College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Departments News

Funding News

Vetmed - Thu, 2018-07-12 14:42


We wish the warmest congratulations to University of Maryland’s Department of Veterinary Medicine’s faculty member, Dr. Utpal Pal. Dr. Pal and two other investigators were awarded an Investigator Initiated Program (P01) grant, Tick Immune Signaling, Microbiota, and Acquisition of Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The grant is funded between 07/13/2018 – 06/30/2023 in a total amount of $,7,728,265.00. Dr. Utpal Pal will serve as the contact Principal Investigator (PI) with two other PIs from Yale University and University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Pal is also the Program Director and PI of an administrative core that will coordinate research across four universities

Jul 12, 2018Author: Dr. Pal
Categories: Departments News

AREC Alumnus Bruce Summers Appointed to Administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service

AREC - Wed, 2018-07-11 13:27
Jul 11, 2018Author: Jess Feldman

AREC would like to recognize alumnus Bruce Summers, who graduated with a B.S. from the college in 1985, on his recent appointment to Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), part of the Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission area.

He first began work at the USDA in the Fruit and Vegetable program; however, he has since worked his way up through a number of leadership roles over a period of 30 years, becoming a prominent influencer in his field.

“As the Acting Administrator, Bruce has proved he has the knowledge and steady hand needed to continue leading AMS in their service to American farmers and families,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said, according to the USDA's website. “I know that as AMS Administrator, Bruce will build on his great record of success.”

                                                Congratulations Bruce!

Categories: Departments News

Dr. Lori Lynch Appointed New Department Chair for AREC

AREC - Tue, 2018-07-10 14:19
Jul 10, 2018Author: Jess Feldman

The Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics is pleased to announce Professor Lori Lynch as the new Department Chair, effective July 1.

Lynch has been with the college for 22 years, where she has served as both a professor and an extension economist. In addition to her time with the college, Lynch works as a senior economist with the Conservation and Environment branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economics Research Service. The majority of Lynch’s research has specialized in agricultural and resource policy analysis, having to do with land-use and economic policy.

“I want to formally congratulate Lori as we welcome her as the new department chair,” Dean and Director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Craig Beyrouty wrote in an email announcement. “I look forward to her valued leadership and insight as we move forward as a college.”

As an expert in her field, Lynch has authored many book chapters and academic papers, spoke at conferences and served on various advisory committees and esteemed panels. Lynch’s most recent research, which concluded last month, was located in Cali, Colombia, where she conducted an economic experiment that assessed farmers’ attitudes toward risk for 10 months, granted through a Fulbright Scholarship.

While in Colombia, Lynch worked with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which is the center of CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agricultural and Food Security (CCAFS). Lynch studied within climate-smart villages to try and assess the right practices needed to adapt for progression in the fields. Part of Lynch’s research also included the study of adopting Brookaria forages as an alternative grass that would enable farmers to use less area, embrace other conservation practices and even slow down the deforestation rate. Now back in the United States, Lynch is looking at whether the improved forages really do increase productivity or if there are other factors at play.

Lynch is looking forward to her role as Department Chair and hopes to continue to inspire research at both the junior and senior levels. She also wants to work with the Department to increase interest in the undergraduate sector of the program, while continuing to improve the graduate program.

“Seeing how the program grows and advances is something that I think will be very exciting,” Lynch explained. “I hope to see people be successful and help in any way I can through high quality research.”

Congratulations Dr. Lori Lynch!

 ARECFacultyCongratulations Lori Lynch
Categories: Departments News

Six Reasons to Attend the Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA - Tue, 2018-07-10 13:19
Jul 10, 2018Author: Emily Novak

Choosing a college can be a daunting task. If you are searching for a school that prides itself on preparing graduates for the real world, the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) should be on your must-see list of colleges. The IAA offers curricula that provide students with agricultural and business-relevant coursework and internship experiences needed to find the perfect niche in the agriculture world today. Take it from me: I graduated in May, but landed my current job last December! Read on to discover six reasons why you should apply to the Institute of Applied Agriculture.


1. Hidden Gem. I think of the IAA as a hidden gem on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. Housed within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the IAA offers eight two-year certificate concentrations ranging from Sustainable Agriculture, to Agricultural Leadership and Communication, to Turfgrass Management. Each 60-credit program includes core courses covering business management and agricultural sciences. Students also complete a 320-hour internship where they practice their “ag” and real-world business skills. These experiences often lead to job opportunities and prepare graduates for careers related to their concentration.


2. Staff. The IAA has no shortage of friendly, compassionate, and knowledgeable advisors, lecturers, and staff. Coursework is designed to both challenge students and help them achieve milestones in and out of the classroom. The school-, job-, and extracurricular-related opportunities shared by IAA staff are wonderful resources. The patience presented by IAA staff allows students to be more flexible in their educational pursuits than in many traditional four-year programs.


