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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // March 14, 2019
Agricultural Research Centers
Southwest Research Center (click to read)
Southwest Research Center »

The Southwest Research Center was established in 1959 and serves 22 counties, with a focus on addressing the main agricultural concerns of area industries including beef, forage and horticultural crop production. Serving as a footprint for the University of Missouri in the southwest part of Missouri, the Center is a meeting place for farmers, producers, Extension regional specialists and students. A new facility will allow the Southwest Research Center to meet those growing needs even better. The Center broke ground on the site in September 2018 and construction continues on the new facility. Learn more about the new building and what it means for the area.

Graduate Student Spotlight
Annette Kendall, Agricultural and Applied Economics (click to read)
Annette Kendall, Agricultural and Applied Economics »

Why does this field interest you?
To be brutally honest, economics has never interested me that much. In fact, when I worked in rural entrepreneurship and economic development in New Zealand, I was so critical of economic data that was used to justify different actions, one of my mentors suggested that I should at least learn the ‘language of the enemy’ so I could actually enter the conversation. So I did. I’m happy to report the field of agricultural and applied economics does interest me now, but I’m still more about the people side of it than policy or pricing.

Who is your advisor?
My advisor is Professor Randall Westgren. He was the advisor of one of my mentors in New Zealand, Professor Hamish Gow, and it was Hamish who engineered the connection.

What are your future career plans?
Never in a million years did I dream I’d be saying this, but I plan to stay in academia, focusing on entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. The original plan was that I would put my business on hold while we [my family] were here in the U.S. and then I would return to New Zealand and start my business up again (but charge three times more because now I had a PhD). But then I started teaching and our students just nabbed me. I mean our CAFNR students, our Mizzou students, they’re just such fantastic human beings. My favorite thing in the world is to see a student grow in confidence throughout the semester. I love interacting with them every day, and I’ve learned more from them and about myself in the last couple of years than I have my entire 45 years on this planet I think. Our students not only want to do good work, but they also want to do good, and my hope is that when they graduate from our program and someone asks them how they feel, the first word that comes to their mind is “empowered.”

Throwback Thursday (click to read)
Throwback Thursday

Dr. Charles Gehrke’s research team at the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station Chemical Laboratories analyzed the first moon rocks brought back by Apollo 11 in 1969 to search for signs of life. The team tested materials from seven Apollo landings for the next six years using gas-liquid chromatography to look for traces of biological activity in the moon rocks. While the MU team found nothing (unfortunately), another was apparently finding indications that there was something there. The ensuing controversy led some in the scientific community to accuse MU of shoddy science, but further testing proved that the other team had contaminated samples.

Research Roars

Grad student Tyler McCubbin named Ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists

Tyler McCubbin, a doctoral candidate in the Division of Plant Sciences co-advised by Bob Sharp and David Braun, has been appointed as one of 17 new Ambassadors (from six countries) for the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

ASPB Ambassadors are early career scientists (students and postdocs) and industry employees enlisted to communicate the mission and vision of the Society to other plant biologists and to the general public, and to help ensure the ongoing vitality of the Society. These young leaders engage their campus communities in outreach activities, represent ASPB at section conferences, and contribute articles to the ASPB News. They also provide a voice for early career members in the Society.

CAFNR faculty members have received the following recent grants (listed by Principal Investigator):

Ivan Baxter, Graduate Student Support for Lauren Whitt, 1/1/19 – 12/31/23, $170,515, Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center

Benjamin O. Knapp, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, 3/7/16 – 3/6/20, $7,547, USGS

William A. McKelvey Jr., Supporting Beginning Farmers in Scaling-up Into Wholesale Production, 9/1/18 – 8/31/21, $41,731, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency

Rebecca North, Statewide Lakes Assessment Project, 4/1/19 – 3/31/20, $4,845, Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Randall S. Prather, Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease, 6/1/18 – 5/31/19, $75,770, University of Iowa

