All posts by dlapenta

Researchers discover corn plants call in hungry nematodes when resistant rootworms attack

Ivan Hiltpold, an assistant professor of entomology, stands in a corn field.
Ivan Hiltpold, an assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, grew up in Switzerland. Years later, he did research in Australia and joined UD in 2016.

Someday – in some scientifically savvy encyclopedia perhaps – the word “resilience” may include a photograph of the Western Corn Rootworm. This crafty, intrepid rootworm has found a way to circumvent just about every defense a corn plant and its advocates have thrown at it.

This is why its street name is “Billion Dollar Bug” in many agricultural circles, a name that reflects the size of this insect’s annual bite into the coffers of U.S. corn growers, who last year year planted 89.1 million acres of the crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not all of that acreage is at risk. But the rootworm is considered the most important pest in the Midwest’s Corn Belt, where corn production is highest, led by Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota.

Consider this rootworm’s impressive record: It has survived granular insecticides and sprayed insecticides. It has figured out how to beat crop-rotation practices, which discourage rootworm population increases. And, scientists say, it has developed resistance to hybrid corn plants that were engineered with toxins released when the rootworms attacked, a defense that had proven effective for at least a decade.

Now researchers at the University of Delaware and the USDA have discovered an indirect defensive strategy used by the hybrid plant that provides some recourse against this stubborn creature. Ivan Hiltpold, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the USDA’s Bruce Hibbard, who leads plant genetics research  at the University of Missouri, published their findings in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Read the full article on UDaily

Provost Morgan honored with Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service to Delaware Agriculture

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons congratulate Robin Morgan on her award for service to Delaware agriculture.University of Delaware Provost Robin Morgan was recognized Thursday, Jan. 24, at the 48th Delaware Agricultural Industry Dinner with the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service to Delaware Agriculture. She was honored for her commitment to agriculture through education, research and encouraging the next generation of agriculturalists.

“I was a newcomer to agriculture when I came to Delaware three decades ago. Many people in academia, industry and government patiently taught me about poultry health and agricultural sustainability, and maybe I taught them a little something about molecular biology,” Morgan said. “Somewhere along the way, I became very committed to food and water security, which are major challenges for our society.” Morgan has also indicated that this award was especially meaningful because it was kept a very tight secret, and she had no inkling that she was the recipient. Read the full article on UDaily

Mock outbreak for final exam

Examining a blood smear under the microscope, student Conor Naughton fills the role of CDC epidemiologist working to identify the cause of the outbreak.When an outbreak of disease strikes in remote parts of the world, a field response team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works quickly to identify, investigate, and treat the disease to maintain global health security. In December, while many University of Delaware students were finishing written final exams, the students in Medical, Veterinary, and Forensic Entomology (ENWC267) were testing their own emergency response and critical thinking skills in a mock outbreak and CDC investigation. The first of its kind in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this experiential final saw students pretending to be deployed to the Amazon rainforest where they explored a laboratory transformed into a mock outbreak zone complete with medical tent, research station, and local farm. Read the full article on UDaily.

EPSCoR kickoff brings together statewide leaders to celebrate $23 million grant

Illustration of a buoy and fish jumping out of the oceanParticipants in Delaware’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) gathered alongside state leaders and community partners on Friday, Jan. 11, to celebrate the launch of a new five-year, $23-million grant to further expand environmental research in the First State. EPSCoR is a federal-state partnership sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that engages Delaware’s academic institutions in cutting-edge research and training activities that address critical needs of the state. The new grant is the fourth EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grant awarded to Delaware since its designation as an EPSCoR state in 2003. The award supports activities at the four partner institutions — the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College and Wesley College. The state of Delaware is contributing $3.8 million of the overall grant through matching funds over the next five years. Delaware Gov. John Carney offered his congratulations to those in attendance at the event, held at Delaware State University, reflecting on EPSCoR’s humble beginnings from an experimental program to the established program today that “has taken root in our state” to address problems such as water quality, increased salinity and other challenges related to climate change. Read the full article on UDaily.

To stop trashing of Delaware’s water supply, we must work together

Holly Michael stands next to Kent Messer in front of a projection screen.Applied Economics and Statistics’ and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s Holly Michael teamed up for an op-ed on the state of Delaware’s water supply. The pair are the project director and research lead for a $23 million research effort dubbed Project WiCCED, a multi-institution, interdisciplinary collaboration to understand and develop solutions for Delaware’s water security. The project integrates engineering, natural, and social sciences, including the application of advanced data analytics, the development and deployment of new sensor technologies, and the use of new techniques and models to predict the often-coupled behavior of water resources and people. Read the op-ed on Delaware Online.

Delaware gets $19 million for water research

A boat passes Beach Cove in Delaware's Inland Bays near Bethany Beach.WHYY — As the country’s lowest-lying state, Delaware is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels — and the influence of saltwater on the wildlife that depends on freshwater wetlands. What’s more, water quality throughout the state is poor. More than 90 percent of Delaware’s waterways are polluted, according to a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control study cited by the University of Delaware’s Kent Messer. Now, Messer is leading a massive research project seeking a solution to the state’s water woes — with the help of the  National Science Foundation, that has awarded the effort $19 million over the next five years to fund the work. Read the full article on WHYY.

Genome science class allows graduate students to create problem-based learning resources for undergraduates

Graduate student Jolie Wax presents a problem-based learning exercise in front of the class.Exploring a new way to teach, University of Delaware graduate students in Randy Wisser’s “Genome Science: Technology and Techniques” course gained practical experience not only in the field of genome science, but also in helping others learn. That experience culminated in the development of a problem-based learning (PBL) exercise for undergraduates that was published in Genetics Society of America’s Peer-Reviewed Education Portal. Problem-based learning is a method of teaching where the motivation to learn is stimulated by confronting real-world problems and learning is elevated by addressing the problems in teams. For PBL, exercises are developed to implement the teaching method. Wisser sought to use this as a platform for teaching his graduate students. Read the full story on UDaily.