3. Leadership opportunities. Group projects in Marketing, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development courses, along with skill-heavy courses like Mechanics, Computer Applications, and Animal Science allow students to stand out and practice group leadership and project management. The IAA Marketing, Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (MORE) Committee provided me, personally, with an opportunity to be one of two IAA students on the panel, leaving me feeling appreciated and valued.


4. Small class sizes. Being on the UMD College Park campus can be a little overwhelming, especially in large classes that can have up to 200 students. I see the IAA’s small class sizes as a huge advantage to my style of learning. Having 30 or fewer students in a class allows for time to ask questions, have discussions, and get to know one another. It allowed my Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture class to go on field trips and enjoy an end-of-the-year potluck where students did their best to locally source ingredients for their dishes. Moreover, getting to know the teachers and advisors benefits students by giving them additional resources to talk to.


5. Your résumé stands out. As mentioned earlier, the IAA offers a wealth of business-related courses that prepare students for starting their careers off on the right foot. Having this knowledge and experience on a résumé helps IAA graduates stand out when competing in the job market.


6. Balance. The final reason to apply to the IAA (although there are so many more), is the perfect ratio of hard work, fun, and education. By making the courses enjoyable through hands-on activities like planting lettuce seedlings in Crop Production and visiting the campus Farmers Market in Marketing, students can learn and have a good time while in class. In other courses, like Agricultural Entrepreneurship, the idea of having weekly group presentations was initially horrifying, but pushed me to gain the confidence I needed to speak in front of a group and helped me find friends in my groupmates.


Applying to the IAA was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only have I kicked off my career before graduating, but I’ve never felt prouder of myself. I encourage all who are interested in learning more about the IAA to visit, and call or email to schedule a visit!

Categories: Departments News

UMD Researchers Identify Genetic Mechanisms to Control Cancer-Like Growths in Mouse-ear Cress Plants with Links to Animal and Human Cells

PSLA - Mon, 2018-07-09 10:52
Researchers take a one health approach, shedding light on the control of cancer across plants, animals, and humansArabidopsis, or mouse-ear cress

UMD researchers have identified genetic mechanisms to control cancer-like growths in the plant Arabidopsis, commonly known as mouse-ear cress. The cancer-like tumors as a result of a mutated gene in the plant cause the formation of abnormal flowers and sterility, and the cell cycle complexes disrupted in the mutant plant work similarly in animal and human cells to regulate cell division and organ growth. Using the latest CRISPR gene editing technology, researchers are now able to correct the cancer-like behavior in the plant and have elucidated the underlying mechanisms relevant plants, animals, and humans. With this ability and a clearer understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to uncontrolled cell growth, a path can be laid to the control of plant, animal, and human cancers connected to these genes.

Mouse-ear cress is a small flowering plant closely related to mustard and cabbage plants, and it is often used as a model system given its genetic similarities across plants, animals, and humans and how easy it is to propagate. Dr. Zhongchi Liu, Affiliate Professor with the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, works with mouse-ear cress often in her research. She named the TSO1 gene she discovered in mouse-ear cress after the Chinese word for “ugly” because of the large cancer-like blobs found in the mutated plant where flowers should be.

“Cancer is caused by a series of genetic mutations that result in uncontrolled cell proliferation and failure of differentiation” explains Liu. “There are so many types of cancer because there are so many genes and combinations of mutations that can lead to this uncontrolled or abnormal growth in any tissue in the body of any plant, animal, or human. Any insight into a series of genes that contribute to uncontrolled cell proliferation and cancer-like growths can provide connections to parallel genes in animals and humans. That makes this work very exciting.”

The TSO1 gene (aka the ugly gene) is a regulatory gene whose gene product is a member of a cell cycle complex known as the DREAM complex. This complex is conserved and similar to regulatory complexes in animals and humans known to balance cell proliferation and differentiation, determining what cell should be what cell type and how much of it is needed. When these things get out of control, tumors and cancers form. “There are always multiple genes at work that control and produce one phenotype or physical trait, whether that trait is a beautiful and healthy flower or a cancer-like ‘ugly’ blob,” says Liu.

In this case, in addition to identifying the ugly gene, Liu and her team recently identified the MYB3R1 gene as another component in the DREAM complex; this second gene works together with TSO1 to control plant cell growth. “Excitingly, the MYB3R1 gene we found in the plant is highly similar in protein sequence to the MYB previously found in animals and humans,” says Liu. “We found that inactivating the MYB3R1 gene through gene editing and mutation completely reverses the blob ‘ugly’ phenotype in the plant, so normal flowers are produced and cancer-like tumors are no longer present. The genetic interactions between the ugly gene and its partner MYB gene and their functional roles in regulating healthy tissue and organ growth hadn’t been observed before, and they give us useful information about how cell growth and differentiation in tissues and across the whole body is regulated potentially not just in plants, but in animals and humans.”

