CFAES Monthly : July 2020

  1. Yet another major award for Rattan Lal

    CFAES researcher Rattan Lal poses in his lab

    CFAES researcher Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, was announced on June 11 as the recipient of the 2020 World Food Prize. Lal earned the award, which is presented by the Iowa-based World Food Prize Foundation, for his efforts to increase the global food supply by helping small farmers improve their soil.  

    “Every year we are astounded by the quality of nominations for the Prize, but Dr. Lal’s stellar work on management and conservation of agriculture’s most cherished natural resource, the soil, set him apart,” said Gebisa Ejeta, chair of the award selection committee and the award’s 2009 recipient.

    “The impact of his research and advocacy on sustainability of agriculture and the environment cannot be overstressed,” Ejeta said.

    Lal, among his recognitions, received the Japan Prize in 2019 and the World Agriculture Prize and Glinka World Soil Prize in 2018.

    Read the full story.

  2. How CFAES helped Laura Tavera find her calling

    CFAES student Laura Tavera poses, smiling, with dairy cows

    Laura Tavera, a native of Puerto Rico, came to CFAES through a scholarship from Ohio State alumnus Mike Chema, which grew from their shared love of horses (check out their story at 

    But after taking dairy nutrition courses in CFAES, working at the college’s Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory dairy farm, and being smitten by it all, Tavera is now on a path to a career with a different kind of four-legged animal.

    “I want to be a dairy nutritionist,” says the animal sciences major, who is minoring in agribusiness and studying in the Dairy Certificate Program.

    That wasn’t always the case. “Before I came to Ohio State,” she says, “I had never even touched a cow.”

    What changed for her? Read the full CFAES Story.

  3. Is this a cooler, better, more breathable mask to fight COVID-19?

    Judit Puskas poses at her desk, wearing her new mask

    It just might be possible for a coronavirus mask to be cool, comfortable, effective, and easy to breathe through, and CFAES researcher Judit Puskas, working together with the Mayo Clinic, is well on the way to providing one. 

    Puskas, who is a CFAES Distinguished Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, is in the final stages of developing a mask that is made from a flexible, breathable rubber. She thinks the new mask will work better in fighting the spread of COVID-19—including, for example, in the trying conditions of hot, humid meat packing plants. A provisional patent application is pending.

    Puskas has previously developed polymers used in cardiovascular stents that have treated more than 6 million patients. 

    “It’s a very good feeling,” she says, “when you do research and it ends up saving people’s lives.”

    Read the full story.

  4. Keep your vegetable garden happy all summer

    A happy young gardener poses with colorful Swiss chard plants

    Lots of Ohioans started gardening this spring, some for the very first time, possibly including you.

    In a time of pandemic and staying at home, gardening gets you out into fresh air and sunshine, keeps you properly socially distanced, and yields healthy food for your family.

    Call it, yes, a victory garden—one that stretches your food budget, limits your time in the grocery store, and helps ease the strain on food supply chains.

    So how, now that your garden is growing, can you keep it strong all summer long?

    Tim McDermott, an educator in OSU Extension’s Franklin County office who runs the Growing Franklin food-producing blog, recently shared his top six tips.

    Check them out.

  5. Awards and recognitions

    Bright summer sun, blue sky, and a yellow beach umbrella

    NACTA president-elect

    M. Susie Whittington, professor of agriscience education in the CFAES Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL), has been selected as president-elect of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agricultural (NACTA). NACTA, which was formed in 1955 as a professional society, focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning in agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level. Members of NACTA are from two-year and four-year colleges, both public and private.

    Whittington will serve as president-elect for 2020–2021. She will take over leadership of the organization at the 2021 annual conference, which is scheduled to be held at the CFAES Wooster campus in June 2021.

    Read more.

    NACTA educator awards 

    Mary Rodriguez, assistant professor of community leadership in ACEL, and Brian Waters, lecturer in the Department of Food Science and Technology, have been named among the recipients of the North American Colleges of Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) 2020 Educator Award. The award recognizes educators who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines. They were recognized during the organization’s virtual conference in early June. 

    Rodriguez currently instructs a variety of courses for ACEL, including Teaching Methods in Non-Formal Learning Environments, Community Leadership, and Foundations of International Development. She has also taught Foundations of Personal and Professional Leadership, Research Methods, Teaching Methods in Non-Formal Learning Environments, and Extension Education in Developing Countries to both undergraduate and graduate students. 

    Waters has been a lecturer in the Department of Food Science and Technology since 2013. He teaches both online and face to face, including courses on Chocolate Science, Wine and Beer in Western Culture, Kitchen Science, Food Safety and Public Health, and Brewing Science. He created the online version of Chocolate Science and is currently developing a new class called Outdoor Cooking.

    Read more here and here.

    ACEL Distinguished Students

    ACEL has named 11 students to its 2020 class of Distinguished Students. Ten seniors and one graduate student were selected by department faculty and staff for their excellence in and out of the classroom. The seniors chosen were Trenton Baldwin, community leadership, Salinas, California; Caleb Hickman, agriscience education, Mount Vernon, Ohio; Lea Kimley, agricultural communication, South Charleston, Ohio; Elizabeth Landis, agriscience education, Anna, Ohio; Taylor Lutz, agriscience education, Bucyrus, Ohio; Meredith Oglesby, agricultural communication, Hillsboro, Ohio; Taylor Orr, agriscience education, Frazeysburg, Ohio; Clinton A. “Gage” Smith, community leadership, Racine, Ohio; Marlee Stollar, agricultural communication, Marietta, Ohio; and Brittany Weller, agriscience education, Bellevue, Ohio. The graduate student honored was Aaron Giorgi, a PhD student in agricultural communication, education, and leadership with a specialization in agricultural education.

    “ACEL is blessed with exceptional students and these 10 seniors represent the amazing accomplishments of our undergraduate students,” said Scott Scheer, professor and interim chair of ACEL. 

    AFA Academic Scholarships

    Three CFAES students—Philip Eberly, food science and technology; Ryan Matthews, agricultural communication; and Cody Tegtmeier, agribusiness and applied economics—were among the more than 160 honorees in the national Agriculture Future of America 2020 Leader and Academic Scholarships program. The program provides students with access to premier personal and professional development and financial assistance for their college educations. Scholarships are awarded at the national and community levels. The students selected are pursuing four-year degrees and careers in agriculture.

    See all the scholar honorees.