- MSU AgBioResearch, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources announce leadership changes
- MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center begins focus on new mission Former Idaho extension educator named facility coordinator
- Using bacteria to stop malaria
- Beverage specialization slated for fall 2013
- First-of-its-kind woody biomass project takes root south of campus
MSU AgBioResearch, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources announce leadership changes
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Former Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) interim dean Doug Buhler has been named director of MSU AgBioResearch and CANR senior associate dean for research. The new appointment is effective May 1.
Steve Pueppke, director of CANR Global and Strategic Initiatives and MSU associate vice president for research and graduate studies. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz.
Steve Pueppke, director of CANR Global and Strategic Initiatives and MSU associate vice president for research and graduate studies. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz
Steve Pueppke, MSU AgBioResearch director for the past seven years, has been named director of CANR Global and Strategic Initiatives, a new position within the college. He will also continue in his role as MSU associate vice president for research and graduate studies.
The changes were announced April 30 by CANR Dean Fred Poston, who succeeded Buhler from the college leadership post in January. Buhler had served as interim CANR dean since January 2011. Prior to that, he served as CANR associate dean for research, director of Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to Meet Economic and Environmental Needs) and MSU AgBioResearch associate director.
Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch and CANR senior associate dean for research. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz.
Buhler will be responsible for all research investments in the CANR and serve as the administrative lead of MSU AgBioResearch, a group of more than 300 researchers on campus from seven colleges. Pueppke will serve as administrative leader for CANR’s global programs.
Pueppke and Buhler will work together to ensure that domestic and international research agendas are integrated, Poston said.
“Their leadership will be essential in creating a strong, distinct identity for research in CANR, developing new partnerships at home, as well as globally, to address high-priority areas; and promote the growth in external funding across the mission area,” Poston said.
Buhler, came to MSU in 2000, and served five years as chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Prior to joining MSU, he served on the faculty in the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Agronomy and as a research scientist the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in southern Wisconsin, Buhler earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and his master’s and doctoral degrees (both in agronomy) from the University of Nebraska.
Pueppke joined MSU in 2005. He was previously served as associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois and as a founding Director of ACES Global Connect.
Pueppke earned his undergraduate degree in horticulture from MSU and his doctorate in plant pathology from Cornell University. He was a visiting professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland and at the University of Marburg, Germany.
MSU AgBioResearch engages in innovative, leading-edge research that combines scientific expertise with practical experience to generate economic prosperity, sustain natural resources and enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world. It encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in seven MSU colleges—Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Philosophy, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine—and has a network of 13 research centers across the state.
The founding college of MSU, the CANR encompasses a broad view of agriculture and natural resources, with academic programs in 13 departments, schools and programs including undergraduate and graduate programs.
MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center begins focus on new mission Former Idaho extension educator named facility coordinator
Ashley McFarland has been named center coordinator for the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) in Chatham, Mich.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Ashley McFarland has been named center coordinator for the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) in Chatham, Mich. It is a new position created as the research and Extension facility begins to take shape under a newly implemented long-term plan.
UPREC was reviewed in spring 2012 after being identified as one of the most costly of the 13 MSU AgBioResearch research facilities to operate. As a result of the review, UPREC, previously the Upper Peninsula Research Center, was renamed in January to acknowledge the significant contributions made by MSU Extension to facility operations. In line with the name change, the center will focus on collaboration and integration across three programmatic systems: livestock, plants and local food systems.
MSU AgBioResearch Associate Director John Baker said the committee report was issued last fall and work began almost immediately to implement the new vision.
“We’re very pleased to have Ashley joining the team and helping with the re-direction of UPREC,” Baker said. “She will be an integral part of a strategic effort to bring forth more valuable research to benefit the agriculture industry in the U.P. and across the state.”
McFarland hails from Iowa and has earned degrees from Central College in Pella (B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies) and Iowa State University (M.S. in Environmental Science/Water Resources). She has spent the last five years with the University of Idaho Extension as a county Extension education and area natural resource educator.
Steve Lovejoy, associate director of MSU Extension, said McFarland will also focus on working with key stakeholders and keeping the industry informed on issues relative to UPREC.
“Ashley brings a great deal of experience in Extension and outreach that will be very valuable as we move forward and implement our plan for the future of the UPREC,” Lovejoy said.
