Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917
AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
AMES, Iowa --
DESPITE AG ECONOMY, JOB PROSPECTS BRIGHT FOR NEW GRADS
Despite the downturn in Iowa's farm economy, job prospects for graduates from Iowa State's College of Agriculture look bright. From September through April, employers conducted 1,775 interviews with ISU agriculture students -- an increase of 60 interviews compared to the year before. Jobs in food production, quality assurance and food safety are perhaps the most in demand, says Mike Gaul, career services director for the college. Also plentiful are jobs in plant sciences, especially in biotechnology, horticulture and agribusiness fields such as commodity trading and sales. A survey of last year's bachelor degree recipients found that 98 percent were either working or pursuing further education six months after graduation. Contact Gaul, (515) 294-4725, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2314. (Call Adcock if you'd like to talk with fall 1998 graduates about their job experiences or with recruiters about agricultural employment opportunities.)
ISU PLANTING 20,000 TREES, SHRUBS IN STREAMSIDE PROJECT
This spring ISU forestry researchers are planting 20,000 trees and shrubs along Bear Creek north of Roland. Tom Isenhart, associate scientist, said the plantings are a continuation of a streamside management project on farmland along six miles of the creek. ISU scientists have been working on the project since 1990. The project not only beautifies the area but also improves water quality and wildlife habitat. The plantings, which will cover 65 acres, include such native Iowa species as cottonwood, silver maple, green ash and oak. The biggest challenge is working around the weather, Isenhart said. The goal is to have all the seedlings in the ground by mid-May. If all goes well, Isenhart predicts a 90 percent survival rate. Contact Isenhart, (515) 294-8056, or Barbara McManus, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0707.
ISU ALUMNUS NAMED HEAD OF USDA AGENCY
An Iowa State agriculture alumnus has been named the new head of the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES). Charles Laughlin, who earned his bachelor's degree in horticulture at ISU in 1963, was named CSREES administrator by Miley Gonzalez, the USDA under secretary for research, education and economics. (Gonzalez also has an ISU ag connection -- he was assistant director of International Agriculture Programs from 1988-91.) Since 1996, Laughlin has been the dean and director of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He also has held administrative positions at Colorado State, Georgia, Mississippi State, Michigan State and Florida universities. CSREES links the research and education programs of the USDA, and works with the nation's land-grant institutions, experiment stations and cooperative extension services. Contact Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
ISU LEADS NATIONAL ANTIMICROBIAL-DRUG DATABASE PROJECT
There are concerns that antimicrobial, or antibacterial, drugs are becoming less effective. The overuse of drugs is believed to be a major factor in bacteria becoming resistant. Currently, livestock veterinarians have no comprehensive source to guide them in the appropriate selection and use of antimicrobial drugs. ISU researchers are leading a national effort to develop an electronic library to help vets quickly obtain information on antimicrobial drugs. "This project will help give food-animal practitioners all the available information and scientific justification to support the course of treatment they decide to follow," said Mike Apley, who leads a team working to develop the scientific content and design of a database and Web site.
The project is funded by a coalition of livestock and practitioner groups, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Association of Swine Practitioners, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and others. In addition, ISU adjunct instructor Virginia Fajt has received a $15,000 fellowship from U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) to support the project. This is the first time USP has included a veterinary research project in its research fellowships. USP is a nonprofit organization that promotes public health by establishing and disseminating standards and information on the use of medicine and health-care technologies. Fajt will use the funds to develop database prototypes and test systems with food-animal practitioners. Contact Apley, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, (515) 294-6462; Virginia Fajt, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, (515) 294-7862; or Phyllis Peters, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-4602.
ISU WORKS ON QUICKER ANIMAL VACCINE DEVELOPMENT
ISU veterinary scientists are working on new ways to speed the development of animal vaccines. With the high number of compounds involved in producing recombinant vaccines, the pharmaceutical industry is interested in systems that can quickly assess vaccine efficacy. F. Chris Minion, Eileen Thacker and Michael Wannemuehler, researchers with ISU's Veterinary Medical Research Institute, have received a $200,000 Iowa State biotechnology grant to develop systems that more rapidly test antigens for their potential as vaccines. Antigens are substances that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies for fighting disease. The researchers are working with two swine disease models. Contact Minion, Veterinary Medical Research Institute, (515) 294-6347; Prem Paul, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-9348; or Phyllis Peters, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-4602.
HOLD THE SALT FOR FIRMER VEGGIES, SAYS FOOD SCIENTIST
Salt is a common ingredient in preserving vegetables, both at home and in processing plants. Using less salt can result in firmer, healthier veggies, said Mark Love, an ISU associate professor of food science and human nutrition. Love has studied how salt affects green beans that are cooked or canned at home, or commercially processed. Salt molecules attract water molecules, softening cell walls and producing a softer texture in the beans. Besides producing a firmer bean, Love said cooking with less salt is healthier because it lowers sodium intake. He added that study results have led to changes in how some commercial plants process vegetables. Contact Love, (515) 294-7346, or Barbara McManus, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0707.