This work is published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Science here.

Jul 9, 2018Author: Samantha Watters
Categories: Departments News

Dr. Samal in Mexico City to deliver a speech on a TV station on NDV

Vetmed - Fri, 2018-06-29 15:19

Dr. Samal will be invited to Mexico City to deliver a speech, on TV, relating to NDV for Latin American countries.  Estimated number of attendees will be 20,000



Jun 29, 2018
Categories: Departments News

UMD Comparative Experimental Research Reveals Important Commonalities and Exposes a Gender Myth

AREC - Tue, 2018-06-26 14:08
Jun 26, 2018Author: Jess Feldman and Kenneth Leonard

"Men are more competitive than women." Not only is this statement often met with little resistance, but significant economic research backs it up. All around the world, women prefer to avoid competition -- when given the choice to earn money without being compared to others -- while men seek the opportunity to be measured against others.

Analysis of university-aged subjects has constituted the majority of this research. However, Professor Kenneth Leonard, together with co-authors, AREC alumnus Jeffrey Flory, John List and Uri Gneezy, showed that competitiveness is not a male characteristic. By using subjects ranging from ages 18 to 90, both in Malawi and here in Maryland, they were able to prove that young women, indeed, tend to avoid competition, but that older women do not.

The research shows that:

  • Female competition preference sharply rises around age 50, erasing the gender gap.

  • The age gap among female subjects is as big as the gender gap among young subjects.

  • Older women have just as strong a preference for competition as men of all ages.

  • The impact of age and the vanishing gap are consistent across different societies.

  • Differences among women seem at least as important as those between men and women.

In reference to young girls playing well in sports, President Obama once said "... playing like a girl means you’re a badass." Leonard and his team show that "playing like a grandmother means you’re a badass."

Pictured left are University of Maryland students within the Symons Hall Experimental Laboratory. It is here where Leonard is able to study differences in human behavior of college-level students.

The results from the study conducted both at UMD and in Malawi show that it is essential to pair subjects within a university setting with those outside a university setting. Experimental economics must go beyond college-level subjects to gather more accurate research. University students have high levels of education and are physically present near research sites for long periods of time, deeming them the ideal subjects for learning about regularities in human behavior. However, at some point, the variation among students reaches a limit, and researchers must be willing to go outside the university lab to test their findings, according to Leonard. Diversity of gender and economic background is relatively easy to find at the University of Maryland, but diversity of age is not.

For further information regarding the study:

Jeffrey A. Flory, Uri Gneezy, Kenneth L. Leonard, John A. List,
Gender, age, and competition: A disappearing gap?, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 150, 2018, Pages 256-276, ISSN 0167-2681,


For further information regarding the Symons Hall Experimental Laboratory, please visit

Categories: Departments News

Congratulations to the ANSC Spring 2018 Graduates

ANSC - Thu, 2018-06-21 12:16

The University wide commencement was held Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 1:00 p.m in the Xfinity Center.  The College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences commencement ceremony was on May 19, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. in the Reckord Armory.

Class of 2018

ANSC Graduate students
Yi Ding Ph.D.
Aubrey Jaqueth, Ph.D.
Jonatan Mendez, MS.
Jasmine Mengers, MS.
Robert Murray, Ph.D.
Shelley Sandmaier, Ph.D.
Botong Shen, Ph.D.
Shu Wei Wu, MS.

ANSC Undergraduates
Dalia Rachel Badamo
Melissa Marie Benjamin
Cassandra Rose Bernhardt
Emily Marie Bugbee
Nicole Camelo-Lopez
Lauren Paige Carter
Dena Marie Castellani
Cassandra Kim Champ
Brittany Eilene Curry
Emily Rae Davis
Grace Marie DeWitt
Cierra Kay Dilks
Ian Doody
Ruby Amanda Fishbein
Annette Elena Folgueras
Atessa Foroutan
Rachel   Gagliardi
Erin Gary
Megan Elizabeth George
Sarah Jane Gitterman
Claudia Rose Gomez
Briana Maria Gooden
Morgan Gray
Carly Anne Guiltinan
Jisselle Guzman Pineda
Kayla Marie Harvey
Kelsey Anne Hoffman
Haley Alicia Honegger
Joshua Bradley Julian
Zora-Maya Nicole Keith
Mitchell Brandon Kenyon
Dong Ok Kim
Kristian Koeser
Ashley Marie Mann
Grace Irene Markley
Alisa McNamara
Marissa Rose Melzer
Aviva Leah Movsas
Taylor Elizabeth Park Muir
Thomas Mullineaux
Danielle Nicole Naundorf
Zoe Cheyanne Putman
Katelyn Mahree Repoli
Cristians Esau Rivas Morales
Edahlia Singleton
Julie Nicole Summerfield
Anne Tavera
Rebecca Thompson
Sophia Francesca Tomaselli
Erika Tonnon
Hannah Leah Warshawsky
Julianna Monique Wood
Morgan Leigh Wooten
Jillian Elizabeth Yant

Jun 21, 2018
Categories: Departments News

Congratulations 2018 Graduates

AREC - Wed, 2018-06-20 11:05
Jun 20, 2018Author: Jess Feldman

This year marks another term of hard work paid off as students plan to move forward beyond the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. Congratulations to our 2018 graduates.

