Plant and Environmental Sciences
Two of our grad students, Lindsay Keller (left) and Emily Creegan (right) represented our department at the last Aggie Experience Discovery Fair on February 20 in Corbett Center. They helped recruit students to our department by letting them know about student clubs and some of the issues Plant and Environmental Sciences faculty deal with like sustainability, composting, and water.
Plant & Environmental Science had a booth for recruiting at the Dona Ana Community College on March 3. Drs. Dubois, Ulrey, and Carroll (and several graduate and undergraduate students) met 200 high school and DACC students for the DACC STEM Discovery Showcase. Dr. Carroll and other NMSU Faculty spoke to the group to get them excited about STEM careers. The Department introduced several applied science applications to the students, and activities included a climate monitoring station, soil and rock samples, soil crayons, water infiltration through soil, and food color dye – soil adsorption experiments.
The Chile Pepper Institute attended ZestFest, produced by Spicy Food Productions, in Irving, Texas, from January 27-29. The Institute participated in the Sauce Awards where they submitted their famous Holy Jolokia sauces, as well as other sauces, into a competition. At the awards ceremony, the Chile Pepper Institute received awards for the following sauces:
- NuMex Suavemente- Golden Chile (1st Place)
- NuMex Suavemente- Golden Chile (1st Place)
- NuMex Suavemente- Second Place
- NuMex Lemon Spice- Second Place
- Holy Jolokia Taco Sauce- Golden Chile (1st Place)
- Louisiana Style Hot and XHot Sauce (All in one category)
- Holy Jolokia 25th Anniversary- Golden Chile (First Place)
- Holy Jolokia Hot Sauce- Second Place
- Sancto Scorpio- Third Place
Derek Barchenger, a Ph.D. candidate in PES working with Dr. Paul Bosland, was a recipient of the 2016 U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Food Security program which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and designed to expand the pool of food security professionals in the United States. This award allowed him to conduct a six-month research project at the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan. Derek focused on the plant pathogen Phytophthora capsici, which causes Phytophthora wilt in chile pepper. He evaluated the usefulness of a host differential, developed by the Chile Pepper Breeding and Genetics group at NMSU, in Taiwan for use as a universal race detection system. This research has potential to benefit chile pepper producers in underdeveloped countries, as well as in New Mexico. Using research results, scientists will now be able to breed for resistance to new races that may be introduced into New Mexico.
ACES New Mexico Climate Center, located in Skeen Hall, installed a networked Davis weather station at East Picacho Elementary School in Las Cruces on January 18, to help teach the students about weather and climate using real time data. The third grade science teachers reached out to NMSU as a class project but the data will be used by all grades at the school. The program is beneficial in giving the students hands on experience with science as well as planting the seed that NMSU is a great place to attend college.
Chris Cramer and Manoj Shukla attended Western Region Multistate Research Project groups for onion research (Cramer) and soil physics (Shukla). These groups are funded in part by capacity funds provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture; they bring researchers from several universities together to collaborate on issues that will benefit the citizens of our various states.
Fifth grade students from Chaparral elementary school visited NMSU on Nov 11 and learned about Soil and Environmental Sciences from PES faculty and grad students. Experiments were done to measure soil texture effects on infiltration, how salts in water conduct electricity, and what electrical charge is found on soils. The 60 students worked with three faculty and seven grad students.
On October 26, Elizabeth Smith of Extension Plant Sciences, the New Mexico Climate Center, and the Environmental Science Students Organization planned the NMSU Night Market event that included 21 university departments, clubs, and an appearance by Pistol Pete. Hundreds of people attended the event at the new Las Cruces city plaza while our university participants provided games, safe trick or treating, and numerous giveaways. Clear skies and mild weather provided a festive and educational evening to this year’s night farmer’s market finale. The NMSU Night at the Market event was a great opportunity for our community to meet with students, staff, and faculty to showcase their research, service, and educational activities that are happening at NMSU.
