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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // January 27, 2022 // 4(2)
Feature Stories
Central Missouri Research, Extension, and Education Center Director Named (click to read)
Central Missouri Research, Extension, and Education Center Director Named »

Dusty Walter named director

Paving the way for historic procedure (click to read)
Paving the way for historic procedure »

Randall Prather’s work on pig genetics may soon help thousands of people waiting for organ transplants

Research Highlights
Watch what the CAFNR research enterprise is all about (click to read)
Watch what the CAFNR research enterprise is all about »

At CAFNR, we solve the most pressing issues of today

CIP Sponsoring Webinar, Grant Opportunity for Faculty International Collaboration Grants

CAFNR International Programs is releasing a special Request for Proposals for small Faculty International Collaboration Grants that will be specifically for faculty efforts to network and start collaborations with CGIAR International Research Centers and their scientists and extensionists.

This opportunity is being kicked off with a CAFNR Research Council webinar from Nicoline de Haan, who will talk about the goals and programs of the 15 CGIAR Centers. The presentation by de Haan, a CAFNR grad and director of the CGIAR GENDER Platform, will be Thursday, Feb. 10, at 3:30 p.m. The zoom link for the seminar can be found here. 

Contact Kerry Clark ( to receive the RFP for the grant program.

Grant Team Tips

Project Titles Matter-Choose Wisely

The title of your project matters! Titles partially determine who will end up reviewing proposals. Unlike with journals, where an editor can share the abstract of a manuscript with a potential reviewer, most federal agencies only share the title. Titles come into play in two important ways:

  1. When an agency puts together a panel, they strive to find panelists with a broad diversity of interests to cover the diversity of proposal topics. A major challenge is to figure out the best matches of panelist expertise with proposal topics. Sponsors send each panelist a complete list of proposal titles and ask them to be ranked. If you want your proposal to be reviewed by someone who can appreciate your project and provide the most constructive feedback, the title is pivotal. Make sure it is concisely summarizing what the proposal is about.
  2. Second, the same challenge of matching reviewers to proposals comes into play when Program Officers solicit reviews from ad hoc reviewers (i.e., reviewers who are not panelists). While program officers may be confident in the appropriateness of a particular reviewer for a given proposal, the reviewer is only provided the proposal title to determine if they want to review said proposal. The problem is that reviewers are far more likely to say “no” if they don’t have a good sense of what the proposal is about.

For more helpful writing tips, contact CAFNR grant writers Patience Okiring and Sheryl Koenig.

Grant Spotlight
 (click to read)

Ronald Revord, assistant research professor in the School of Natural Resources, received a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for his project titled Accelerating marker-trait association studies in chestnuts. The award total was for $563,626 over a five-year period. Chestnuts offer a unique opportunity in breeding to simultaneously work toward ecosystem restoration and food production goals. An enormous stakeholder base is dedicated to chestnut genetic improvement and adoption for food, fiber and restoration. Early in the 20th century, an exotic fungal pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, decimated the American chestnut, killing about 4 billion trees.

“Our primary goal for this project is to build breeding program capacity to discover genomic regions and markers that are predictive of abiotic and biotic adaptations,” said Revord. “We also want to introduce beneficial loci into desired genetic backgrounds, defined by ancestry, endemic region or commercial attributes.”

Understanding donor trait genetic control is crucial to selecting desired breeding populations. DNA markers linked to resistance/ adaptive loci could reduce the size of breeding populations before field establishment and curtail multi-trait screening requirements. Improving DNA extraction and library preparation throughout will eliminate bottlenecks to discovering marker-traits associations and enhance output rates.

This project has several objectives, which include implementing high throughput robotic technology to accelerate DNA extraction and genotyping-by- sequencing library preparation, as well as develop genomic prediction and identifying QTLs for phenological traits, gall wasp resistance and phytophthora root rot (PRR) resistance in Chinese chestnut bi-parental mapping populations. Lastly, the project seeks to target conservation of climate-adaptive genetic diversity through comparison of American chestnut backcross populations to range-wide wild type American chestnuts.

This project supports extensive chestnut breeding efforts that seek to release improved plant materials broadly throughout the East and Midwest US. These efforts are challenged by complex selection criteria and the need for exceedingly large populations with a large physical footprint and a long juvenile period.

Revord is the lead project director (PD), with collaborating investigators Jason Holliday, associate professor in the department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech, as well as Jared Westbrook, director of science at the American Chestnut Foundation.

Research Roars

Rebecca North Named Association for Science of Limnology and Oceanography Fellow 

Rebecca North, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources, has been named as a fellow with the Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). ASLO fellows are recognized as having achieved excellence in their contributions to ASLO and aquatic sciences. The commitment and service of these individuals to ASLO have enabled our society to advance the sciences of limnology and oceanography.

Thomas Bonnot Receives the United States Forest Service Chiefs Award 

Thomas Bonnot, assistant research professor in the School of Natural Resources, received the United States Forest Service Chiefs Award in 2021. Bonnot is a member of a team being recognized for his work on Brown-Headed Nuthatch Reintroduction. In addition, the team made the list in the BBC’s wildlife magazine of the top 50 reasons to be cheerful in 2021.

Hannah Hemmelgarn Wins AFTA’s 2021 Early Career Award 

Hannah Hemmelgarn, assistant program director in the Center for Agroforestry, received the 2021 Early Career Award from the Association for Temperate Agroforestry. The award recognizes an individual for their extraordinary accomplishments in the field of agroforestry outreach and education.

CAFNR Joy of Discovery Seed Grant Program Winners Announced

The first batch of proposals funded by CAFNR’s Joy of Discovery Seed Grant Program has been announced. The Joy of Discovery Seed Grant Program supports nascent, collaborative, multi transdisciplinary research with the goal of developing a competitive proposal for federal funding. See the list of winners here.

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

Ahmed Balboula, Improving the quality of preimplantation bovine emryos by regulating cathespins, National Inst of Food and Ag, 1/1/2022-12/31/2026, $650,000

Martha Ortega Obando, Improving pregnancy success of in vitro derived bovine embryos through culture medium modifications, National Inst of Food and Ag, 12/15/2021-12/14/2023, $120,000

Ronald Revord, Black walnut for kernal markets– cultivar release and modern genetics, Missouri Department of Agriculture, 11/1/2021-10/31/2023, $20,090

In the News

From pigs that glow to life-saving swine: how decades of research led to this month’s heart transplant

The Baltimore Sun

Pig heart transplanted into human had edited gene developed at Mizzou

Columbia Daily Tribune

Food price inflation is driven by more than supply chain problems

Columbia Daily Tribune

Risks and opportunities for the farm sector in 2022

Columbia Daily Tribune

A Mizzou ‘treasure,’ MU researcher helps environment, tracks COVID

Columbia Missourian

The bald eagles are back at South Farm! Featured in the header are two eagles eagerly waiting for their young to hatch.