As the new center coordinator at Chatham, McFarland will provide an important link between campus-based faculty coordinators and the implementation of programs and oversight of operations at the center and throughout the U.P. She will also work to increase visibility of the center and build relationships with stakeholders.
McFarland, scheduled to start the position on May 20, said she is excited about the new opportunities.
“I look forward to working with MSU researchers, the staff at Chatham and stakeholders throughout the U.P. to developing meaningful education, outreach and integrated research programs that will enrich the lives of those engaged in agriculture and local food systems,” she said.
Baker said three long-term objectives were identified by the review committee:
- 1. Improvement of soil quality in a way that emphasizes health linkages between soil, crops, livestock and people.
2. Development of a close collaboration between UPREC and the MSU Lake City Research Center (LCRC) in Lake City to foster complementary research between integrated crop livestock systems at UPREC and grass-based livestock production at LCRC.
- 3. Development of regional food systems that builds community sustainability while linking to objectives 1 and 2.
Additionally, three MSU faculty coordinators, have also been named and will work with McFarland to oversee both research and extension activities at the center:
- • Jason Rowntree, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, will provide expertise on livestock systems
- • Kim Cassida, forage extension specialist in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, will work with plant systems
- • Matt Raven, professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, will work with the food systems
As part of an effort to harmonize cattle genetics with LCRC and improve research opportunities, some of the herd at
Chatham were sold in March and replaced by cattle relocated from LCRC.
A 15 percent cut in state funding FY 2011-2012 prompted MSU AgBioResearch and Extension to take a close look at all of its facilities and operations.
“It’s been a challenging couple of years, but I’m confident the agriculture industry in the U.P. is going to see the benefits from these changes at UPREC,” said Baker. “It is my hope that we will soon start to see some of the findings applied directly to nearby farms.”
For more information on UPREC, visit http://agbioresearch.msu.edu/uprc/index.html.
MSU AgBioResearch engages in innovative, leading-edge research that combines scientific expertise with practical experience to generate economic prosperity, sustain natural resources, and enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world. It encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in six MSU colleges -- Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine -- and has a network of 13 research centers throughout the state.
Since its beginning, Michigan State University Extension, (MSUE) has focused on bringing knowledge-based educational programs to the people of the state to improve lives and communities. Staff members, in concert with on-campus faculty members, serve Michigan citizens with programming in food and agriculture production, nutrition and food safety, community and natural resources development, youth development and renewable energy. Today, MSUE’s goal remains the same: To give Michigan residents meaningful access to the latest life-changing research.
Using bacteria to stop malariaReposted from MSU Today
Mosquitoes are deadly efficient disease transmitters. Research conducted by a Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch scientist, however, demonstrates that they also can be equally adept in curing diseases such as malaria.
MSU AgBioResearch microbiologist Zhiyong Xi transfers mosquito larvae with a pipette. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz.
A study in the current issue of Science shows that the transmission of malaria via mosquitoes to humans can be interrupted by using a strain of the bacteria Wolbachia in the insects. In a sense, Wolbachia would act as a vaccine of sorts for mosquitoes that would protect them from malaria parasites. Treating mosquitoes would prevent them from transmitting malaria to humans, a disease that in 2010 affected 219 million people and caused an estimated 660,000 deaths.
“Wolbachia-based malaria control strategy has been discussed for the last two decades,” said Zhiyong Xi, MSU assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. “Our work is the first to demonstrate Wolbachia can be stably established in a key malaria vector, the mosquito species Anopheles stephensi, which opens the door to use Wolbachia for malaria control.”
First, Xi’s team successfully demonstrated how Wolbachia can be carried by this malaria mosquito vector and how the insects can spread the bacteria throughout the entire mosquito population. Secondly, researchers showed that the bacteria can prevent those mosquitoes from transmitting malaria parasites to humans.
“We developed the mosquito line carrying a stable Wolbachia infection,” Xi said. “We then seeded them into uninfected populations and repeatedly produced a population of predominantly Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.”
The basis for Xi’s latest findings is connected to the success of his work using Wolbachia to halt Dengue fever. For this research, Xi focused on the mosquito species Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. This work helped launch a global effort to develop Wolbachia-based strategies to eliminatedengue and other diseases.
