The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences engages in research, education and outreach efforts that benefit all Ohioans, its families, communities, industries and environment. Here you will find examples of projects and initiatives that positively impact Ohio in a variety of critical areas, from enhanced agricultural production to food safety and from water quality to youth education.Ohio State University.
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center researchers have developed new materials that will allow medical professionals to have the natural latex gloves they prefer, while avoiding the risk of allergic reactions.
The patent-pending materials include a latex film made from guayule that is safe for both Type I and Type IV latex allergy sufferers, and a traditional Hevea rubber tree latex film that is Type IV-hypoallergenic.
“Guayule is a U.S. desert shrub that produces a high-quality latex which is very strong, tear-resistant, soft, comfortable and less irritating than synthetic materials from which many gloves are now made,” said Katrina Cornish, The Ohio State University’s Ohio Research Scholar and endowed chair in bioemergent materials. “And guayule latex is naturally Type I-hypoallergenic.”
To make the guayule and Hevea gloves Type IV-hypoallergenic, Cornish and her graduate students used new “accelerators” — chemicals added to speed up the curing reactions and production of latex products — that don’t leave residues associated with this type of allergy in the finished product.
- Medical professionals prefer natural rubber latex gloves over synthetic ones because they are stronger, have more tactile sensitivity, provide superior protection to blood-borne pathogens and cause less hand fatigue.
- Latex is also the preferred material for many healthcare and consumer products such as catheters, masks, dental dams, orthodontic rubber bands and condoms.
- The Ohio State University is conducting guayule trials in southern Ohio with the aim of developing a new domestic rubber-and-latex-producing crop as well as economic opportunities in the region.
- Cornish is also working with partners in South Africa to grow guayule there and to produce allergy-free condoms, empowering poor women to start their own enterprises while helping to combat the AIDS epidemic.
- A startup company — EnergyEne Inc., headquartered in Wooster — has been established to lead the development and commercialization of products made from these new latex materials.
“Having a steady supply of domestically produced natural latex would open the door for major dipped-goods manufacturers and medical glove producers to re-establish facilities in the U.S.,” said Tom Marsh, president of Centrotrade Minerals & Metals, Chesapeake, Virginia. “As a raw material supplier, we applaud the work championed by Dr. Cornish and supported by OARDC.”
In 2010, Guernsey County’s unemployment rate was 14.7 percent. Thanks to shale development, it tumbled to 5.7 percent by May 2014.
That’s all well and good, but the shale-related boom has other implications.
“A gas and oil guy from Midland, Texas, came to speak and told us to be prepared for our population to grow from about 11,500 to 100,000 in the next 15 years — at least, that’s what happened in Midland,” said Norm Blanchard, president of the Cambridge-Guernsey County Community Improvement Corporation. “When that hit the newspaper, we got calls. What are we doing to plan for this? How would we handle that kind of growth?” On the flip side, how should the region prepare for when shale development declines?
To help, Ohio State University Extension is tapping a $200,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to work with four regional EDA offices representing 25 eastern Ohio counties. Together they are examining shale’s economic, social and environmental impacts and developing plans for sustainable development.
The OSU Extension project is:
- gathering and analyzing volumes of data to track the area’s economic, social and environmental conditions, including measurements on employment, population, income, charitable giving, school enrollment, crime, housing, noise, traffic counts, air quality, and water quantity and quality.
- examining the growth and contraction of specific industry segments. This will allow targeted actions to help local businesses adjust when the active shale construction phase ends.
- identifying sectors that need local investment. In some areas, the focus might be on infrastructure; others might zero in on housing, community amenities, entrepreneurship or workforce training.
- working with regional EDA offices to foster long-term planning across community and county lines.
- piloting educational materials in Guernsey County, thanks to another $20,000 grant. Community leaders across the Midwest will be able to use the materials to incorporate shale development into their strategic planning.
“OSU Extension is not only giving us guidance, but they’ve been in touch with other states that have already been through shale development, and they’re providing us with that experience and expertise,” Blanchard said. “It’s been invaluable.”
