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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654



Catching Up with CALS March 8, 2017

Dean's Message — D.C., Moscow and Boise

I’m with Mary Hasenoehrl and Pat Purdy in Washington, D.C. this week as part of our CARET outreach efforts to Congress. Sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching helps to inform elected officials about our efforts.

There are 72 land-grant institutions across the U.S., and most of the deans and their CARET representatives are here. The primary reason for the meeting is to organize support for agricultural experiment station and cooperative extension budgets.

We are also here to support the budget for the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. NIFA provides funding for competitive grants that fuel research and extension at all land-grant universities. We are hoping for an increase in the budgets, but given the uncertainty of what is happening in Washington, that is a huge challenge.

Back in Idaho, we have much to talk about.

I was excited to announce last week that Matt Doumit will serve as CALS associate dean and director of academic programs. His strength as a researcher and his enthusiasm for teaching will serve the college well.

Our numbers of students applying and being admitted continues strong thanks to the efforts of Jodi Johnson-Maynard, who is serving as interim associate dean.

Yesterday, UI President Chuck Staben attended the Idaho Dairymen’s Association banquet that the college helps to sponsor. The president has a good rapport with Idaho agriculture and the dairy industry.

He spoke strongly and clearly about the high value the university and the college place on agricultural research and their support for the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

President Staben also talked about the power of education and how CAFE will help. He introduced John Zenger, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Dean Zenger spoke about the importance his university places on preparing students to help Idaho advance and about BYU-I’s support for CAFE.

BYU-I is investing in agriculture-related disciplines including animal science, food science, agronomy and agricultural sciences. I believe our interests align in finding new ways to serve Idaho and agriculture.

Especially heartening is that BYU-I President Clark G. Gilbert and Academic Vice President Henry J. Eyring provided a strong letter of support for CAFE and its goals. “We wholeheartedly support the project and look forward to finding ways for our students to participate.”

Dean Michael Parrella

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

By the Numbers 

13 CALS students will travel abroad next week as part of their agricultural education 407 classes. Horticulture professor Bob Tripepi and UI Extension associate professor and dairy specialist Mireille Chahine will lead 8 students on an 8-day trip to the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico. Animal science professor Matt Powell and family and consumer sciences professor Samantha Ramsay will lead 5 students on an 10-day trip to National Chiayi University in Taiwan.

Our Stories — Doumit to Lead CALS Academic Programs

Some of the best advice that University of Idaho animal science professor and researcher Matt Doumit ever received about teaching came from an uncle who was a professor at Fresno State University.Matt Doumit, CALS associate dean and director of academic programs, visits with students after class.

“Before I started graduate school, my uncle Marvin suggested that if I had the opportunity to teach, I needed to make a point of getting to know my students,” Doumit said. “That simple advice has been the cornerstone of my interaction with over 3,400 students in my classes. By taking a genuine interest in students, an instructor can build a rapport that improves communication both in and out of the classroom.

“Students will trust you more, work harder and offer you more candid feedback.”

With his selection as CALS associate dean and director of academic programs, Doumit will have an opportunity to offer that advice often.

Doumit will succeed Larry Makus, who retired Dec. 31 from the post. Jodi Johnson-Maynard will serve as interim associate dean until Doumit transitions to the job July 31.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Matt Doumit as associate dean and director of academic programs,” said Michael P. Parrella, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean. “His excellence as an animal scientist and his enthusiasm for teaching will serve us well.”

Education had been a high priority in the Doumit family. The youngest of 11 children, all of whom graduated from college, he was the ninth to earn a degree from Washington State University. His parents were staunch supporters of education, and several of his family members pursued careers as teachers.

His interest in animal science got its start when he was a boy on his family’s cattle ranch near Cathlamet, Washington. The government bought the ranch for a wildlife refuge when he was young, but the experience stayed with him.

His interest in research began as a junior at WSU when he began helping with animal growth projects.

As a senior, he was offered a graduate assistantship at South Dakota State University to study muscle development. That led to a doctoral program at Michigan State University, and a post-doctoral position at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska.

Michigan State offered him a joint faculty position in the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Human Nutrition that was vacant with the retirement of his mentor, Robert Merkel. Doumit spent 12 years on the faculty at Michigan State, then joined the CALS faculty in 2008 with his job split equally between teaching and research.