A total of 32 undergraduate students within the department received their diplomas last month. Pictured to the left is undergraduate student Cedric Nwafor, who served as this year’s commencement speaker. Nwafor is the founder of  ROOTS Africa, a student-led organization that strives to combat poverty and hunger through agricultural innovation and education. Nwafor plans to continue his work with ROOTS Africa and eventually turn the student-operated program into a 501C3 organization. 

Other graduates will move on to organizations ranging from The Peace Corps to the U.S. House of Representatives to JP Morgan Chase & Co. In addition, several students have been accepted to graduate schools such as Cornell University, the Economics Development program at Vanderbilt University, Yale University and more.

Three graduate students were also recognized at the commencement ceremony and will be receiving their Ph.D.s this summer. Pictured to the right is graduate Uttara Balakrishnan with her advisor, Associate Professor Pamela Jakiela. Balakrishnan will be a research economist at IMPAQ International, a social science research firm dedicated to evaluating and enhancing education, human services, health and international development programs. Wenjun Wang, pictured below with Balakrishnan, and John Roberts were also acknowledged at the ceremony. Wang will move on to be an associate with the Agricultural Bank of China and Roberts will take on the role of economist within the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Categories: Departments News

IAA Class of 2018

IAA - Mon, 2018-06-18 15:04
22 IAA Students GraduateJun 18, 2018Author: Brandy Walterhoefer

“No matter where you go from here—whether it is continuing on to get a four-year degree or going out to work in your field—may the grass always be greener, the fruit always be sweeter, and may your wildest dreams always come true,” said Robert Blake, Jr., with a smile.

Blake and three of his fellow graduates, Amy Winkler, Nicolas Tardif, and Becky Jones, gave heartfelt speeches to classmates, faculty, family and friends at the pre-graduation celebration at the College Park Marriott on May 19. The pre-graduation celebration consisted of laughter, tears, and nerves along with a huge array of food and drinks.

 “IAA, IAA, IAA…” chanted everyone at the celebration as Tony Pagnotti, an IAA Oral Communication lecturer and emcee for the occasion, energized the group on their big day. His entertaining antics brought much laughter and many smiles.

The 22 members of the graduating class had shared-but-unique experiences, individual stories to tell, and plans for their future. Twelve of the graduates plan to begin their careers in their desired field now that they have gained a certificate. Ten of the graduates are continuing their education in order to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland or other universities. In addition, four graduates are planning weddings.

Congratulations also to lecturer Larisa Cioaca, who was awarded the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture’s Teaching Award of Merit.

The IAA is proud of this year’s graduates:

Kossi Bassinan

Gaithersburg, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Work at a federal job and help people in need worldwide


Rebecca Bell

Beltsville, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Work at a floral shop in Westminster, MD


Robert Blake, Jr.

Jersey City, NJ

Golf Course Management

Plans: Assistant Superintendent at Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. 


Frank Bohne

LaPlayta, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Continue education in environmental health


Emmett Brew

Columbia, MD

Sustainable Agriculture  

Plans:  Work at USDA dairy farm


Victoria Bryant

Edgemere, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Complete bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and then go to graduate school


Marco Carlucci

University Park, MD

General Ornamental Horticulture

Plans: Continue education at UMD in Urban Forestry


Jessica Dumsha

Glen Burnie, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Obtain a position with Department of Agriculture and eventually start grass-fed beef operation


David Floyd

Cambridge, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Continue education in Environmental Science and Technology


Anthony Freni

Brandywine, MD

Landscape Management

Plans:  Purchasing Manager at F & F Landscaping, Inc.


Rebecka Jones

Sunderland, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Continue education in Agricultural and Resource Economics.  Then, create a meaningful career in the agricultural field


Jade Loewenstein

Boyds, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Continue education, attend graduate school and then work in biotechnology and research


Brandon McIntrye

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Continue education in environmental policy


Conrad Mellin

Parkton, MD

Landscape Management

Plans: Continue education in Landscape Architecture


Emily Novak

Germantown, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Move up in position at current job toward management


Emily Richardson

White Marsh, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Continue education in Agricultural Policy while working for and expanding family farm


Edwin Sanchez

Clarksburg, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Continue education to obtain bachelor’s degree in Agronomy


Cameron Smith

Laurel, MD

Sustainable Agriculture

Plans: Continue education at UMD for degree in Environmental Science and Technology with concentration in environmental health with the ultimate goal of work in cancer research


