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Summer 2010 Issue


College Profile: Rob Dunn

Dr. Rob Dunn

For Dr. Rob Dunn, the world remains a captivating place full of surprises. “Mystery,” the N.C. State University biologist likes to say, “still lurks around ordinary corners.” Exploring those corners through research and writing is perhaps what Dunn does best. An assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dunn is by training an ant scientist who investigates, as he puts it, “small, strange and sometimes obscure interactions in the living world — but interactions that matter in some bigger way.”

Growing New Farmers

Extension’s Carl Pless helped farmers build this high-tunnel for growing spring tomatoes.

Though North Carolina is among the nation’s largest agricultural states, it is rapidly losing farms and farmers. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, between 1999 and 2006, the state lost 10,000 farms and close to 500,000 acres of farmland. The losses are even greater among African-American farmers. In response to such statistics, N.C. Cooperative Extension initiatives and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ education programs are helping to ease new and young farmers into agriculture.

Sibling Excellence

CALS graduate students Nirada and Phanin Leksrisompong

When the two-day International Poultry Scientific Forum held its Student Award of Excellence competition, two graduate students from N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences were among the competitors making oral and poster presentations of their research. In fact, while one of the students was making her poultry science research presentation, in a nearby session the other student simultaneously was presenting her food science research to a team of judges.

Ties That Bind

Dr. Tom Monaco (right), CALS commodity relations director, confers with Jeff Mast, president of the N.C. Flower Growers Association, at the 2010 Landscape Color Field Day at JC Raulston Arboretum.

Partnerships forged between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and commodity groups benefit both. Some 70 organizations that represent either various agricultural commodities produced in North Carolina or the state’s agriculture generally will hold annual meetings in 2010. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences representatives will attend all of these meetings. The College devotes […]

A Land-Grant Gem

Red-robed 2010 AGI graduates celebrate in May.

The College’s Agricultural Institute celebrates 50 years as a defining part of the university’s mission — and the ‘perfect fit’ for thousands of students.The Agricultural Institute offers nine academic programs leading to an associate of applied science degree, ranging from agribusiness management to landscape technology. It's now one of the United States’ largest associate-degree-granting programs at a four-year institution offering agriculture degrees.

Noteworthy News

Work continues on managing the weed Palmer amaranth

Jim Burton and Jenn Schaff

In hopes of learning more about the genetic adaptation that has allowed a so-called monster weed to resist herbicides, Dr. Jim Burton is studying the weed's genome. Learning more about Palmer amaranth's resistance could lead to the creation of crops that can adapt to other hardships, including drought, and could ultimately help farmers better deal with resistant weeds.

Grad student’s grafting research creates an ideal tomato plant

Cary Rivard

Growing up alongside the plants in his parents’ greenhouse business, Cary Rivard knew exactly what he wanted to study in college. Plant pathology was a no-brainer for Rivard, but it wasn’t until an internship at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and a serendipitous pairing with plant pathology professor Dr. Frank Louws that cemented his interest in vegetable production and led to a ground-breaking research project.

VetPAC is the go-to guide for pre-veterinary students

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ strong pre-veterinary program just got stronger — with the launch of VetPAC, the Veterinary Professions Advising Center. First there was HealthPAC, the Health Professions Advising Center, created in 2006 in the College to provide services to help students become candidates for health professional schools and careers. Now CALS […]

Webinar series brings agritourism education

Tourism Extension specialists at N.C. State University attracted nearly 250 participants to a spring webinar series on agritourism. Dr. Samantha Rozier Rich and Dr. Stacy Tomas, along with Sue Colucci (area specialized horticulture Extension agent) and colleagues from Rutgers University, hosted the five-part series, with topics ranging from “Is agritourism right for your farm?” to […]

CALS landscape design students bring ‘Fantasy Croquet’ to Wilson Botanical Gardens

The Wilson Botanical Gardens is now home to a whimsical bamboo sculpture created by landscape design students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Will Hooker, CALS horticultural science professor of landscape design, led his HS 400 studio class in the creation and installation of “Fantasy Croquet,” a larger-than-life interactive piece that is delighting […]

Agricultural law course makes students firsthand witnesses to the law in action

Ron Campbell, a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, believes that exposing students to the law is one of the best ways to teach it. That’s why his new course, Advanced Agricultural Law (ARE 495), doesn’t take place in a classroom. Instead, the 21 students enrolled in the spring seminar experienced law […]

Trudy Mackay elected to National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Trudy F.C. Mackay, William Neal Reynolds and distinguished university professor of genetics and entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, has been elected into the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world’s most important scientific societies. Mackay becomes the ninth current N.C. State faculty member to be […]

Getting enough calcium in early life could be key for optimal lifelong bone health

There’s no denying that people need calcium for strong, healthy bones. But new research from N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences suggests that not getting enough calcium in the earliest days of life could have a more profound, lifelong impact on bone health and perhaps even obesity than previously thought. During an […]

N.C. State scientist searches the world for plants that help human health

Lila hopes to find health-boosting plants that can become agricultural crops.

