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CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // September 24, 2020 // 2(18)
Message from the Dean
 (click to read)

I take this opportunity to thank all who have not just kept our research enterprise going during the months of social distancing, masking and sanitizing in labs and in the field, but have kept us thriving!

I know Dr. Jose has shared that CAFNR grant submissions have been robust in 2020. It’s really showing in the number of grants funded over the past couple of months. We put in place aggressive goals as part of our CAFNR strategic plan, Drive to Distinction. Performance measures under strategic priority “Advancing Research and Innovation” include increasing proposal submissions and research expenditures by 10 percent per year. This increase in projects means we are answering even more important research questions and contributing to healthy plants, animals and humans, as well as healthy communities, economies and ecosystems to change the world for the better.

I am also pleased that we started a number of improvement projects at our research centers as part of the $6.5 million funding commitment announced a year ago by UM System, the University of Missouri, MU Extension and CAFNR. This investment will enhance our ability to share next-generation agricultural technologies developed on our farms and centers with our state’s agricultural producers. Also as part of our strategic plan, the priority of “Empowering Missourians” has goals of doubling the economic impact of Missouri agriculture and increasing engagement at our research centers.

What you do every day is not only a huge part of the future direction of our college, but also vital to our state, our country and our world. Thank you for everything you do!

CAFNR Proud,
Christopher Daubert
Vice Chancellor and Dean

Research Highlights
Nature’s Soundtrack Returns After Centurylong Absence (click to read)
Nature’s Soundtrack Returns After Centurylong Absence »

MU researchers and partners reintroduce the brown-headed nuthatch to Missouri; The songbird disappeared from the state after the loss of its natural habitat

(The call of the brown-headed nuthatch sounds a lot like a rubber duck toy. Photo courtesy of Noppadol Paothong/Missouri Department of Conservation.)

Graduate Student Spotlight
Catherine Omosule, Biochemistry (click to read)
Catherine Omosule, Biochemistry

What is your research focus?
I am a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry. I am interested in improving bone strength in a disorder known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or brittle bone disease. People with brittle bone disease have fragile bones that break with minimal trauma, severely decreasing quality of life. Since bones respond to force from muscle, my research is testing the hypothesis that increasing muscle mass will improve bone strength. To do this, we are administering drugs that increase muscle mass and investigating what happens to the brittle bone in OI.

Why does this field interest you?
I have always had a passion for medicine. Growing up in an environment with limited healthcare resources combined with the translational research experiences, I have garnered the desire that my work contributes to improving health outcomes in patients.

I have been fortunate to attend conferences with other scientists whose work is revolutionizing the management of this incurable disease. I am thrilled by the possibility that the research done in our lab may be able to improve the quality of life of patients with OI and possibly other bone disorders.

Why did you decide to come to Mizzou?
I earned a BS in Biology from Mizzou in 2015 and decided to return to pursue my PhD in 2016. During my undergraduate studies, I was privileged to conduct research under the mentorship of smart and gracious scientists, including Dr. Zezong Gu. I knew pursuing a PhD at Mizzou will make available to me the immense breadth of resources (core facilities and faculty) as well as opportunities to present my research in the collaborative research environment here, while building my network.

Who is your advisor?
I have been immensely blessed to be mentored by Dr. Charlotte Phillips during my doctoral studies. The choice to join her lab was an easy one for me. Under her mentorship, I have presented at both local and international conferences and grown immensely into an independent researcher.

What are your future career plans?
Upon graduation, I hope to enroll in a clinical chemistry fellowship. A clinical chemistry fellowship enables me to contribute directly toward patient care through directing clinical laboratories and accurate diagnostic testing.

Agricultural Research Centers
Wurdack Research Center Virtual Field Day – Oct. 2 »

Wurdack will offer a handful of online, prerecorded presentations that will be available via the Center’s website and Facebook page. The virtual field day will be held on Friday, Oct. 2.

Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center: Virtual Chestnut Roast – Oct. 3 (click to read)
Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center: Virtual Chestnut Roast – Oct. 3 »

The HARC Virtual Chestnut Roast will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, with numerous unique videos available through the Research Center’s website and Facebook page.

Visit the links below to check out previous Agricultural Research Center Virtual Field Days.

Research Roars

Michael Cook Receives Best Paper Award for Co-Authored Study
Michael Cook, agricultural and applied economics professor and Partridge Chair of Cooperative Leadership, co-authored a study that received a Best Paper, Strategy Division award at the Academy of Management 2020 annual meeting in August. The paper, titled “From Instrumental to Normative Relational Strategies: A Study of Open Buyer-Supplier Relations,” takes a case study approach to examine the open vertical and horizontal relational strategy used by Natura, a company in the cosmetic industry.

CAFNR Research Council Webinar

The CAFNR Research Council webinar series presented a talk by Dr. Parag Chitnis, acting director of USDA NIFA, on “NIFA’s Transformation and Science Direction” Thursday, Sept. 17. To see the presentation, go to

The next webinar in the series will be Thursday, Oct. 1, at 3:30 p.m. Mary Hendrickson, associate professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences, will present on “Exploring Fairness in Agricultural Markets through Poultry and Dicamba.” Join the webinar at:

In the News

University of Missouri taps sewer lines to monitor COVID in dorms
Columbia Daily Tribune

Local farm families recognized for 100-year history

‘Now’s the opportunity’ – Songbird reintroduced in Missouri
Columbia Daily Tribune

MU Extension develops Beef Supplement Comparison Calculator
The Daily Star-Journal

The header images shows Zane Volkmann, who received assistance after an accident from the Missouri AgrAbility project, a collaboration with the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, MU Extension and several other groups. AgrAbility projects from 19 states, including Missouri, are part of the AgrAbility Virtual State Fair in October. The event offers help for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities or chronic health conditions, said Karen Funkenbusch, state director of the Missouri AgrAbility Project and a University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist. Every day in October, AgrAbility state projects will highlight farmers and ranchers through “Cultivating Accessible Agriculture.” Missouri farmers and ranchers are featured on Oct. 7. Short videos on Facebook and Twitter will tell about the latest assistive technologies, resources, safety tips and more. The AgrAbility Virtual State Fair coincides with the 75th annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Follow the event on Facebook (@AgrAbility Virtual State Fair) or Twitter (@AgrAbilityVSF) and read stories about people who benefitted from AgrAbility services at