The key to the malaria research was identifying the correct species of Wolbachia – wAlbB – and then injecting it into mosquito embryos. Out of the thousands of embryos injected by research associate Guowu Bian, one developed into a female that carried Wolbachia. The mosquito line derived from this female has maintained Wolbachia wAlbB infection with a 100 percent infection frequency through 34 generations. The number could grow higher as this is simply the last generation the researchers have bred thus far, Xi said.
The team then introduced various ratios of Wolbachia-infected females into a noninfected mosquito population. In each case, the entire population carried the bacteria in eight generations or less.
Using this promising approach to tackle malaria – the biggest vector-borne disease – gives scientists and world health officials another important tool to fight malaria.
Once Wolbachia has been released into a mosquito population, it is quite possible that it won’t need to be reapplied, making it more economical than other methods like pesticide or human vaccine. This adds special value to the feasibility of this control strategy, considering most of the malaria endemic areas are suffering from poverty, Xi said.
Additional scientists from MSU’s microbiology and molecular genetics department who contributed to the study include Deepak Joshi, Peng Lu, Guoli Zhou, Xiaoling Pan and Yao Xu. George Dimopoulos and Yuemei Dong of Johns Hopkins University and researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University also co-authored the paper.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01AI080597, R21AI082141, R01AI061576) and Monash University grant from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health through the Vector-Based Transmission of Control: Discovery Research program of the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Xi’s research also is supported by MSU AgBioResearch.
Beverage specialization slated for fall 2013
There are currently more than 100 breweries, 100 wineries, and 30 distillers in Michigan. A new specialization in Michigan State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition will help prepare students for work in Michigan’s beverage industry as well as the general US industry.
Billed as the Beverage Science and Technology specialization, Kris Berglund is slated to coordinate a trio of new courses in the specialization. Berglund is a MSU University Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Chemical Engineering and an AgBioResearch scientist.
“These courses were created to give students a good background in the general area of brewing, winemaking and distilling,” Berglund said.
The classes attract students interested in the process and production of winemaking, brewing and distilling as well as the resulting properties, Berglund said. Instructors will prepare students with majors in food science, chemistry, chemical engineering, biosystems engineering and microbiology majors to work in an industry where there is a high demand for trained professionals.
Class is held off campus at local wineries and breweries as well as the MSU Artisan Distilled Research Facility.
The following three-credit brewing and distilled beverage courses are available for students beginning Fall 2013 (Must be at least 21 years of age to enroll):
FSC 481, Sect 701: Fermented Beverages, Fall 2013
- This course provides an overview of the wine, beer and spirits industries. In particular, emphasis is placed on the emerging craft and artisan wine, beer, and spirits sector.
- Origin and history of alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation; types of products and methods of production; relationships among agricultural practices, processing and sensory attributes; responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Prerequisites: Approval of department; students must bring photo ID with age verification to each class.
- All lectures and laboratories will take place off campus at locations to be determined.
CEM 482, Sect 701: Science and Technology of Wine Production, Fall 2013
- Instruction includes the study of the origin and history of wine and wine production; determination and timing of harvest, methods of postharvest handling, storage, and processing of grapes into juice and wine; physical and chemical changes in wine and processes; must analysis and adjustment, fermentation, fining, and aging; physiology of yeasts and bacteria involved in winemaking and spoilage; cellar practices, problems, and operations
- This course teaches the fundamentals of wine production from a scientific perspective
- A combination of lectures, laboratory demonstrations, and field trips
- Prerequisites: Senior or graduate standing in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Food Science, Biosystems Engineering, or Horticulture and approval of instructor
- All lectures and laboratories will take place at Burgdorf’s Winery, Haslett, MI
CHE 483-701: Brewing and Distilled Beverage Technology, Spring 2014
- Instruction includes the study of raw materials used for fermentation and basics of alcohol fermentation; beer and cider production; basics of distillation; brandy and eau de vie production; whiskey production; vodka, gin, and flavored spirits production; flavor chemistry.
- The course is teaches the fundamentals of fermented beverage production from a chemical biochemical engineering perspective
- A combination of lectures, laboratory demonstrations, and field trips; hours arranged.