Mock outbreak investigation tests students’ teamwork and critical thinking

Students in hazmat suits perform a mock outbreak investigation tests students’ teamwork and critical thinking.
From left to right: Natalie Wong, TJ Fedirko, and Abby Clarke review notes from their patient interview to determine the disease and offer treatment options.
When an outbreak of disease strikes in remote parts of the world, a field response team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works quickly to identify, investigate, and treat the disease to maintain global health security. In December, while many University of Delaware students were finishing written final exams, the students in Medical, Veterinary, and Forensic Entomology (ENWC267) were testing their own emergency response and critical thinking skills in a mock outbreak and CDC investigation. The first of its kind in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this experiential final saw students “deployed” to the Amazon rainforest where they explored a laboratory transformed into a mock outbreak zone complete with medical tent, research station, and local farm.  
 student Conor Naughton peers through a microscope
Examining a blood smear under the microscope, student Conor Naughton fills the role of CDC epidemiologist working to identify the cause of the outbreak.
Students split into teams of CDC medics, entomologists, and epidemiologists to interview various actors in an effort to determine the disease, treatment, and best vector control methods. Several current and former Entomology and Wildlife Ecology graduate students volunteered to portray physicians, researchers, farmers and ill patients, and answered student questions on a range of topics including health symptoms, native insects, and recent weather events. After two hours of investigation and deliberation, students collectively presented their findings and correctly attributed the outbreak to yellow fever virus, transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito.
Sam McGonigle, Nick Benton, and Sophie Menos looks at species of insects.
From left to right: Sam McGonigle, Nick Benton, and Sophie Menos work as CDC entomologists, searching insect specimens to identify potential disease vectors.
Led by Entomology and Wildlife Ecology doctoral candidate Ashley Kennedy and Associate Professor of Entomology Charles Bartlett, this imaginative final was modeled after a similar exam designed by renowned medical entomologist Jerome Goddard at Mississippi State University.  As with most finals, it is meant to test students’ ability to synthesize information they’ve learned throughout the course of a semester. However, because each student is assigned a specific CDC role and interviews only actors relevant to that role, this test relies not only on each student’s critical thinking but also their ability to cooperate, share information and present a final team report. Kennedy was excited to introduce this test format to students at the University of Delaware.  “I think that having a hands-on experience where they’re face-to-face with patients and other people impacted by an outbreak was good training,” said Kennedy, “to remind them that these are real diseases that still affect millions of people worldwide and not just a thing of the past.” Medical, Veterinary, and Forensic Entomology will be offered again in Fall 2019.
Two students role play as CDC scientists while an aluna lays on the ground as a pretend patient.
Recent alumna Devan George acts as an injured patient and explains her ailments to the student medics (left to right) Natalie Wong, TJ Fedirko and Abby Clarke.
Article and photos by Lauren Bradford

Investigating water in Delaware’s changing coastal environment

Professor Kent Messer stands next to a presentation on “Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware. Principal investigator Kent Messer (Applied Economics and Statistics) is leading “Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware (Project WiCCED). Scientists and researchers from the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College and Delaware Technical Community College, will work together with their students to take a closer look at challenges facing the water supplies that residents, businesses, farmers and wildlife rely on for survival. The National Science Foundation contributed $19 million in funding and the state of Delaware provided $3.9 million. Learn more about the research study on Delaware Online.

Genuine or fake seeds? UD researchers ‘dig in’ to how seed fraud impacts Kenyan farmers

University of Delaware alumnus Mariam Gharib (right) helps a Kenyan farmer verify the corn seed’s authenticity by submitting the certification code listed on the seed packet to the manufacturer via a text from his cell phone.For farmers, a productive harvest can mean money in the bank.  Poor yield due to drought, pests and other environmental factors, on the other hand, can threaten livelihoods. Improved seed varieties have been developed to address these problems for many agricultural crops. Yet while agricultural production in the United States continues to rise, in areas of Africa, such as Kenya, gains in agricultural production have been more limited. This is particularly true of corn, or maize, productivity in the Nyanza Province, which occupies the largest share of the region’s farmland compared to other crops and is a staple food for more than 90 percent of the area’s population. According to University of Delaware alumnus Mariam Gharib, a Kenya native, one possible reason for this production lag may be seed fraud, a practice where plant seeds marketed as high-performance have actually been tampered with or been replaced with inferior products. Read the full article on UDaily.

Survey shows Marylanders support deer hunting

White-tailed deer in high grassThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the results of a public opinion survey, done in cooperation with the University of Delaware and Responsive Management on white-tailed deer. The survey, taken by more than 2,200 individuals representing the general population, landowners and hunters, found that a majority like deer, but a significant proportion of the population are concerned with the negative impacts deer cause. Read the article on Southern Maryland News Net.

UD alumnus Courtney Campbell shares his passion for veterinary medicine

UD alumnus Dr. Courtney Campbell poses on the set of Pet Talk, the first talk show of its kind on Nat Geo Wild.Current students joined University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources alumni and veterinarians in Townsend Hall during UD’s Homecoming Weekend at the Pre-Vet Alumni and Delaware Veterinary Practitioners Reception. While most of the guests hailed from the mid-Atlantic, the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Courtney Campbell, traveled all the way from California for the occasion. But jetlag couldn’t possibility slow down this class of 2001 alumnus, who is bursting with endless positive energy. Campbell is no stranger to the microphone, the camera or long work days. While practicing veterinary medicine at VetSurg in Ventura, California, he’s appeared on Live with Kelly, hosted the National Geographic show Pet Talk and makes regular trips down the 101 Freeway to Los Angeles for media appearances. Read the full article on UDaily.

