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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // July 18, 2019 // 1(11)
Research Highlights
Aiding Disease Treatment (click to read)
Aiding Disease Treatment »

CAFNR researchers receive $8.6 million federal grant for new biomedical research center

Throwing New Light on Photosynthesis (click to read)
Throwing New Light on Photosynthesis »

Jeff Wood is interested in discovering how vegetative systems and the atmosphere interact

Agricultural Research Centers
 (click to read)
Bean Named Interim Fisher Delta Superintendent (click to read)
Bean Named Interim Fisher Delta Superintendent

Jason Bean was recently appointed the interim superintendent of the Fisher Delta Research Center. Bean has served as chairman of the Fisher Delta Research Center Advisory Board for more than 20 years. He is a fifth-generation farmer, and a graduate of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a minor in animal sciences. This new appointment is effective July 22.

Graduate Student Spotlight
Jessica Kansman, USDA NIFA Fellow (click to read)
Jessica Kansman, USDA NIFA Fellow

What is your fellowship project?
The title of my proposal is “Indirect effects of drought on the biological control of aphids by parasitic wasps.” Climate change is increasing drought events globally, and while we know that drought affects plant growth and crop production, it is unclear how drought affects insect populations. Herbivorous insects may be affected directly through changes in plant quality, or indirectly by influencing their interactions with the natural enemies that consume them. Aphids are major pests of agricultural systems, and parasitic wasps are very effective at suppressing aphid populations. The wasp lays an egg in the body of the aphid, consumes it from the inside as a larva, and eventually develops into an adult wasp that will parasitize a hundred more aphids. The objectives of my proposal are to determine if plant water availability affects the ability of the wasp to locate aphids, wasp acceptance of aphid hosts for egg laying, and the development of the wasp within the aphid host.

What is your research focus?
My research focus is to determine the plant-mediated effects of drought for herbivorous insects, their natural enemies, and how these responses affect the diversity and composition of insect communities in wheat. My experiments mostly evaluate the performance of insects through monitoring population growth and reproduction, as well as behavioral studies assessing plant or insect host preference. I am an insect ecologist, so I am fascinated by how insects interact with their environment and the cascade of effects that can be driven by a changing climate.

Why does this field interest you?
I love entomology because the field is so vast and insects have so many fascinating behaviors. The Smithsonian estimates that insects represent 80 percent of the world’s species, and we predict there are more undescribed insect species than there are described! You will never run out of new insects to spot. Insects interact with humans in many positive and negative ways. While insects provide essential ecosystem services like pollination, they also can devastate crop production. There is a huge need for research in the field, and these discoveries have real-world impacts for food security.

Why did you choose to come to Mizzou?
The main reason I came to Mizzou was to have the opportunity to work with my advisor, Dr. Deborah Finke. She is a highly respected researcher in our field, and her mentoring is reflected in the success of her prior students, so it was an opportunity that was impossible to pass up. Additionally, being part of the Division of Plant Sciences and surrounded by so many researchers studying plant stress has strengthened the quality of the plant component of my research.

Who is your advisor?
My advisor is Dr. Deborah Finke. She is an insect ecologist and associate professor in the Division of Plant Sciences. The lab studies a range of topics including monarch caterpillar and aphid interactions in native wildflower plantings, vector biology and movement in vineyards, and insect diversity in reconstructed tallgrass prairies. The main connection between all of our projects is that, to a degree, we all study interactions between insects and their environment, interactions between insects, or both.

What are your future career plans?
I am exploring options for post-doctoral research on plant-insect interactions with the goal of working in academia and continuing to study insect ecology. I am also very passionate about teaching and mentoring, so I am open to a range of opportunities that allow me to share my enthusiasm for insects with others.

Funding Agency News
3 Tips for Discussing Impact in Federal Grant Applications

Tip 1: Think like a reviewer when you are discussing the impact of your proposed project. Proposals will be reviewed, in part, for their fit within the grant-making agency’s larger institutional goals. If your discussion of impact does not align with agency-level goals, that begs the question: Why would a government agency fund a project whose impact will not advance the goals of said agency?

