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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // Sept. 22, 2022 // 4(19)
Message from Associate Dean Shibu Jose

I’m excited to share some great news with everyone today! Thanks to our wonderful faculty and staff, CAFNR brought in nearly $60 million in research funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, which is a new record for our college. We’ve been tracking our research awards and expenditures since 2018 with the goal of doubling these metrics by FY25 (see the graph). We were 46% higher in research awards and 30% higher in research expenditures in FY22 compared to the baseline data (FY18). With several major new grants announced in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, I’m confident that we are on track to meet our goal of $80 million by FY25.

I will highlight two new grants that were announced late last week. Dr. Rob Myers and colleagues received a $25 million grant to help Missouri farmers adopt climate-smart practices on their farms. This USDA award is the largest federal research, education and extension grant ever awarded to an MU faculty member. Dr. Sarah Lovell and her team are part of a $64 million (MU share of $2.32 million), 5-year USDA grant led by The Nature Conservancy for expanding agroforestry production and markets for producer profitability and climate stabilization. You can read more about these new awards in this issue of the Research Digest.

We are also increasing our capacity in the CAFNR Grants Office to help our faculty to pursue such funding opportunities. I’m introducing two of our newest members – Martha Brendel (Lead Grant Writer) and David Lankitus (Senior Grant Writer) in this issue. Please join me in extending them a warm welcome to CAFNR.

Thank you for everything you do to drive the CAFNR research enterprise to distinction!

Shibu Jose
Associate Dean for Research and Director of MOAES

 (click to read)
Climate-Smart Agriculture
$25 Million MU Grant to Help Farmers Adopt Climate-Smart Practices (click to read)
$25 Million MU Grant to Help Farmers Adopt Climate-Smart Practices »

USDA award is the largest federal research, education and extension grant ever awarded to an MU faculty member

Mizzou Center for Agroforestry to Partner with The Nature Conservancy for USDA-Funded Project (click to read)
Mizzou Center for Agroforestry to Partner with The Nature Conservancy for USDA-Funded Project »

Partnership aimed at helping farmers sequester more carbon, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and increase profitability through agroforestry

Upcoming Events
MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Farm Gearing up for Missouri Chestnut Roast (click to read)
MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Farm Gearing up for Missouri Chestnut Roast »

Staff of the University of Missouri’s Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Farm in New Franklin have been hard at work in anticipation of welcoming crowds of people for its annual, signature event, the Missouri Chestnut Roast Festival.

“This is such a fun event for us,” said Center for Agroforestry Director Sarah Lovell. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce Missourians to the agricultural products that set our state apart in a fun and engaging way.”

This year’s event will take place 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, and will include crowd favorite activities such as roasted chestnut samples, kids activities and farm tours. At this year’s festival you can also sample chestnut hummus, watch a tree tapping demonstration, purchase chestnuts, pecans and frozen paw paws, see cooking demonstrations, learn about sustainable farming, forestry and gardening and more.

“We really love welcoming the community out to the farm for this event,” said senior farm manager Barry Eschenbrenner. “We aim to provide a fun, family outing while providing participants with some new knowledge of the specialty agricultural products produced right here in Missouri.”

CAFNR Research Symposium (click to read)
CAFNR Research Symposium

Oct. 12 and 13, 1 p.m., Memorial Union

How are you contributing to CAFNR’s vision of creating a healthy world? We invite you to showcase your research to the entire CAFNR community and beyond during the first in-person CAFNR Research Symposium, Oct. 12 and 13, presented by the CAFNR Research Council.

  • Opportunities are still available to participate in the poster presentations and/or lighting talks. Sign up online by Sept. 30. Faculty, please encourage your student and post-doc collaborators to participate and support your classes in attending! Awards will be given for the best posters.
  • We hope you will also join us to see how your fellow CAFNR faculty, staff and graduate students are working to solve the biggest problems in our world today – feeding the world and keeping it healthy. Presentations and posters will come from faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in each of our six divisions, covering ideas as diverse as links between metabolic and cardiovascular disease; insects and their interactions among other organisms and their environment; modeling complex ecological systems, including emerging diseases; how plants recognize and respond to bacterial pathogens; piecing together bird genomes to learn what drives behavioral differences between species; and the economics of food consumption and health, including factors influencing consumer decision making. Hear lightning talks from graduate students and visit with them in the poster display area. Outside presenters include Charlene Finck, CAFNR alumna and president of Farm Journal, and Stacey Button, president of Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI). Events will begin at 1 p.m. each day at Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union; a reception will be held at 4 p.m. on Oct. 12. The schedule is available online, and will continue to be updated. Please let us know if you plan to attend by RSVPing online.
Grant Spotlight

Bing Yang, professor of plant sciences, was named to an interdisciplinary research team studying leaf angle of corn and the plant’s ability to soak up the summer sun needed for photosynthesis. The project is supported by a $2.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and has the potential to aid in the engineering of new hybrids and boost yields.