Soil and Water Science faculty and graduate students from the Plant & Environmental Sciences department set up soil science learning stations for 75 first graders at East Picacho Elementary School on Tuesday, September 20, and for another 50 students from several grades at the Southern New Mexico State Fair AGventure Day on Thursday, September 29. The kids loved playing with soil and seeing the variety of soil colors, textures, and even the critters that live in it. Even though the kids are too young to worry about college yet, it is a seed being planted for NMSU. They are just the right age to learn about where their food comes from and how important (and fun) soil can be!
Eighty-five students from Sierra Middle School Science Magnet in Las Cruces participated in the NM Climate Center’s WeatherFest held at Skeen Hall on September 9. This annual event was started in 2013 by State Climatologist Dave DuBois and involves students and staff working at the Climate Center and the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. During their visit the middle school students take part in experiments, demonstrations, and discussions about the weather. Outreach at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences included a table promoting research and degree opportunities at the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market on September 3, participating in Aggie Fest on September 7, and the ACES Welcome Back Street Festival on September 8.
Richard Pratt was named as the prestigious Crop Science Society of America Fellow. He will officially receive the award in November. Pratt is a professor of plant breeding and the director of the Cropping Systems Research Innovation Program. The fellow award is the highest recognition bestowed by the CSSA. Recipients are nominated by their colleagues, and only up to 0.3 percent of the society's active and emeritus members may be elected fellow.
New Mexico Chile Conference: The 39th annual conference, chaired and co-chaired by Paul Bosland and Stephanie Walker, was held on February 2 at the Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces. A diverse group of farmers, processors, researchers and other supporters of New Mexico’s signature crop convened to share information and learn the latest chile research results. More than 200 individuals participated, with some coming as far as South Korea and Israel to attend. Technology took center stage as information in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for monitoring field health, and the latest advancements in mechanical harvest and destemming were presented. Other topics ranged from marketing, food safety, and pest and disease management to organic production of chile.
Grant Award: Kulbushan Grover and other members of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences have received a USDA NIFA Hispanic Serving Institute Educational Grant of $1M in collaboration with Florida International University and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for training Hispanic students and helping them in achieving academic success. Kulbushan was recently in Washington DC to attend the project directors’ meeting for the funded HSI project.
Free Online Access: aWhere Inc. is happy to support the students, researchers and faculty associated with the University of La Salle’s Utopía Project, by providing free access to our online Weather Analysis Module, part of our Dev aWhere platform. Via this platform, students and faculty have access to valuable, daily historical, real-time and forecast weather and agronomic data. This partnership with La Salle University has been fostered through a close relationship aWhere has with Dr. Mick O’Neill of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University. The Utopía project is a unique educational concept established by the University of La Salle – Bogotá, Colombia, which integrates agricultural, educational, and productive opportunities for resource-limited young people – men and women from rural areas of Colombia – who have been traumatized by violence during 20 to 30 years of drug wars.
Dr. Manoj K Shukla, Professor of Environmental Soil Physics and Nakayama Chair, was the key-note speaker during the 27th International Agronomy Week in Gomez Palacio, Durango, MX. Dr. Shukla’s key-note address was on the topic of “Water resource management for semi-arid areas: status, problems and opportunities”. This five day conference brings together faculty and students from across Mexico as well as international guests from Latin American countries and USA. The conference provides an opportunity for faculty of University of Durango to present their research related to agriculture, natural resources, and sustainable agriculture in arid/semi-arid areas and to share it with an international audience. The conference also provides an opportunity to learn from International and Invited speakers. More than 200 students of University of Durango participate in this conference, which provides exposure to the latest international research related to water, agriculture and natural resource sustainability, and food security.
Collaboration: A team from NMSU and UTEP - Rich Pratt, Professor, Jim Libbin, Interim Dean, Bill Hargrove, and Stanley Mubako (UTEP), traveled to The Institute Polytechnique, LaSalle, Beauvais to discuss research and instruction to initiate collaboration between our two institutions.
Sustainable Agriculture Science Center: The Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde conducted a field day on winter greens production in High tunnels (commonly referred to as Hoop Houses). Del Jimenez, NMSU Extension agriculture specialist with the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, discussed construction and durability aspects of High Tunnels. Dr. Mark Uchanski, associate professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, presented research results from a Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program grant. Presentations were followed by a tour of the High Tunnels where follow-up studies continue.
