NIFA Update Jan. 22, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                          Jan. 22, 2020

Making a Difference

Researcher Abdelrahim Hassan examining the composite film. Image courtesy of Penn State University.

A Composite Antimicrobial Film Could Take a Bite Out of Foodborne Illnesses

A novel composite film — created by the bonding of an antimicrobial layer to conventional, clear polyethylene plastic typically used to vacuum-package foods such as meat and fish — could help to decrease foodborne illness outbreaks, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The antimicrobial lining of the film is comprised of a pullulan-based biopolymer produced from starch syrup during a fermentation process, which is already approved for use in foods. Development of the composite antimicrobial film is important because 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur each year in the U.S. alone, resulting in 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIFA helped supported this research. Read the full Penn State University article.

Researcher Abdelrahim Hassan, who was a visiting scholar in the Department of Food Science when the research was conducted, examines the novel composite film that offers antimicrobial properties. Image courtesy of Penn State.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

NIFA terms and conditions state that award recipients are required annually to submit a Project Financial Report. This report is due each February 1, no matter the date recipients received their award, and reports on expenditures and full-time equivalent’s that occurred in the most recently completed federal fiscal year. If you are a grantee without any expenditures by the February 1st deadline, you would enter 0 in the categories. For more detailed information, please visit


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USDA Announces Plenary Speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum

USDA recently announced plenary speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum, under the theme “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.” The opening plenary session will feature a fireside chat between Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and John Hartnett, Founder and CEO of SVG Ventures, a platform of corporations, universities, and investors focused on the food and agriculture industries. Secretary Perdue and Mr. Hartnett will discuss the future of agriculture, challenges facing the sector, and emerging solutions that could address them. Read the full USDA press release.

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Bitter Cold Effects on Agriculture

What were the agricultural effects of the recent bitter cold temperatures? Participants are Stephanie Ho and USDA meteorologist, Brad Rippey. Listen to the USDA broadcast.

News for You

Matryoshka-inspired Triboelectric Nanogenerators for Ocean Wave Energy Harvesting cover graphic image.

Matryoshka-inspired Triboelectric Nanogenerators for Ocean Wave Energy Harvesting

Ocean wave energy is an abundant resource of clean energy. However, having explored for decades, there is still lacking efficient and economical technologies to convert water wave energy into electricity for large-scale applications. A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have developed a new type of wave energy harvester, hierarchically structured triboelectric nanogenerator (HS-TENG), based on the triboelectric effect, targeting to harvest the huge blue energy for large-scale deployments. The wave energy converter HS-TENG is inspired by the “matryoshka dolls”, also called “stacking dolls”. NIFA helped support this research. Read the full Science Direct article.

Press Clips

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University of Missouri Extension Offering Water Testing for Produce Farmers

The University of Missouri Extension is offering free microbial water testing to certain Missouri produce farmers. Testing water can help stop the spread of harmful diseases that live on produce, such as E. Coli. Robert Balek, University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Field Specialist, said, “The recalls we’ve been seeing are a direct result from contaminated water in most cases, so this regulation is aimed at reducing those recalls.” Free microbial testing offered by University of Missouri Extension for produce farmers is made possible through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Read the full Fourstates Homepage article.

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AgrAbility Virtual National Training Workshop

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