Randall S. Prather, Origins of Cystic Fibrosis Airway Disease, 9/5/18 – 6/30/19, $147,865, University of Iowa

Thomas Spencer, Physiological and Genetic Insights into Pregnancy Loss, 1/1/19 – 12/31/2023, $1,625,000, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Michael C. Stambaugh, Integrating Ozark Highlands ecological classification, mapping, and historical ecology, 3/7/19 – 3/30/20, $52,470, U.S. Forest Service

Jinglu Tan, Acquisition of Goods and Service, 4/1/18 – 3/31/19, $55,529, Agricultural Research Service

Mitchell Weegman, Quantifying individual decision-making in space and time to link habitat conservation and management at the continent-scale for long-distance migrant shorebirds, 1/1/18 – 12/31/20, $18,241, USGS

Funding Agency News
Reporting Collaborations

We have received questions about the discussion surrounding the reporting of foreign collaborations and would like to provide clarification about what is required of MU researchers at this time.

Our federal research sponsors in general — and NIH and NSF specifically — have expressed concerns that the integrity of sponsored research is being compromised by foreign influence and have stressed to universities the importance of accurate reporting of foreign relationships and collaborations. As the University works to develop mechanisms to collect information about the global engagement of our researchers, we would like to remind everyone of the existing processes that require the disclosure of all forms of support, financial interests, and relevant affiliations whether foreign or domestic. And while it is China that has been in the news recently in regards to the issues of foreign influence and academic espionage, the obligations to report extend to all international collaborations or other engagements regardless of the country or countries involved.

Researchers who submit grant proposals to — or receive research or other sponsored funding from — federal agencies such as NIH and NSF should review and update their relevant documents and disclosures as needed:

  • Documents such as the NIH “Other Support” and NSF “Current and Pending Support” should include all sources of support and commitments of time/effort.
  • Biosketches and the NSF “Collaborators and Other Affiliations” (COA) documents should be current and thorough.
  • Annual progress reports should reflect any changes to a key person’s level of support and sources of support over the previous year.
  • Progress reports should also include any inventions; inventions must also be reported to the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations (OTMIR). The University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations (CRR) require that the rights to any Invention made by an employee in the “general scope of his/her duties as an employee of the University” must be assigned to the Curators of the University of Missouri.
  • External activities related to work within the scope of a researcher’s University responsibilities must be disclosed through the Conflict of Interest process and through any NIH or NSF required reporting mechanism.

Additional information about these reporting requirements, resources, and the relevant University of Missouri policies and NIH and NSF requirements can be found on the Office of Sponsored Programs Administration website.

General questions about foreign influence and research can be directed to Heather Little in the Office of Research at

CAFNR I-Corps Site

The I-Corps program was created by NSF to help move academic research it has funded to market. The course, which participants take online, engages participants in moving products out of the lab and into the market by talking to potential customers, partners, and competitors and encountering the challenges and uncertainty of creating successful innovations. The Sites match the student participants with an academic researcher/mentor and a business mentor. The Sites provide infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace. Read more.

In the News

Study: States outdo Congress in pollinator conservation laws, The Wildlife Society

Dicamba drift still on EPA radar, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Drought-damaged hay causes cattle deaths, Columbia Daily Tribune

More than 200 cows in Missouri have died due to nitrate poisoning in the past month, KY3 (Springfield, Mo.)

Don advocates exposure of children to natural resources management, The Guardian (Nigeria)

DNR report only confirms what farmers already knew, Fulton Sun

This Pest Costs Soybean Farmers $1 Billion Annually, Successful Farming

Featured Photo

The photo featured in the header shows a recent artificial insemination school, and was taken by Kendra Graham, field specialist in livestock, east central region. Kendra and Erin Larimore, field specialist in livestock, southeast region, put on the schools, which train producers how to properly inseminate cattle. Timed AI allows beef producers to front-load the calving season, leading to heavier weaning weights and better replacement heifers.