2015 New Mexico Chile Conference: The 2015 New Mexico Chile Conference held at the Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces was a huge success. 2015 New Mexico Chile Conference attendeesThe goal of the annual Conference is to help New Mexico growers and producers receive research-based innovations and information from NMSU to keep the New Mexico chile industry competitive in a global marketplace. The keynote speaker was Dr. Jeffery Mitchell from UC Davis speaking on "Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems" that can be applied to chile pepper growing. There were more than 230 attendees, the largest conference in more than five years. Attendees traveled from as far away as Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Mexico. All the industry leaders were in attendance, including major food processors, growers, NMSU extension personnel, researchers, and students. The majority of the attendees were New Mexico growers. The NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station student research poster contest was won by Ms. Li Jiang, a Ph.D. student in PES. Her poster title was "Studies on Yellow Buds Mutant Ecotypical Cytoplasmic Male Sterility A-line, YBM12-EAB". Attendees were also able to receive three Continuing Education Units for pesticide application, and crop consultant licenses for attending.
Dr. Jean-Paul Reynoird, Institut Polytechnique La Salle Beauvais, France visited Plant and Environmental Sciences faculty, ACES administration and the International and Borderlands Office on December 15th and 16th. We discussed student internship exchanges as part of the Institute's new Plant Breeding M.S. program. Future discussions will also examine cooperation in the development of virtual courses and special topics classes in plant breeding and water science.
In partial fulfillment of agreements in the Partners in the Americas project between the University of La Salle and NMSU, a team from Plant and Environmental Sciences went to Colombia for two weeks of classes and cultural exchange programs at La Salle's campuses in Yopal and BogotÃ¡. The team, led by Mick O'Neill, included irrigation scientists Blair Stringam and Dan Smeal, as well as grad student James Fulton, and undergrad students Jimmy Maynes, Sativa Cruz, and Megan Stovall. The NMSU team participated in classes covering Colombian culture and agriculture and visited crop production fields managed/cultivated by students in the Utopia project at the Yopal Campus. The 200+ Utopia project students at Yopal are selected through a highly competitive process (only about 1 in 100 applicants are selected) from resource-poor families throughout the country who have been significantly traumatized by the 20-30 years of drug wars. NMSU faculty taught classes about New Mexico agriculture, irrigation, water harvesting, meteorological data acquisition, and climate-based irrigation scheduling. In April 2015, a similar size group from La Salle will visit NMSU. A final wrap-up of the two-week exchange was given to the La Salle President, Brother Carlos Gomez, International Affairs Office staff, and representatives of the US Embassy and the Partners in the Americas project.
Manoj Shukla, Professor in Plant and Environmental Sciences, will serve for the next three years as the first John Kaichiro Nakayama and Tome Miyaguchi Nakayama Research Excellence Professorship/Chair from the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. The endowment agreement states "The Professorship shall support a dynamic visionary who leads collaborative teams of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students that sustain excellence in agricultural research well into the future, via classic core subjects as well as emergent critical domains."
Dr. Paul Bosland gave a presentation about the world's hottest chile pepper and its discovery during the Project Discovery event on September 19th. NMDA provided a salsa bar that had salsa from all over New Mexico. It was a hot event!
Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, conducts worldwide research and promotion activities to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton. Cotton incorporated announced the formation of a Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame, which will annually recognize U.S. cotton industry leaders who have made significant contributions to the program or to the cotton industry in general. Morgan Nelson, NMSU 1941 Alum, was one of five that will be recognized for his achievements at the combined Cotton Board/Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. Morgan is known as "Mr. Cotton" in New Mexico, was among the first directors of the Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors. He is honored for his strong leadership and lengthy tenure in this role, in which he was instrumental in generating and maintaining grower support and helping to shape the direction of Cotton Incorporated.
