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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

April 1, 2014


     Mid South Area Happenings







March 24-April 6…ARS researcher Dr. James Klotz with the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, Lexington KY traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand.  Dr. Klotz was invited by Agriseeds to write a review article addressing the impact that the Ergot Alkaloid Ergovaline may have on New Zealand agriculture.  As a visiting scientist, Dr. Klotz’s time was spent touring New Zealand agriculture production and pastoral systems to become better informed for this review article. Additionally, individuals and organizations in New Zealand are responsible for many Endophyte advancements that are used and being promoted in the United States.  Collaborative efforts with these groups will increase the cooperation in agricultural areas of common interest, such as fungally-infected grasses.


March 27…ARS Research Entomologists Drs. Juan Morales-Ramos and Guadalupe Rojas with the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS traveled to London at the invitation of the Technology Transfer Division of Wellcome Trust to appear before the Funding Committee where they presented and answered questions about their grant proposal “Good Bugs:  Farming Insects as a Sustainable Food Source Against Malnutrition.” 


March 23-April 30…ARS researcher Dr. Lilia deGuzman, Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Baton Rouge, LA is traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to conduct experiments at the Chiang Mai University, Department of Biology and serve as scientific advisor for Kitiphong Khongphinitbunjong.  


March 23-27…ARS scientist Dr. Jeffrey Cary with the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, New Orleans, LA attended the 12th European Conference on Fungal Genetics, in Seville, Spain. The conference provided a wealth of information on the molecular, cell biology, genomics, evolution, biotechnology, and pathogenesis of mycotoxigenic fungi.


March 16-20…ARS scientist Dr. Zhongqi He, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, LA, presented an abstract entitled, “Effects of tung oil addition on adhesive properties of cottonseed meal-based wood adhesives” at the 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Dallas, TX. 


March 27…ARS researcher Dr. Stephen Duke with the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, University, MS gave an invited seminar entitled, “Natural Products as Sources of Pesticides with New Modes of Action” at the Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University.


March 8…ARS researchers Drs. Matthew Tarver and Joseph Villa, Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Baton Rouge, LA, attended the Baldwin County Beekeepers Association meeting in Mobile, AL to report on Tracheal Mites research.


March 4-5…ARS researcher Dr. Agnes Rimando, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, University, MS, gave a presentation entitled, “Effect of pterostilbene on components of the metabolic syndrome” at the First Joint Symposium of the American Chemical Society Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division and the American Chemical Society International Chemical Sciences Chapter in Bangkok, Thailand.  She also served as Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee and speaker.


March 10…ARS researcher Dr. Carl Bolster, Bowling Green, KY gave a presentation entitled, “Transport of agricultural contaminants through karst soil” at the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute Annual Symposium.


March 11-12…ARS researchers Drs. James Rodgers and Christopher Delhom attended a Stakeholders Meeting at the Cotton Ginning Research Unit in Las Cruces, NM.  Stakeholders from ARS and industry discussed current and future ginning research needs.


March 8-18…ARS researcher Dr. Peter Cotty, Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, New Orleans, LA, attended meetings in Malawi and Zambia. This travel is a portion of collaborative activities and cooperative agreements with the Meridian Institute, The Partnership for Aflatoxin Reduction in Crops of the African Union, IITA, and USAID. Research is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and European development organizations and includes activities and training in Zambia and Malawi.  Interactions of meeting stakeholders are essential to the USDA in order that future collaborations can be made. The travel will support USDA programs in the country and play a key role in efforts to improve global food security through mitigation of aflatoxin biocontrol efforts in the region. This travel will contribute to the collaborative international attempt currently underway to reduce the aflatoxin in crops.


March 14-20…ARS researcher, Dr. H. N. Cheng, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, LA, traveled to Dallas, TX to attend the American Chemical Society National Meeting, serve as Co-Chair of Workshops Committee and present a paper entitled, “Modified Triglycerides Oils as Self-Curing Systems.”