Just over $576,000 of that is supporting Yang in his work at CAFNR.

“Everyone in the interdisciplinary team compliments each other,” Yang said. “At MU, we are providing the tools, resources and the expertise.”

Yang’s expertise is in gene editing in plants. He hopes that this project will help him create a new version of corn with optimal leaf angle.

The project is led by Iowa State University’s Jainming Yu, and the research team also includes faculty from Cornell University and Saint Michael’s College. Yang and Yu have worked together extensively over the years, as Yang was formerly faculty at Iowa State. He was there for 12 years before joining CAFNR in 2018.

This grant is just one of four NSF grants totalling $2.7 million currently funding Yang’s lab. In the last year, he has also received $554,111 to study haploid induction, $822,481 to study mini maize and $750,000 to study non-host resistance from NSF.

“All of these projects connect with gene editing,” Yang said. “They are all looking to see how we can examine and improve the plant.”

Each of these projects are funded through 2026.

New Employee Spotlight
Martha Brendel
Martha Brendel

Lead Grant Writer

A Missouri native and long-time resident of Columbia, Martha Brendel graduated from MU with a B.A. in political science in 1986 and spent much of her career at the University. Starting as a writer and editor, she worked for the MU News Bureau and for the UM System Office of University Relations for 13 years. Brendel also worked as Outreach Coordinator for, an international non-profit that helps bring safe water and sanitation projects to communities in the developing world, and as Grants Coordinator at The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. For the past four years she served as Grant Writer, Lead, in the MU School of Medicine Office of Research, where she primarily assisted faculty working on NIH proposals. Brendel and her husband, Bob, are parents to three adult children who all attended MU, including one who earned a B.S. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. She enjoys walking and biking the trails, live music and cheering on the Blues and the Cardinals with her family.

David Lankitus
David Lankitus

Senior Grant Writer

David Lankitus graduated from Capital University majoring in biochemistry, chemistry, and biology. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in horticulture from The Ohio State University. David is a new Missouri resident and is enjoying Columbia’s walking trails and restaurants. He joins his wife Abbie as a new Mizzou employee and is excited to attend football games wearing black and gold with her. He enjoys cooking and baking as well as homebrewing mead (honey wine) and cider. David is excited to utilize knowledge from multiple disciplines to assist CAFNR researchers write funded proposals and pursue life-changing science.

Grant Tips

Upcoming Webinars to Help with your Grants

Broader Impacts Network Listening Session, Sept. 26, 12-1 p.m., Faculty Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union South — Enjoy lunch and conversation about broader impacts resources and campus support. Register here.

Grant Idea Development, Sept. 29, 12-1 p.m. (virtual) — There are many ways to conceptualize research projects. Starting with a logic model or theory of change can help you create a cohesive vision. Learn characteristics of a good model, how to develop one and how to communicate your model effectively. Register now

Research Roars

Abed Rabbani Wins Outstanding Paper Award

Abed Rabbani is part of a team of authors named Outstanding Paper Award recipients in the 2022 Emerald Literati Awards. The winning article was “A test of the association between the initial surge in COVID-19 cases and subsequent changes in financial risk tolerance,” in the journal Review of Behavioral Finance.

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

Rebecca North, Valuing Water Quality Improvements in Heartland Reservoirs, Environmental Protection Agency, 9/1/2022-8/31/2025, $740,014

Thomas Spencer, Discovery, Improvement, and Testing of Genetics that are Socially Acceptable for Genome Editing in Animal Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 7/15/2022-7/14/2023, $1,584,495

Randall Prather, National Swine Resource and Research Center, NIH Office of the Director, 9/1/22-8/31/23, $477,718

Kelly Nelson, Enhancing Surface Water Quality with New Conservation Technology, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 6/1/22-12/31/25, $154,973

Derek Brake, What Effect Does Placid LQ Have on Stress, Immunity and Performance Of High Risk Calves During The Backgrounding Phase?, Zinpro, Corp., 8/11/22-12/31/22, $33,624

Andrew Scaboo, Genomics for Improved Soybean Seed Composition, Agricultural Research Service, 9/1/22-8/31/23, $30,000

Grant Listings were unavailable for the summer months. We are working to include those grant announcements that haven’t been shared over the next few issues of Research Digest. Below are grants awarded in the months of May and June:

Bongkosh Vardhanabhuti, Effect of dairy protein gel particles on physical and sensory properties of ice cream, Midwest Dairy Association, 1/1/22-12/31/22, $35,200

Alba Argerich, 2022 National Lakes Assessment (NLA3) Survey, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 4/1/22-08/31/23, $100,390