In 2013, a new swine disease was discovered in the U.S. Very quickly, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) spread across the country, killing pigs at hundreds of farms in at least 30 states, including Ohio.
As PEDv has continued to impact the swine industry, Ohio State University Extension has worked with hog producers across the state to keep them updated about biosecurity measures they must follow to minimize the spread of the disease, and about technologies that can help them make better decisions.
“Working with Ohio State in concert with our local veterinarian has helped us use technology,such as new methods of testing for the disease, more effectively,” said Pat Hord, owner of Hord Livestock in Bucyrus, Ohio. His swine operation was affected by the virus, but has been successful at controlling it.
OSU Extension swine specialist Steve Moeller said continued research and educational efforts are needed to help the industry fend off PEDv and secure an adequate supply of pork products to
- PEDv has killed more than 7 million piglets in the U.S., reducing pork production and industry profits, and threatening to impact the availability of pork products as well as prices.
- Unlike other viruses, PEDv does not pose any risk to food safety or human health.
- The disease causes 50 to 100 percent mortality among piglets. Adult pigs show only mild illness, but they can carry the virus — which is transmitted via contaminated feces — and spread
it to other pigs.
- The virus has proven to be very persistent and difficult to contain. Hot summers and cold winters are having little effect on PEDv, so new herds are being infected on a continuous basis throughout the country.
- PEDv might also impact swine exhibits at agricultural fairs, as the conglomeration of animals from many different farms could spread the disease even further.
“Ohio State was extremely pivotal in helping answer questions about the potential spread of PEDv in the feed for Ohio pork producers,” said Dr. Todd Price, D.V.M., of North Central Veterinary Services in Sycamore, Ohio. “The university’s experts should be commended for their timely and valuable research put forth to help producers learn more about this devastating disease.”
Ohio’s first grain rescue simulator trailer — designed by faculty and students from The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — is now used to educate first responders, grain industry employees and farm families about the hazards of flowing grain. This simulator maximizes the public-private partnerships between the university, the Ohio Fire Academy and the Ohio agribusinesses that contributed resources toward the project.
The Grain C.A.R.T. (Comprehensive Agricultural Rescue Trailer) is a dynamic teaching aid, said Dee Jepsen, state safety leader for Ohio State University Extension. It enhances safety
education in farm communities and trains first responders who are called to an agricultural scene where grain is stored. It’s used with the Ohio Fire Academy’s agricultural rescue direct-delivery training modules and with OSU Extension’s grain bin rescue outreach education program.
Rescue personnel requested training in these unconventional rescue situations, where they have limited experience and knowledge of the agricultural conditions that exist.
- The need for grain-handling safety programs is significant, considering that every year approximately 26 Ohio farm workers lose their lives to production agriculture. Flowing grain and grain storage is one of the contributing factors. In the past 10 years, 14 Ohio farmers have died due to engulfments in grain bins, entanglements in augers, falls from grain bin-related structures and electrocution.
- Mounted on a 40-foot flatbed trailer, the Grain C.A.R.T. includes a grain bin, a gravity wagon, a grain leg system with augers and other training essentials.
- The Grain C.A.R.T. was used for training in 26 counties on 54 days in fiscal year 2014, according to the Ohio Fire Academy.
- This OSU Extension outreach program presented live demonstrations of grain engulfment and equipment entanglements to the farming community, to grain co-op employees and to first responders — reaching approximately 12,000 participants.
“The value of this partnership is, not only are we providing information to the agricultural community, but also to first responders in those communities. Seventy percent of Ohio is protected by volunteer fire departments, so being able to take this hands-on training to them is valuable,” said Larry Flowers, Ohio state fire marshal.
For more information: agsafety.osu.edu.
The “polar vortex” winter of 2013–2014 hit Ohio’s wine grapes hard. Nick Ferrante knows it. The owner of Geneva’s Ferrante Winery lost his entire 2014 vinifera crop. And he wasn’t alone. Ohio grape growers estimated their vinifera losses at 97 percent, and officials expected damage to all the state’s grape varieties to top $12 million. Vinifera, or European, grapes go into such wines as Chardonnay.
