Scientists: Grass carp breeding in Lake Erie tributary

grass carpGrass carp, one of four Asian carp species threatening to invade the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, may have done just that. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey this week announced that four adult grass carp taken from the Sandusky River had been born in the river, which means the species is breeding there. The river flows into Lake Erie at Sandusky Bay. Scientists fear that an invasion of grass carp, silver carp, black carp and/or bigmouth carp may wipe out the lake’s native plants and fish. See stories by NPR, the New York Times and USA Today. (Photo: Grass carp by Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Want to be a fish farmer? CFAES will train you

fish farming image 2Ohio needs fish farmers. And CFAES’s Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development is offering you a chance to train to become one. (Note: The signup deadline is Nov. 15.) Program organizers say the demand for seafood keeps growing, and the opportunities for making a fish farm a sustainable business are growing right along with it. (Photo: USDA.)

CFAES students’ golden opportunity

wheatCongratulations to CFAES students Michael Hannewald, a senior studying sustainable plant systems (specialization in agronomy, agribusiness minor), and Stephanie Verhoff, a senior agronomy major, plant pathology minor. The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America recently named them two of this year’s 22 national Golden Opportunity Scholars (scroll down).

What plants and soils can tell us about the quality of a wetland

wetland plants“Extensive losses of wetland habitats and their unique communities are major environmental concerns,” says the flier for the next School of Environment and Natural Resources seminar. Martin Stapanian, research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Erie Biological Station (pdf), presents “Soil and Vegetation Indices for Wetland Quality: A Predictive Modeling Approach” from 4-5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, with a video link to the Wooster campus of CFAES’s research arm, OARDC. Free. Details.

Why he’s majoring in sustainability: ‘I know I’ll be saving the world one day’ (video)

EEDS student video“All the professors I’ve had in this major love conversations about ways to change the world.” CFAES student Peter Moshier talks about why he chose to major in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (video, 2:06).

CFAES grad students expand their horizons in Tanzania

tanzania studentsThis past summer four CFAES graduate students traveled to Morogoro, Tanzania, to conduct research with faculty and staff at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA).

Patrick Bell (pictured, right, at Mt. Kilimanjaro), a Ph.D. student in the Environmental Science Graduate Program (ESGP), Claire Sutton (pictured, left), an M.S. student in ESPG, Cade Weston, an M.S. student in Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL), and Richard Gallenstein, a graduate student in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE), all interned with funding provided by a special travel grant from CFAES’s International Programs in Agriculture office (IPA) through the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), a capacity-building program in Tanzania funded through USAID and administered by the IPA 0ffice.

Dr. Mark Erbaugh, the administrative director of iAGRI and director of IPA, and Dr. David Hansen, program manager, indicated that the goal of the award was to provide U.S. graduate students an opportunity to participate, first-hand, in agricultural research in developing countries. The IPA office is also involved with various other development projects in Africa and Asia.

Promoting conservation

The projects that the students worked on sought largely to maximize crop production in the face of environmental challenges such as water scarcity and micronutrient deficiency in the soil, allowing them the opportunity to understand how systems designed to mitigate these problems also promote longer-term conservation practices. Dr. David Kraybill, director of iAGRI and a professor of agricultural economics with CFAES, currently lives in Tanzania and was instrumental in connecting the students with SUA faculty members who complemented the students’ academic interests and secured office and lab space for them to analyze data they had collected in the field.

The practical research experience gained by these students was invaluable, especially given that it occurred in an international context.

Flexibility, creativity

“Working in these conditions and under specific constraints not realized in domestic situations provided times to practice flexibility and creative-problem solving,” Bell said. “If you can be patient, you find that other cultures have very creative and interesting ways of handling problems as they come up.”

Pat shared that he’s interested in international agricultural development, and that this program appealed to that interest through the one-on-one interactions that he and others had with Tanzanian farmers and scientists. Claire even claimed her Swahili came into good use shortly after arriving and now feels encouraged to improve her pronunciation and usage by taking a Swahili language course this upcoming Spring Semester.

While one outcome of a student’s research in an international setting can be generating data for a graduate thesis or dissertation, academic exposure beyond the walls of one’s own educational institution is arguably just as crucial in today’s world.

‘Unique perspective’ on science in society

“Regardless of if (the research) is for your thesis/dissertation work or just for a side project, it will provide you a unique perspective on the role of science in society,” said Pat, not to mention the importance of sound research in making development decisions.

For more information, contact Mark Erbaugh, International Programs in Agriculture, CFAES,, 614-292-6479.

‘Businesses are driving sustainability efforts in the U.S.’

The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, reported today on CFAES’s new sustainability minor. The minor is offered by the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS) program. “When (job) interviewers hear ‘sustainability,’ their eyes light up,” EEDS Coordinator Neil Drobny said in the story. The EEDS program is a joint effort of the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Related post.

‘Agriculture has to be on any agenda for climate change mitigation’

The Washington Post quoted CFAES’s Rattan Lal last week in a story about the World Food Prize event in Iowa. Controversy came up at the event about both genetically modified crops and climate change. “Agriculture has to be on any agenda for climate change mitigation in addition to improving water quality and of course food security,” Lal said in the story. He’s a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the director of CFAES’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.

Beetle’s invasion: Guess what’s now in Europe?

emerald ash borerA disease called ash dieback is killing Europe’s ash trees. And now they face another new threat: Emerald ash borer, an Asian native that has wiped out millions of ashes in the U.S. and Canada, including Ohio. BBC Radio 4 recently talked with CFAES’s Enrico Bonello about the insect’s devastating impact (link to audio; his interview starts at around 19:11 but the whole story’s worth a listen). (Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,