COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the research arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, presented the following awards April 16 at its 2015 annual research conference in Columbus.
Distinguished Senior Faculty Research Award
Steve Schwartz, professor and Carl E. Haas Endowed Chair, Department of Food Science and Technology, studies the role of dietary phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds in plants) and functional foods in health, especially cancer prevention. His research on carotenoids (natural pigments found in plants), for example, has shown they can help prevent several types of cancer.
Schwartz also has demonstrated that eating vegetables together with lipids, such as fats and oils, enhances the absorption of carotenoids and the bioconversion of pro-vitamin A beta-carotene.
Most recently, he has expanded into food and nutritional metabolomics and is leading an Ohio State Discovery Theme on the topic. Among his duties, he is director of Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship.
Read more at go.osu.edu/3KB.
Distinguished Junior Faculty Research Award
Andy Michel, associate professor, Department of Entomology, studies how insect pests adapt to rapidly changing selection pressures in ecosystems. He uses the new knowledge to help secure and improve food production.
He runs the Insect Molecular Ecology and Adaptation Laboratory, which targets two major field-crop pests, the soybean aphid and the Western corn rootworm. His work there explores the genetic mechanisms that help those pests resist control. He aims to help farmers improve that control, and with it, food security.
Michel’s expertise also has led to new collaborations on a wide range of topics, such as emerging plant disease vectors, climate change adaptation in an Antarctic insect, native U.S. lady beetle conservation, and several Mexican and Brazilian pests.
Read more at go.osu.edu/3NX.
Director’s Innovator of the Year Award
Hua Wang, professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, was recognized for her contributions to understanding and controlling antibiotic resistance, a challenge for food safety, public health and the healthcare industry.
Among her achievements, she found that commensal bacteria, including beneficial bacteria, serve as reservoirs and facilitators of antibiotic resistance in microbial ecosystems, such as those in ready-to-eat food products. Based on that finding, she teamed with the U.S. dairy industry to remove antibiotic resistance genes in starter cultures and probiotics used by major suppliers to make yogurt and cheese. The effort slashed the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in U.S. fermented dairy foods.
Wang also showed that a lack of early antibiotic intervention ups the chance of patients developing hard-to-treat biofilm-based infections. The work has led to improved U.S. medical guidelines.
More recently, she found that administering antibiotics by injection instead of by mouth tremendously reduces antibiotic resistance in test mice and poultry. Though not yet verified in humans, the finding holds promise for public health.
Read more at go.osu.edu/3KG.
William E. Krauss Director’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research
Megan E. Meuti, a doctoral graduate of the Department of Entomology, was the lead author of “Functional Circadian Clock Genes Are Essential for the Overwintering Diapause of the Northern House Mosquito, Culex pipiens,” which appeared in the February 2015 issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology. Her advisor was David Denlinger, Distinguished University Professor in her department.
The Krauss award honors the best published paper by an OARDC-supported Ph.D. student.
Conference’s theme was water quality
The main part of the conference program featured 11 speakers on a theme of “Water Quality: Sustaining a Vital Resource.”
The speakers included Deanna Osmond, North Carolina State University soil science professor, who spoke on “Can We Protect Water Quality? The Importance of Watersheds”; Jay Martin, CFAES ecological engineering professor, on “Field to Faucet: Impacts of Phosphorus and Steps Forward in the Lake Erie Basin”; and Bruce McPheron, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES’s dean, on “CFAES’s Role in Solving Today’s Challenges for a Better Tomorrow.”
Watch: CFAES Dean Bruce McPheron speaks April 16 at OARDC’s 2015 annual research conference.
“If we can control what’s coming in from the rivers, we can have an impact and lessen algal blooms,” said Martin, who is lead faculty member of Ohio State’s new Field to Faucet program. “The goal is to sustain agricultural production while improving water quality in Lake Erie.”
“I’ve been talking about water for a long time,” said McPheron, who was named leader of CFAES in 2012 and was Penn State’s agriculture dean before that. “I used to start conversations by saying, ‘Water is the next generation’s oil.’ I have abandoned that statement. Water is our oil. It is this generation’s oil.
“When we talk about food security, we have to have water security first or there is no food.”
A panel discussion included water experts from Ohio Sea Grant, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Ohio State’s Office of Research and School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Watch: OARDC Director Steve Slack speaks April 16 at the center’s 2015 annual research conference.
“Water is a very important resource,” said one of the panelists, Karl Gebhardt, OEPA’s deputy director for water resources, speaking on the need for agencies, Ohio State and other universities to coordinate their efforts. “Ask the people in California and Toledo, and I think they’ll agree.”
OARDC Director Steve Slack and Dave Benfield, the center’s associate director, gave the conference’s opening remarks and an update on research in the college.
See the complete conference program at go.osu.edu/3KJ.
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Photos by K.D. Chamberlain, CFAES Communications. Videos by CFAES Communications.