Everybody eats. So we all know about food systems, right?
That’s been the University of Minnesota’s approach to food and agriculture until recently: Nearly every college or department has an interest in food or food-related topics and has pursued those interests independently. Lots of excellent research, education and outreach about food takes place in many disciplines – so much, in fact, that it’s hard to keep track of it all.
Now, we’re taking a more organized approach that we believe will be more effective in achieving our goals and in working with our industry, academic and non-profit partners.
In part through the development of MnDRIVE – the university’s research proposed research initiative focused on key topics like food – we’ve taken a close look at all the work going on in these areas and found synergies between colleges, departments and centers with different missions but similar interests. We’ve met with representatives from industry and commodity organizations to hear their ideas, and they agreed that a more strategic, organized approach will be more effective with our stakeholders both locally and globally.
We’re also continuing to expand our food portfolio, with the addition of interdisciplinary groups like the new food policy center that involves several other U of M colleges and centers and is led by the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Will Hueston. At the same time, within our own college we’re expanding education related to food with a new undergraduate major beginning this fall focused on food and several new courses related to food and food policy.
You could even say that we’re cleaning and reorganizing our pantry, when it comes to food research, education and outreach. A groaner of a metaphor, maybe, but in this case it’s true. Moving forward, we’ll be better prepared for all of the world’s – and Minnesota’s – food challenges.
Childhood obesity prevention, food safety practices for immigrant farmers and a study of how cruciferous vegetables affect tumors in mice are among the topics funded through a new series of eight grants from the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. All of the roughly $50,000 grants are aimed at funding start-up projects that will have a significant impact on food, health and agriculture..
This year's Classes Without Quizzes will again feature the latest research from CFANS scientists, including keynote speaker Mike Sadowsky of the Department of Soil, Water and Climate. The half-day event on April 6 also will include sessions on beer, robots, bio-energy, gardening and economics as well as programs for kids and opportunities to network with other college alumni and friends.
Two CFANS renewable energy projects are among the final group of seven research grants, worth a total of $2.6 million, awarded by the university's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. The CFANS projects include "LandLabs: Developing Sustainable Bioenergy Systems by Integrating Technology R&D With Policy, Economic and Ecological Analysis and Innovation," led by Nick Jordan in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, and "Integration of Renewable and Efficient Energy Technologies to Green Energy Consumed in Agricultural Production Systems," led by Mike Reese at the West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris. IREE funded similar projects at the university over the past nine years, but its funding was discontinued in 2012 by the Minnesota Legislature.
A connection to nature is essential to human health and well-being. "Nature Heals," a conference being presented at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, is a conversation about the neuroscience of human bonds with the natural world, including plant and animal interaction, and how connecting with nature increases individual health and community well-being. Speakers include Eva Selhub, physician and author of Your Brain on Nature, and Meg Olmert, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond and director of research for Warrior Canine Connection, an organization promoting therapy animals for soldiers with PTSD. The conference is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, March 15. Costs vary; preregistration is requested. Nature Heals is presented by the arborteum's Nature-Based Therapeutic Services, a shared initiative with the Center for Spirituality and Healing to further the understanding of the people-nature connection.
Are you willing to help your favorite high school honor an outstanding junior for scientific achievement? The CFANS Alumni Society hopes to expand its Science Achievement Award program. Recipients receive a thought-provoking book and Science Achievement Award certificate; this year, for the first time, recipients who enroll in CFANS will be awarded a $500 scholarship. There is no cost to participate in the Science Achievement Award Program - the CFANS Alumni Society supplies the book and award certificate as well at the scholarship once the student is enrolled in CFANS. The only requirement is the donation of your time.
From mammals to invertebrates, outer space and the environment, the Bell Museum's Science Discovery Day Camps engage children in science through authentic objects and unforgettable learning experiences. The week-long camps include hands-on, inquiry-based classroom and laboratory activities, as well as outdoor exploration and recreation. Camps are led by museum education staff and give campers the opportunity to meet university scientists and take field trips to university learning centers such as the Raptor Center, Insect Museum, research greenhouses and more. Campers also get to take part in recreational activities including swim trips to the world class University Aquatic Center. Costs, dates and times vary.
For a complete list of events, visit the CFANS Events Calendar.
David Andersen, leader of the Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, has received the Minnesota Award from the Minnesota chapter of the Wildlife Society, for his lifetime contributions to wildlife research. It is the group's highest honor.
Graduate student Kyle Daly received the Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society's top student honor, the Student Conservationist Award.
Organics coordinator Jim Riddle and his wife, Joyce Ford, received the annual "Sustie" award at the annual EcoFarm Conference for their long history of working in sustainable agriculture.
Gopher Dairy Club members won several awards at the 2013 Midwest regional dairy clubs meeting: first place for outstanding chapter yearbook, website, and number of students attending; second place for club skit; and third for outstanding electronic yearbook. .