NEW SPECIALIST TO BOOST DAIRY PROGRAMS IN WESTERN IOWA
The addition of an ISU Extension dairy specialist in northwest Iowa will help to expand the capabilities of an ISU group working to increase the competitiveness of dairy producers in that part of the state. Magdalena Kurz, who has been a dairy consultant for the past eight years, will work with producers of existing and expanding dairies. The new position was funded through a partnership involving ISU Extension, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Institute of Cooperatives, Iowa Dairy Products Association and agribusinesses. Kurz will be a member of the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, a group of ISU faculty and specialists in farm management, agricultural engineering, animal science, economics and veterinary medicine. The alliance also includes Ron Orth, dairy consultant with the Iowa Institute of Cooperatives. The alliance's activities have included a tour of northwest Iowa dairies and a four-state dairy management seminar. Twenty-one agribusiness and finance related contributors support the alliance's programs. Contact Kurz, (712) 737-4230; Ron Orth, (515) 292-2667; or Jolene Stevens, Extension Communications, (712) 274-0048.
MIDDLE SCHOOLERS LEARN THERE'S DOUGH IN AG CAREERS
Pizza will be on the minds of seven teams of middle-school students who'll visit the Iowa State University campus May 14-15. This is the second Pizz-A-Thon, a project to generate interest in agricultural careers among young people. The student teams have been working in their schools to develop what they hope will be prize-winning pizzas. They have researched the origins of their pizza ingredients and developed marketing portfolios. During their two days at ISU, the students will tie-in their research with what they see and hear about agricultural careers. The teams will prepare their creations, and students will vote on the winning pizza. Team reports will be presented over the Iowa Communications Network to parents watching at remote sites. Contact Eldon Weber, Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-0893, or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0705.
SOME PLANTS WEATHER FLOODING BETTER THAN OTHERS: WHY?
Farmers who deal with flooded fields after excessive summer rains may welcome information from a study designed to discover why some plants survive floods better than others. Mark Hargrove, ISU assistant professor of biochemistry, leads a study on how plants survive in low oxygen environments. The results could lead to crops that better survive floods, freezing and other oxygen-deprived conditions. Hargrove suspects the key to a plant's survival in standing water is a protein that transports oxygen. Research indicates the protein helps a plant maintain a healthy level of ATP, a compound that supplies energy to cells. "Genetic engineering and plant breeding techniques could one day help scientists exploit this new class of protein to enable plant survival during flooding," Hargrove said. Contact Mark Hargrove, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, (515) 294- 2616; or Danelle Baker-Miller, Office of Biotechnology, (515) 294-7356.
MUSCLE RESEARCH MAY BENEFIT LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY, HUMAN HEALTH
A new study on muscle development may help livestock breeders develop leaner animals, and help medical professionals develop better ways to rehabilitate human muscles. James Reecy, ISU assistant professor of animal science, says minute biochemical changes in muscle fibers occur in response to muscle stress. These changes signal proteins to start building up, resulting in an increase in muscle mass. Right now there isn't a clear understanding of how additional stress signals an increase in muscle size, Reecy said. To find out which genes play a role in this process, he will identify genes expressed under normal conditions and when muscle cells are stretched from exercise. After the genes are identified, he will determine how they are turned on and off during muscle development. This may help livestock breeders develop methods to increase muscling, resulting in leaner animals. The work also may lead to improved therapies for rehabilitating human muscles; offering new options for people suffering from cancer, HIV or broken bones; and muscle- stressed astronauts returning from space. Contact Reecy, Animal Science, (515)294-9269, or Danelle Baker-Miller, Office of Biotechnology, (515) 294-7356.
AN INTERNATIONAL LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF ANIMAL GENETICS/BREEDING
Iowa State will host scientists from 19 countries on May 16- 18 for "From Jay Lush to Genomics: Visions for Animal Breeding and Genetics," a symposium examining the future of the field. The meeting will honor the work of Lush, an ISU researcher who pioneered the scientific discipline of animal breeding and genetics. The event will feature leading experts in animal genetics, human genetics and bioinformatics. They will discuss challenges in genetic evaluation of livestock, current and future applications of genomics, the future role of computing in this field, animal genetics in a changing global economy, and the evolution of animal genetics from human and mouse genome projects. For program information, contact Max Rothschild, Animal Science, (515) 294-6202; Sue Lamont, Animal Science, (515) 294-4100; or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706. For registration information, contact Gretchen Triplett, (515) 294-2071. Information also can be found on the Web at http://www.public.iastate.edu/~ans/graduate/visions.html
DISEASE-PREVENTING FOODS IS FOCUS OF FOOD INDUSTRY DAY
"Hype or Hope? What the Food Industry Needs to Know About Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods" is the theme of the fourth annual Iowa Food Industry Day, May 19, at Iowa State. Each year, ISU's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Center for Crops Utilization Research invite representatives from the state's food processing companies to learn about current food issues and research. This year's program will discuss the development and marketing of foods that may help prevent diseases. Speaking will be ISU faculty members and David Hettinga, vice president of research, technology and engineering for Land O'Lakes. Contact Connie Hardy, (515) 294-3394; Bill LaGrange, (515) 294-3156; or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
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