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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // December 17, 2020 // 2(24)
Message from the Associate Dean

As I reflect on this past year, I am in awe of all we have accomplished through such a difficult time. I want to thank our incredible faculty, staff and students, who have shown such strong perseverance as we have adjusted to each challenge thrown our way. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together!

In light of highlighting our accomplishments, I ask you to join me in congratulating our 10 Drivers of Distinction. We recently recognized 10 faculty members with this honor, which was given to those with the highest total shared credit research expenditures over the past 10 years (2011-20).

I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy this holiday season.

Happy holidays,
Shibu Jose
CAFNR Associate Dean for Research

Feature Stories
Tom Spencer Named Interim VC for Research and Economic Development »

Tom Spencer, Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, will serve as interim vice chancellor for research and economic development at Mizzou effective January 26, 2021. In this role, Spencer will report to the president and provost.

Seth Meyer Named USDA Chief Economist (click to read)
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.

Working to Benefit Society (click to read)
Working to Benefit Society »

Pavel Somavat’s research is focused on a variety of topics, including corn processing, and preparation and stability of natural food colors. Somavat is an assistant professor of food science/biomedical, biological and chemical engineering in the CAFNR Division of Food Systems and Bioengineering (FSB).

Research Highlights

MU Students Take 3rd in Global Food Systems Dashboard Competition

University of Missouri students won third place at the Global Food Systems Dashboard Competition this fall. The students competed against not only other students, but various key stakeholders, including civil society workers, industry, NGO and policymakers, in food systems. The students were chosen from the Zero Hunger Challenge course designed by Kiruba Krishnaswamy, assistant professor of biomedical, biological and chemical engineering and food science.

Read more about the competition by clicking here.

Three IPG Faculty Listed Among 2020 Highly Cited Researchers

Ron Mittler, professor of plant sciences; Bing Yang, professor of plant sciences; and Shuqun Zhang, professor of biochemistry, all part of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG) at the University of Missouri, have been recognized by the Web of Science list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2020.

This list recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field and year.

Research Roars

Kevin Bradley Recognized as North Central Weed Science Society Fellow at Annual Meeting

Kevin Bradley, professor in the Division of Plant Sciences, was recognized as a North Central Weed Science Society Fellow at the 2020 NCWSS annual meeting. The virtual meeting was held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Selection as a Fellow is recognition of substantial contributions to weed science endeavors and service in the north central region of the United States.

Read more, here.

Vice Chancellor & Dean Daubert Named to MO-5 Statewide Consortium Task Force

Christopher Daubert, Vice Chancellor and Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, has been named to the Missouri Food, Feed, Fiber, Fuel and Forest (MO-5) Consortium Leadership Circle by Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.

MO-5 is an initiative of the Show-Me-State Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Task Force, established in 2019 with a focus on enhancing value-added processing in Missouri. Dean Daubert also serves on the Show-Me-State Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Task Force.

Read more, here.

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

Scott Brown, Agricultural Policy and Market Analysis 2020, 9/30/2020-9/29/2021, $200,000, Department of Agriculture.

Pengyin Chen, Determining the Repercussions of Declining Test Weight on Seed Composition and Value Sustainability of Grape Breeding Program Through Research, Education and Extension, 10/1/2020-9/30/2021, $30,007, Agricultural Research Service.

Pengyin Chen, Discover Sources, Genes, and Develop New Varieties and Germplasm with Improved Meal Protein Utilizing Diversity in Cultivated and Wild soybeans, 10/1/2020-9/30/2021, $89,514, Agricultural Research Service.

Pengyin Chen, Enhanced Pest Control Systems for Mid-South Soybean Production, 10/1/2020-9/30/2021, $22,522, Louisiana State University.

Andrew Clarke, FY21 Norman E. Borlaug International Agr, 11/30/2020-11/29/2022, $59,576, Foreign Ag Service.

Felix Fritschi, Improved Methods to Measure Trypsin Inhibitor Levels and Activity in Soybean Meal, 10/1/2020-8/31/2021, $69,000, Agricultural Research Service.

Walter Gassmann, FY2021 BFP Costa Rica Borlaug, 11/30/2020-11/29/2022, $59,918, Foreign Ag Service.

Rodney Geisert, Functional Analysis of Porcine Conceptus Estrogens and Prostaglandins in Maintenance of Pregnancy, 4/1/2021-3/31/2024, $500,000, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Benjamin Knapp, Examining the extent, severity and potential causes of increased birch regeneration, 4/1/2020-6/30/2022, $24,402, Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group.

Henry Nguyen, Drought Resiliency for the Farm-Yield Limitations of Commercial Soybean Varieties Under Drought (Year 3 of a 3-year project – MO), 10/1/2020-9/30/2021, $40,000, Agricultural Research Service.

Randall Prather, Control Of Pig Reproduction XI, 9/1/2021-8/31/2022, $20,000, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Randall Prather, SPARC Pigs: Transgenic Pigs with Red-shifted Channelrhodopsin-Citrine Fusion Proteins, 7/1/2019-11/30/2020, $3,210, University of Florida.

Kevin Rice, FY2021 BFP Cambodia, 11/30/2020-11/29/2022, $59,985, Foreign Ag Service.

Peter Sutovsky, Ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis in farm animal spermatogenesis, fertilization and embryo development, 7/1/2021-6/30/2026, $500,000, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Mitchell Weegman, Quantifying the influence of environmental conditions and black duck behavior and movements on productivity, 9/1/2020-9/30/2025, $131,393, Fish And Wildlife Service.

Patrick Westhoff, Agricultural Policy and Market Analysis 2020, 9/30/2020-9/29/2021, $2,350,000, Department of Agriculture.

In the News

Soybeans show natural resistance to dicamba

Farm Progress

Regulators classify gene-edited rice varieties equivalent to conventional


Missouri Seeks Cows For GrowSafe Feed Efficiency Research

Drovers Cattle Network

Find heifers who eat less, produce more

The Farmer

Happy Holidays from the CAFNR Office of Research!