Doumit served the UI Animal and Veterinary Science Department as acting head for five months until early 2014, then as co-interim department head with dairy scientist Amin Ahmadzadeh since October 2015.

Doumit’s research ranged from livestock growth to meat quality improvement. Most recently, his work has focused on improving beef shelf-life and palatability. Doumit credits the Idaho Beef Council for being a strong supporter of his research since coming to UI.

He said he has also enjoyed collaborating with Basic American Foods, one of the largest producers of dried potato and bean products. That work investigated the use of dried potato products to enhance the shelf-stability and eating characteristics of beef patties and other processed meat products.

Doumit views his research as an opportunity to effectively train the next generation of scientists while generating information to address practical problems for the benefit of industry and society. He has employed and mentored 47 undergraduate and 14 graduate students in his research laboratory.

“Working with students has been the most rewarding part of my career. We have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the personal and professional development of students,” Doumit said. “We can make lasting contributions to them, our stakeholders and society. I look forward to working with the dedicated faculty and staff across our college to make a difference through academic programs.”

New Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem Takes Shape 

A new Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem will take shape on the UI campus over the next year to focus on how the impacts of land use, including agriculture, urbanization and deforestation, interact to impact transmission and control of disease agents of people, animals and plants.Shirley Luckhart and Ed Lewis are joining the University of Idaho faculty to found the Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem.

The new center will be led by Shirley Luckhart and Ed Lewis, who will move their research programs from UC Davis. They will begin work on the Moscow campus May 15 to create the center as a multidisciplinary collaboration to build a more sustainable human ecosystem through research, teaching and outreach.

The pair were recruited to UI by CALS Dean Michael Parrella, who worked with them at Davis before he moved to UI Feb. 1, 2016.

“They are outstanding scientists and I believe their work here will help transform the University of Idaho’s scientific reach,” Parrella said. “Dr. Luckhart's joint appointment between the College of Science and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences highlights the connectivity between the two colleges and will move programs forward in both.”

“The research conducted by Drs. Luckhart and Lewis will enhance UI President Chuck Staben’s bid to achieve the highest Carnegie research status,” Parrella said.

Luckhart focuses on insects, pathogens and human and animal health. Lewis focuses on the impact of agricultural practices on environmental health.

Their interests connect with the recognition that humans’ ability to modify the environment can have profound influence on health across the plant and animal kingdoms.

“The opportunity to establish this center at UI is exciting,” Lewis said. “The opportunities are great and I think the trajectory of UI is a very positive one.”

The new center will be based in CALS. Lewis will be based fully in CALS while Luckhart’s position will be split between CALS and the College of Science.

A main priority of the center will be to better understand manmade changes that can create insect-borne disease problems and find ways to prevent them. The core strategy is to train scientists who will recognize the big picture approach to insects, pathogens and human, animal and plant health.

Despite worries about Zika virus, Luckhart said the Northwest is unlikely to face that problem because the mosquito species that is its principal carrier does not prosper here.

“It will be interesting to see what happens,” she said noting that an earlier emergent disease, West Nile virus, is now endemic in the U.S. “This is still a very important disease in the U.S., but we’ve actually seen a decrease in the number of cases over the past three years compared with several years ago,” she said.

“The current thinking is that Zika is a problem but the important thing is that we need to be constantly vigilant against things like this,” she said. “Focusing on a single event can make us miss what’s coming next.”

“There are other, largely unknown tick-borne diseases that merit greater regional attention,” she said.

“I think diseases like Zika are an important lesson that shows how new diseases can emerge. Another thing that is quite interesting is the increasing recognition that there are tick-borne pathogens that we’re not very informed about at this point,” she said.

“These are very under studied and could be very significant regionally in the Northwest,” Luckhart said.

“I think we have to be cognizant that diseases of plants, animals and humans are not static. We’re starting to see the emergence of new pathogens across many pathogen groups across the United States and I think that’s the most important thing we can learn from this,” she said.

Faces and Places

Four UI CALS students brought home top honors during the 12th annual Western Dairy Challenge Feb. 23–25, in Twin Falls. The contest was hosted by the UI and headquartered at the College of Southern Idaho’s campus.Twelve CALS students competed in the Western Dairy Challenge in Twin Falls in February.