Eric Spalt

Belair, MD

Golf Course Management

Plans: Assistant Superintendent at MD Golf Course and Country Club and Lawn Care Business


Nicolas Tardif

Laurel, MD

General Ornamental Horticulture  

Plans: Field Manager for Ruppert Landscape


Ally Thomas

Gaithersburg, MD

Agricultural Business Management

Plans: Continue education toward degree in Environmental Science and Policy


Amy Winkler

Clarksburg, MD

Sustainable Agriculture and Ornamental Horticulture
Plans: Historic Site Gardener at the Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale, MD

turfgrass managementAgriculture in Marylandapplied agricultureiaasustainable agricultureIAA Class of 2018. From left to right: Bobby Blake, Eric Spalt, Emily Novak, Nicolas Tardif, Jessica Dumsha, Victoria Bryant, Becky Jones, Edwin Sanchez, Rebecca Bell, Conrad Mellin, Cameron Smith, Jade Loewenstein, Amy Winkler, Emily Richardson.Image Credit: Brandy Walterhoefer
Categories: Departments News

Dr. Weizhong Li receives the UM Ventures Seed Grant

Vetmed - Fri, 2018-06-15 16:06

Congratulations!  Dr. Weizhong Li receives the UM Ventures Seed Grant from the Office Technology Commercialization, the University of Maryland. Dr. Li will test a novel mucosal vaccine against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection in a cotton rat model.

Data from WHO informs that human RSV causes 64 million infections with about 160,000 deaths annually. The recurrent human RSV infection is popular in infants and the elderly, around the world. To date, the commercial RSV vaccine is not available. As a result, the global RSV treatment market is anticipated to climb to unprecedented levels, in the next few years and may reach $2.3 billion by 2024.

Dr. Li’s research aims to develop an RSV F protein subunit vaccine using the FcRn-mediated transportation technique established by Dr. Zhu’s lab.  The funding amount is $15,000. 


Jun 15, 2018
Categories: Departments News

Timothy Sheets Receives Young Investigator Award

ANSC - Thu, 2018-06-14 09:28
Timothy Sheets presents his research at the 2018 Annual Symposium

Timothy Sheets, doctoral candidate in Dr. Bhanu Telugu's laboratory, was
recently selected for the young investigator travel award to present his
research during the Large Animal Genetic Engineering Summit in Park City,
Utah. His research focuses on eliminating the gene Neurogenin 3 (NGN3) by
targeting the genome of the domestic pig. He and his co-authors first,
performed microinjection into zygotes and embryo transfer into surrogate
gilts to create NGN3-edited offspring. Then, they used cells derived from one
offspring, with a homozygous deletion for NGN3, as a donor cell for somatic
cell nuclear transfer (cloning) in order to generate three live cloned
animals, with a condition resembling type 1 diabetes, lacking all endocrine
cell types of the pancreas.

This study demonstrates for the first time, that CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of the
NGN3 gene in pigs results in a loss of all four major hormone producing cell
types of the pancreas. NGN3 ablated animals offer hope towards future goals
for growing human NGN3 expressing cells within embryos derived from mutant
pigs. The result would be human endocrine producing cells, that can be
isolated from the pig organ, for cell transplantation in diabetic patients.

This study is the first to target NGN3 in any species using the CRISPR/Cas9

Photo Credit: Melissa RogersJun 14, 2018
Categories: Departments News

Timothy Sheets Receives Young Investigator Award

ANSC - Thu, 2018-06-14 09:27
Timothy Sheets presents his research at the 2018 Annual Symposium

Timothy Sheets, doctoral candidate in Dr. Bhanu Telugu's laboratory, was
recently selected for the young investigator travel award to present his
research during the Large Animal Genetic Engineering Summit in Park City,
Utah. His research focuses on eliminating the gene Neurogenin 3 (NGN3) by
targeting the genome of the domestic pig. He and his co-authors first,
performed microinjection into zygotes and embryo transfer into surrogate
gilts to create NGN3-edited offspring. Then, they used cells derived from one
offspring, with a homozygous deletion for NGN3, as a donor cell for somatic
cell nuclear transfer (cloning) in order to generate three live cloned
animals, with a condition resembling type 1 diabetes, lacking all endocrine
cell types of the pancreas.

This study demonstrates for the first time, that CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of the
NGN3 gene in pigs results in a loss of all four major hormone producing cell
types of the pancreas. NGN3 ablated animals offer hope towards future goals
for growing human NGN3 expressing cells within embryos derived from mutant
pigs. The result would be human endocrine producing cells, that can be
isolated from the pig organ, for cell transplantation in diabetic patients.

This study is the first to target NGN3 in any species using the CRISPR/Cas9

Photo Credit: Melissa RogersJun 14, 2018
Categories: Departments News

2018 Departmental Awards Highlights

ENST - Wed, 2018-06-06 15:13
Jun 6, 2018

We are happy to congratulate the following ENST Team Members on their jobs well-done.