Sabine Green, Program Specialist, has been recognized by the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) as a recipient of its coveted Certified Floral Designer (CFD) designation. Green was granted this designation after successfully completing the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE) that took place on July 2 immediately prior to AIFD's National Symposium "Transition Transformation" in Chicago. Symposium is the floral industry's leading floral design education event. CFD recognition is granted only after a floral designer has demonstrated their understanding of the concepts of design through education and by subjecting their floral design work to a vigorous peer evaluation conducted by an international panel of design experts. In addition to being honored with the CFD designation, Green's designs and evaluation marks were considered to be so artistic that she has also been extended an invitation to become an Accredited Member of AIFD. Should she accept the invitation; she would be inducted during elaborate ceremonies as part of AIFD's 2015 National Symposium taking place June 30-July 4 in Denver, Colo. Members of AIFD lead the floral industry in advancing the art of professional floral design through education. While they are CFDs, they are better recognized by the "AIFD" designation after their names
The Multistate Research Project "MIcroirrigation for Sustainable Water Use (W-2128) received the Western Region Award of Excellence for Multistate Research at the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting of academic, research, and extension deans and directors held in Lake Tahoe, NV. Three current Plant and Environmental Sciences faculty (Manoj Shukla, Mick O'Neill, and Daniel Smeal) and one retired faculty (Ted Sammis) were part of this multistate project. The project also was nominated and selected for the National Award of Excellence in Multistate Research; project Administrative Advisor Steve Loring (Agricultural Experiment Station) will attend the APLU meeting in Orlando, FL, to receive the national award on behalf of the group. The awards have received national publicity from RFD-TV, Ag Is America, and KGlobal.
Dr. Kulbhushan Grover's research on evaluation of guar as a potentioal alternative crop in New Mexico was visited by Carlos G. Gomez, President, Universidade de La Salle, Columbia, during his visit to the NMSU campus. Guar, is a drought-tolerant bean crop that is grown for its protein rich pods for human consumption, green foliage for livestock feed and for harvesting seeds for guar gum, which is used in many food, cosmetic, explosives and oil drilling products. President Gomez was very interested in learning about guar and took information to explore possibilities of growing guar back in Columbia and develop a potential collaboration with Dr. Grover's program.
Dr. Grover was recently awarded with the "Top Teaching Tip Award" at the 60th annual NACTA conference, June 2014 at Montana State University, Bozeman, MT for one of his teaching notes "Student-Centered Teaching through Experiential Learning and its Assessment" co-authored with Dr. Shelly Stovall and published in the NACTA journal.
April Ulery was an invited panelist at the recent 2014 Associated Public and Land Grant University (APLU) National Academic Programs Summit held in Bozeman, MT on June 22-24. She discussed "Grantsmanship - Best Practices in Securing Funding for Educational Projects" The APLU theme this year was "Creating Change: Community, Culture, and Contributions of Teaching Excellence".
Dr. Ulery was also invited to the North American Colleges and Teachers conference at Montana State University later that week, to present the work of her co-authors Barbara Chamberlin, Jeanne Gleason and Sheila Cassidy: "Innovative Media to Support Instruction and Retain Students in Soil and Environmental Sciences."
Dr. William Lindemann spent a month at the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, where he taught classes and collaborated on soils research projects. Dr. Lindemann was invited by Dr. Guodong Han, Dean of the College of Ecology and Environmental Science, to focus on soils of the grassland region on the Mongolian steppe. Dr. Lindemann participated with faculty research at two research sites and accompanied classes on three day-long field trips to describe soils at steppe, forest, and agronomic locations. This collaboration continues a long-term relationship with NMSU and the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA. A student exchange at both the undergraduate and graduate levels is in the planning stage.
An Open House featured insect demonstrations by Carol Sutherland, State Entomologist, video interviews by Emily Kelly, NMSU Communications Specialist, and tours of the garden. The ceremony detailed the 100 year history of Cooperative Extension, the two year history of the Hidalgo County Food Coalition, and PNM's role in the communities they serve.