How Delaware oysters reappeared on local menus

Delaware's blossoming shellfish aquaculture program was highlighted in November with a tour of Delaware Cultured Seafood's nursery operation near Millsboro. (Photo: Jason Minto, The News Journal) Southern Delaware oysters are back on the menu thanks to new aquaculture program. Delaware Online has the story on the businesses getting involved and what it means for bay waters. The article mentions University of Delaware research on the consumer demand for oysters and how it can have a positive impact on water quality. Watch the video and read the article.

Tara Trammell to study ecological effects of excess nitrogen in small forests

Assistant Professor Tara Trammell speaks to students at a local state park. Nitrogen is an essential element required by all life — vital for plant and animal growth and nourishment. But, an overabundance of nitrogen can cause negative ecological effects. Over the past century, the amount of nitrogen cycling through the environment has drastically changed with humans as the culprit. “We’ve doubled the amount of reactive nitrogen cycling through the environment,” said Tara Trammell, the John Bartram Assistant Professor of Urban Forestry in the University of Delaware Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “Prior to the Industrial Revolution, nitrogen would cycle tightly within ecosystems. Through human activities, we are converting inert forms of nitrogen into reactive forms, like inorganic fertilizer, that plants can use.” Read the full article on UDaily.

Bright lights, big city: why light pollution threatens migratory birds

Bright lights of a big city reflecting off of a bayMigratory birds rely on high quality habitat in which to rest overnight during their annual journeys. However, a recent study from our Jeff Buler suggests that city lights can divert birds from their traditional flight paths. By resting in areas with fewer resources – be it less cover for protection or fewer plants and insects to eat – birds may need more time to complete their migrations and arrive at their destinations in poorer condition. Read the full article in Yale Environment Review.

Graduate fellowship provides pathway to landscape architecture graduate work at Penn

UD landscape architecture program director Jules Bruck (left) teaches undergraduates in the Landscape Architecture Design Studio in Townsend Hall.The Department of Plant and Soil Sciences has agreed to a landscape architecture fellowship with the University of Pennsylvania. The “Penn/Delaware Graduate Fellowship” provides a pathway for talented UD landscape architecture undergraduates to pursue graduate education with PennDesign’s Department of Landscape Architecture. As potential fellows, top UD applicants to PennDesign will receive a scholarship to pursue either a master’s or dual graduate degree. Read the full article.

Woolly caterpillars can’t predict winter and 10 other facts you didn’t know

Black and brown wolly bear caterpillarDELAWARE ONLINE — On warm fall days, it can be almost impossible to avoid squishing the fuzzy caterpillars frantically crossing the road.

Black and brown banded woolly bear caterpillars, also known as woolly worms, are one of thousands of caterpillars found in the Mid-Atlantic. But they win the prize for one of the fastest moving of their kind in Delaware – and it is not because they’re racing to the polls.

And while tall tales say their coloration is a sure sign of how bleak the upcoming winter will be (the story is that thicker the woolly bear’s brown band, the milder the season ahead), scientists have debunked that myth.

“There’s a lot of genetic variability in populations … the band width is varying,” said Doug Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist and advocate for native plants and wildlife. “Just like humans, we have different hair colors and different eye colors, and that doesn’t mean we had a lot to eat or that the winter is going to be bad.” Read the full article on Delaware Online.

Mark Manno to National 4-H Hall of Fame

At the 4-H Hall of Fame award ceremony, Mark’s Manno family (seated) is surrounded by former and current Cooperative Extension staff and volunteers from across the state of Delaware. From left to right seated: Mark Manno’s son, Mark, wife Sandy, daughter Nikki and son Tony.The National 4-H Hall of Fame posthumously inducted Mark Manno, former 4-H program leader at the University of Delaware, for his lifetime achievements and contributions, which impacted thousands of youth and families across the state. Manno’s career and service was well known on campus and throughout Delaware during his four decades with Cooperative Extension. “Mark was a one-of-a-kind, outgoing individual with a huge heart and passion for youth and the 4-H program,” said UD Cooperative Extension director Michelle Rodgers. “His legacy continues through the ongoing programs, contacts and networks that he helped establish. He is an eternal part of Delaware 4-H’s DNA.” Read the full article on UDaily.

Ecologists have this simple request to homeowners—plant native

In areas made up of less than 70 percent native plant biomass, Carolina chickadees will not produce enough young to sustain their populations. At 70 percent or higher, the birds can thrive. (Desirée Narango)They say the early bird catches the worm. For native songbirds in suburban backyards, however, finding enough food to feed a family is often impossible. A newly released survey of Carolina chickadee populations in the Washington, D.C., metro area shows that even a relatively small proportion of nonnative plants can make a habitat unsustainable for native bird species. The study, published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to examine the three-way interaction between plants, arthropods that eat those plants, and insectivorous birds that rely on caterpillars, spiders and other arthropods as food during the breeding season. The University of Delaware Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology collaborated with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center on the research. Read the full article on

Drought fighter found in soil

Some discoveries happen by accident. Consider how Sept. 28, 1928, unfolded: Alexander Fleming, back in the lab after a vacation with the family, was sorting through dirty Petri dishes that hadn’t been cleaned before he went away. A mold growing on one of the dishes caught his attention — and so began the story of the world’s first antibiotic: penicillin. Recently, at the University of Delaware, the plants didn’t get watered one long weekend during a small botany experiment. That has now led to an intriguing finding, especially for areas of the globe hit hard by drought — the American West, Europe, Australia, portions of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, among them. Climate scientists say we should expect more frequent and severe droughts in the years ahead, while population experts predict about a 30 percent increase in world population, to more than 9 billion by 2050. How will we grow enough food for everyone under such pressures, and do so sustainably? According to this UD research, the answer may lie right under our feet. Read the full article on UDaily.

