NIFA Update

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

NIFA Update banner

May 19, 2016

Steve Hopkins Receives Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension

Steve Hopkins
Steve Hopkins Receives Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension

Steven B. Hopkins, Virginia Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Orange County, Va., received the 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension. Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university.

Among his contributions as an Extension agent, Hopkins developed the Central Virginia Cattlemen Association which has provided him an opportunity to offer more than 100 educational programs. Hopkins has also been involved with youth education programs, bringing third and fourth graders from Orange County to tour the Virginia Tech Northern Piedmont Research Center and other farms, rotating through educational stops along the way.These programs introduce children to the field of agriculture and give them a better understanding. He has built strong relationships with farm producers, local government officials, 4-H families, and funding partners; he increased productivity, profitability, and sustainability in the beef and other livestock sectors in his region.

White House Announces the National Microbiome Initiative

Undergraduate student

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in collaboration with federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, announced a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems, and is hosting an event to bring together stakeholders vital to advancing the NMI.

The NMI aims to advance understanding of microbiome behavior and enable protection and restoration of healthy microbiome function. In a year-long fact-finding process, scientists from federal agencies, academia, and the private sector converged on three recommended areas of focus for microbiome science, which are now the goals of the NMI:

  • Supporting interdisciplinary research to answer fundamental questions about microbiomes in diverse ecosystems.
  • Developing platform technologies that will generate insights and help share knowledge of microbiomes in diverse ecosystems and enhance access to microbiome data.
  • Expanding the microbiome workforce through citizen science, public engagement, and educational opportunities.

The NMI builds on strong and ongoing federal investments in microbiome research, and will launch with a combined federal agency investment of more than $121 million in Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017 funding for cross-ecosystem microbiome studies.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is issuing a national call to action for new commitments to microbiome research from all sectors. Click here to learn more about federal involvement in microbiome research, and about all of the commitments and announcements being made. 

                                                           #  #  #

National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected

The National Academy of Sciences announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The following newly elected members have NIFA affiliations.

Xiang-Jin Meng, professor of molecular virology, College of Veterinary Medicine; professor of internal medicine, Carilion School of Medicine; and professor, department of biomedical sciences and pathobiology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Julia Bailey-Serres, director, Center for Plant Cell Biology, and professor of genetics, department of botany and plant sciences, University of California, Riverside.

James J. Giovannoni, research molecular biologist, Agricultural Research Service, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Hopi E. Hoekstra, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, departments of organismic and evolutionary biology and of molecular and cellular biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Krishna K. Niyogi, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; faculty scientist, physical biosciences division, U.S. Department of Energy-Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and professor, department of plant and microbial biology, University of California, Berkeley.

Patrick J. Stover, professor and director, division of nutritional sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Visit the NAS Website Newsroom to read the full release.

                                                           #  #  #


Judy Harrison

2016 NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards -- Training and Education Awardee

NSF International, a global public health and safety organization that provides food safety and quality assurance services across all food supply chain sectors, announced the winners of the 2016 NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards during the 2016 Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, Ill.

Dr. Judy A. Harrison,  Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist, University of Georgia Dept. of Foods and Nutrition. Harrison designs and implements targeted food safety education programs for children, consumers, farmers and farmers’ market managers to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and improve behaviors. She has collaborated with partners such as the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) to create and implement programs to help keep food safe nationwide. Harrison has developed curricula, educational videos and print materials for extension agents, trained extension agents and disseminated food safety knowledge in consumer publications and the media. She uses focus groups and applied research to target the programs and then measures their effectiveness in improving food safety knowledge and behavior.

Working with the PFSE and USDA, Harrison led the development of the series Smart Kids Fight BAC! (an animated video, activity books and teaching guides) and the book He’s BAC! to teach kids to keep food safe. The curriculum significantly increased food safety knowledge of thousands of children and was requested in 27 states. Another of Harrison’s programs, Wash Your Paws, Georgia!, has taught over 10,000 children proper handwashing to prevent illness. Her curriculum, Enhancing the Safety of Locally Grown Produce, has trained approximately 650 farmers and 150 market managers in five states. The program enhances consumer protection by increasing knowledge and safety practices such as self-inspections, improved cleaning and sanitizing, and better recordkeeping.

Visit the NSF Website to read the full release.