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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // Dec. 15, 2022 // 4(25)
A Message from CAFNR Associate Dean of Research
 (click to read)

It is hard to believe we are here again already — at the end of another semester and another year and getting ready to wish another group of students farewell at commencement tomorrow. This is always a bittersweet moment in higher education as we must engage in the sad business of saying goodbye while also swelling with pride at all of the learning and growth we have witnessed in these students during their time with us.

I am lucky to be a part of a college where the learning and growth isn’t limited to the students. As I reflect on the last year in CAFNR, our accomplishments have been abundant because of the growth mindset in each member of our community that includes our faculty, staff, students, partners and stakeholders. I see it in the historic grants awarded to researchers, and in the ways our staff is always ready to learn a new skill, and in the faculty and staff based at our research farms who have looked for new ways to reach out to the public and share their knowledge for the common good.

This is the last issue of Research Digest for 2022, as we will be on Winter Break the last week of December. As this time approaches and we close out this year, I hope each of you takes time to reflect on your own growth and accomplishments, rest and enjoy your holidays with people who are dear to you.

I look forward to seeing you all in the new year, and I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish together in 2023.

Happy Holidays!

Shibu Jose
Associate Dean for Research and Director of MOAES

Feature Story
National Academy of Inventors Names CAFNR’s Randall Prather to 2022 Fellows Program (click to read)
National Academy of Inventors Names CAFNR’s Randall Prather to 2022 Fellows Program »

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) named Randall Prather to its 2022 Fellows Program. Prather, a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, joins the ranks of an elite group of academic inventors recognized for their research and intellectual property contributions.

“I was pleasantly surprised to be named a NAI Fellow,” Prather said. “It is a nice recognition to have, especially with MU being a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), and I think it also represents not just me but all my collaborators and team members that have contributed to our research efforts over the years.”

Research Highlights
David Mendoza Receives Pew Charitable Trusts Grant for Plant Microbe Nutrition Collaboration (click to read)
David Mendoza Receives Pew Charitable Trusts Grant for Plant Microbe Nutrition Collaboration »

The collaborative project will focus on how synthetic communities can improve plant nutrition.

David Mendoza, a Bond Life Sciences Center principal investigator and associate professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, recently received a $200,000 grant for biomedical sciences from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“To have people, you need plants. So if we manage to engineer better and more nutritious plants, the chances of improving human health are high,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza was one of six pairs of scientists awarded grants for collaboration. He will team up with Clarissa Nobile, an associate professor at the University of California Merced, to look at plant-microbe interactions within the context of iron intake.

Research Roars
 (click to read)

Book Edited by CAFNR Faculty Published

A new book entitled Soil Hydrology in a Changing Climate has been published by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The book is edited by Stephen H. Anderson, Albrecht Distinguished Professor of Soil and Environmental Sciences in the MU School of Natural Resources along with two CAFNR alumni — Humberto Blanco, Professor of Soil Management and Applied Soil Physics at the University of Nebraska (MS, 1995; PhD, 2003) and Sandeep Kumar, Professor of Soil Biophysics and Hydrology at South Dakota State University (PhD 2009).

CAFNR Professor Publishes Paper in Science

In a paper recently published in Science, an international team of plant scientists shows how roots regulate their branching patterns to maximize their uptake of water from the soil. The researchers, including Bob Sharp, Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, CAFNR, discovered that roots can respond to localized loss of contact with soil water using a novel sensing mechanism that they have called “Hydro-Signaling.” The study shows how the movement of plant hormone signals that control root branching is linked with the direction of water flow in root tissues to pause branching when the external source of water is transiently unavailable. The study provides critical information about the regulatory processes controlling root branching in response to limited water availability, helping scientists design novel approaches to manipulate root architecture to enhance water capture and yield in crops. The co-leads on the team are Poonam Mehra, EMBO and Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, and Prof. Malcolm Bennett at the University of Nottingham, UK.

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

Damon Hall, “Flood resiliency conversations in repetitive loss communities: Jefferson City, MO”, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 5/2022-12/2023, $198,832

Soheila Abachi-Hokmabadinazhad, Black Walnut as Proteins Source in Response to Supply Chain Disruption, Mo Dept of Agriculture, 9/1/22-9/30-24, $49,000

Bradley Wilson, Evaluation of cotton seeding rate by seed size and the effects upon cotton yield and fiber quality, Cotton, Inc., 1/1/23-12/31/23, $13,000

Patrick Westhoff, Agricultural Policy and Market Analysis 2022-2023 (FAPRI), US Department of Agriculture, 9/30/22-9/29/23, $1,775,000

Bradley Wilson, Impact of Reduced Tillage and Cover Crop Practices on Soil Health in Cotton Production Systems, Cotton, Inc., 1/1/23-12/31/23, $24,000

New Faces in Grant Services
Angie Hake
Angie Hake

Angie Hake is looking forward to working with all of CAFNR in the preparation of grant proposals in her new role as Lead Grant Writer. She has been with the University of Missouri for eight years — seven years as a Pre-Award Senior Grants and Contracts Administrator in Sponsored Programs, and the past year has been both the pre-and post-award Grants Administrator with the Biochemistry Department. She resides in Jefferson City with her husband and three children that are all great at keeping her on her toes.

Monica Flynn
Monica Flynn

Monica Flynn is excited to return to MU campus and to support faculty in CAFNR as a Senior Grant Writer. Her previous MU experience included positions in Engineering, Medicine, Education and Extension. She has worked with students (Career Services), staff (post-award/fiscal), and faculty (pre-award) and always enjoys being of service in whatever way she can. In her free time she enjoys cross-stitching, cooking and reading. She’s looking forward to getting to know our faculty.

Grant Tips

Use of Current Rates on Proposals

On Grant Proposals, be sure to use the correct rates for fringe, medical insurance, tuition and indirect costs when drafting budgets. The most current information can be found here. The rates listed are for projects starting before July 1, 2023. CAFNR uses inflationary increases for future years. Verification of the correct rates is more important now as we have been informed that we will not have the option to submit proposals “as-is” if a rate is different from what Sponsored Programs wants to be used. If there are any questions in general or about what rate to use, please contact the CAFNR Grants Office.

In the News

MU’s Randall Prather joins National Academy of Inventors 2022 Fellows Program
The Columbia Tribune

Rural America is getting older with a fifth of the population now over the age of 65
St. Louis Public Radio

Cover crops face dry conditions
Missouri Farmer Today