UD grad student sets up collaborative research with Brazil’s UFLA

May 2, 2013 under CANR News

During spring break, University of Delaware graduate student Allison Rogers spent a week at Brazil’s University Federal de Lavras (UFLA) to secure future collaborations for research on broiler chickens and to assist Carl Schmidt, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, in his research on the global genomic diversity of chickens.

A self-professed “bird lady” who was named a Plastino Scholar in 2011 and traveled the country discussing the importation and smuggling of parrots into the United States, Rogers was able to set up a collaboration with researchers at UFLA that will see her return to the University in June. Her research deals with studying “the effect of alternative lighting technologies such as LED and cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) light bulbs on the growth and performance of broiler chickens.”

Allison Rogers traveled to Brazil's UFLA campusRogers, a master’s degree student studying animal science in the laboratory group of Eric Benson, associate professor of animal and food sciences, and Robert Alphin, instructor in the department and manager of the Allen Laboratory, explained that incandescent light bulbs traditionally have been used in chicken houses but now growers are moving toward higher efficiency light bulbs and they want to be able to determine whether or not these new lighting technologies have any effect on the growth of their birds, which would impact them economically.

“Our interest in Brazil, particularly in the region that we’re visiting, is that they’re able to raise their birds in completely open houses,” said Rogers, explaining that the chickens are “enclosed within a house but they have enormous windows that are completely open — they have natural ventilation and natural lighting. That is so different from what we have, which is completely enclosed, artificial ventilation and artificial lighting. I’ll be collecting blood samples upon my return, to compare relative stress levels between birds raised under natural light versus birds raised under artificial light.”

Schmidt added that when Rogers goes back in June, her collaborators at UFLA will have “set up a flock for her. They will grow the chickens for five weeks and in June she will begin sampling the birds to evaluate in a fairly straightforward way their immune function and stress levels, and to be able to compare that with the data she’s collected on her own flocks here in Delaware.”

As for this most recent trip, Rogers was assisting Schmidt with his research, helping to collect genetic samples from backyard chickens that will help aid his studies on the genomics of the common chicken and how they respond to different environments — such as very hot and high altitude environments — with the hope that the genetic information will allow livestock breeders in the United States to improve their flocks.

“We took samples using a piece of paper that has been treated so that you can take one drop of blood from an animal and put it on this piece of paper and it will stabilize the sample and destroy any  viruses or bacteria. It allows you to keep that stabilized sample and then analyze it later on,” Rogers explained.

As one who is enthralled with exotic species of birds, Rogers said that just because she was studying chickens in Brazil didn’t mean that she was not able to see exotic species — sometimes getting to do so without even leaving the UFLA campus. “I got made fun of by Dr. Schmidt because at one point we were on the campus and a toucan flew over head and I was just like, ‘Toucan!’” said Rogers. “It was so exciting to see these species that you would never see in the United States and the people in Brazil are just as excited about them as we are, which is really wonderful. They say they’re really proud that the university has kept enough foliage and enough resources for these birds to still be able to live in this quasi-urban setting. That was really important to them.”

Rogers added that she saw similarities between UFLA and UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, making for a seamless collaborative environment. “UFLA is an agriculturally and historically based university and so we felt very at home when we arrived. There are very strong programs there for horses as well as cattle and so we really just kind of felt at home. Everyone was very welcoming. The students that helped us were just wonderful and so caring.”

About the partnership between UD and UFLA

In 2011, CANR and the College of Arts and Sciences received a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and International Science and Education program (USDA-NIFA-ISE) to continue on a three-year partnership with UFLA.

The hope of this partnership is to establish both long-standing academic programs and research partnerships, with both institutions helping each other in those areas in which their research overlaps.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UFLA’s Sugano speaks to UD community about Brazilian agriculture

March 19, 2012 under CANR News

Continuing a strong partnership with the University Federal de Lavras (UFLA) in Brazil, the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Department of Food and Resource Economics hosted a special guest speaker last week.

Joel Sugano, a UFLA professor, gave a talk in Townsend Hall on Thursday, March 15, focusing on “Developing Business in Brazil through Innovation: The Case of Brazilian Business Platform in Ethanol, Coffee and Seed Industries.”

Sugano discussed problems that face global agriculture as population and affluence increases. As affluence rises, Sugano noted that there will be more people looking to buy more products and he asked the question, “Can you say to consumers, ‘You cannot consume?’ To tell someone, ‘You cannot buy a new car,’ that’s impossible.”

Sugano said that a rising world population has increased the need for food and renewable energies, and countries are being faced with a tough decision regarding whether to use their land for fuel or for food.

Sugano noted that in 2000, 1 percent of the world’s grain consumption was used for biofuels, as opposed to 2010 when that number jumped up to 6 percent.

He used Brazil as an example of this, noting that land that was once allocated for growing food has now been used to grow sugar cane in order to meet the world’s growing ethanol demands.

Sugano also noted that Brazil will play a key role in the global food crisis, as the nation is among the leading global exporters of goods such as coffee, orange juice, poultry and sugar cane.

Although there could be cause for alarm due to the potential gap in the world’s growing population and scarcer and more expensive food products, Sugano said that there is reason to be optimistic. He said that the world’s food crisis presents great challenges but also great opportunities for new innovations in agricultural business, which could help mitigate higher global food demand.

Time at UD

This is the second time that Sugano has visited UD. His first visit came in fall 2010 and he said he has fond memories from his time at UD.

Sugano also said he believes the partnership between UD and UFLA “is a door that will open to new possibilities to research, business, the exchange of knowledge and the exchange of ideas.”

Continuing, Sugano said, “the most important research is knowledge and the knowledge can come from any part of the world. If we build such a platform that we can exchange knowledge through this kind of collaboration between universities, we can create the platform to exchange ideas. That is more important than goods and so forth. Without this collaboration, I never would have been able to meet Titus (Awokuse) or other faculty here to exchange ideas and to show what we are doing and then to see what is going on here.”

Sugano said the experience for UD students to study at UFLA and vice versa is one that will benefit both universities, as well. “The important thing about study abroad is that it’s not only about knowledge but it’s about the experience itself. This kind of experience will last for their entire life.”

As the need to come up with solutions on a global basis increases, so too does the importance of studying abroad, according to Sugano. “The effects of one change in one thing will be sensed in another totally different area of the world because of the relationship that has been created through the Internet and through communication.”

To solve global problems, Sugano said, “we need expertise and knowledge and this will be done and exchanged through several different points of view. Not only in one country, but in another country that has another perspective, I think that will be the next way to solve problems.”

While at UD, Sugano also gave guest lectures in two undergraduate classes and visited with other faculty and state officials. He met with David Weir, director of UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships; Matt Robinson, director of UD’s Institute for Global Studies; and David Mathe, deputy director of international trade and development for the state of Delaware.

About the partnership between UD and UFLA

In 2011, CANR and the College of Arts and Sciences received a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and International Science and Education program (USDA-NIFA-ISE) to continue on a three-year partnership with UFLA.

The hope of this partnership is to establish both long-standing academic programs and research partnerships, with both institutions helping each other in those areas in which their research overlaps.

Ranked fourth overall among universities in Brazil in a recent poll, UFLA is equipped with state of the art facilities, 160 laboratories and two experimental farms.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Christy Mannering

This article can also be viewed on UDaily

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