Tip 2: Make your discussion of impact and outcomes as concrete as possible. For example, this might mean mentioning the number of farms the project is designed to reach or the estimated increase in crop yield.

Tip 3: Be realistic when discussing impact. There will be a temptation to present best-case scenarios that read like works of fiction. Remember, though, that the agencies funding these projects have been around for a long time; they know the track records of prior projects, and they will sense when a project’s impact is being oversold. Failing to meet goals will make getting additional funding in the future more difficult. It is far better to promise less and exceed your goals than to over-promise and under-deliver.

NIFA Info from J. Scott Angle, Director of USDA NIFA

A few points of interest from Dr. Angle’s seminar at Mizzou on June 25, 2019:

  • Funding priorities for NIFA are increasingly focused on projects showing impacts on farmer profitability (this can mean reduced chemicals, decreased labor, increased production, better pest control, increased efficiency, and much more). If your research doesn’t increase farmer profitability, you should consider going somewhere else for funding.
  • NIFA is putting funds in five areas:
    • Families and Communities
    • Sustainable Intensification
    • Climate and the Environment
    • Nutrition and Food Safety
    • Policy
  • Capacity grants get half of their grant funds and competitive get the other half. They are accountable to Congress for competitive funds.
  • NIFA is looking at ways they can get universities to incentivize people to migrate their research to the areas NIFA wants to fund. They understand this is difficult for senior researchers.
  • AFRI Foundational programs will be increasing their maximums beyond $500k in 2021.
Grant Writing Tip: Build Credibility with Your Budget Justification

Your budget justification tells the financial story of your project. If you can’t explain how you’ll spend the money at proposal time, why would the agency want to give you the money?

  • Make a clear connection between your budget and the program’s goals and objectives
  • Being thorough helps build credibility with reviewers
  • Ensure your language conveys a sense of stewardship for the government’s investment

More info >> 

Research Roars

Manufacturing initiative task force launched

The Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Initiative, one of the Grand Ideas in the recently launched CAFNR Strategic Plan, is moving forward. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe signed an executive order establishing the Missouri Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Task Force at Central Missouri Meat and Sausage in Fulton on Friday, June 28. CAFNR Vice Chancellor and Dean Christopher Daubert will be part of the task force, which Kehoe is chairing.

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

Thomas Bonnot, Estimating Abundance and Habitat Associations of Birds in Eastern National Forests, 4/19/2018 – 12/31/2021, $44,593, Forest Service

Kevin Bradley, Monsanto Service Order #113, 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2020, $7,315, Monsanto

Derek Brake, Increasing Soybean Use In Cattle Diets: Growing Beef Calves and Lactating Dairy Cows, 5/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, $51,295, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council

Deborah Finke, Optimization of Artificial Diet for Rearing and Toxicity Assays with Western Corn Rootworm, 8/1/2017 – 6/30/2021, $143,227, Agricultural Research Service

Hong He, Predicting Forest Landscape Change to Support Environmental Analyses And Decision Making, 4/11/2018 – 9/30/2021, $23,004, Forest Service

James Heiser, Monsanto Service Order #109, 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2020, $8,820, Monsanto

Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Maintaining Market Access by Engaging Regulators and Influencers, 6/1/2019 – 9/30/2019, $37,500, US Soybean Export Council

Anne McKendry, Fusarium Head Blight Research in Soft Red Winter Wheat, 5/27/2018 – 5/26/2020, $102,133, Agricultural Research Service

Gerald Miller Jr., Evaluation of Biochar for Disease Suppression and Turfgrass Quality, 5/10/2019 – 12/1/2019, $12,000, Safety Tree Service

Ron Mittler, Integrating ROS, redox and cell metabolism across plant and animal cells, 9/1/2018 – 7/31/2020, $664,737, NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences

Robert Myers, Cover Crop Germplasm and Breeding in Support of New Cultivar Development, 3/1/2018 – 2/29/2020, $50,000, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation

Rebecca North, Missouri Streams FY2020, 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, $8,220, Missouri Department of Conservation

Rebecca North, Evaluating Tunnel Dam’s Effects on Flows, Habitats, and Aquatic Biota in the Niangua River System, 7/1/2017 – 6/30/2020, $5,170, Missouri Department of Conservation

Rebecca North, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, $1,500, National Park Service

Craig Paukert, Edward K. Love Foundation Fellowships, 6/1/2019 – 5/31/2020, $25,000, Edward K. Love Conservation Foundation

Craig Paukert, Determining Electrofishing Immobilization Thresholds of Smallmouth Bass, Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish: A Critical Step to Develop a Standardized Sampling Protocol, 7/1/2015 – 6/30/2020, $39,584, Missouri Department of Conservation

Craig Paukert, Evaluation of the Bonus Fishery Created by The Low-Density Stocking of Striped Bass (Morone Saxatilis) in Bull Shoals Lake, 7/1/2018 – 6/30/2020, $163,329, Missouri Department of Conservation

Rocio Rivera, Use of a Bovine Overgrowth Syndrome to Characterize the Molecular Etiology of BWS, 3/1/2018 – 2/28/2023, $650,000, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Kenneth Schneeberger, West Africa Regional Phytosanitary, 9/15/2018 – 9/30/2019, $90,000, Foreign Agriculture Service

Jon Simonsen, Agricultural Education In-Service Education Project, 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, $80,728, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Reid Smeda, Monsanto Service Order #110, 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2020, $6,384, Monsanto

Reid Smeda, Monsanto Service Order #111, 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2020, $6,650, Monsanto

Michael Stambaugh, Multiple Treatment Effects of Prescribed Burning and Thinning on Vegetation Development in Oak Woodlands of Kansas, 6/26/2019 – 8/31/2021, $25,000, Forest Service

John Tanner, Inhibition of UDP-galactopyranose mutases from eukaryotic pathogens, 5/1/2018 – 4/30/2020, $119,694, Virginia Tech

Mitchell Weegman, Determining the Feasibility of a Long-Term Color Banding Program to Quantify Individual Decisions and Population Dynamics of Atlantic Brant, 4/1/2019 – 12/31/2020, $83,459, Fish and Wildlife Service

Joanne Whittier, Guidance to Managers for Evaluating Priority Geographies and Watershed Success, 7/1/2017 – 6/30/2020, $93,971, Missouri Department of Conservation

Bing Yang, SECRETome Project: Systematic Evaluation of CellulaR ExporT from plant cells, 2/13/2019 – 7/31/2021, $1,786,049, NSF Division of Integrative Organismal Systems

Provided by the MU Office of Research

In the News

Farm technology touted at legislative hearing
Columbia Daily Tribune

House Economic Development Committee to hear from Missouri AgTech leader
Missouri Times

MU receives $8.6 million grant for new research center
Columbia Missourian

New Biomedical Research Center Funded at the University of Missouri
Farm Journal’s Pork

Lt. Gov. Kehoe establishes food manufacturing task force
Fulton Sun

MU Agronomist says corn and soybeans can be good cover crops on prevented planting acres in 2019

‘Horrendous’ weather has swamped farmland in Missouri and Illinois, delaying or preventing planting
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Plants Can ‘Hear’ Themselves Being Eaten and Turn Defensive When Attacked, Study Shows
Epoch Times

Dicamba Injury Study
Progressive Farmer

Grazing makes crops profitable, but many other benefits attract
Missouri Farmer Today

Entering the Crossbred Beef Market
Ozarks Farm & Neighbor

The photo featured in the header shows the annual Mizzou Pest Management Field Day that was held July 9 at the Bradford Research Center in Columbia and hosted by the MU Weed Science Program. This day-long educational workshop included guided wagon tours of Bradford with presentations from faculty and graduate students.