March 18-21…ARS researchers Dr. James Rodgers and Christopher Delhom, Cotton Structure and Quality Research Unit, New Orleans, LA, attended the International Committee on Cotton Testing Methods (ICCTM) Meeting and 32nd International Cotton Conference-Bremen (ICC).  They served on and presented at several ICCTM cotton fiber quality research panels.  Rodgers gave the invited presentation, “Possibilities for Measuring Cotton in the Field and Outside the Laboratory: For Breeding, Production, Ginning, the Warehouse” at the ICC.  ARS participation at ICCTM-ICC provides technology support and facilitates U.S. positions on global cotton quality measurements and standards—issues of great importance to USDA and the U.S. Cotton Industry—and demonstrates the strong research programs, technological leadership, and support to cotton industry provided by USDA-ARS. 


March 16-20…ARS researchers Drs. Nicolette Prevost, Sechin Chang and Vince Edwards with Southern Regional Research Center attended the 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Dallas, TX.  Prevost presented a paper entitled, “Elastase kinetics and structural features of colorimetric and fluorescent peptides on cellulose nanocrystals,” Chang presented a paper entitled, “Structural effect of phosphorous-nitrogen containing flame retardant derivatives on thermal behaviors of treated cotton” and Edwards chaired a symposium.


February 2-7 …Drs. Stephen Duke and Franck Dayan, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Oxford, MS, attended the Annual Weed Science Society of America Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.   Dr. Duke gave a presentation entitled, “The State of Bioherbicides” and Dr. Dayan presented a talk entitled, “In Planta Mechansim of Action in Leptospermone.”  Dr. Dayan also co-chaired a symposium on Bioherbicides: Current Status and Future Prospects.


March 1- 6 …Dr. Agnes Rimando, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Oxford, MS, attended the 1st Joint Symposium of the American Chemical Society (ACS) International Chemical Chapter in Thailand and the ACS Agricultural and Food chemistry Division on Agricultural and Food Chemistry in Bangkok, Thailand.  Dr. Rimando gave a presentation entitled, “Resveratrol and Piceatannol Inhibit Mammalian α-glucosidase Activity” and co-chaired a symposium on Food Bioactives and Health.


April 1-2…ARS researcher Dr. Deepak Bhatnager, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA, will serve as the Chair for the Research Position Evaluation Committee panel in Beltsville, Maryland.  Dr. Bhatnagar will evaluate positions on a case listing.


March 28…ARS  researcher Dr. Jian Chen of the Biological Control Of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, has been invited to present a seminar, “Chemical Ecology and Management of Imported Fire Ants” during the spring 2014 Seminar Series at Michigan State University, Lansing, MI.




March 20…Dr. Glen Aiken, Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, Lexington, KY, gave a presentation entitled, “Extending the Grazing Season” to producers (new and experienced) at the Kentucky State University Third Thursday Workshop, Goat Day, to be held in Frankfort, KY.


April 7-10…Dr. Ken Fisher, Crop Production Systems Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, will attend the ASABE 2014 International Symposium – “Evapotranspiration: Challenges in Measurement and Modeling from Leaf to the Landscape Scale and Beyond,” Raleigh, North Carolina.  His presentation is “Evapotranspiration-based irrigation scheduling in the Mid-South.”


April 1…Dr. Matt Moore, Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit, Oxford, MS, presented an invited seminar, “It's Not Easy Being Green:  Phytoremediation Challenges in Agriculture” at the Iowa State University Toxicology Graduate Seminar Series in Ames, Iowa.  While there, Dr. Moore met with faculty and students to discuss potential collaborative efforts in phytoremediation of agricultural contaminants.


March 31… Dr. Bobby Hardin, Cotton Ginning Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, traveled to Lubbock, TX to teach courses at the ARS Lubbock Gin School to gin managers and employees.  His courses include the subject of energy conservation in commercial gins and also improving seed cotton cleaning.


March 13… Dr. Michael Grisham, Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA, attended the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Sugarcane Advisory Committee meeting and presented an update of the research activities at the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA.


