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Jared Decker Part of Ag Innovation Panel Discussion

Jared Decker, associate professor in the Division of Animal Sciences and Wurdack Chair in Animal Genetics, recently participated in an Ag Innovation Forum hosted by The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. The event, which was held virtually this year, is in its fifth year. The forum showcased innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

Decker was part of an academic panel titled, “Promising Projects in the Pipeline.”

Learn more about The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City by clicking here.

Students Earn Honors During Animal Sciences Graduate Forum

The Division of Animal Sciences held its Animal Sciences Graduate Forum virtually in January. There were a total of 20 oral presentations and 19 poster presentations, as nearly all Animal Sciences graduate students participated. Along with numerous presentations, the division recognized 2020 MS and PhD graduates.

Below are the winners for each category.

MS Oral Presentation
First: Amanda Schmelzle
Second: Maddie Spooner
Third: Destiny Johns
Honorable Mention: Alana Rodney

PhD Oral Presentation
First: Sara Nilson
Second: Paula Chen and Jason Rizo
Third: Colby Redifer

MS Poster Presentation
First: Kelsey Clark
Second: Emily Smith
Third: Carson Anderson
Honorable mention: Ben Nelson

PhD Poster Presentation
First: Katy Stoecklein
Second: Jessica Foster
Third: Emily Petzel

Gassmann Named Director of the Bond Life Sciences Center

Walter Gassmann, professor in the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Division of Plant Sciences, was recently named the director of the Bond Life Sciences Center (LSC).

Gassmann has served as the interim director at Bond LSC since July 2017. He is a member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG), one of CAFNR’s Programs of Distinction. Gassmann joined the University of Missouri in 2000 as an assistant professor in the Division of Plant Sciences. He became an associate professor in 2006 and a professor in 2013.

Gassman’s research is aimed at understanding the function of an important class of plant genes. He and his colleagues are focusing on the Arabidopsis RPS4 gene specifying resistance to Pseudomonas syringae expressing the cognate avirulence gene avrRps4.

Gassmann received the Frederick B. Mumford Award for Outstanding Faculty during CAFNR’s 2020 virtual Celebration of Excellence awards celebration.

“Dr. Gassmann has been an active scientist at the center since its inception, and his collaborative research focuses on the inner workings of the plant immune system, in particular, how it is activated and kept in check to prevent harmful side effects from overactivity,” said Tom Spencer, interim vice chancellor for research and economic development, in a release announcing Gassmann’s new role. “His lab will continue its work as he officially moves into the permanent director role.”

Click here to read the official announcement from Spencer.

Cheryl Recker Receives CAFNR Above & Beyond Award

Cheryl Recker, senior research and lab technician at Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center, was the January 2021 recipient of the Above and Beyond Award from CAFNR Staff Advisory Council. This award recognizes staff who have gone the extra mile in their jobs. She was nominated by Sarah Lovell, associate professor, School of Natural Resources.

Roberts, Spencer Named Society for the Study of Reproduction Distinguished Fellows

Two University of Missouri faculty were among 15 individuals recently named Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) Distinguished Fellows. R. Michael Roberts, Chancellor’s Professor with appointments in animal sciences and biochemistry, and Thomas Spencer, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences, were both honored. This is the inaugural year of the program.

From the SSR press release about the Distinguished Fellowship honor: The SSR Distinguished Fellowship is one of the highest professional scientific honors awarded for outstanding contributions to the scientific discipline of reproductive biology. The SSR Distinguished Fellowship recognizes the impact of active SSR members and their outstanding contributions to the field of reproductive biology and to SSR. Fewer than two percent of the entire SSR membership have earned the distinction of Distinguished Fellow.

CAFNR Graduate Students Receive Foundation for Soy Innovation Scholarships

Two University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) graduate students recently received 2020 Foundation for Soy Innovation scholarships: Caio Canella Vieira and Haylee Schreier. Both students are working toward degrees in plant, insect and microbial sciences.

The Foundation for Soy Innovation offers an annual scholarship program to empower individuals working to further the soybean industry. To read more about the honor, as well as learn more about Canella Vieira and Schreier, visit the Missouri Soybean website.

Jared Decker Awarded Wurdack Chair in Animal Genetics

Jared Decker, associate professor in the Division of Animal Sciences, has been awarded the Wurdack Chair in Animal Genetics. The appointment is effective Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. The appointment will allow Decker to focus on leading the livestock genetics research program in animal sciences at MU.

Decker received his bachelor’s degree in animal science from New Mexico State University before earning his PhD in genetics from the University of Missouri in 2012. After earning his PhD, Decker served as a USDA-NIFA postdoctoral fellow at MU for a year before joining the faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of Animal Sciences. In 2018, Decker was promoted to the rank of associate professor.

