Problem viewing this email? See it here »
CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // November 19, 2020 // 2(22)
Message from the Associate Dean

As we look to Thanksgiving next week, I just wanted to take a moment and share how thankful I am for all of you. I appreciate the new ways you helped us fulfill our mission over the past months. From the bench to the field, I see your adaptability, as we’ve navigated, for example, social distancing in the labs and providing our field days virtually for the first time ever! I also appreciate our stakeholders who supported us and continue to support our research mission. Together, we make a meaningful impact in the world around us.

I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy as we enter the holiday season.

Best wishes,
Shibu Jose
CAFNR Associate Dean for Research

Feature Story
Expanding Their Horizons (click to read)
Expanding Their Horizons »

The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) School of Natural Resources (SNR) offers a premier PhD program in forest resources. The new program, supported by SNR and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate Fellowships (NNF) Grants Program, offers students an opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies focused in areas such as agroforestry, forest management, silviculture, landscape ecology, fire science, urban ecology, water resources, or natural resources law and policy.

Three students are funded through the fellowship – Andria Caruthers, Angel Colon-Santiago and Kendra Esparza-Harris.

Research Highlights
Following in His Footsteps (click to read)
Following in His Footsteps »

As an undergraduate student studying soybean breeding at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Caio Canella Vieira came across the name Pengyin Chen quite often during his studies. Chen became a major source of inspiration for Canella Vieira – and someone who he referenced throughout his undergraduate work.

Little did Canella Vieira know that he would soon be working with the man he had read so much about.

Agricultural Research Centers
An Investment in Agriculture (click to read)
An Investment in Agriculture

Bradford Research Center has received a new plot combine as part of the recent $6.5 million investment in CAFNR’s Agricultural Research Centers. Bradford Superintendent Andrew Biggs said the Almaco RX Plot Combine will give researchers at Bradford the necessary resource to efficiently produce high quality, consistent data at harvest. “The products of research centers are not crops and livestock – the products are data,” he said.

The recent investment in the Ag Research Centers came from the UM System, MU, CAFNR and MU Extension. The goal of this historic investment is to enhance the university’s ability to share next-generation agricultural technologies developed by MU researchers with Missouri’s farmers and ranchers. Projects have included completion of a new educational building at the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon; improving the infrastructure to measure daily feed intake and weight gain in feedlot cattle at the Beef Farm, located at the South Farm Research Center in Columbia; and upgrading the manure handling system at Foremost Dairy Research Center near Columbia.

Grant Spotlight
Two DASS Researchers Part of UM System Funding Awards

Two researchers from the Division of Applied Social Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources have received funding from the University of Missouri System as part of a series of research and creative works investments in the areas of arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. The strategic investments total more than $630,000, with more than $512,000 contributed in research awards from the UM System and a match of approximately $118,000 coming from the UM universities. CAFNR researchers part of this funding were:

  • Hua Qin, associate professor of applied social sciences, is leading a project to develop general guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses in environmental social science research.
  • Michelle Segovia, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics, is leading a project to target the obesity rate among children by proposing the implementation of a four-period field experiment in the Columbia Public School district to test the effectiveness of monetary incentives in increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables among elementary school students.

In response to the call for proposals in February, 74 applications were received, sent out for external review and deliberated on by an internal review committee made up of faculty from each university. This year, 23 innovative research projects are receiving funding from the UM System and their university. The contribution is part of the Research and Creative Works Strategic Investment and supports the UM System’s vision to advance opportunities for success and enrich the well-being for state, national and global communities through teaching, research, innovation, engagement and inclusion, according to the UM System.

Research Roars

Felix Fritschi Receives Distinguished Research Award as Part of 2020 Celebration of Excellence

Felix Fritschi, C. Alice Donaldson Professor in Bioenergy Crop Physiology and Genetics in the Division of Plant Sciences, received the Distinguished Research Award during CAFNR’s 2020 virtual Celebration of Excellence awards celebration. Fritschi is part of several large grants, including one worth $15 million from the Department of Energy related to climate adaption in switchgrass. Fritschi has also had a major impact on graduate student and postdoctoral education, with 11 current graduate students (14 graduated) and seven current postdoctoral associates (20 former).

“Felix is committed to studying pressing questions of relevance to crop improvement for farmers,” said Bob Sharp, Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences. “Accordingly, he focuses on the experimentally challenging field environment, and tackles demanding problems including a prominent effort in root system development.”

Read more here.

Jared Decker Receives Early Investigator Research Award as Part of 2020 Celebration of Excellence

Jared Decker is an associate professor in the Division of Animal Sciences and state beef Extension specialist. Decker has been awarded more than $5 million in grants during his career and has received numerous awards, including the J.W. Burch Agriculture Extension State Specialist honor during the 2018 CAFNR Celebration of Excellence awards celebration.

