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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // April 21, 2022 // 4(8)
Feature Story
Jeff Case Named Director of the Northern Missouri Research, Extension and Education Center (click to read)
Jeff Case Named Director of the Northern Missouri Research, Extension and Education Center »

Case will oversee three farms in northern Missouri

Next CAFNR Research Council Webinar Held this Afternoon
The CAFNR Research Council is hosting a series of webinars featuring speakers discussing timely topics. The next webinar in the series is today, Thursday, April 21, at 3:30 p.m., and will feature Rob Myers, director of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture and NCR-SARE regional director of Extension Programs, and Kelly Wilson, assistant director for the Center of Regenerative Agriculture. Find the link to today’s webinar and previous webinars on the CAFNR Research Council’s page.

Isabella Zaniletti Named Interim Statistician Consultant for CAFNR
Isabella Zaniletti, PhD, has been named interim statistician consultant for CAFNR. She is a statistician consultant and adjunct instructor with over 15 years of experience, earning her MA in Statistics (2006) and PhD in Psychometrics (2011) from the University of Missouri. As a consultant, Dr. Zaniletti collaborates with principal investigators in both academia and industry.

With her statistical expertise, Zaniletti supports research in medicine, education, engineering, general science and business. Zaniletti advises students and investigators on statistical methodology and provides statistical support for studies on small datasets as well as large databases. Zaniletti works with both prospective and retrospective data, and helps with all aspects of research projects, including study design, research question(s), datamining, statistical modeling, and manuscript preparation/publication. Zaniletti has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for the Statistics Department since 2004, including Experimental Design, Sampling Techniques, Applied Nonparametric Methods, Applied Statistical Models, and Statistical Consulting.

Contact her at

Grant Team Tips

Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities in AFRI EWD and Other Opportunities
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released the RFA for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development grant opportunities (AFRI – EWD). More information can be found online. The deadline for the Predoctoral Fellowship application is Oct. 27 and the deadline for the Postdoctoral Fellowship is Sept. 8. We have had a great success rate with these. Contact the CAFNR Grants Office for assistance with your proposal.

Additional fellowship opportunities can be found on the Graduate School website.

Assistance from the Strategic Proposal Development Service (SPDS)
SPDS provides support for grant proposals for large, complex and strategically important grants. Their services are coordinated with academic units and departments and are intended to be supplementary and complementary.

Their services include proposal management, narrative development, help with budgets, biosketches, and other ancillary documents, editing support, graphic design, and grant evaluation plan consultation.

Services can be requested by emailing or using the intake form: Request SPDS support.

Graduate Student Spotlight
Pursing His Passions for Research (click to read)
Pursing His Passions for Research »

Evan Aljundi’s passion for white-tailed deer has led to graduate research focused on Chronic Wasting Disease

Grant Spotlight

Bhuwan Thapa, post-doctoral associate for the Center of Agroforestry, and Sarah Lovell, director for the Center of Agroforestry, received a grant from the USDA Data Science program for the project titled DSFAS: Agroforestry for Climate Risk Management: Effectiveness of Windbreaks in Reducing Crop Loos in Midwest, USA. The award total was $234,644; co-PIs include Pat Guinan, Zhen Cai and Tozammel Hossain.

Wind damage cost the U.S. government approximately $1.2 billion in crop insurance payments between 2015 and 2020, of which about half were claimed from the Midwest region. A common agroforestry practice is the use of windbreaks. Windbreaks reduce wind speeds and offer other environmental benefits.

The primary goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of windbreaks in reducing in wind-related crop loss in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. Using data from remote sensing, crop insurance and weather, the project aims to develop a county-level model to assess windbreak effectiveness in reducing crop loss using econometric and machine learning techniques.

Machine learning algorithms and high-performance computing can leverage the large volume of publicly available datasets collected from remote sensing, instrumental observations and other sources to support discovery and analysis.

Data science offers a unique opportunity to integrate diverse datasets to deliver answers to these important questions, so that landowners and policymakers can make informed decisions about installing windbreaks.

The long-term vision of this project is to promote the broader adoption of windbreaks and other agroforestry practices where they might serve as nature-based solutions to mitigate climate risks. The project is focusing on four crops including corn, soybeans, sunflowers and wheat, which are severely affected by wind-related damages in the study area.

Research Roars

Jordon Wade to Speak at National Academy of Sciences’ Discussion
Jordon Wade, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources, was asked to be a part of the National Academy of Sciences’ discussion on “State of Our Soils” on Friday, April 22. The State of the Soil event celebrates the science of soil health and soil health management during a wide-ranging discussion with panelists who will talk about soil health aspects in their respective regions. The virtual event is free and open to the public. Registration for the event can be found online here.

Jackie Limberg on the Board of Directors for the American Autonomic Society
Jackie Limberg, assistant professor in nutrition and exercise physiology, is on the board for the American Autonomic Society (AAS). Limberg is also the chair of the communications committee. AAS was established to bring together individuals from diverse disciplines who share an interest in the structure and function of the autonomic nervous system. The society sponsors annual meetings and provides a point of contact among the many interested clinical and basic scientists who wish to communicate across disciplinary lines.

Elizabeth Parks Named President of the Obesity Society
Elizabeth Parks, professor in nutrition and exercise physiology, was recently named president of the Obesity Society. The Obesity Society is a scientific membership organization dedicated to improving people’s lives by advancing scientific-based understanding of causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of obesity.

Charlie Nilon Receives Sustainability Science Award
Charlie Nilon, William J. Rucker Professor in the School of Natural Resources, received the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America (ESA). The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. The 2022 Sustainability Science Award was given to the authors, including Nilon, of “Biodiversity in the city: Key challenges for urban green space management.”

2022 Celebration of Excellence Awards Announced
The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources honors its outstanding faculty, staff and students each spring at the Celebration of Excellence ceremony. Celebration of Excellence 2022 was held Tuesday, April 19, at Bond Life Sciences Center. Awards were given for academic accomplishments, teaching, research, advising, service and Extension. See the list of award winners on CAFNR’s website.

CAFNR faculty members have received the following recent grants (listed by Principal Investigator):
Jinglu Tan, Acquisition of goods and services, Cropping systems and water quality, Agricultural Research SVC, 4/1/2021- 3/31/2023, $66,264

Bryon Wiegand, Acquisition of goods and services, Agricultural Research SVC, 4/1/2021- 3/31/2023, $39,462

In the News

Tim Reinbott: Where does your food come from? He helps people find answers

Columbia Missourian

MU establishes Rural and Farm Finance Policy Analysis Center 

Today’s Farmer 

Importers are banning poultry from only some parts of the U.S during this bird flu outbreak

Iowa Public Radio

The time has come for Legacy Oaks on Francis Quadrangle

Columbia Missourian