Through his Extension efforts, Decker has strongly influenced the Missouri beef industry to increase usage of genomically enhanced expected progeny differences (EPDs). His blog, A Steak in GenomicsTM, is followed around the world. Decker has made broad contributions in research, ranging from improving our understanding of the evolution of cattle, to developing EPDs that assist producers in identifying cattle with superior environmental adaptability.

Decker has been awarded more than $5 million in grants during his career and has received numerous awards, including the Early Investigator Research Award honor during the 2020 CAFNR Celebration of Excellence virtual awards celebration. Decker has published more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and has been invited to give numerous professional presentations and seminars. He is a member of the American Society of Animal Science.

Hugo and Evelyn Wurdack established the Wurdack Natural Resources Research Fund through an estate gift received in 1998. This fund supports the Wurdack Chairs in Animal Genetics and Biochemical Sciences as well as the Wurdack Scholarship for CAFNR students.

CAFNR Office of Research Recognizes Drivers of Distinction

The CAFNR Office of Research recently recognized 10 faculty members as Drivers of Distinction. The honor was given to the faculty members, listed below, who had the highest total shared credit research expenditures over the past 10 years (2011-20).

  • David Diamond – director, Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (School of Natural Resources)
  • Felix Fritschi – C. Alice Donaldson Professor in Bioenergy Crop Physiology and Genetics (Division of Plant Sciences)
  • Shibu Jose – associate dean, CAFNR Office of Research; professor (School of Natural Resources)
  • Henry Nguyen – professor (Division of Plant Sciences)
  • Craig Paukert – cooperative professor (School of Natural Resources)
  • Randy Prather – Curators’ Distinguished Professor (Division of Animal Sciences)
  • Gary Stacey – Curators’ Distinguished Professor (Division of Plant Sciences and Department of Biochemistry)
  • Gary Weisman – Curators’ Distinguished Professor (Department of Biochemistry)
  • Kevin Wells – associate professor (Division of Animal Sciences)
  • Pat Westhoff – director, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (Division of Applied Social Sciences)

Each Driver of Distinction will receive a trophy and certificate from CAFNR Vice Chancellor and Dean Christopher Daubert.

Seth Meyer Named USDA Chief Economist

Seth Meyer, associate director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and research professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences (DASS), has been named the USDA’s Chief Economist. Meyer plans to take an extended research leave from DASS to serve in this new role, which he will begin in January 2021.

The Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) is the focal point for economic and policy-related research and analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. OCE aims to inform public and private decision makers by providing unbiased information and data-driven analyses of current and emerging issues impacting agriculture, according to their website.

Meyer joined the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources in 2019 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) in Washington, D.C., where he had served as chairman since 2015. Previously, he worked as a senior economist with the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, and as an economist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. Before working in Rome and Washington, D.C., Meyer was previously part of FAPRI from 1997-2011, working his way up to associate research professor and policy analyst.

He is an expert on U.S. and international agricultural commodity markets as well as agricultural and biofuel policy. Meyer received his PhD in agricultural economics from Mizzou in 2002.

Harold Chapman Receives Mumford Award for Distinguished Service as Part of 2020 Celebration of Excellence

Harold Chapman, general manager for eight Missouri locations of Crown Power and Equipment, received the Frederick B. Mumford Award for Distinguished Service as part of CAFNR’s 2020 Celebration of Excellence.

Chapman received his Bachelor of Sciences degree in Agricultural Mechanization from the University of Missouri in 1985.

Chapman worked with John Poehlmann, now-retired assistant director, Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, to help design an equipment lease program with CASE IH equipment that has transformed CAFNR’s Ag Experiment Station with its network of research centers across the state. Since the program’s inception in 2011, more than $9 million of farm equipment has been provided annually at a cost that fits the budgets of the 17 different research centers and their individual needs in the field. Within the program, participating dealers receive an incentive to be involved.

Through this program, students are able to use modern equipment and technology for on-farm studies in all facets of production agriculture. Before using Chapman’s innovative program, it wasn’t uncommon for much of the equipment to be 30 to 50 years old, making it difficult to do general farm work or conduct research on present-day agricultural needs.

“The CASE IH program operates in several other states; some with even zero cost to the colleges. Harold wanted to make sure that our research centers were provided the same level of service as a regular customer and he needed to compel other dealers in Missouri to be a part of this program,” says Poehlmann. “New research tools often require the higher hydraulic capacity of modern tractors to operate well. It has taken a team to make this work. Harold Chapman is the coach that makes it successful.”

“Without this equipment, we simply could not accomplish the work that needs to be done within the limited window that the weather allows us to operate,” says Andrew Biggs, superintendent, Bradford Research Center.

“I speak for all the Superintendents in MOAES in regards to the positive impact that Harold’s hard work and devotion to CAFNR have had at our various research centers both financially and programmatically,” says David Davis, superintendent, Forage Systems Research Center.