These plants bring all the birds to your yard

Researchers studied the impact of non-native plants on the Carolina chickadee, an ideal representative for bird species in the eastern and southeastern U.S.Popular Science interviewed Professor of Entomology Doug Tallamy and his former Ph.D. student Desiree Narango about their recently published research on non-native plants and population reductions on insectivorous birds. Working with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), the researchers investigated the link between non-native plants and birds’ population growth in human-dominated landscapes. This is the first time that the breeding success of a bird has been directly tied to landscape decisions that homeowners make. Tallamy also provides advice what native plants support biodiversity. Read the feature in Popular Science.

UD hosts first of three symposia on grand challenges in water sustainability

The University of Delaware's Alma Vázquez-Lule (left) and keynote speaker Robert Twilley of Louisiana State University
UD Plant and Soil Sciences graduate student Alma Vázquez-Lule (left) and keynote speaker Robert Twilley of Louisiana State University
The University of Delaware hosted the first of three symposia in the graduate-student inspired “Human and Climate Series.” The goal is to bring together students, faculty and professionals to share research and knowledge centered on water sustainability, as well as expose scholars to potential career paths within water sciences. The first installment – Dynamic Hydrology from Land to Sea – brought UD and national experts to Pencader Hall. Speakers ranged from veteran water sustainability researchers to first-year graduate students.
aculty members and private sector professionals speak to graduate students.
William Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium, speaks at a symposium career panel.
  “We had a broad range of working professionals — both the invited speakers spanning government agencies, private companies and academia, as well as participants,” noted Holly Michael, the Unidel Fraser Russell Career Development Chair for the Environment and an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. “In particular, the career panel helped give students perspectives on various career avenues as well as strategies for getting there.” In his keynote presentation “Ecosystem design approaches in a highly engineered landscape of the Mississippi River Delta,” Robert Twilley, executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, provided a historical perspective on the human connection to water, the impact on the critical areas and a look into the future if human behavior does not change. “Sea level rise amplifies decisions we make on how we use our land. We have to think about the consequences of what we do with land and water resources,” explained the Louisiana State University professor. “If you make not-so-smart decisions, they become really not-so-smart. If you make though, right decisions, they become really smart decisions.” Twilley feels an area that will come to define these decisions is cost. He advised to keep an eye out for insurance rates in coastal zones. How we use land directly impacts water quality, an important topic in a state where agriculture is the Number one industry. “Delaware is a state that is susceptible to sea level rise and has some tough decisions,” said Twilley. “Coming from a farming family myself, I know there is a lot of conservation mindedness in the people managing that land. There needs to be an awareness of downstream effects.” The day also featured sessions on coastal processes, environmental networks and monitoring, social dynamics and water management, and watershed processes and management.
Graduate student Samuel Villarreal speaks at the podium.
Water Science and Policy Ph.D. student Samuel Villarreal
The creation of the conference was completely organic. UD graduate students across several disciplines, including Margaret Capooci, saw the need for an interdisciplinary discussion on water sustainability. “The symposium provided us an opportunity to learn about how various sectors approach issues related to water sustainability,” said the Water Science and Policy doctoral student. “It underscored the importance of working across sectors and disciplines to address them.” Students on the symposia organizing committee are a mix of Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) Environmental Fellows, members of the Water Science and Policy Program as well as students from three colleges — the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (CEOE), the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), and the College of Engineering (COE). “I heard great feedback from students who enjoyed the range of water science, engineering and policy topics covered,” added Michael. “Faculty and professionals commented on the professionalism of the student organizers and the excellent job they did in putting the event together.” The second and third part of the Human and Climate Series takes place in March and June respectively. The March 22nd symposia focuses on water for food and energy; the June 7 symposia covers science, management and policy. The student and faculty steering committees will now incorporate ideas and feedback that followed Friday’s symposium — laying out the agenda for the two 2019 events. They are keen on inviting speakers with a different set of perspectives and whose research addresses novel topics in water sustainability.
Samuel Villarreal, UD graduate student
Water Science and Policy Ph.D. student Samuel Villarreal
About the Human and Climate Series This symposia series is funded through the UD Office of Graduate and Professional Education, Grand Challenges program and organized by the DENIN Water Working Group and graduate students studying water across campus. About the organizers Graduate student members of the Water Sustainability Challenges Symposia Student Committee include Margaret Capooci, Julia Guimond, Alma Vázquez-Lule, Jillian Young Lauren Mosesso, Chunlei Wang and Shanru Tian. The faculty steering committee includes Jeanette Miller, Holly Michael, Shreeram Inamdar, Todd Keyser, Scott Ensign, Yo Chin and Dave Arscott.  

Record number of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources students

As 10-day student total became official at the University of Delaware this fall, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources broke a record. The 2018 student enrollment total reached an apex of 1,057 students with 865 undergraduates and 208 graduate students. The previous recorded high for the college was 1,045 in 1975. “We have been working toward this goal for at least five years, so it is great to see the record broken,” said Mark Rieger, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I am so proud of the faculty, staff, students and stakeholders who have all contributed to this outstanding achievement, and I know I can count on them to help us grow even further.” Total number of students in 2018: 1,057 Highlights from across the University include:
  • A record number of Delawareans (more than 2,000);
  • A record number of international students (290);
  • A record number of students in UD’s innovative Associate in Arts program dispersed among Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown campuses (475);
  • The strongest academic credentials in history (1275 average SAT, 3.76 average high school GPA); and
  • The second largest class of honors students in history (600).