Forty-nine students participated in the event, which mixed students from three other Western universities and one from Alberta, Canada, on teams that visited and analyzed Magic Valley dairies’ strengths and weaknesses.

The teams assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students presented their analysis in a 20-minute report that detailed their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges. Teams were ranked based on how well their evaluations matched the judges’ evaluations of the dairy operation.

Senior Nicholas Bauer and junior Katelyn Peterson joined Cal Polytechnic State University and Utah State University students on one of the three first-place teams. Junior Colton Biedenbach joined Cal Poly, University of Alberta and Washington State University students on another first-place team. Junior Andrew Papineau joined Cal Poly, University of Alberta and Washington State University students on a third first-place team.

Other University of Idaho students participating included seniors Lani Martin, Allison Stevens, Derrick Mamer, Randie Wert and Stormy Lowe. Also competing were juniors Favian Garcia and Corrina Watts-Cheatham and sophomore Dino Vinci.

Sponsors of the event included CALS and the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, Glanbia Nutritionals, Key Ag, Bio Tracking, Northwest Farm Credit and Idaho DHI. Other sponsors included Martins Cattle, Scoular Co., Si-Ellen Dairy, Udder Health, Magic Valley Milk Quality, Idaho Milk Products, J.R. Simplot Co., College of Southern Idaho, Rabo Ag, Swager Dairy, Peterson Dairy, Stouder Holstein and Idaho Altech.

From left, graduate students Jennie Davis and Lauren Keeney, professor Samantha Ramsay and graduate student Samantha Worden pause for a photo. Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences graduate students Jennie Davis, Samantha Worden and Lauren Keeney accompanied FCS professor Samantha Ramsay to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston last October. The students presented posters on the benefits of hard white wheat, an ethnographic study of international mealtimes and early childhood weight is not associated with eating occasion, and the use of essential oils in food preparation.


  • March 18-21 — Oregon State FFA. Corvallis, OR
  • March 24 — Small Farm Cultivating Success Workshop. Light refreshments provided. $20 registration fee, plus $5 for every additional family member or farm partner. University of Idaho Extension, Ada County, 5880 Glenwood St., Boise, ID. Register online. Email or call 208-287-5900 for more information. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • March 25 — UIdaho Bound
  • March 29 — Etiquette Dinner. $20. Register. International Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center. 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • April 1 — UIdaho Bound
  • April 3-6 — University of Idaho Extension Annual Conference. Burley, ID. Register online by March 28.
  • April 5-8 — Idaho FFA SLC. Twin Falls, ID
  • April 7 — Scholarship Luncheon
  • April 14 — Small Farm Cultivating Success Workshop. Light refreshments provided. $20 registration fee, plus $5 for every additional family member or farm partner. Location TBD, Weiser, ID. Register online. Email or call 208-287-5900 for more information. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • April 21Mom's Weekend
  • April 21 — Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker Series during Mom's Weekend. Ag Sci 106. 3-4 p.m.
  • April 21 — Mom's Weekend Wine and Cheese Gala to benefit the Dean's Excellence Fund. $25. RSVP at 208-885-9056 or online. Shuttles from the VandalStore starting at 4 p.m. All ages welcome. Best Western Plus University Inn. 4-6 p.m.
  • April 22 — Plant & Soil Science Club Green Thumb 101. $25. Sixth Street Greenhouses. RSVP. 10 a.m.
  • April 22 — Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni Brunch. RSVP. University Inn Best Western, Gold Room. 10 a.m. - noon.
  • April 22 — Ritchie Fashion Show. $15 tickets available at the door. Vandal Ballroom. 4 p.m. silent auction, 6 p.m. fashion show
  • April 24 — CALS Awards Banquet. Bruce M. Pitman Center Vandal Ballroom. $8 for students, $18 for faculty and staff. Reception, 5-5:30 p.m. Dinner and awards ceremony, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • April 25-29 — California State FFA. Fresno, CA
  • April 28 — UI Engineering Expo. Bruce M. Pitman Center. 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • May 12-14 — Washington FFA Conference. Pullman, WA
  • May 13 — Commencement
  • May 22-24 — APS Staff Development. Reno, NV
  • June 7-8 — CDE events. Moscow, ID
  • June 12-16 — NAADA. Ohio

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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654