Faculty Awards:
Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenure Track) – Masoud Negahban-Azar
Excellence in Teaching Award (Non Tenure Track) – Candice Duncan
Excellence in Research Award – Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman
Excellence in Extension Award – Gurpal Toor
Outstanding Post-Doctoral Research Associate – Amro Hassanein
Excellence in Mentoring Award – Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman
Staff Awards:
Outstanding Staff Excellence Award - Tina Scites
Student Awards:
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award – Alexis Boytim
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award – Nicolette Henning
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award – Tylar Clark
Outstanding Graduate Student Award (MS) – Rachel Eberius
Outstanding Graduate Student Award (PhD) – Mo Yu
Outstanding Graduate Student Award (PhD) – Manashi Paul
The Bahram Momen Distinguished Service Award – Robert Hill
Other Student Honors:
2018 National Student Recognition Award - Victoria Monsaint-Queeney
Washington, DC - Maryland ASABE Section Scholarship, $1,500 each –
        William Jacob Mast
        Karla Rosales Lobos
        Robert L. and Frances C. Green Scholarship, $1000 - Trang Vu Quyuh Le

Award winners from ENST's May 11th ceremony. Candice Duncan, Rachel Eberius, & Mo Yu not pictured.
Categories: Departments News

UMD Dietetic interns attend International Maternal & Child Health Conference

NFSC - Tue, 2018-05-29 23:11
NFSC dietetic interns Alexandra Long, Emily Glass, Melissa Talley & Julia Werth wrote a blog about their observations at the “Alive & Thrive” Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Conference.May 29, 2018

Fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy – the five food groups. That’s nutrition 101 for every dietetic intern. Or so we thought…

Recently, four of us had the opportunity to attend a global maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) event held on April 30 in Washington, DC. Alive & Thrive (A&T) is an initiative to save lives, prevent illness, and ensure healthy growth and development through optimal maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, and complementary feeding practices.  Over the course of the event, we learned that internationally there aren’t just five food groups studied; in fact, there are double that number.

Fruit, iron-rich vegetables, vitamin A-rich vegetables, other vegetables, cereals, dairy, fats, fish, nuts/seeds, and meat are the ten food groups generally used in A&T programs to monitor intake and outcomes related to nutrition policies and programs. This division makes it easier to compare the intakes of nations worldwide, many of which have larger populations of vegetarians and less access to certain fruits and vegetables than we do in the United States.

Melissa Talley, Julia Werth, Emily Glass and Alexandra Long (from left to right) at the Alive&Thrive conference on April 30.

And the considerations and alterations made to best serve and address the needs of families globally don’t stop there. With every country and culture comes different social norms and traditions that may be different to here in the US.

Take fasting for instance. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) requires followers over age seven to fast for over 180 days a year, which includes abstaining from all animal source foods and consuming their first meal of the day after noon. Although children under seven are excused from participating, they still receive little to no food during fasting times. A&T has spent time evaluating the impact of fasting practices on young child diet quality and diversity and has worked with EOC religious leaders, mothers, and fathers, on the delivery of messages around child feeding during fasting periods.

Findings of these efforts have showed that mothers were willing to try adding animal source foods into their child’s diet, specifically eggs and milk, during the fasting season, if reassured that this would not break their own fast. Priests were willing to teach about proper child feeding practices during fasting, and work with health extension workers (HEWs) to reach the community as long as the instruction came from formal, authoritative religious channels.

Photo Credit: Alive & Thrive: Manisha Tharaney, A&T Senior Technical Advisor, Nutrition, 
presents on the A&T project in Ethiopia on April 30 in Washington, DC.

As dietetic interns, we know the crucial role nutrition plays in growth and development of infants and young children. During this event, we had the opportunity to learn about how A&T uses an evidence-based approach in Ethiopia and other countries to improve infant and young child feeding practices. To say our experience at this conference was eye-opening would be an understatement. As future registered dietitian nutritionists, it is important for us to know not only what is happening with nutrition research and programs in the US, but also what is happening internationally. There is much to learn from these successful programs that we could adapt into our own public health practice. Throughout our time at the A&T event, we met and heard from extremely unique and talented individuals who were all there for the same purpose: to optimize maternal, infant, and young child nutrition for all women and their families.