“This was probably the worst grape damage on record in Ohio,” said Imed Dami, who works to help growers recover from that damage and reduce or prevent it in the future.
As leader of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s viticulture, or grape-growing, research, Dami studies, for example, new grape varieties’ cold hardiness and how to prune winter-damaged vines. Then he shares his findings for growers to use — a sustained flow of new science-based knowledge that Ferrante calls “a great asset to the industry.”
- OARDC’s grape and wine research program is the only long-term, university-backed research program serving Ohio’s grape and wine industry.
- Ohio’s grape and wine industry has a $786 million annual economic impact, a figure that has grown by a third in just the past six years.
- The industry created 1,200 new jobs during that growth and now supports more than 5,000 full-time jobs.
- Following last winter’s devastation, Dami has taught an ongoing statewide workshop series on pruning winter-damaged vines. The goal is to return Ohio grape growers to full production as soon as possible.
- Dami and colleagues do extensive research on improved grape production methods. Field trials take place in Wooster, at OARDC’s Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station in Kingsville and in vineyards of cooperating growers.
- Dami has attracted nearly $3.4 million in grant support from industry and others since 2008.
“Imed Dami’s research has impacted all of Ohio’s vineyards, especially in the Grand River Valley, which produces some of the state’s finest vinifera wines and has won many prestigious awards,” Ferrante said. “We’ve used many of Imed’s strategies to improve vine health, yields and wine quality.”
In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicted that over the next decade, U.S. industries will need one million more STEM graduates than the nation will have.
In 2013, Ohio State University Extension created the STEM Pathways signature program to spark enthusiasm in young people about science, technology, engineering and math. “STEM isn’t dry and boring. It’s fun, it’s exciting,” said Patty House, 4-H youth development educator and program leader. “You can use it to help solve real-world problems.” In its first year, STEM Pathways developed a dozen 30- to 60-minute challenges and attracted an estimated 8,500 participants across Ohio. Challenges were piloted at the Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield, where director Josh Jennings is a huge proponent. “There’s no real prescribed step-by-step procedure they follow, because that’s the important thing: The students have to solve the problem on their own,” Jennings said. “When something happens they don’t expect, it kind of blows their minds.”
STEM Pathways Challenge topics include diabetes, ergonomics, animal behavior, chemical spills, mining and bioproducts. One, the Fish Farm Challenge, was selected by the National 4-H Council and Monsanto to be the 2014 4-H Ag Innovators Experience for eight midwestern states. Leaders estimate 10,000 youth will participate in the challenge, designed to explore how to boost food production through aquaculture.
Here are some other 4-H initiatives:
- Nearly 5,000 children and teens in Cleveland learn a lifelong appreciation of nature and understanding of natural resources through Youth Outdoors, a unique collaboration between Ohio 4-H, the City of Cleveland Division of Recreation, and Cleveland Metroparks: go.osu.edu/youthoutdoors.
- Two urban schools, one each in Cleveland and in Cincinnati, host “4-H Agri-science in the City,” which provides hands-on classroom instruction as a complement to regular coursework, as well as afterschool and summer programs: go.osu.edu/cityagriscience.
“The whole idea of STEM is not just taking a rigorous engineering or mathematics course,” Jennings said. “STEM is a whole different process of looking at things. You present students with a problem, and they use their creativity and critical thinking skills to figure it out.”
Tear down a dam, and a river will change. But how? And how much? To find out, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientists are looking in their own backyard.
Mazeika Sullivan and Kristin Jaeger are studying the impacts of dam removals at two former dams in Columbus: one on the Olentangy River on The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus, and another close by on the Scioto River. They’re documenting the exact changes seen in the rivers’ flow, biology and water quality.
“There’s a growing trend toward using dam removal to restore rivers, but studies documenting the rivers’ responses are limited,” said Sullivan.
“It’s logical to assume that removing a dam and restoring a river back to its natural state would provide an ecological boost,” said study sponsor John Navarro, program administrator with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. “But until now, there have been few studies that quantify these benefits.”
- Ohio has removed 60-plus dams in the past four decades, in large part to improve water quality.
