NIFA Update - April 29, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                        April 29, 2020

Making a Difference

Pouring milk into a glass. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Pouring milk into a glass. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Nebraska Research Aims to Boost Milk as Infection Fighter

Milk does a body good, as the saying goes, and Nebraska scientists are exploring how to make it even healthier by enhancing its infection-fighting properties.

University of Nebraska’s assistant professor of food science and technology, Jennifer Auchtung, is working with lead investigator, University of Nebraska’s professor of nutrition and health sciences, Janos Zempleni, on a four-year research project funded by a $500,000 grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study how milk enhances or diminishes pathogenic bacteria.

“We know that different parts of a person’s diet can have potential impacts on their microbiome, and this may influence susceptibility to infections with different gastrointestinal pathogens,” said Auchtung. “One of the questions we asked was whether the molecules that are found in dairy products, especially milk, can change the microbiome and influence this susceptibility to infections.”

The new research builds on work Zempleni’s lab has been doing since 2013 to study how nutritional nanoparticles affect the human gut. Ultimately, the research could result in targeted ways to modify diets of people taking antibiotics, perhaps through dietary supplements. The research also could lead to nutritional supplements for infant formulas that improve babies’ health in developing countries. For more read the University of Nebraska article.

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

I’m thrilled to let you know that NIFA has established an initiative called Project CAFÉ (Collaboratively Achieving Functional Excellence). NIFA is excited to undertake this initiative, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the many partners and stakeholders that provided feedback earlier this year regarding the Agency’s operations.

Project CAFÉ’s purpose is to optimize NIFA’s service delivery while improving its ability to provide excellent customer service. The project’s first step is to conduct an official review of the more than 900 comments received; this review is being carried out by the Project CAFÉ Board which consists of four NIFA employees and one external member. The Project CAFÉ Board is diligently reviewing all the feedback received and will issue formal recommendations this summer. Simultaneously, the Board is working to identify solutions the Agency can implement more readily so that NIFA can begin to move the needle forward in operating more efficiently and effectively. NIFA looks forward to keeping you updated on Project CAFÉ activities and progress.


Patio garden. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

2020 Brings a Big Boost in Interest in Home Vegetable Gardening

If you, for the first time, are interested in planting a home vegetable garden this year, you are not alone. USDA’s Gary Crawford talks with Kansas State University Extension Gardening Expert Dennis Patton, as they discuss this growing gardening trend on this edition of Agriculture USA. Listen to the USDA broadcast.

Patio garden. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

News for You

Healthy smoothies. Photo courtesy of Google.

Smoothies with Ms. Rhonda  

Rhonda Church, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) educator at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center wanted to reach out to students during the current situation and social distancing. Church always provides a simple healthy snack during EFNEP programming in the schools. Smoothie Day is what students look forward to the most, so she decided to create a video encouraging students to use what ingredients they have at home to make their smoothie. Students and teachers at Ashe County Schools were excited to receive the video, and it is wonderful to see them excited to make healthy snacks at home. Since 1969, USDA/NIFA’s EFNEP has reached more than 33 million low income families and youth, with tangible positive outcomes for families and communities nationwide. For more information read the full NC Cooperative Extension article.

Healthy smoothies. Photo courtesy of Google. 

Levon Esters engages in a mentoring session with a student. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Purdue ASEC Professors Bring Mentorship for Underrepresented Students to 13 Land-Grant Institutions

Purdue University professors Levon Esters and Neil Knobloch in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication recently received funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to establish a mentoring network across 13 land-grant institutions. Esters and Knobloch are co-project directors of a program called Multi-institutional mEntoring Network for Transforming Organizational cultuRe (MENTOR), which focuses on increasing underrepresented minorities and women in the agricultural and life sciences. MENTOR will partner with six historically black colleges and universities and seven predominantly white institutions to bring intentional and inclusive mentoring-based programs to these campuses. For more information read the full Purdue University article.

Levon Esters, ASEC professor, engages in a mentoring session with a student.
Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Funding Opportunity

Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM)

The Crop Protection and Pest Management program addresses high-priority issues related to pests and their management using integrated pest management (IPM) approaches at the state, regional, and national levels. CPPM supports projects that ensure food security and respond effectively to other major societal pest management challenges with comprehensive IPM approaches. Projects must be economically viable, ecologically prudent, and safe for human health. CPPM also addresses IPM challenges for emerging issues and existing priority pest concerns that can be addressed more effectively with new and emerging technologies. For more information read the CPPM funding opportunity.

New Beginning for Tribal Students Programs (NBTS)

New Beginning for Tribal Students makes competitive grants to land-grant colleges and universities to provide identifiable support specifically targeted for Tribal students. A land-grant college or university that receives this grant shall use funds for, but not limited to, recruiting; tuition and related fees; experiential learning; student services including tutoring, counseling, and academic advising; and other student services that would increase the retention and graduation rate of Tribal students enrolled at the land-grant college or university. The maximum one state can receive is $500,000 per year. For more information read the NBTS funding opportunity.

Tweet of the Week

NIFA Penn State soil fungus tweet