Categories: Departments News

UMD Food Scientist Guides High School Student Team Towards Revelatory Findings in Women’s Health

NFSC - Fri, 2018-05-25 10:31
Under professor Robert Buchanan’s tutelage, pair of freshmen students call for revision of national listeriosis guidelines for safer pregnancyMay 25, 2018Author: Graham Binder

College Park, MD -- In an effort to sustain and educate the next generation of food safety experts in the United States, Dr. Bob Buchanan of the University of Maryland has served as a scientific mentor to a pair of academically accelerated high school students who are challenging the current food avoidance recommendations for pregnant women as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Led by 14-year-olds Valentina Simon and Rachel Rosenzweig, along with professional midwives Katya Simon, Mickey Gillmor, and Rebeca Barroso, results of an eleven-page study propose updated recommendations for safe food-handling practices to avoid listeriosis during pregnancy. Their paper was recently accepted by the pre-eminent publication in the women’s health field, the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, an unprecedented distinction for authors of this age without formal training or advanced degrees.  

Simon and Rosenzweig’s report represents a critical evaluation of listeriosis prevention guidelines in the United States. Following an in-depth examination of over 850 cases of foodborne illness outbreaks in the CDC database, as well as numerous product recalls reported in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food recall databases, the students found that the official guidelines were in dire need of revision.

“Rachel and I looked at six categories of foods included within the 800 cases highlighted in the government databases. Six categories were the recommended foods to avoid, and we added a seventh ‘other’ category. We quickly noticed that the current avoidance guidelines only prevented listeriosis cases prior to the year 2000, which is very alarming,” said Simon. “We then looked at the years 2015-2016 and found that only 5% of confirmed Listeria related infections stemmed from the six official food groups outlined in the guidelines.”

From there, Simon and Rosenzweig explored further and noticed a gradual shift in detection of contamination from hot dogs, smoked seafood and pates, cold cuts, raw milk, unpasteurized soft cheeses, and unwashed raw produce, to new items such as ready-to-eat meals, frozen foods, ready-to-eat salads, and pasteurized dairy products. Essentially, these are foods that have a long refrigerated shelf life. This trend sent up a red flag for Simon and Rosenzweig, and they knew it was time to consult an academic in the field to help them understand the scientific basis of their findings.

“This is a major finding for Valentina and Rachel. I was thrilled when they reached out to me for help interpreting the data. From the start, I encouraged them to research and publish the total number of listeriosis cases as opposed to only identified cases. The CDC will only report identified cases, so going a layer deeper and discovering how many total people have been infected with Listeria and the causation of each has really strengthened their paper,” said Buchanan. “Within their paper, Valentina and Rachel have published a very eye-opening table that demonstrates the rise in total cases from 2007-2014 from non-traditional foods. This is clear evidence that additional foods may need to be reflected within the CDC guidelines.”

Upon review of the paper, Dr. Buchanan wrote close to 60 comments to clarify Simon and Rosenzweig’s initial misunderstandings concerning food science and agency protocol. He took a great number of emails, phone-calls, and in-person meetings over the past few months. The collective goal is to push the boundaries of this conversation and convene the major players within food safety to develop modernized guidelines.

The original idea to publish stemmed from Katya Simon, nurse-midwife, CNM, MS. Additional co-author credit is attributed to Mickey Gillmor, MN, CNM and Rebeca Barroso, CNM, DNP, APRN. Their paper titled “Listeria: Then and Now” is available here">">here in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.

Categories: Departments News

ANSC Annual Symposium

ANSC - Fri, 2018-05-25 10:21
Drs. Chad Stahl, Tom Lawlor, and Li Ma

The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences held the 32nd Annual Symposium on May 22. This full-day event showcased our department's ongoing research as presented by our graduate students and postdocs. The keynote speaker was Dr. Tom Lawlor, Executive Director of Research and Development for Holstein Association, USA. Dr. Lawlor’s talk was entitled “Transferring Science into Practice: Uptake of genomic information in the dairy industry.” Graduate students and postdocs competed throughout the day with posters and oral presentations. Many thanks to our speaker and the other guest judges: John Cole, Erin Connor, Kristen Gaddis, Robert Li, George Liu, and Jonathan Moyle. Here are this year’s winners:

Outstanding Ph.D. Student

Latisha Judd

Outstanding Masters Student

Kristina Davis

Staff Member of the Year

Michael Mobley

Graduate Student Poster Award

First Place:  Ian Chambers

Second Place:  Kristen Brady

Graduate Student Oral Presentation Award

First Place:  Jicai Jiang

Second Place:  Rini Pek

Research Assistant/Postdoc Poster Award

First Place:  Wei Zhang

Second Place:  Meghan Maguire

Research Assistant/Postdoc Oral Presentation Award

First Place:  Karyn Jourdeuil

Second Place:  Jaewook Chung

Shaffner Award for Research in Poultry

First Place:  Chaitra Surugihalli

Second Place:  Ronique Beckford

 May 25, 2018
Categories: Departments News

2018 Spring Awards Ceremony held May 17

Vetmed - Fri, 2018-05-25 09:44
Nancy Snyder and Denny Burian attended the awards ceremony

On Thursday, May 17, the Department of Veterinary Medicine held its annual awards ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of its faculty, postdocs and students. 