Master Gardeners and Main Towers residents team up on Newark community garden

On a pair of high-rise gardening beds behind Main Towers in Newark, a small, but growing group of resident gardeners gathers every week. Their community garden at the independent senior living complex is bursting with tomatoes, beans, peppers and summer squash. “We each take our turn watering. Then we meet as a group on Wednesdays to fix and fertilize,” said Main Towers resident Catherine Hoddinott. “It’s really fun coming out here.” The effort is guided by Master Gardener volunteer and educator Rick Judd. The former scientist and gardening enthusiast retired a few years ago. Wanting to further develop and share his gardening knowledge, he trained to become a certified master gardener through University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Read the full article on UDaily.

Five proposals selected for multicultural course development

The University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) is developing multicultural courses within its existing curriculum. The effort will expose students to opportunities they might otherwise not be afforded. Prior to graduation, UD undergraduate students must take at least one multicultural course and a 2017 survey of CANR faculty found that 76 percent of respondents taught courses that address one or more of the diversity competencies — cultural intelligence, diversity self-awareness, perspective taking, personal and social responsibility, knowledge application and understanding global systems. Despite this, only one regularly offered CANR course (Plants and Human Culture) officially satisfies the University’s multicultural course requirement. With the goal of increasing multicultural course offerings, the college centered this year’s teaching mini-grants on this topic. To apply for a grant, CANR faculty looked at existing courses and presented curriculum revisions, new materials and professional development opportunities that would transform those courses into multicultural courses. College leadership evaluated the proposals and selected five to implement.
  • Wildlife Policy and Administration (ENWC413/613)
  • Sustainable Development (APEC100)
  • Food for Thought (ANFS102)
  • History of Landscape Architecture (LARC202)
  • Animals and Human Culture (ANFS100)
“All of these courses are great examples of how agriculture and natural resources contribute to UD undergraduates’ multicultural awareness,” added CANR Dean Mark Rieger. “[Associate Professor] Tanya Gressley gets all the credit. She wrote the grant guidelines and ushered this effort along. Our faculty did a wonderful job with their proposals.” As Rose Muravchick, assistant director of UD’s Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, explains, this effort demonstrates the college’s commitment to inclusive excellence. “This is a wonderful initiative that supports many of the University’s strategic goals. It demonstrates that CANR highly values teaching,” said Muravchick. “Many faculty members are passionate about creating supportive, inclusive and diverse learning spaces and courses. They are experts in their research areas, but also talented pedagogues.” The revised courses will be submitted for certification with hopes that all five will meet UD’s multicultural course requirement beginning in fall of 2019.

About the courses

Wildlife Policy and Administration (ENWC413/613)
Professor Chris Williams dressed in a suit.Chris Williams, professor of wildlife ecology who also oversees CANR’s waterfowl and upland game bird research program, provides an introduction to policy issues that relate to wildlife management and natural resources. Students study how cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and history affect values relationships to the land and wildlife. Williams will challenge participants to consider how race, indigenous cultures and non-European origins affect values toward a broader global relationship with the land. His students will analyze the ethical, social, and environmental consequences of policies and ideologies. They will systematically ponder how institutions, ideologies, rhetoric and European-descended cultural representations shape North American culture, identity and values toward the land and wildlife.
Sustainable Development (APEC100)
Professor Kent Messer dressed in a suit. Kent Messer, the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Career Development Chair for the Environment in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, will engage students in learning and critical thinking about a variety of pressing issues, such as natural resource management, environmental protection and poverty alleviation. From a regional, national, international and multicultural context, the course integrates natural science, economics, ethics and policy to improve the wellbeing of people and the environment. Messer will discuss how cultural differences impact agricultural production, environmental conditions and policies as well and the plight and environmental degradation of low-income communities.
Food for Thought (ANFS102)
Professor Kali Kniel takes a head shot. CANR students will gain an appreciation for the complexity of food production, product development and distribution systems from Kali Kniel, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. The course provides an overview and an introduction to the fascinating and complex world of food science. Students will consider how foods shape our identity, realities and perspectives. Kniel will cover global food topics and critical issues of social responsibility — such as food waste and food insecurity.
History of Landscape Architecture (LARC202)
Professor Anna Wik poses for a head shot.Anna Wik, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, provides an introduction to the history of landscape architecture — from pre-history through modern times. Students not only review specific gardens, landscapes and designed spaces, but are also required to consider the philosophical, social and cultural reasons these landscapes came to be. Students reflect what is aesthetic, safe and sacred. They will also explore diverse attitudes and outlooks upon nature and the built environment throughout history. Finally, students gain a goal perspective, investigating landscape architecture from ancient Mycenaean culture; Egypt; Italian Renaissance; Chinese, Japanese, Islamic gardens of the Iberian peninsula and Mughal empire gardens of India.
Animals and Human Culture (ANFS100)
Professor Eric Benson poses for a head shot. Eric Benson, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, will teach students about the important role of animals in human society and how animals’ significance varies across cultural settings. Participants will explore human-animal interactions on issues related to food and fiber production, welfare, conservation, research, work and service, natural and man-made disasters, zoonotic disease, and human health. Benson will incorporate international production and management approaches, provide a historical perspective on animal welfare and greatly broaden students’ perspective and self-awareness around the subject.