February 7…Andrew Price, National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn AL, had manuscripts cited in two USDA-NRCS CSP enhancement activity sheets recently reauthorized in the 2014 farm bill.  The activity sheets are entitled, “Plant Enhancement Activity – PLT19 –Herbicide resistant weed management Plant Enhancement Activity” and “Plant Enhancement Activity –PLT20 –High residue cover crop or mixtures of high residue cover crops for weed suppression and soil health.”  Both sheets were developed in large part due to Dr. Price’s research focused on weed suppressive qualities of high-residue cover crops. 



II.               Event


Dr. Xixuan Jin, of the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, retired March 31, 2014.  Dr. Jin has a distinguished professional record.  He holds four U.S. Patents on different aspects of producing biological pesticides.  He was the first to produce Trichoderma hazianum conidial biomass in submerged culture, and he developed Bio-Blast®, the first EPA registered and commercialized biological termiticide in the world.  He worked on a team that developed two EPA registered and commercialized biological fungicides for postharvest fruit disease control, Bio-SaveTM 10 and Bio-SaveTM 11.  Recently, he developed a novel method for microencapsulating Trichoderma harzianum conidia with sugar enabling spray drying at elevated temperatures.  Dr. Jin has also developed microbial-based water dispersible granular (WDG) formulations that are currently attracting interest from industry. 


March 26…Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Baton Rouge, LA, celebrated their National Women History Month with a pot luck luncheon.  The topic was on “Henrietta Lacks.”


February 13-20…African American History Month was celebrated during the month of February at Southern Regional Research Center.  The theme was “The Golden Jubilee of the Civil Rights Act.”  The first event was a brunch and video presentation entitled, “Dare Not Walk Alone.”  The second event was a luncheon with two speakers, Honorable Judge Kern Reese of the Civil District Court in New Orleans, LA and Sally Ann Roberts, News Anchorwoman for WWL-TV.  The chairperson of African American History committee is Mia Schexnayder.


February 22…Drs. Deepak Bhatnagar and K. Rajasekaran, Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, Southern Regional Research Center, attended the 17th “Annual Louisiana Environmental Education Symposium” in Shreveport, LA which was organized and hosted by the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission and the Louisiana Environmental Education Association. The  target audience of nearly 200 included classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, business and industry representatives, non-profit organizations, state and local officials, and non-formal educators.  The theme for this upcoming conference was “Watersheds: From My Back Yard to the Ocean.” USDA, ARS was represented as exhibitors in the exhibit area that featured environmental education resources for educators, such as curriculum guides, lesson plans, CD ROMs, videos, field trip information, and other opportunities that can enrich the classroom experience. The ARS scientists provided information on the organization and its research programs, along with copies of the Agricultural Research magazines and “Science in Shopping Cart” as resource material for educators. This symposium provided an excellent opportunity to display and distribute these materials to the individuals who can best utilize them, and educate students in the activities of USDA/ARS.


March 1…Dr. Margaret Allen, Biological Control of Pest Research Unit, Stoneville, Ms, served as an invited practitioner on the Panel Discussion for parents of 6-9th grade girls at the first Tech Savvy Conference at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS. The Panel topic was “Ready, Willing, and Able: The Importance of Persistence” and included professional women from medical, accounting, and science fields. The conference hosted over 200 girls and was sponsored by the American Association of University Women.


February 28…The Poplarville location attended the Hattiesburg, MS African American Military Museum.  The museum, originally a segregated USO building, opened its doors to African American military members in 1942.   It was known to be a safe haven for African American members from Camp Shelby to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  The building remains the only one of its kind left in the United States. 

In 2013 a violent F-4 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg and damaged the building extensively.  Luckily, the artifacts remained intact and, after a year of hard work, the doors were opened in February.  Exhibits in the museum came from every war and included the first African American pilot and local heroes like Ruth Bailey Earl, a nurse that enlisted in World War II and was from the Hattiesburg area.  Visitors can walk through every war and take advantage of the interactive materials the museum offers. 


