Atlantic region.

Chad Penn, who earned his master’s degree in 2001, received the SSSA S-11 Young Investigator Award, which recognizes worthy professionals who have made an outstanding contribution in soils and environmental quality research within seven years of completing their terminal degree. The award comes with a certificate of recognition and $500.

Penn has worked at Oklahoma State University since 2005 as an assistant professor of soil and environmental chemistry. His current research is focused on water quality, the re-use of industrial by-products in agriculture and for environmental protection, nutrient and animal waste management, transport of phosphorus to surface waters, and thermodynamics of sorption and other soil chemical processes via isothermal titration calorimetry.

Amy Shober, who received her doctorate in plant and soil sciences from UD in 2006, won the ASA Environmental Quality Section Inspiring Young Scientist Award, which is awarded to professionals who have made an outstanding contribution toward sustaining agriculture through environmental quality research, teaching, extension or industry activity within seven years of completing their terminal degree.

Shober works as an assistant professor of landscape soil and nutrient management in the Soil and Water Science Department at the University of Florida. Her research and Cooperative Extension appointments focus on nutrient management in Florida’s urban landscapes.

Daniel Strawn, who received his doctorate from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in 1999, received the Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Soil Science Award. Strawn is a professor of soil chemistry at the University of Idaho and his program focuses on research and teaching of soil chemistry and mineralogy with a special emphasis on the discovery of chemical and mineral speciation in soils. He is an associate editor for the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Strawn joins a long list of UD plant and soil sciences graduates who have received the Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson award. Sparks was the first recipient of the award in 1991 and since then five graduates of the department have received the distinguished award.

Kirk Scheckel, who received his doctorate from UD in 2000 and won the Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson award in 2010, was named a fellow of the ASA and SSSA.

Scheckel is a research soil scientist in the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He is an adjunct faculty member at Ohio State University and his research focuses on element speciation in soils, sediments and water to elucidate reaction mechanisms that influence fate in the natural environment. He served as associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Quality and as chair of S-11, a division of SSSA. He is active in SSSA, ASA and the American Chemical Society.

Sudarshan Dutta, who recently completed his doctorate in the department, was awarded the SSSA S-11 Soil and Environmental Quality Graduate Student Award.

Dutta received a certificate and $500 for his achievement, and impressed the award committee with his research record and the contributions he has made in the area of soil and environmental quality.

Sparks said of the awards and what they mean to the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, “They’re just a testament to the quality of our graduate studies programs and the training the students get. It also indicates the reputation the University’s programs have built — people recognize that those who come out of these programs are really first rate. Over the years we’ve developed a strong program in soil science that is recognized nationally and internationally.”

Part of this strength, according to Sparks, is derived from the ability to attract outstanding students to the graduate program. “You attract good students and then you give them a fair amount of freedom,” he said. “It is a combination of having bright students working on significant research problems, and giving them the flexibility and the freedom to pursue knowledge.”

Sparks also pointed out the outstanding equipment, facilities, grant support and faculty members who have been “good role models and mentors for these students.”

Sims said of the awards, “We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the graduates of our soil science program. It’s rewarding to see so many of our former graduate students become very successful faculty at top-ranked universities and to have their successes recognized by these prestigious awards. Their research and extension programs are cutting-edge and address some of the most important areas we face today as we to ensure a safe and secure food supply for more than 7 billion people worldwide and protect our environment for future generations.”

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily > >

Share

Deb Jaisi joins the CANR faculty

June 8, 2011 under CANR News

Deb Jaisi, assistant professor of environmental biogeochemistry, has joined the faculty at the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Jaisi said that he decided to come to the University of Delaware because he was looking for a university that was well established but also tries to promote new ideas with new faculty where it feels like a fresh start. His particular area of research expertise also meshed well with what is currently going on in the state of Delaware and the surrounding area.

“My research is primarily in phosphorous geochemistry, and when I talked to Dr. Sparks during my interview I realized, ‘phosphorous is such a big issue here in DE’ with regards to the agricultural farms, Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.”

Jaisi also said that, “Sometimes a job interview becomes an important experience that invigorates your idea and instills more scientific curiosity on what you have done or are doing. That makes this particular job even more exciting. My science, which is isotope geochemistry, can really help to explore more and identify how and why the phosphorous has been released to the surface water and ground water. With that being said, the ‘applied’ aspect of my research aims to find out the culprit of phosphorus release in these areas.”

Another big reason that influenced Jaisi’s decision to come to UD was the fact that he wanted to collaborate with renowned professors, such as Donald Sparks, S. Hallock DuPont Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Tom Sims, deputy dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the T.A. Baker Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, and potentially with other professors in the area of plant-soil interactions. Said Jaisi, “To be at a college with Dr. Sparks, whose legacy I highly respect, is a rather great opportunity.”

Jaisi also said that Delaware is a great place to raise kids, “it’s very close to big cities, but it’s not suffocating like staying in big cities. It’s a very, very nice place.”

After growing up in Nepal and earning his undergraduate degree in geology from Tribhuvan University, Jaisi went on to Thailand where he received his Master’s degree in engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology, before traveling to Miami University in Ohio to receive his Ph.D. Jaisi also conducted his post-graduate work at Yale University.

Jaisi did not teach a course last semester and explained that his appointment is mostly for research. He does, however, plan to teach one course each year on his own and co-teach another course with a fellow faculty member.

As for the research side, Jaisi has plans to establish a stable isotopes laboratory, which he describes as a “very intensive process” that he expects will take up to about a year to complete, with the laboratory hopefully being set up by the end of 2011.

Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Danielle Quigley

Share

CANR Summer Institute starts scholars on road to grad school

June 6, 2011 under CANR News

Only in its third year, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Summer Institute at the University of Delaware is achieving its goal by seeing a large number of participants attend graduate school.

The 10-week long summer program, which is geared at underrepresented populations of undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing graduate degrees in the agriculture and natural resource sciences, will see some of its past participants graduate and head off to graduate school this fall.

Maria Pautler, CANR Summer Institute program coordinator, said she is encouraged by the success rate of the program. Of the 11 student participants since the inaugural year of 2009, five have been accepted into graduate programs. She said she looks forward to assisting the five students selected for the 2011 CANR Summer Institute, which runs June 6-Aug. 12, to ensure they have a great experience as they “get to know the ropes” of going to graduate school.

Kishana Williamson, a senior animal science and wildlife conservation double major, participated in the program in 2009 and will be headed to graduate school to get her master’s degree in public health microbiology and emerging infectious disease at George Washington University.

Williamson said that the CANR Summer Institute helped prepare her for graduate school by giving her experience in hands-on research. “Having research experience in general, regardless of what it is, is always helpful because then people know that you’ve done a project and contributed.”

During her time at the CANR Summer Institute, Williamson was paired with Jacob Bowman, associate professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, and she worked with Bowman’s graduate students doing bird surveys to determine species diversity and tracking deer to determine migration patterns.

She said of the CANR Summer Institute, “I think it’s a really great experience, just the ability to get your hands dirty in a research laboratory. I think research in general is great but if you don’t have time during the school year, the summer is a perfect time to do it. They pay you, you get somewhere to stay and you learn a lot — it’s a really good opportunity.”

Another student headed to graduate school after participating in the program is Shurnevia Strickland, a senior in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. Strickland attended the CANR Summer Institute in 2010 and will be attending graduate school at the University of Delaware where she will study genetics and take classes such as biochemistry and bioinformatics.

She called the CANR Summer Institute a very positive experience that helped her decide that she wanted to go on to graduate school. “The CANR Summer Institute showed me what it would be like working in a lab, similar to what I’d be doing in graduate school. From there, I knew that if I wanted a successful, long-lasting career in genetics, I’d need to get a master’s degree.”

Strickland recommends the CANR Summer Institute to those who are unsure of their plans after graduation, especially those who have not had experience with hands-on research. “Research is one of those things that you’ll either love or hate, and it’ll help narrow down not only the type of work, but the subject you want to work in as well.”

She also said, “The earlier you participate in a program like this, the better. The Summer Institute is really a hidden gem within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.”

Kristopher Dewberry, a pre-veterinary medicine and biosciences major with minors in biology and wildlife conservation, attended the summer program in 2009 and said that he researched the Marek’s disease virus. His favorite part of the program was “the opportunity to work for a professor directly and on a real research project. I learned a magnitude of research techniques that assisted me in future research endeavors as well as a better understanding of the real scientific community and what research has to offer.”

Echoing Strickland’s thoughts, Dewberry said that he would recommend the program to anybody who has an interest in research but hasn’t had the opportunity to have hands on experience. “The CANR Summer Institute gives its participants an excellent insight into doing research on a graduate school level, as well as the opportunity to interact with faculty on a professional level. I know these experiences helped me mature and have an idea on what graduate and professional schools were looking for in candidates.”

Dewberry will be attending Cornell University in the fall as a first year doctor of veterinary medicine candidate.

Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean, said the college “is thrilled by the successes of our former CANR Summer Institute scholars and wishes them all the best in their graduate education programs. We also greatly appreciate the wonderful mentoring provided to the Summer Institute scholars by our faculty.”

Sims added that CANR “is appreciative of the initial grant funding provided by the UD Office of Graduate and Professional Education. Their help allowed us to begin what is now a permanent CANR program that is now successfully supporting the efforts of students from underrepresented populations to pursue graduate and professional degrees.”

For more information on the CANR Summer Institute, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

The original posting of this article can be viewed on UDaily

Share

CANR fights stormwater runoff to help White Clay Creek

May 17, 2011 under CANR News

After the storm has passed, the damage isn’t done. In fact, for White Clay Creek, the destruction is just beginning.

Much of the University of Delaware’s campus, including the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) farm, drains into Cool Run, a tributary of White Clay Creek. Because the creek has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, a designation spearhead by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., a UD alumnus, the University now has the distinction of being one of only two universities in the country to have a National Wild and Scenic River run through its campus. Because of this, there is an urgency to quell the impact of stormwater runoff into the creek.

Stormwater runoff, unfiltered water that reaches bodies of water by flowing across impervious surfaces, enters White Clay Creek through multiple sources throughout the city of Newark and the UD campus. Because of this, CANR has teamed with partners from across the University and the city to see what can be done to help reduce the University’s contribution to the problem, activity that has led to the formation of the University of Delaware Watershed Action Team for Ecological Restoration (UD WATER).

UD WATER is led by Tom Sims, deputy dean of the college and the T.A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry, and Gerald Kauffman, state water coordinator and director of the Water Resources Agency, a unit of the Institute for Public Administration. It includes faculty members from the University as well as members from the city and the Delaware Geological Survey and UD student interns.

In addition to many other projects undertaken on the CANR farm to stop stormwater pollutants from reaching White Clay Creek, the UD WATER team decided another step to curb stormwater runoff was to create a biological filtration system on the CANR campus.

Read more at UDaily > >

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

Share