David Bruce Snyder Memorial Award for Avian Molecular Epidemiology

The David B. Snyder Memorial Award for exemplary graduate research in avian molecular epidemiology was established by his colleagues in commemoration of Dr. Snyder’s contributions to poultry disease research and diagnostics.  This year, the award was given to Hassanein H. Abozeid.

Hassanein’s thesis title is “Complete genome sequences of Egyptian infectious bronchitis viruses and development of a recombinant NDV-vectored vaccine.”

 Hassanein Abozeid was presented the David B. Snyder Memorial award by Mrs. Nancy Snyder

Hassanein is working in the department on a joint mission between Cairo University (Egypt) and University of Maryland, funded by the Egyptian government and the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station. He will be receiving his PhD this fall from Cairo University. Hassanein’s research focuses on the evolution of the newly emerging Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) strains and development of a safe effective vaccine using Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) as a vector vaccine.  IBV is of high economic importance to the poultry industry all over the world – and to the Delmarva region in particular. 

May 25, 2018
Categories: Departments News

UMD Takes Second Place in National EPA Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge for Innovative Design of Green Infrastructure on Campus

PSLA - Wed, 2018-05-23 10:58
Fourth consecutive year for UMD as top finishers in this competition

UMD students and faculty took second place in the Master Plan Category of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sixth annual Campus"> RainWorks Challenge, a national competition that engages college students as the next generation of environmental professionals to design innovative solutions for stormwater pollution. UMD’s entry entitled “Champion Gateway” integrates various green infrastructure practices into a campus entryway and pedestrian corridor adjacent to the proposed Purple Line, a light rail system that will connect Metro service lines and bring increased foot traffic to UMD. Second place teams receive a $1,000 student prize and a $2,000 faculty prize.

The team’s design decreases impenetrable surface area by over 70 percent and increases tree canopy area by planting more than 350 new trees. The design also reduces stormwater runoff by over 40 percent, while removing over 270 pounds of air pollution and sequestering 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. The redesigned site provides environmental and aesthetic value to the College Park campus, and highlights the importance of aligning transportation with water infrastructure planning. Watch the team’s video about their project:">... dir="ltr">The team was led by Dr. Victoria Chanse, associate professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. “The competition provides a wonderful learning opportunity for students from a variety of different programs to come together to improve and enhance the management of stormwater on the university campus,” said Chanse. “This competition encouraged critical conversations among stakeholder groups as part of this process for the university to envision what sustainable stormwater management looks like in the face of large-scale campus development.” Student participants include: Laura Robinson, Avantika Dalal, Joshua Franklin, Jason Poole, and Jen Ren from Landscape Architecture; Tuana Philips and Joshua Nichols from Environmental Science and Technology; and Gabriel Donnenberg from Environmental Science and Policy.

UMD has a history of excellence in this competition, winning first place in 2014 for a design to treat"> stormwater next to the campus chapel and in 2015 to retrofit"> a five-acre parking lot. Last year, UMD took second place for its "> Nutrients design to transform a campus loading dock and adjacent parking lot into a safer pedestrian walkway, including 6,660 square feet of greenery and 18 percent less impenetrable surface area. This is UMD’s fourth consecutive year as top finishers in this event.

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in America, conveying pollutants to various bodies of water, contributing to downstream flooding, and threatening public health and the environment. The Campus RainWorks Challenge asks students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the country to apply green infrastructure design principles, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on college campuses nationwide.

EPA plans to announce the seventh annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in the summer of 2018. Since 2012, nearly 600 teams have participated in the Challenge. For more information on the Campus RainWorks Challenge, visit

">"> 23, 2018Author: Samantha Watters
Categories: Departments News

Gates Foundation Grant Awarded to Dr. Telugu

ANSC - Wed, 2018-05-23 09:28

The Gates Foundation has awarded a $1.3 million dollar grant to Dr. Bhanu Telugu  in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to facilitate cutting-edge research into the development of precision breeding technologies. Specifically, the grant will fund development of methodologies for generating genome edited livestock with improved tropical adaptability and performance traits.

Genetic modification of livestock has a longstanding and successful history, starting with domestication and breeding of animals several thousand years ago. Modern animal breeding based on marker-assisted selection, genomic selection, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer have led to a significant improvement in the performance of domestic animals, and are the basis for a regular supply of high quality animal derived food. However, the major limitations of current breeding paradigm is the requirement to breed over multiple generations to introduce novel traits. This strategy is not realistic in responding to the unprecedented challenges faced by the animal agriculture such as climate change, pandemic diseases, and feeding an anticipated 3-billion increase in global population in the next three decades. Addressing these pressing challenges require “next generation” breeding technologies that permit replacement or transfer of genetic information between individuals, lines, breeds, and even species. The availability of genome editors such as CRISPR/Cas that allow for facile genetic modification are therefore needed to make this a reality. 

May 23, 2018
Categories: Departments News


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