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Animal Sciences

USAID’s Soybean Innovation Lab taps top individuals for advisory board

Published May 28, 2015

Urbana, Ill. – The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides researchers, extension personnel, the private sector, NGOs, and funders operating across the entire value chain the critical information needed for successful soybean development and scaling.

 “A vital component of the SIL multidisciplinary and multi-institutional team involves our advisory board, as they ensure that our efforts are strategic, efficacious, and appropriately implemented,” said the program’s principal investigator Peter Goldsmith. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on their rich experience in international development – humanitarian, government, and private sector – to provide insight, guidance, and expertise to the United States and African researchers involved in the program.”

Current SIL advisory board members are: 

  • Eberson Calvo, Chief Executive Officer, Tropical Improvement and Genetics
  • Ken Dashiell, Deputy Director, General for Partnerships and Capacity Building, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture
  • Brady Deaton, Former Chancellor, University of Missouri
  • Robert Easter, Former President, University of Illinois
  • Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director, Operations, Food and Agricultural Organization
  • Mark Keenum, President, Mississippi State University
  • Earl Kellogg, Senior Fellow, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities
  • Marc Linit, Associate Dean for Research and Extension, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri
  • Paul Rose, Owner, Sossi Company, Kenya
  • Abdulai Salifu, Director General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana

The U.S. Agency for International Development created the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research at the U of I. The program spans five years and is implementing efforts in Ghana, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Malawi. 

Recognizing that soybean is a commercial, non-staple and non-native crop, the lab’s research and capacity building delves into issues facing the entire value chain of soybean production in the tropics. The scope of the project includes: plant breeding, varietal testing, agronomics, environmental impact, input acquisition and application, seed supply-chain management, the socioeconomics of small and medium holders, gender roles as they relate to soybean production and marketing, and livestock and human utilization.

For more information, visit or @TropicalSoyLab on Twitter. 





Poultry in Midwest infected with bird flu, Illinois prepares

Published April 22, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has been reported in the Midwest, causing illness among poultry and temporarily disrupting deliveries and supplies of eggs. Although the virus has not been seen in Illinois, University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences Professor Kenneth Koelkebeck is alerting poultry farmers in the state so that they can take necessary precautions to avoid infection in their flocks.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the risk of infection to people to be low,” Koelkebeck said. “In fact, no human infections with the virus (subtype H5N2) have ever been detected.” Worldwide, there are many strains of the virus, he said. One is considered to be a low pathogenic virus that occurs naturally in wild birds and migratory waterfowl without causing illness. However, the strain that is occurring in the United States at this time is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

“HPAI is extremely infectious and fatal to chickens and turkeys and can spread rapidly from flock to flock,” Koelkebeck said. “Poultry and egg farmers are on high alert for any signs of the disease in their flocks and will strive to keep their customers informed of any problems associated with this disease.”

Koelkebeck also stressed that the United States has the best avian influenza surveillance program in the world. As part of existing U.S. Department of Agriculture avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as poultry and egg farmers are responding quickly and decisively to these HPAI cases. The five basic steps are: to restrict the movement of poultry into and out of a control area; humanely euthanize the affected birds; test wild and domestic birds in and around quarantined areas; destroy the virus in the affected flock locations; and confirm that the poultry farm is virus-free.

“In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with its partners to actively look and test for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations,” Koelkebeck said.

The virus is most often spread via direct contact between infected birds and healthy birds but may also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated materials and equipment with droppings from infected birds. Consequently, as a precaution, people who keep poultry or have pet birds are encouraged to keep them indoors and avoid contact with waterfowl of any kind, particularly Canada geese.  Waterfowl hunters who own poultry, after returning from the field, should shower and change clothes and shoes before entering poultry houses.

U of I Extension reports that properly prepared poultry and eggs are safe to eat. Even with the virus’s presence in the Midwest, it is unlikely that an infected bird would enter the food supply. Flocks are routinely tested for avian influenza prior to birds or eggs leaving the farm for processing.  Proper cooking kills the avian influenza virus, just as it does many other germs.