The Extension Plant Sciences Department, in cooperation with the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens, conducted a National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) Certified First Detector Training Workshop in Santa Fe. The NPDN First Detector program promotes early detection of invasive and exotic plant pathogens, arthropods, and weeds by educating participants on how to recognize these potential threats and what to do if they see a pest of concern. Workshop participants included botanical gardens staff and volunteers, County Extension Agents, and Master Gardeners. First Detectors receive timely information on potential pest threats through electronic newsletters and continuing education courses. This workshop certified 36 new First Detectors, from 7 New Mexico counties, who are now part of a National Registry that numbers more than 12,000 nationwide.
Dr. K.C. Carroll, Plant and Environmental Sciences, attended a Brackish Water Work Group that was initiated by New Mexico Environment Secretary F. David Martin (New Mexico Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/ADMIN/secretary.html to examine the State's amount and availability of brackish water that could be used as an emergency or alternate water resource.
The Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences had Dr. Peter J. Wierenga, former NMSU professor (then Department of Agronomy and Horticulture) present a seminar on "Experiments and experiences at NMSU and the University of Arizona" as an Invited Lowenstein Lecture. NMSU's Lowenstein Lecture Series is made possible through a gift from the late Bonnie and Bernard Lowenstein of Albuquerque. The presentations promote interest and better understanding of floriculture and recreational horticulture.
Dr. John Mexal, and Mick O'Neill (Plant and Environmental sciences), Sue Forster-Cox (Public Health) met to give an overview of Peace Corps programs that facilitate graduate student recruitment and retention. The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program works with more than 50 American universities that offer financial assistance to returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Any returned Peace Corps Volunteer who satisfactorily completed service has lifetime eligibility to become a Coverdell Fellow. The Peach Corps Master's International program offers the unique opportunity to pair graduate studies at one of more than 80 U.S. academic institutions with Volunteer service abroad. These programs have proved themselves in the College of Health and Social Services and in the college of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to a degree where we may consider expanding them into the other colleges on campus. Georgia Elhers (University of Arizona) and Blair Orr (Michigan Tech) will give detailed information about the Peace Corps Coverdell and Master's International programs to the Deans and Department Heads for the Graduate School and all six graduate degree granting colleges/departments on April 16.
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department had a Donor Recognition dinner on February 27th to honor and say thank you to all their scholarship, research and endowed professorship donors. The dinner was well attended.
Dr. John Mexal, Distinguished Professor and Assistant Department Head of Plant and Environmental Sciences, retired. In his honor the Department raised $5700.00 to support Dr. Mexal's two endowed scholarships.
A two day urban tree care conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference was put on by Think Trees New Mexico, an educational non-profit and ACES Extension Plant Sciences department. The conference provided 4 NMDA Pesticide Applicator CEU credits, and 10-13 International Society of Arboriculture CEU credits as well as Society of American Forester CEU credits. ACES has a strong involvement by providing leadership to Think Trees NM and obtains national-caliber speakers from other universities and the private sector as well as our own local ACES experts.
As Administrative Advisor, Dr. Steve Loring submitted the renewal proposal for the USDA Multistate Research Project Scaling Microirrigation Technologies to Address the Global Water Challenge. Dr. Manoj Shukla, department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, will continue to be an active participant with this long-standing project.
An informational event to highlight NMSU's Graduate Programs with Peace Corps : "Why Recruiting Peace Corps Volunteers Makes Dollars & Cents" was kicked off in April with a meeting of the coordinating committee made up of Drs. Mick O'Neill and John Mexal (Plant and Environmental Sciences) and Dr. Sue Forster-Cox (Public Health Sciences), invited speakers, and Peace Corps administrators with Dean Loui Reyes (Graduate School), Associate Provost Cornell Menking (International and Border Programs), and Provost Daniel Howard. Three sessions were held during the day to discuss the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program and the Master's International (MI) program at NMSU in order to generate interest for their expansion across the whole campus. There was enthusiastic participation with a total of 47 participants from university administration, all colleges, Returning Peace Corp Volunteer faculty, PC Fellows and MIs, University Communications, and even administrators from the University of Texas at El Paso. The committee was successful in informing the Provost, Deans, Associate Deans, and Department Heads of the two Peace Corps programs. The committee was charged by the Provost to develop a proposal for an expanded Peace Corps program across all NMSU colleges. A link to the University Communications write-up of the day's activities can be found at: Click here