Prestigious equine opportunity

Seniors Jenna Deal and Catherine Galbraith took part in a prestigious equine internship program at Camden Training Center. The 10-week opportunity provided a hands-on look at the world of Thoroughbred race horses. Under the tutelage of manager Donna Freyer, the pair took on up to 10-hour days of barn management, and daily care and training of 40 young Thoroughbred and Warmblood horses. Read the full article on UDaily.
Catherine Galbraith rides Rémy, a two-year-old “off the track thoroughbred (OTTB)” who she later adopted.
Catherine Galbraith
Senior Jenna Deal poses with two Thoroughbred horses at Camden Training Center.
Jenna Deal

Agricultural risk management strategies

Sheep on a farm in front of a corn field. The Northeast Extension Risk Management Education (ERME) Center at the University of Delaware recently awarded 10 grants for educational projects. Supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, these grants fund outreach that provides training and tools for producers to establish new risk management strategies. The goal is to strengthen the economic viability of agribusinesses. Read the full article on UDaily.

Water in a Changing Coastal Environment

Beach view in Lewes, DelawareAn estimated 40 percent of the world’s population resides within roughly 60 miles of a coast. Delaware has a rich coastal environment with 381 miles of tidal shoreline, including 24 miles of ocean coastline and approximately 90,000 acres of tidal wetlands. Coastal regions throughout the world have entered a critical period when multiple pressures threaten water security, which the United Nations defines as society’s capacity to safeguard adequate, sustainable quantities of high-quality water. A new five-year, $19.2 million Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grant from the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) will help Delaware develop solutions to water issues related to human, economic and ecosystem health. In addition to the federal award, the state of Delaware has committed $3.8 million in support of this initiative. Read the full story on UDaily.

The Art of Scientific Publishing with Harold Drake

Scientific journals have very high rejection rates — 75 percent or greater. The transformation of a manuscript into a published paper is a major challenge. Learn the logistics of publishing in scientific journals and approaches for minimizing perils from expert editor Harold Drake, Chair of the Department of Ecological Microbiology at the University of Bayreuth in Germany and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM). AEM has a broad interdisciplinary profile and is the number one cited journal in microbiology and biotechnology. AEM is published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) which publishes many journals in various fields of microbiology, including virology, immunology, and clinical microbiology.

Support from private and public sector provides key experiences for UD student internships

This summer, Mark Isaacs, director of the University of Delaware Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, coordinated strategic internships for 10 students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). The disciplines spanned all four of the college’s departments, Plant and Soil Sciences (PLSC), Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS), Applied Economic and Statistics (APEC), and Entomology and Wildlife Ecology (ENWC). “I am extremely excited about the partnerships with allied industries and government agencies in providing work-based learning opportunities and resources to enrich the professional development of our amazing CANR students,” Isaacs said. Many of the students meet Isaacs through his fall class, Understanding Today’s Agriculture (AGRI 130). In the introductory undergraduate course, he continually stresses of the value of networking and securing diverse internship opportunities to build upon classroom learning. Each year the intern list grows. Isaacs credits the CANR faculty and staff and an ever-expanding list of industry leaders who are eager to provide specialized, hands-on learning. In 2018, four agricultural organizations each funded five UD students: Willard Agri-Service, Perdue Agri-Business, National Chicken Council and Bayer Crop Sciences (formerly Monsanto), Cooperative Extension’s Extension Scholar Program, Sussex County Council and Carvel rounded out the remaining funding.