From Bhutan’s rugged Himalayas to Ecuador’s cloud forest to Alaska’s frozen tundra, Dr. Mary Ann Lila searches high and low for what could be called pharmaceutical plants – and not the brick-and-mortar kind that make medicines. She seeks the leafy kind, full of chemical compounds that can stave off human disease, promote endurance and strength, […]

CEFS launches 10% Campaign and releases guide on local foods

In May, more than 600 people gathered at the Breeze Farm in Orange County’s Hurdle Mills to celebrate and enjoy local food prepared by area chefs. The Farm to Fork Picnic is one of ways the Center for Environmental Farming Systems — co-sponsor of the event with Slow Food Triangle and Breeze Farm — is […]

Commodity leaders, growers train in food-safety crisis communications

North Carolina commodity association leaders and growers are better prepared to communicate in the event of a fresh produce safety crisis, thanks to a training initiative sponsored by N.C. MarketReady and the Fresh Produce Safety Task Force. The Fresh Produce Safety Task Force, which includes faculty from the Kannapolis-based N.C. MarketReady team, developed a train-the-trainer […]

Color commentary

Julian Fore, John Glover, Zeke Howell, George Blum

Faculty voices paint picture of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering's 75-year impact.

New pink hydrangea is Invincibelle®

A new variety of hydrangea, developed by N.C. State University horticulturist Dr. Tom Ranney, will have gardeners thinking pink this year. Hydrangea arborescens ‘NCHA1’ Invincibelle® Spirit is a hybrid of the typically white-flowered Hydrangea arborescens mountain hydrangea — or white-flowering ‘Annabelle’ — but with a significant difference: It has bright pink flowers. Unlike the finicky, […]

Noteworthy Alumni

Helping veterinarians match medical excellence with business excellence

Jeff Barnes works closely with veterinarians and their practices as he provides customized templates for reaching desired business outcomes.

Where can veterinarians go when they need help in realizing their practices’ full business potential? The answer is Synergy Veterinary Consulting, a company founded two years ago in Tampa, Fla., by Jeff Barnes, a 1999 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Barnes, who holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and extension education, […]

‘Scientists in the Classroom’ brings science to elementary school

Third-graders at West Smithfield Elementary School were all abuzz recently over the opportunity to take their classroom outdoors to study plants, insects and soils. And N.C. Cooperative Extension agent Amie Newsome dressed in a bee costume was the center of attention, as she shared information about insects with the eager students. Newsome and four other […]

Agriculture teacher Jodi Riedel named N.C. Environmental Educator of the Year

Jodi Riedel (right) and students Alec Check and Elizabeth Campbell prepare a colorful display for the plant sale at  Wakefield High, where Riedel endeavors to raise students’ understanding of and appreciation for agriculture.

Jodi Riedel, a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumna and Wakefield High School agriculture and horticulture teacher, has received North Carolina’s highest honor for environmental education, the Environmental Educator of the Year Award bestowed by the N.C. Wildlife Federation. Riedel will be honored at the 47th annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards banquet at a […]

Noteworthy Giving

New foundation launched at joint Extension foundations event

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Foundation, the 4-H Development Fund and the Family and Consumer Sciences Foundation have welcomed a fourth foundation to the Extension family.

Sweet potato campaign charges toward $1.3 million goal

In the 1940s a small group of forward-thinking farmers planted the first acres of certified sweet potato varieties in North Carolina at the urging of horticultural research and Extension faculty from N.C. State University. Sixty years later, the state’s sweet potato industry leads the United States, producing nearly 40 percent of the nation’s supply. Through […]

Jones professorship at Kannapolis established with $1 million endowment in College

Ben and Ruby Jones of Kannapolis are committed to improving human health. They’re also eager to support an initiative they believe will strengthen their local community. Those are just a couple of the reasons why the couple recently created a $1 million endowment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that will establish a […]

‘All in the golden afternoon’ at the 2010 Arb Gala

Mad Hatter and Alice acquire new faces at the Gala in Wonderland.

It’s not unusual for guests at the JC Raulston Arboretum’s annual Gala in the Garden to feel they’ve been transported to an enchanted world of botanical beauty. But this year, N.C. State’s nationally renowned gardens gave the gala visitors an adventure in the kaleidoscopically colorful world created by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland […]

A Family Affair: How a young couple’s bequests create a legacy of giving for their children

It’s never too early to plan for the future, says Rachel Monteverdi. At 41, she already has amassed a lifetime of experience in public service, and she wants that legacy to thrive long after she’s gone. Monteverdi, a Cooperative Extension agent in Warren County, and her husband, Dr. Bob Monteverdi, recently created their will, establishing […]

Peanut Growers, Hudsons make substantial gifts to 4-H Museum and History Center

The North Carolina 4-H Museum and History Center moved a step closer this spring to becoming reality, thanks to two very special gifts. The North Carolina Peanut Growers Association Inc. gave $100,000 to name the front hall of the museum, housed in the famous “House that Peanuts Built,” which was constructed in 1939 by Rudolph […]