The last large outbreak of bird flu was in 2004.




Award winners recognized at College of ACES banquet

Published April 14, 2015

URBANA -- The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) honored outstanding faculty and staff at the annual Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards Banquet held Monday, April 13, at Pear Tree Estate in rural Champaign, Ill.

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award is the College of ACES' highest honor. It is presented annually to faculty for outstanding achievement and major contributions to the betterment of agriculture, natural resources, and human systems, said ACES Dean Robert Hauser, host of the evening's award ceremony.

The awards program was established in 1970 by the Paul A. Funk Foundation of Bloomington, Ill., as a memorial to the late Paul A. Funk, who attended the college as a member of the class of 1929 and devoted his life to agriculture.

The three recipients of the Funk Awards—Elvira de Mejia of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Brian Diers of Crop Sciences, and Alan Hansen of Agricultural and Biological Engineering—headlined this year's ceremony.

The Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award went to Scott Irwin of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Karen Chapman-Novakofski of Food Science and Human Nutrition received the Faculty Award for Global Impact.

The five recipients of the ACES Alumni Association Award of Merit were: Dan Hoge, ’66, B.S., Animal Sciences, ’68, M.S., Animal Sciences, Cambridge, Ill.; Susan Johnson, ’93, Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, Louisville, Colo.; Daniel Kittle, ’78, M.S., Plant Pathology, ’80, Ph.D., Plant Pathology, Carmel, Ind.; Gregory Oltman, ’72, B.S., Ornamental Horticulture, Barrington, Ill.; and Kenna Rathai, ’93, B.S., Ag Communications, Saint Anne, Ill.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Soo-Yeun Lee of Food Science and Human Nutrition, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Animal Sciences, and Ryan Dilger, Animal Sciences, received the Senior Faculty Award and College Faculty Award, respectively, for Excellence in Research.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Mohammad Babadoost of Crop Sciences, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

The Teaching Associate Teaching Award was given to Margaret Norton of Crop Sciences.

The John Clyde and Henrietta Downey Spitler Teaching Award went to Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development.

The Team Award for Excellence went to the members of the STRONG* Kids/I-TOPP** team: Kelly Bost, Human and Community Development; David Buchner, Kinesiology and Community Health; Sharon Donovan, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development; Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, Kinesiology and Community Health; Craig Gunderson, Agricultural and Consumer Economics; Jessica Hartke, Nutritional Sciences; Charles Hillman, Kinesiology and Community Health; Rodney Johnson, Animal Sciences; Brenda Koester; Human and Community Development; Soo-Yeun Lee, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Janet Liechty, School of Social Work; Brent McBride, Human and Community Development; Salma Musaad, Human and Community Development; Margarita Teran-Garcia, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Jennifer Themanson, Human and Community Development; Donna Whitehill, Nutritional Sciences; and Angela Wiley, Human and Community Development. (*Synergistic Theory and Research on Obesity and Nutrition Group, **Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program)

The Professional Staff Awards for Excellence were given to Elizabeth Reutter, Food Science and Human Nutrition, for Sustained Excellence in Advising, Teaching, and Outreach; Lowell Gentry, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, for Sustained Excellence in Research; and Linda Tortorelli, Human and Community Development, for Innovation and Creativity.

Luis Mejia, Food Science and Human Nutrition, received the Service Recognition Award.

Dianne Carson of Crop Sciences and Donna Stites of Agricultural and Consumer Economics received the Staff Award for Excellence. Maria Rund, Human and Community Development, was awarded the Marcella M. Nance Staff Award.

The Graduate Student Research Awards went to Kale Monk, Human and Community Development, and Laura Chatham, Crop Sciences, for Ph.D. work and M.S. work, respectively.

Louis V. Logeman Graduate Student Teaching Awards were given to Adam Ahlers, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Kimberly Crossman, Human and Community Development.

For more information and videos, go to


Expert says that being sleep deprived leads to weight gain, other disorders

Published March 24, 2015
sleeping woman

URBANA, Ill. – Almost a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and that increases their risk of weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke, said Michael A. Grandner, an expert in behavioral sleep medicine and the keynote speaker of the University of Illinois’s Division of Nutritional Sciences recent Nutrition Symposium.