Tailored internships for each student

Samantha Cotten, a sophomore at the Associate of Arts Program in Georgetown, wanted entomology experience. Funded by Sussex County Council, Isaacs arranged an interview for Cotten with David Owens, extension specialist in entomology. After securing the internship, she worked alongside her mentor, examining spider mite colonies on watermelon, soybeans and bred spider mites for research. She also studied aphid populations in watermelons and peppers, and analyzed the effectiveness of different pesticides for controlling pests on multiple crops.
1.Associate of Arts Program sophomore Samantha Cotten evaluates control of aphids in watermelons.
Associate of Arts Program sophomore Samantha Cotten evaluates control of aphids in watermelons.
“Dr. Owens opened my eyes to so many possibilities,” Cotten said. “There is so much information that comes in and it just sticks with you.” Cotten plans to transfer into the Insect Ecology and Conservation major as a junior. Jenell Eck, an Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) major, worked at the National Chicken Council (NCC) in Washington, D.C. as a communications intern. With a second major in Communication and a minor in Environmental Soil Science, Eck sought out experiences that combined her academic interests. She received hands-on experience in public relations working on website and social media.
Jenell Eck poses outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where she attended hearings on Capitol Hill as part of her communications internship.
Jenell Eck poses outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where she attended hearings on Capitol Hill as part of her communications internship.
Eck promoted the poultry industry at lobbyist organizations, attended hearings on Capitol Hill and interacted with agriculture-sector professionals. Eck also attended weekly lunch meeting with other agriculture interns. “My advice to other students it to wait it and see what is right,” Eck said. “I had another opportunity in front of me, but it didn’t feel right so I stuck to my gut and gave it up for only a better experience to come.” Pre-veterinary medicine seniors Kaitlin Gorrell and Caroline Gibson based their internships at Lasher Lab and performed rotations with Delaware’s state veterinarians  as well as small and large animal and poultry veterinarians. Isaacs arranged for the pair to work alongside Dan Bautista, Lasher’s poultry veterinarian and Lasher staff. They performed necropsies on chickens and disease surveillance procedures like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the Charm Kidney Inhibition Swab (KIS) test for antibiotic resistance in chickens. They also performed various poultry vaccine trials in the colony houses at the Carvel Center.
Caroline Gibson and Kaitlin Gorrell based their Animal and Food Science internship at Lasher Lab in Georgetown, where they conducted disease surveillance testing and necropsies with Lasher staff.
Caroline Gibson and Kaitlin Gorrell based their Animal and Food Science internship at Lasher Lab in Georgetown, where they conducted disease surveillance testing and necropsies with Lasher staff.
Gorrell’s internship also included Cooperative Extension outreach, an experience she found surprising and rewarding. She worked alongside and Nancy Mears, extension educator in family and consumer science to roll out community health initiatives such as Delaware Fit Biz, a SNAP-Ed funded worksite pilot program. Gorrell also co-planned the Sussex County Health Coalition Kid’s Health Fair, extension outreach at the Delaware State Fair and a health fair for the Developmental Disabilities Council members. “My time with Nancy has shown me ways I can integrate veterinary medicine and education, which are two things I have always been passionate about,” noted Gorrell.
Jamie Taraila’s internship at the Delaware Department of Agriculture expanded her knowledge of agriculture in the First State and empowered her with new methods to advocate for agriculture.
Jamie Taraila’s internship at the Delaware Department of Agriculture expanded her knowledge of agriculture in the First State and empowered her with new methods to advocate for agriculture.
Jamie Taraila is a ANR senior with minors in Food and Agribusiness Marketing and Animal Science and wanted to round out her experience in marketing and advocating for agriculture. Isaacs arranged for Taraila to serve as a communications intern with the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) in Dover, working with Chief of Communications Stacey Hofmann. Taraila honed her digital photography, videography, social media and video editing skills, and produced pieces for social media and the Delaware State Fair. Taraila shadowed most of the sections within DDA, witnessing their efforts to educate the public about the spotted lanternfly, a serious invasive insect threatening plants and trees in the northeast. Taraila attended a bill signing at Legislative Hall, witnessed the implementation of the new Senior CItizen Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, toured a local butcher/slaughterhouse, learned about Delaware’s noxious weeds, and tested milkfat content from local creameries as part of DDA’s Weights and Measures section. “This internship helped reinforce my passion to ‘agvocate,’” emphasized Taraila. “I learned about so many great and important things that are happening in agriculture. I passionately believe that the broader public should learn how vital agriculture is in people’s lives.” Parker Magness, ANR senior was placed and funded by Willard Agri-Service in York, PA.  Magness worked with the crop protection and fertilizer division under the mentorship of David Hertel. His main task was scouting corn and soybeans for different pests affecting mid-Atlantic crops. Magness has been asked to stay on this fall conducting soil tests for nutrient management plans.
Magness was placed and funded by Willard Agri-Service in York.
Magness was placed and funded by Willard Agri-Service in York.
“Although I came into this internship with a background in farming, I learned much more than I expected to, such as slug damage on corn,” Magness revealed. “I was surprised how much interaction I had with crop producers on a daily basis.” Parker O’Day, an APEC junior and David Townsend, a ANR/plant science senior, worked with mentor Scott Raubenstine at Perdue Agri-business. Both students gained exposure through various divisions within the company including specialty crops (malted barley and rapeseed), compost, marketing and sales.
Summer Thomas, pictured with mentor Emmalea Ernest (left) and Mark Isaacs (right) presented an overview of her Extension Scholar
Summer Thomas, pictured with mentor Emmalea Ernest (left) and Mark Isaacs (right) presented an overview of her Extension Scholar experience at UD’s Undergraduate Research Program Symposium in August.
Summer Thomas served as an Extension Scholar and worked on several projects with her mentor, Emmalea Ernest, extension associate scientist in Carvel’s fruit and vegetable program. Thomas worked with crops such as lima beans, tomatoes, peppers, string beans and lettuce – investigating the effect of heat stress on yields. Crops were grown under different colored shade cloths. Thomas collected data, measuring the temperatures under the tents as well as a control without shade protection. Thomas observed Ernest evaluating different breeding lines of lima beans for heat tolerance, disease, nematode resistance and yield. While most of her time was spent out in fields, Thomas did have the chance to receive some heat relief of her own. Inside in the kitchen area of Carvel’s plant laboratory, she and Ernest tested sugars and acidity of blueberry fruit grown in research trials. Thomas also worked on the Weekly Crop Update, a publication sent to farmers during the growing season. ANR senior Alex Winward spent 11 weeks at Bayer Crop Research’s station in Galena, MD, an opportunity Isaacs arranged. Winward worked closely with agronomic research manager and weed specialist Sandeep Rana. Winward mixed chemical applications, sprayed applications, and rated trials for herbicide effectiveness among other processes. He gained experience with field equipment such as the facility’s CO2 backpack sprayer and booms. Winward also collected data with Plot Walker software. Toward the end of the summer, Rana shared a graph representing the outstanding accuracy of their ratings work, giving Winward a sense of pride that his contribution was helpful for the assessment scientists.
Alex Windward poses outside Bayer Crop Science’s research center (formerly Monsanto) in Galena, MD, where he spent 11 weeks this summer and was asked to return for additional employment.
Alex Winward poses outside Bayer Crop Science’s research center (formerly Monsanto) in Galena, MD, where he spent 11 weeks this summer and was asked to return for additional employment.
“I was thrilled when management at the station asked me to continue working part-time through the harvest season,”  emphasized Winward In addition to internships for UD students, Carvel staff members Jarrod Miller, extension agronomist and Shawn Tingle, extension associate in nutrient management mentored Jordan Marvel, a production agriculture major at Delaware Tech Owens Campus in Georgetown. This internship fulfills Sussex County Council’s requirement that an internship be awarded to a Sussex County resident.

