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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // March 7, 2024 // 6(5)
Feature Story
Interdisciplinary research team uses AI to create revolutionary food safety technology (click to read)
Interdisciplinary research team uses AI to create revolutionary food safety technology »

The Mizzou team, led by a food science professor, combined AI and nanotechnology to create a more efficient, highly accurate evaluation of fresh produce for toxic pesticide residues.

Imagine being at the grocery store, picking up a package of strawberries, then giving them a quick scan that will immediately tell you exactly the types and quantities of pesticide residues that are on the fruit before you buy them and bring them home to your family. This may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but a team of interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Missouri have used the power of artificial intelligence to make the technology that would enable this scene a reality.

The team, which is led by Mengshi Lin, professor of food science, and includes Jianlin Cheng, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and computer science; John Snyder, assistant adjunct professor of statistics, and two Ph.D. students, Akshata Hegde and Mehdi Hajikhani; began with an interest in leveraging artificial intelligence to improve food safety.

“AI is currently experiencing a boom akin to the gold rush era,” Lin said. “There is a surge of exciting things happening in that space, and this is a new approach to blend nanotechnology and AI to boost food safety. We are combining food science, chemistry, and computer science to create this ecosystem.”

Lin further explained that exposure to toxic pesticides can cause a variety of health problems ranging from short-term acute conditions to long-term chronic illnesses. For this reason, fruits and vegetables sold to consumers in the US undergo a thorough inspection process to ensure consumer safety.

Prior to the development of this new technology, it would take hours to sample fruit or vegetables to determine the pesticides present, but with the team’s new AI-powered technology, it is possible to process a large number of samples within minutes.

Research Highlights
CAFNR soybean breeding team publishes groundbreaking discovery in fight against the crop’s biggest pest threat (click to read)
CAFNR soybean breeding team publishes groundbreaking discovery in fight against the crop’s biggest pest threat »

Andrew Scaboo, assistant professor in the Division Plant Science and Technology, details genetic discovery that will allow breeding of improved soybean cyst nematode resistant soybean varieties in recent Nature Communications publication.

Missouri Water Center helps secure three USGS national competitive grants (click to read)
Missouri Water Center helps secure three USGS national competitive grants »

With support from the Missouri Water Center, three Mizzou researchers have been awarded highly competitive grants through the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Resources Research Act Program.

The National Competitive (104G) Grants aim to promote collaboration between USGS and university researchers on significant national and regional water issues.

Show Me Research Week
 (click to read)

The Mizzou Office of Research is looking for faculty, graduate students and postdocs to volunteer to judge oral and poster presentations during Show Me Research Week. This year’s event will be April 8-12. If you are interested in judging or would like more information, visit the Show Me Research Week webpage.

From the CAFNR Grants Office

CAFNR Grants Office to host NSF workshop April 3

Registration is now open for a space-limited, in-person NSF workshop April 3, 1-4 p.m. hosted by the CAFNR Grants Office.

NSF is an underutilized federal funding agency in CAFNR in both proposal submissions and funds awarded. This in-person workshop will be limited to 15 faculty attendees and aims to assist them in becoming more competitive for NSF funding. Space is limited, so be sure to register to reserve a seat.

The Grants Office will discuss navigating NSF funding announcements, required proposal documents, and opportunities to secure additional funding for current NSF projects. Hear from a recent CAREER awardee, a faculty panel experienced with NSF proposals and a program director at the NSF. This workshop will also discuss the importance of well-defined broader impacts, and there will be a bonus session on establishing SciENcv accounts for those that need it.

The Grants Office looks forward to hosting this event and providing this service for CAFNR. Please reach out to if you have any questions about this workshop.

Research Roars

2024 CAFNR Joy of Discovery Seed Grant Program Winners Announced

The third 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. The following proposals were selected (listed by the PI, Co-PIs and title of the project):

  • Mandy Bish (Plant Science and Technology); Characterization of Soil Microbial Communities Across Ecoregions as a Step Towards
    Improving Soil Health Indicators
  • Gary Stacey (Plant Science and Technology), collaborator from Yeshiva University; Development of Novel Calcium Sensors
  • Chung-Ho Lin (School of Natural Resources), Isa Kupke (School of Natural Resources), collaborator from Elderberry Wisdom Farm, Collaborator from University of Pretoria; Creating Revenue Streams for Missouri Farmers and Native American Entrepreneurs through the Development of Personal Care Products from Native American Elderberry Species
  • Hong Jo Lee (Animal Sciences); Develop a Robust Transgene Expression System in Chickens using CRISPR-Mediated Housekeeping Gene Tagging
  • Azlin Mustapha (Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences), Soheila Abachi-Hokmabadinazhad (Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences); Precision Probiotic Fermentation of Asian Carp for Generation of Functional and Health Beneficial Postbiotics
  • Adrienne Ohler (Applied Social Sciences), Michael Sykuta (Applied Social Sciences); Examining the Cost of Compliance with Supply Chain Cybersecurity Regulations in the U.S. Electricity Industry and the Benefits of the North American Transmissions Forum’s Compliance Model
  • Steven Van Doren (Biochemistry), Adam L. Yokom (Biochemistry); A Braking Mechanism at Initiation of Oil Synthesis by a New Winter Cover Crop
  • Gary Weisman (Biochemistry), Kimberly Jasmer (Biochemistry), Dmitri Kireev (College of Arts and Science); Identification and Validation of Novel P2Y2 Nucleotide Receptor (P2Y2R) Modulators through Computational Drug Design and Monitoring Their Effects on Intracellular P2Y2R Signaling
  • Noel Aloysius (School of Natural Resources); A Framework to Assess Food, Water and Environmental Security in Rapidly Expanding Economies in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Jacqueline Limberg (Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences), Jaume Padilla (Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences); Sex differences in Insulin-mediated Increases in Sympathetic Nervous System Activity, Peripheral Vasoconstriction and Impact of Obesity

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

Feng Lin, Developing a Resilient Soybean IPM Program for Stink Bugs, Louisiana State University, 10/1/23-9/30/24, $20,000

In the News

University of Missouri’s salmonella detection research receives $5 million boost
St. Louis Public Radio

Billions of cicadas in the Midwest this spring will be ‘a really weird phenomenon’

Scavenging Missouri’s natural nuts
Jefferson City Magazine

Weekly Commodity Update with Ben Brown
Brownfield Ag News

Add magnesium to a balanced mineral program to prevent grass tetany
Carthage News Online

Winter came, and now what?
Salem News Online


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