March 25…ARS researchers Margaret Allen and Hamed Abbas, Biological Control of Pests Research Unit and Geoffrey Waldbieser, Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, Stoneville, MS, were judges for the 2014 Mississippi State Science Fair at the Washington County Convention Center, Greenville, MS, where students in grades 6-12 from all across the State of Mississippi competed.   Allen and Waldbieser also judged for 2014 Mississippi Region III Science and Engineering Fair held on Friday, March 28, for students in grades 1-5. Region III Science and Engineering Fair are affiliated with the Mississippi Science and Engineering Fair and the International Science and Engineering Fair.  These events are sponsored by the Greenville Public School District, the Washington County Board of Supervisors, and Delta State University Sciences. Projects exhibited at the regional fair are completed by students from a nine-county area of the Mississippi Delta. 


March 7…Drs. Margaret Allen and Hamed Abbas, along with Marsha Lewis, all of the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS served as judges at the Delta Regional Science Fair in Greenville, MS at the Washington County Convention Center.  Roughly 250 students prepared poster projects in Physics, Botany, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Engineering, Medicine/Health, Behavioral Science, and Team categories.



III.               Visitors


March 13…Drs. Michael Grodowitz, Judy Shearer and Mr. Natham Harms, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, visited Dr. Walker Jones, Biological Control of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS.  They toured the National Biological Control Laboratory and the Stoneville Research Quarantine Facility to discuss possible collaborative research on biological control of aquatic weeds.


March 20…Five members of the Australian Vocational Training Team hosted by the local Rotary International district toured the USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA.  The team included business leaders in the fields of Agriculture, Farming, and Ranching.  Drs. William White, Anna Hale, and Michael Grisham discussed the Unit’s research programs and provided a tour of facilities and equipment. 


March 21…The senior staff of the NRCS in Mississippi visited the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) in Oxford, MS, to become acqauinted with the research program at the Laboratory and to promote collaboration. The Staff was headed by Mr. Kurt Readus, State Conservationist.  He was accompanied by Mr. Delmer Stamps, State Resource Conservationist; Mr. Walter Jackson, State Agronomist; Mr. Delaney Johnson, State Soil Scientist; Mr. James Curtis, Assist State Soil Scientist; Mr. Tom Heard, Area Conservationist; Mr. Paul Rodrigue, Hydrologist; and Mr. Trent Snelling, Geologist. The visit consisted of making a tour through the (NSL) to see and discuss the ongoing research activities by NSL scientists and attending power point presentations by Dr. Altinakar of the National Computational Center of Hydrosciences and Engineering (NCCHE) and Dr. Craig Hickey of the National Center for Physical Acoustics (NCPA) of the University of Mississippi. They discussed the extramural research funded by Congressional mandated through the NSL. A follow-up is planned for this summer with a visit to their Offices in Jackson, MS.  Mr. Readus was very much interested in the models that NCCHE has developed and would communicate with the appropriate national staff of the NRCS at HQTRS about their potential usefulness to the NRCS.


April 16…Robert MacDonald, Coordinator, Partnerships and Grants, Office of the National Programs, will be visiting the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit, Lexington, KY to discuss with the SY’s on how he can assist them with grantsmanship.


IV.                    Awards


March 18-20…Retired ARS researcher and collaborator Alfred French, from the Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, was inducted as a Fellow of the Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division during the ACS National Meeting in Dallas, TX.  The award recognizes Division Members whose dedication, leadership, and enthusiastic service has kept the Division moving forward. 


March 24-25 …Justin Moss (Dr. Andrew Price’s Ph.D. graduate student, National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn AL) received the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America “Future Leaders in Science Award.”  Justin Moss (Auburn University student) was selected from a pool of many exceptional graduate students because his application expressed an impressive enthusiasm for both research and advocacy.  He will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to participate in the 2014 Congressional Visits Day.  There he will receive advocacy training before teaming up with society leadership to meet, face-to-face, with his Congressional delegation.

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Last Modified: 4/3/2014