- A recent low-head dam removal project in Northeast Ohio, for example (not connected to the OARDC study), led to a previously impaired section of the Cuyahoga River meeting Ohio Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards within just six months — with fish diversity going up by 57 percent.
- Dam removal cools a river’s water — about 6 degrees Fahrenheit in a previous study in Michigan — and restores its natural temperature range.
- The improved water flow from dam removal keeps sediment from building up. Dam sediment can be full of accumulated toxins, including health threats such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
- Sullivan and Jaeger’s research is partly funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Said Navarro, “The partnership between Ohio State and the ODNR Division of Wildlife, through the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership, supports the research being conducted by Mazeika and Kris, and will provide concrete evidence of the benefits of dam removals.”
In 2013, a new swine disease showed up in the U.S. Very quickly, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) spread across the country, killing 50–100 percent of piglets at hundreds of farms in at least 30 states, including Ohio. With funding from the National Pork Board, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientists are conducting research to answer crucial questions about and develop effective tests and vaccines against PEDv.
“Our studies show that the PEDv strains circulating in the U.S. are more aggressive than the strains from Europe,” OARDC virologist Qiuhong Wang said. “In the U.S., it doesn’t look likely that PEDv will stop mutating and that herds will become endemic and experience little mortality.”
Scientists in Wang’s and Linda Saif’s labs grew the virus in cell culture and are using this material to develop a “booster” vaccine that can protect pigs previously exposed to PEDv. The end goal is to develop a stronger vaccine that can also protect swine with zero immunity to the virus.
- PEDv has killed more than 7 million piglets in the U.S., reducing pork production and threatening to impact the availability of pork products as well as prices.
- OARDC is one of the few facilities nationwide that has been able to grow PEDv in the lab, allowing researchers to have enough virus material to develop diagnostic tests and vaccine candidates.
- Ohio State University researchers are collaborating with a large animal health company to develop PEDv vaccines.
- OARDC animal disease research is supported by its unique germ-free animal labs, where new diseases and treatments can be tested in isolation; and by its Plant and Animal Agrosecurity Research facility, the only lab in Ohio and one of only two nationally with capacity for plant and animal disease research at the BSL-3 biosafety level.
“It is increasingly important that we have a high-quality swine research capability in Ohio,” said Pat Hord, owner of Hord Livestock Company in Bucyrus, Ohio. “We, as swine producers, need this information as soon as possible to help us manage diseases such as PEDv the best we can to limit severe economic losses.”
Monica Giusti’s lab budget wasn’t limitless. And the anthocyanins she studied weren’t cheap. So she made her own — slashing costs 10- to 20-fold. Now, her patented process will be commercialized by newly formed Anthocyantific LLC. Giusti is chief scientist.
Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that also give color to most red, orange, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. Giusti is internationally known for her research on their potential as cancer-fighters and as natural food dyes.
“Most companies sell anthocyanin standards, one anthocyanin at a time. And only a small portion of the 700 anthocyanins known to exist is available as pure standards,” Giusti said. “What we produce is unique.”
The process provides a complete blend of anthocyanins from specific foods: the single primary anthocyanin from strawberries, for example, or the 15-plus anthocyanins from blueberries. Giusti hopes the new products’ availability and low cost will galvanize new research into the pigments.
- Giusti’s anthocyanins research has garnered more than $500,000 in private industry support since 2009. The result: two patents, with five more pending.
- Guisti was named The Ohio State University’s Early Career Innovator of the Year in 2013, and is co-editor of “Anthocyanins in Health and Disease,” the first book to summarize advances in research of anthocyanins’ role in disease prevention.
- Giusti is a member of CAFFRE, the Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, which focuses on developing health-promoting functional foods and ingredients. CAFFRE combines efforts of 44 university scientists and has resulted in 250-plus collaborative research publications and a total of $18 million in support related to foods, nutrients and health between 2006–2014, including $2 million from 21 industry partners:
“Monica Giusti’s work is both cost-effective and innovative — a powerful combination that’s attractive to industry partners,” said Melissa Kelly, licensing manager, The Ohio State University Technology Commercialization Office. “Companies are working with Ohio State not only to fund her research but to commercialize it as well.”