“Both people who sleep too little and people who sleep too much —seven to eight hours is the gold standard for adults—have a higher mortality rate,” he noted.

According to Grandner, the link between short sleep and obesity has been well documented by at least 65 studies, with the Nurses’ Health Study showing that people who sleep six hours or less are more likely to gain an approximate 33 pounds over the course of 16 years. Short sleepers are 20 percent more likely to have hypertension, and they are 30 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

Because sleep and diet are both biological imperatives, it’s no surprise that one affects the other, he noted. Inadequate sleep promotes inflammation, which can lead to difficulty regulating insulin and an increase in the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.

Short sleepers tend to consume more calories, snack more, eat fewer vegetables, and eat more fast food later at night, he said.

“Just as we have healthy diet interventions, we should have sleep interventions. But how do you teach people to get better sleep? It’s hard to get people to sleep more. You’re asking them to give up what little autonomy they have left in their lives. They would trade sleep for work or for their commute, but not for leisure, which they don’t want to give up,” Grandner said.

Further, Grandner said that the less sleep people get, the more impaired they are, and they don’t necessarily realize it—so that drowsy driving is a real problem on our highways. The deficits due to sleep loss add up over time, and after two weeks of skimping on sleep, short sleepers don’t adjust, they get worse, he said.

Lack of sleep is associated with high stress, moodiness, and impaired decision making, he said.

“Sleep-deprived people may not be able to discern what is relevant and irrelevant when making decisions, and they are more likely to engage in risky behavior,” he said.

Short sleepers are also more likely to have memory problems. “I tell my students if they’re going to pull an all-nighter, don’t do it the night before the test. Do it the night before the night before the test. They’ll remember more of what they studied,” Grandner said.

The sleep scholar is also concerned that there is a strong association between food insecurity and sleep difficulties. Problems include difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and daytime sleepiness. “Hungry people are likely to also be sleep-impaired people,” he said.

Grandner is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and the University of California, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in sleep and circadian neurobiology and a fellowship in behavioral sleep medicine, both at Penn. He has been honored by the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, the Sleep Research Society, and the American Heart Association, and has written extensively about sleep and health.


African Agency in Development - Successes and Opportunities

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, 51 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign, IL

Keynote Speaker Dr. Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies at the U of I will highlight this exciting event sponsored by the African Students Organization. Guest speakers include Dr. Milu Muyanga of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University; Dr. Juan Andrade of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the U of I; Dr. Ephantus J. Muturi of the Illinois Natural History Survey at the U of I; and Dr. Maimouna A. Barro of the Center for African Studies at the U of I. This event is sponsored by SORF, ACES Office of International Programs, BNAACC, Office International Affairs and International Programs, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and Center for African Studies. African cuisines will be served.

Expert on sleep and obesity will speak at U of I Nutrition Symposium

Published February 24, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Is there a relationship between sleep and obesity? University of Pennsylvania professor Michael A. Grandner will answer this question in his keynote address at the 2015 Illinois Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student Association Nutrition Symposium on Thursday, March 19, from 4 to 5 p.m. in 180 Bevier Hall on the University of Illinois campus. The event is open to the public.

“Dr. Grandner is board certified in behavioral sleep medicine, and his research focuses on how sleep and sleep-related behaviors are related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurobehavioral functioning, mental health, and longevity. He is also studying the social, environmental, and behavioral factors that determine how we sleep,” said Jessica Hartke, assistant director of the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS).

According to the expert, over 60 studies have reported an association between short sleep duration and obesity. He will examine a number of physiological, behavioral, and dietary factors that may contribute to this association.

Grandner is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and the University of California, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in sleep and circadian neurobiology, an accredited fellowship in behavioral sleep medicine, and a master’s degree in translational research, all at Penn.

He serves on the Mental Health Task Force for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and has received honors and awards for his work from the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Sleep Research Society, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Heart Association, Population Association of America, and other groups. He has also published over 50 articles and chapters on issues related to sleep and health.