“Dr. Decker’s demonstrated strengths in creativity, collaboration, strategic thinking and communication distinguish him among his peers at this early point in his career,” said David Patterson, Chancellor’s Professor in the Division of Animal Sciences. “Creativity is an invaluable tool in scientific research, and is often born out of new associations.”

Read more here.

Rebecca North Serves as Editor of Special Issue in Prestigious Journal

Rebecca North, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources, recently served as an invited editor of a special issue in Frontiers in Environmental Science and Frontiers in Marine Ecosystem Ecology. The focus of the special issue was on climate change and light in both freshwater and marine ecosystems, including the variability and ecological consequences. Along with serving as a guest editor, two of North’s graduate students published papers in the Environmental Science section in the issue.

Read more here.

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

Kerry Clark, University of Missouri-Support Bilateral Risk Communication Initiatives, 9/30/20-8/30/21, $90,000, Foreign Agriculture Service.

Jared Decker, III: Small: DATAg: How genotype, environment and management interact to influence animal size: An evaluation of James’ interpretation of Bergmann’s Rule in Bos taurus cattle, 11/1/20-10/31/23, $499,999, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

David Diamond, Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS), 10/1/20-8/31/21 $75,000, Texas A&M University.

Felix Fritschi, Testing predictions of plant–microbe–environment interactions to optimize climate adaptation and improve sustainability in switchgrass feedstocks, 9/15/20-9/14/21, $241,272, University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Gold, Going Whole Hog: Sustainable Livestock and Agroforestry Training for Military Veterans, 9/15/20-9/14/21 $6,667, Appalachian State University.

Henry Nguyen, Integrating germplasm evaluation, breeding and physiology to improve post-flowering heat-stress resilience in soybean, 6/1/20-8/31/23, $199,945, Kansas State University.

Henry Nguyen, Modifying Soluble Carbohydrates in Soybean Seed for Enhanced Nutritional Energy Meal, 10/1/20-9/30/21, $328,866, Purdue University.

Michael Stambaugh, Historical fire regime reconstruction at the Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain, 11/1/20-10/31/21, $11,243, Nature Conservancy.

Jinglu Tan, STTR: Implementation of an Ultrasound Technology for Continuous In-Situ Monitoring of Lubricant Viscosity, 7/1/20-6/30/21, $90,360, Infecho Scientific LLC.

Chrisee Wheeler, Managing sericea lespedeza infestation in native warm season grass pastures utilizing goats, 9/1/20-10/31/22, $14,973, University of Minnesota.

Xi Xiong, HE21USASPK 14ESN008 Ipfencarbazone / NNNZW / POAAN / Field Efficacy, 9/23/20-9/22/22, $4,500, Bayer Cropscience, Lp.

Funds Available for Sequencing Projects

The DNA Core Facility is pleased to announce sequencing block grants available to MU investigators who would like to conduct studies using the Illumina NovaSeq platform. The grants can only be used to cover costs for generating sequence data on the NovaSeq instrument housed in the DNA Core Facility. Investigators should demonstrate that additional resources are available to cover sample generation, library preparation, and data analysis. Funding for these grants are made available by Dr. Wes Warren’s Tier1 award through the UM System Research and Creative Works Strategic Investment Program. Matching funds for the purchase of the NovaSeq were secured from the Office of Research, School of Medicine, College of Arts and Science, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine and the Bond Life Sciences Center.

In addition to matching funds, these MU schools/colleges have allocated at varying levels funds to be used toward block grants to be awarded for NovaSeq sequencing. MU schools/colleges having allocated a higher matching amount will have a larger portion of sequencing capacity at the discounted rates. A review committee with proportional school representation will oversee the application process and distribution of funds.

Please visit this link to see block grant information, application process, and selection criteria: Submission deadline for applications is Monday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m.

In the News

Brown marmorated stink bugs may be crop threat in 2021
The Farmer

Three Century Farms added to Phelps County list

North Korea border shutdown raises food security concerns at U.N.

University of Missouri online crop conference set for December 1st and 2nd

Following in his footsteps
Morning Ag Clips

Missouri has the first state chapter of Heroes to Hives, a program that supports veterans who want to learn beekeeping. New sessions of the free program begin March 2021. Beekeeper and MU Extension agronomist Travis Harper will teach the hands-on portion of the program. Harper and his wife, MU Extension horticulturist Joni Harper, have made numerous presentations on beekeeping, and Harper began the Missouri Master Pollinator Steward program with retired MU Extension horticulturist James Quinn. Harper says student veterans will gain beekeeping knowledge and learn the importance of pollinators in agriculture. They will learn to protect honeybees through small-scale, sustainable beekeeping operations. Enrollment is available at