Catching Up with CALS — Sept. 4, 2019
Dean's Message — CALS Commitment
The week that students move to campus is always an exciting time — excitement that is mixed with a little anxiety for both the students and their parents.
To help ease any parental concerns, we invited parents who came to Moscow to help students move in before the start of the semester to stop by for a cup of coffee on Aug. 23 with CALS faculty and staff.
The large turnout of faculty and staff sent a clear message that we are committed to providing a valuable educational experience for students in a family-like atmosphere.
As dean, I see that interest in students’ welfare and education play out in many different ways. Our staff advisors take the time to help students make careful decisions based on the students’ own interests that guide class schedules.
Our faculty and staff advocate for students to provide opportunities to visit faraway places on field trips and businesses, events and similar experiences close to home.
Many CALS students work in laboratories or in day-to-day operations ranging from the U of I Dairy to supporting agronomy operations and operating Vandal Brand Meats. Those experiences can provide rich and career enhancing opportunities.
A week ago, at the end of the first official day of classes, I heard more from CALS students over dinner in The Hub in the Wallace Residence Center.
Some 42 students have embraced the CALS floor in the Ballard wing of student housing. The living group offers them the opportunity to get to know fellow students who share their interests and who are likely to take the same classes.
Visiting with these students over dinner (many of them freshmen) provided a wonderful opportunity to hear their reasons for choosing CALS and speak to the fact that our recruitment efforts are bearing fruit.
We won’t have official numbers for a while yet, but the incoming class is strong and on track to keep college enrollment on the upswing.
Please remember that next week on Sept. 10 the college will hold its Welcome Back Picnic on the lawn outside the Iddings Agricultural Sciences Building at Sixth and Rayburn from 4 to 7 p.m.
The picnic provides an opportunity to share a pleasant late summer meal of Vandal Dogs and corn on the cob with students and with fellow faculty and staff, both working and retired. It is a wonderful way to start off what will be a very successful year.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
With 86 percent completed by Aug. 25, winter wheat harvest statewide lagged slightly behind 2018’s 96 percent and the 5-year average of 90 percent, but warm, dry weather boded well for a speedy wrap-up. With 45 percent of spring wheat cut, that harvest similarly trailed 2018’s 64 percent and the 5-year average of 65 percent, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. With 62 percent of barley harvested, this year trailed 2018’s 78 percent completion by late August and the 5-year average of 70 percent.
Our Stories — A New Face to Lead AVS
A veteran researcher and administrator will lead the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science at U of I.
Robert J. Collier, who served as a professor of animal and comparative biomedical sciences at the University of Arizona, will take on the duties as the U of I department head at the end of September.
Collier will bring vital experience in research and an extensive track record of attracting grants and outside funding for his research.
“We welcome Bob Collier to the CALS family and are excited about his impressive ability to work with early-career and established faculty to futher their career goals,” said Michael Parrella, CALS dean.
The college’s focus to create the Idaho Center for Agriculture Food and the Environment or CAFE will make Collier’s expertise especially valuable, Parrella said.
Collier worked for Arizona for the past 18 years, serving as head of the Animal Sciences Department for four years and as director of the Agricultural Research Complex for 10 years.
He also worked as a professor at the University of Florida. He worked for the Monsanto Company for 14 years, including serving as its Dairy Research director. During his period at Monsanto he was also adjunct professor at the University of Missouri.
Collier co-founded dairy industry technology company Amelgo, which is based in Covington, Kentucky, in 2009 and serves as its managing partner.
After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Eastern Illinois University, he earned his doctorate in dairy science at the University of Illinois at Urbana studying milk production in cows.
“We are deeply appreciative for Professor Amin Ahmadzadeh’s commitment to leadership and dedication to AVS as the interim department head for the past couple of years,” Parrella said. “He stepped up and helped AVS grow enrollment, increase research and serve the animal industries.
“Dr. Ahmadzadeh will remain as a professor in the department, and looks forward to returning to the teaching that he is so passionate about.
Potato Variety Development Specialist Hired
R. Rhett Spear, a scientist with a decade of experience as a potato farmer, will begin work this month for the U of I specializing in potato variety development.
Eight years of applied agricultural research and commercial research and extension focused on potatoes round out Spear’s experience. He will work closely with Jeff Stark, who has guided U of I efforts to develop new potato varieties for the last 15 years of his nearly 40-year career. Stark will retire later this year.
Spear of Burley will work from the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center operated by CALS. He will collaborate with U.S. Department of Agriculture potato variety development efforts there.
Aberdeen serves as Idaho’s base for regional potato variety development efforts that include USDA-ARS, Washington State University and Oregon State University. The Potato Variety Management Institute markets new potato varieties developed by these four Tri-State partners.
Spear earned a doctorate from WSU in 2015. He studied ways to increase farm revenue, new potato variety choices and availability for consumers by growing methods, farmers’ variety choices and consumer preferences research.
The U of I job will focus on working with researchers, farmers and others to assess the potential of experimental crosses from USDA Agricultural Research Service potato breeding efforts. Spear will help assess how well they grow in the field and perform for potato processors, fresh packers and consumers at home. His work also will consider new varieties’ economic performance.
In addition to his research responsibilities, Spear will also teach graduate students and provide information to farmers, processors and others in the potato industry.
Faces and Places
A study by USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, CALS Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology Head Ed Lewis and others found a pheromone developed by biotech company Pheronym can induce a nematode to more effectively attack its hosts, the pecan weevil and black soldier fly. A report of the study by lead author David Shapiro-Ilan, a USDA-ARS researcher in Georgia, in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology was selected as the Nematode Division of the Society of Invertebrate Pathology’s Research Highlight of 2019.
- Sept. 6 — Pomology Field Day, Parma Research and Extension Center orchards and vineyards, 31727 Parma Rd, Parma, ID 83660, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sept. 10 — Welcome Back Picnic, Agricultural Sciences Building lawn at Sixth and Rayburn, 4-7 p.m.
- Sept. 12 — Steer A Year Banquet, McCall
- Oct. 4-6 — Ag Days, Moscow
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