- Prerequisites: Senior or graduate standing in Chemical Engineering, Food Science, Biosystems Engineering or approval of instructor; CHE 311, BE 350, or FSC 429
- All lectures and laboratories will take place at 2000 Merritt Rd. East Lansing, MI
For more information, contact Berglund at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone 517-974-3030.
First-of-its-kind woody biomass project takes root south of campus
Plan will provide renewable energy to coal power plant
Ten acres of hybrid poplar cuttings were planted May 16 at the MSU Tree Research Center, south of the main MSU campus. Another 50 acres are scheduled to be planted in the near future.
The first of six 10-acre plots of hybrid poplar have been planted at Michigan State University as part of a new, long-term plan to use woody biomass for energy on campus.
Eventually the trees will be harvested, chipped and burned as a coal alternative at the T.B. Simon Power Plant, the single largest on-campus consumer of fossil fuels. It is an initiative between MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension, and the departments of Forestry and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering to help the university move toward 100 percent renewable energy.
The MSU Energy Transition Plan, adopted last year, will invest in sustainable energy research and development with the aim of improving the physical environment and helping MSU become an educational leader in sustainable energy.
Current estimates indicate that the Simon Power Plant produces 1.7 percent of its energy needs by using untreated wood chips. Only one of the four boilers at the power plant is equipped to burn wood chips. The remaining three can burn only a fuel that handles exactly like coal. By using a process called torrefaction, MSU scientists can create a material called torrefied biomass that is suitable for the boilers.
Through torrefaction, the biomass plant material is roasted for a brief period of time to eliminate excess moisture and volatile chemicals. These chemicals can then be burned to power the process, and the result is a concentrated material that can be transported and burned exactly like coal.
Ray Miller, director of the MSU Forest Biomass Innovation Center in Escanaba, is coordinating the project. He said utilizing woody biomass for energy is more ecologically sustainable than many other alternatives because it doesn’t release carbon into the atmosphere.
“Getting the carbon we need for fuel from trees that recently pulled it out of the air closes the loop, and so we don’t have any net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. If we do this right, the process can be economical, renewable, and sustainable.”
Through the new energy plantation and wood procurement system at MSU, researchers estimate that the university will be able to move quickly toward its renewable energy goals. The plantations and torrefaction research facilities will also be used for teaching, extension and commercialization activities that will aid growers interested in growing woody biomass.
Paul Bloese, tree improvement supervisor with the MSU Department of Forestry, is one of the scientists responsible for the new biomass plantings.
“Growers considering going into this in a commercial way are going to need some kind of assurance that what they’re putting into the ground and the systems they’re using to plant and maintain these plantations are actually going to work,” he said. “We can bring the growers out to these blocks and say, ‘This is what we’ve done, this is how we did it, and these are our results.’”
MSU’s energy plantations will also help researchers improve the commercial production process.
“The plots are at a semi-commercial scale, and large enough that we’ll be able to gather some true economic returns and cost information as well as refine the commercial techniques that growers would need to do this profitably,” Miller said.
Using torrefied biomass could also have benefits for utilities providers and other groups across the state.
“If we use MSU’s teaching and extension resources wisely, we can encourage the commercialization of both these technologies – energy farming and torrefied wood production and consumption in Michigan. That does not have a benefit just for our university and its goals for the Energy Transition Plan but also for growers and businesses that might want to use these same techniques,” Miller said.
The project also involves the purchasing and development of a torrefaction reactor for campus. The reactor would provide a sufficient quantity of biomass to allow the campus to maximize use of biofuels under the current permits while opening the path for even greater biomass use in the future.
Projections also indicate that including a torrefaction reactor on campus will reduce the cost of altering the biomass, and that combining the use of the new torrefied biomass with other renewable energy sources such as biogas, wind power and solar power (as set out by the Energy Transition Plan) will enable MSU to reach its renewable energy goals by 2030.
Staff members at the power plant are conducting analyses on the feasibility of using torrefied wood on a large scale, and Miller said the future looks promising for the new technology.
“As long as we’re using natural gas, coal or anything like that, we’ll never get to that renewable energy goal,” he said. “Torrefied biomass is basically a drop-in replacement for coal and will go a long way to reduce the fossil fuel consumed by the university.”