A mini-symposium, “Nutritional Sciences: Impacting Health at Every Age,” featuring world-class University of Illinois faculty researchers, will be featured before the keynote address. That event will take place from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. in the Monsanto Room at the Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Library, 1101 South Goodwin Avenue, on campus.

The panel will include Yuan-Xiang Pan, speaking on “Maternal Nutrition Programs: Physiological Consequences through Epigenetics in Animal Models”; Sharon M. Donovan, “Breastfeeding Reduces Circulating Inflammatory Cytokines and Inflammatory Gene Pathways in Immune Cells Compared to Formula Feeding in the First Six Months of Life”; Margarita Teran-Garcia, “Emerging Adulthood: An Opportunity to Prevent Chronic Disease”; and Karen Chapman-Novakofski, “Nutrition and the Older Adult.”

DNS graduate students will compete in an oral research presentation composition from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. in the Monsanto Room of the ACES Library, and poster research presentation and competition will be from 5:15 to 6:40 p.m. in the ACES Library Heritage Room. Both are open to the public.

The Nutrition Symposium is sponsored by Abbott Nutrition; The Beef Checkoff; Kraft Foods Group, Inc.; Mead Johnson Nutrition; PepsiCo, Inc.; Tate & Lyle; and Wrigley. Friends of the symposium are Campbell Soup Company, Kemin Health, U of I College of ACES Office of Research, and U of I Departments of Animal Sciences, Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Kinesiology and Community Health. Funding is also provided by the U of I Student Organization Resource Fee.

“Our graduate students take full responsibility for planning and executing the Nutrition Symposium,” said Rodney Johnson, DNS director. “The event provides our students with an important professional development opportunity. I’m pleased that they have organized a wonderful program that can be enjoyed by the community.”

For more information, contact the Division of Nutritional Sciences at 217-333-4177 or






ACES International in Action: Food Security Series

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Morgan-Caterpillar Room of the College of ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center

"The Impact of F2F Volunteering on Agricultural Education and Research in Ethiopia –A Field Report from the Haramaya University”
presented by Dr. Martin Bohn, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences

Dr. Bohn will present on his recent experience in the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program that connects farmers and agricultural experts in the United States with counterparts in the East African nations of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and other developing countries for training and technical assistance.


Gamma Sigma Delta ACES Graduate Fellows Awards Luncheon

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois

Join the College of ACES and Gamma Sigma Delta in celebrating scholarly excellence of their recent graduates. Faculty members will be in attendance to honor the graduates who will be recognized at the event.


The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture presented by Gerald Nelson

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Monsanto Room, College of ACES Library

The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture:
“Global Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate”
Presented by Gerald Nelson

Gerald Nelson is Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jerry was the principal author of the report “Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in May 2014. He most recently served as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC where he coordinated its climate change research, led the policy analysis activities of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, and was the principal investigator on major projects on food security and climate change issues funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the German and British aid agencies.

His research includes global modeling of the interactions among agriculture, land use, and climate change; consequences of macro-economic, sector and trade policies and climate change on land use and the environment using remotely sensed, geographic and socioeconomic data; and the assessment of the effects of genetically modified crops on the environment. Jerry was the coordinating lead author of the Drivers chapter of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios work. Previously, he was Professor in the Department of Agricultural Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, served as Visiting Scholar at the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was Specialist and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines. Jerry has been quoted in many publications, including the Economist, The New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, and the Tehran Times.
The International Food Security Initiative (IFSI), a new program of the Office of International Programs at the College of ACES, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, seeks to focus the expertise and resources of the University of Illinois to address the global challenge of ensuring that all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to achieve their human potential.



College of ACES New Student Welcome

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
First and lower levels of the ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

This event is part of campus’ Welcome Week and takes place after Convocation and the New Student Picnic. The ACES New Student Welcome is the chance for incoming freshman and transfer students to visit ACES registered student organization tables and mingle with some of our college’s student leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators. All ACES faculty and staff have been invited to attend.