About the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center

The Carvel Center serves as the southern agriculture experiment station for CANR and encompasses the 347-acre Thurman Adams Jr. research farm,the 120-acre Warrington Irrigation Research Farm, Lasher Laboratory (poultry diagnostics), the Jones Hamilton Environmental Poultry Research House and is home to Sussex County Cooperative Extension. Courses such as Isaacs’s AGRI 130 are taught in classrooms equipped with distance technology simultaneously reaching students in Georgetown and Newark. As such, the Carvel Center is a hub for research, outreach, teaching, and networking with stakeholders, growers, government and allied agriculture industries addressing fruit, vegetable and agronomic crop production; irrigation; nutrient management and integrated pest management. Carvel’s staff of faculty, researchers, extension agents and specialists customize the internships and personally mentor students at the facility, making the Carvel Center a unique campus venue to support specialized strategic internships.

Garden serving veterans more than just produce

The Home of the Brave isn’t just a verse in the national anthem, it’s also a home for homeless vets in Milford. And on the property is a community garden that’s doing much more than just supplementing vets diets.47 ABC — The Home of the Brave isn’t just a verse in the national anthem, it’s also a home for homeless vets in Milford. And on the property is a community garden that’s doing much more than just supplementing vets diets. It’s supplying new opportunities to the heroes who live there. We’re told most of the vegetables before the garden was planted was canned goods. But now, veterans can go out the door and pick fresh home-grown veggies. Watch the video and read the full article.

Homecoming 5K

Runners get ready to take off at the University of Delaware Homecoming 5K. Lace up your sneakers for a run through South Campus. The fast and flat course weaves through the Nelson Athletic Complex and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. All members of the community are invited to participate. Whether it’s your first 5K or your 50th, you’ll have a great time being active with fellow Blue Hens. Register online. Before or after the race, visit the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources display, featuring a produce display, greenhouse plants and the Center of Experiential and Applied Economics research tuk tuk.

UD researchers help area golf courses choose plants for out of play areas

UD graduate student John Kaszan works on a plot of ground to help area golf courses superintendents choose the native plants they use on areas that are out of play or naturalized.When Erik Ervin arrived at the University of Delaware in January of 2018, one of the first people to reach out to him was Jon Urbanski, who serves as the golf course superintendent for Bidermann Golf Course in Wilmington. Urbanski was interested in organizing a group of golf superintendents to meet with Ervin, chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, to see how UD might be able to help local golf courses. Now, Ervin and graduate student John Kaszan (pictured above), are working with Bidermann Golf Course to make conservation management decisions with regards to planting a meadow comprised of native plants in the golf course’s out of play and naturalized areas. Read the full article on UDaily.

Alumnus Curtis Bennett works to inspire the next generation of environmental conservationists

Photo from the harbor of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. University of Delaware alumnus Curtis Bennett’s safe space has always been nature. Whether exploring in his back yard or participating in nature camps at local parks as a kid, his interest grew into a passion and that passion turned into a career. Bennett serves as the Director of Conservation Community Engagement at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and works to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. He also works outside of the aquarium in the City of Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and nationally to empower conservation actions. Read the full article on UDaily.

Beverage Career Choices Day

The University of Delaware will hold “Beverage Career Choices Day” on Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Perkins Student Center. Industry professionals will include authorities on the business and crafting of beer, wine, spirits, coffee and other beverages. “This effort was inspired by the exciting range of beverage careers. Students might not be aware of the diverse career opportunities. The best way for them to understand the industry is to meet professionals across diverse areas and who are at different points in their careers,” explained Professor Pamela Green, who teaches The Science of Wine (PLSC 128). The format includes short talks, small group sessions, lunch, a discussion on UD course offerings and a networking reception. Advance registration is required. The event is a collaboration between the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The colleges offer a joint minor in beverage management, which is open to all majors. Collage of beverage industry work samples The event is not a career fair; it’s an information-gathering and networking opportunity for students. Professionals will discuss their career journeys, offer advice, discuss industry trends and field questions. Beverage industry professionals will include: Beer
  • Brian Hollinger, VP of Operations, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc., Milton, DE
  • Justin Sproul, Regional Brewing Manager, Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, DE
  • Brian Vanderslice, Quality Assurance Manager, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ
  • Keith Symonds, Head Brewer and Brewing Consultant, Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub, Madison, WI
  • Roger Morris, Fulltime freelance writer in wine and food, travel, culture, Wilmington, DE
  • Michele Souza, Division Director, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, New Castle, DE
  • Ryan Frederickson, Founder, ArT Wine Preservation, Chicago, IL
  • Kevin Battisfore, National Account Manager, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Minneapolis, MN
  • Kristi Bowen, Director of Recruitment, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Tampa, FL
Spirits, coffee and other beverages
  • Michael Rasmussen, Owner, Painted Stave Distilling, Smyrna, DE
  • David Mendez, Vice President, WB Law Coffee Company, Newark, NJ
  • Katherine Fonte, Sales District Leader, PepsiCo, Philadelphia, PA
  • Nicole George, Sales Operations Manager, PepsiCo, Philadelphia, PA
  • Jeffrey Cheskin, Co-Founder, Liquid Alchemy Beverages, Wilmington, DE

Jake Bowman reflects on 17 years of deer research at UD

When Jake Bowman came to the University of Delaware 17 years ago after getting his doctorate from Mississippi State University, he encountered a problem with regards to deer research that he had never experienced before. Not only did some of the people he talked to have no idea about the number of deer in the area, some of them even thought that the animals were endangered. UD Prof. Jake Bowman learned early that many people in Delaware were unaware of the deer population in the state.“That was kind of like a ‘Wow’ moment for me. I’m at a place where people don’t realize that deer are as abundant as they were in colonial times so it was kind of like, we need to do some things [to raise awareness],” said Bowman, chair for the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology Read the full article on UDaily.