Kelly Nelson, Evaluation of Urease and Nitrification Inhibitors with Surface-Applied Urea for Corn Production, Koch Agronomic Services, 4/1/22-12/31/22, $13,300

Jordon Wade, Developing a streamlined set of spatial-temporally resolved soil health indicators for maximizing productivity of Missouri soybean producers, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 10/1/22-9/30/23, $63,549

Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, Development of functional ultra-high stearic acid soybean germplasms, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 7/1/21-6/30/22; $25,000

Andrew Scaboo, North Missouri Soybean Breeding Program, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 7/1/21-6/30/22, $465,000

Andrew Scaboo, SCN Screening for Missouri Breeding Programs, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $125,000

Andrew Scaboo, Utilizing Molecular Markers for Soybean Variety Development, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 7/1/22-6/30/23, $137,000

Heike Buecking, Acquisition of Goods and Services – BCIRL FY22-23, Agricultural Research Service, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $550

Thomas Bonnot, Secondary Construction Phases of an Integrated Landscape Planning Tool for the Comprehensive Conservation Strategy: Evaluating Alternative Forest Management Scenarios in the Current River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area, Missouri Department of Conservation, 7/1/21-6/30/22, $99,812

Jeffrey Wood, Bridging the gap between carbon cycle models and remote sensing observations, California Institute of Technology, 9/1/21-8/31/22, $69,372

Abed Rabbani, Development of a Scale for Measuring Financial Risk Literacy, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 5/10/22-5/9/23, $5,000

Emily Sinnott, Southwest Bobwhite Quail Study Analysis, Missouri Department of Conservation, 3/1/22-12/31/22, $13,200

Tim Reinbott, Do Crop Rotation and Cover Crops Impact Soil Health, Soil Water, Productivity, and Profitability in Missouri Soybean Systems?, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $27,373

William Wiebold, Service Order – Wiebold/Knuckles Yield Testing, Syngenta, 3/7/22-3/31/23, $21,280

Chenhui Li, Assessing the Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Wetland Restoration in the Conservation Reserve Program: Measurements, Modeling, and Scaling Changes in Soil Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., 9/29/21-9/29/26, $480,008

Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, Screening soybean germplasm and breeding soybeans for flood tolerance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 7/1/22-6/30/23, $160,000

Hong He, Modeling the interaction of forest management and climate change on the spread and impact of non-native invasive plants, University of Massachusetts, 7/30/22-7/29/23, $111,623

Felix Fritschi, Increasing Genetic Diversity, Yield, and Protein of US Commercial Soybean Germplasm, Agricultural Research Service, 10/1/21-7/31/22, $40,609

Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, Development of maturity group III soybean with high yield and high protein content, Scoular, Co., 5/31/22-5/30/25, $226,800

Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, Delta Center Soybean Breeding Program, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 4/1/22-3/31/22, $475,000

Benjamin Knapp, Pollinator Habitats in Log Landings (PHiLL) Project, Forest Service, 5/20/22-5/31/25, $22,478.93

Jeffrey Wood, The 38th Annual Interdisciplinary Plant Group Symposium: Enhancing the Resilience of Plant Systems to Climate Change, U.S. Department of Energy, 5/1/22-4/30/23, $15,000

Felix Fritschi, Leveraging Stable Isotope Traits to Improve Soybean Water Use Efficiency and Yield Under Drought, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $107,000

Alba Argerich, Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $226,233

Rebecca North, Statewide Lakes Assessment Project, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 4/1/22-3/31/23, $202,886

Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center, Screening and Selecting Non-Xtend Soybeans for Dicamba Tolerance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, 7/1/22-6/30/23, $65,500

Lindsey Saunders, Finalization of two e-learning modules in risk-based food import controls, Foreign Ag Service, 5/28/22-9/30/22, $24,000

Kelly Nelson, Potential of Experimental Products to Reduce In-Field Nitrification Rate, Koch Agronomic Services, 4/1/22-12/31/22, $6,000

Gurbir Singh, Soil Water Chemistry Impacts following Application of Anhydrous Ammonia with CENTURO® Nitrogen Stabilizer in Corn, Koch Agronomic Services, 5/4/22-3/31/23, $25,270

In the News

MU receives $25 million grant for climate-smart farming practices

FAPRI report shows opportunity, headwinds for ag producers
High Plains Journal

USDA Funds Six International Research Projects on Climate-Smart Agriculture

Increasingly, ‘farm’ and ‘rural’ are not synonymous
Successful Farming

What consumers are picking at the meat counter
Brownfield Ag News

Testing the waters: How groups monitor toxic algae in the absence of state testing

When to expect the peak of fall foliage in the Ozarks

Missouri cotton, rice navigate weather variety
Missouri Farmer Today

Missouri farmers will get federal help to cope with and mitigate climate change
St. Louis Public Radio