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CSREES Update - February 18, 2009

CSREES Update, from the Office of the Administrator, is a biweekly newsletter for research, education, and extension partners at land-grant universities and other cooperating institutions.


  • New Competitive Programs NPL for Food Safety Microbiology
  • Policy and Planning IT Specialist Joins ISTM
  • CSREES News
  • CSREES Lists Open Requests for Grant Applications


  • Reminder USDA's 85th Agricultural Outlook Forum, Feb. 26-27



New Competitive Programs NPL for Food Safety Microbiology

CSREES Competitive Programs Unit welcomes Jeanette Thurston as the national program leader (NPL) for Food Safety Mirocrobiology. Thurston grew up Tucson, AZ, and received her degrees from the University of Arizona. Her graduate studies focused on drinking water and wastewater treatment for the reduction of enteric pathogens. She began a research microbiologist position with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Lincoln, NE, after receiving her Ph.D. in 2001. She developed and led research relating to the fate and transport of enteric pathogens in preharvest environments and assessed treatment strategies for pathogen reduction in reclaimed water, wastewater, and manure. You can reach Thurston at jthurston@csrees.usda.gov or 202-720-7166; she is located in room 2308, Waterfront Centre.

Policy and Planning IT Specialist Joins ISTM

CSREES welcomes Betsy Draper as the Enterprise Architecture Program and Capital Planning specialist within Information Systems and Technology Management (ISTM) Unit. Draper has more than 25 years of information and instructional technology, planning, and institutional research leadership experience in higher education. She led faculty development programs in instructional technology and andragogy and developed and taught online courses in undergraduate business and graduate education programs. She also participated in college and university program reviews and assessment. Draper served as a technology consultant in a higher education consulting firm. She was chief information officer and associate professor of Business and Public Administration at Southwest Minnesota State University. She served as director of several instructional technology initiatives for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and served in technology support and management positions at North Dakota and South Dakota State Universities. She holds a B.B.A. degree from Iowa State University, an M.B.A. from North Dakota State University, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota. You can reach Draper at bdraper@csrees.usda.gov or 202-720-3007; she is located in room 4217, Waterfront Centre.

CSREES Awards $4.4 Million in Weedy and Invasive Species Grants

WASHINGTON, February 3, 2009 – CSREES announced $4.4 million in grants to 14 universities to conduct research aimed at developing ecologically and economically rational strategies for management, control, or elimination of weedy or invasive species.
“Developing research-based information on controlling and managing weedy and invasive species is critical for America's farmers and ranchers,” said Katherine Smith, USDA acting deputy under secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. "Exotic, invasive species are a particularly prevalent feature of agroecosystems and a major threat to food and fiber production."

Approximately 50,000 species of plants and animals have been introduced into the United States resulting in more than $100 billion in losses and damage each year. Invasive species threaten biodiversity, habitat quality, and ecosystems. Exotic, invasive species are a major threat to food and fiber production. Increased globalization and climate change will likely increase the introduction, spread, and impact of invasive species. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read CSREES Awards $4.4 Million in Weedy and Invasive Species Grants.

Despite all of the progress in mapping the rice genome, the function of individual rice genes lags far behind the same studies in other cereal crops. Now, with funding from CSREES, scientists in California have cataloged the different techniques available to determine the function of genes in rice. Pamela Ronald and colleagues at the University of California–Davis and Postech, Korea, provide a complete analysis of all of the tools and publically available collections for this important agricultural crop to the scientific community. These tools will help scientists delve into the rice genome and discover the function of the estimated 41,000 rice genes. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Determining Rice Gene Function: Unlocking the Secrets of the World's Most Important Food.

The United States, the world’s leading exporter of wheat, is struggling to keep pace with demand, and a decline in grain available is causing a worldwide crisis. Improving the performance of winter wheat is crucial to keeping pace with worldwide demand. With funding from CSREES, scientists in California have identified the genes in wheat that are responsible for the plant’s tolerance to freezing temperatures. This discovery may lead to improved crop production. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Researchers Identify Gene to Improve Wheat Frost Tolerance.

Animal waste is a great potential source of bioenergy and a natural fertilizer, but finding a green waste management process is problematic. Not any more. With funding from CSREES National Research Initiative, scientists in Missouri optimized an environmentally effective process to reduce the amount of animal waste on the farm. Traditional waste management practices require storage of waste products in open lagoons where the material is broken down by microbes in the absence of oxygen. Other common waste management practices involve unrestricted land application. Both methods are loosing favor due to their negative impacts on the environment through the release of nutrients in runoff water and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Visit the CSREES Newsroom to read Making On-farm Waste Digestion Work.

Funding Opportunity

Closing Date


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program

See individual grant program.

See individual grant program.

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy: A Joint Research Solicitation - USDA, DOE

February 18, 2009

Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Biomass Research and Development Initiative Competitive Grants Program (BRDI)

March 6, 2009

Carmela Bailey

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

March 9, 2009

Thomas Bewick

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)

April 15, 2009

Thomas Bewick

CSREES advertises all of its funding opportunities through "Find Grant Opportunities" on the Grants.gov Web site. This site is searchable and contains summary information on all federal funding opportunities with links to the full announcements. Users can search announcements by topic, funding agency, and date, as well as subscribe to an e-mail notification service based on these parameters.


This year’s forum “Global Agriculture & Rural America in Transition” is at Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, VA. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address. The forum will focus on a broad range of topical issues related to energy, trade, technology, farm policy, risk management, and rural America. It will also feature traditional commodity supply and demand and food price outlooks, and government, farm, and industry leaders will discuss the future of American agriculture.

CSREES’ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is celebrating 20 Years of Partnerships and Progress. On February 27, Jill Auburn, SARE director in CSREES’ Economic and Community Systems Unit, will moderate the forum session that highlights SARE’s experience and vision for the next 20 years from farmers and others who have participated and benefitted from the SARE program.

CSREES is also hosting the Specialty Crop Luncheon, on February 27. Tom Bewick, CSREES national program leader for horticulture in the Plant and Animal Systems Unit, will serve as moderator. Chris Savage, senior director for global environmental affairs at E & J Gallo Winery, is the luncheon speaker and will discuss “Maintaining Green: The Long History of the Environmental and Sustainability Movement within the Wine Industry.”

Visit the Forum’s Web site for more details and online registration.


For a plain text copy of this newsletter, please contact Judy Rude. CSREES UPDATE is published biweekly. The next regular issue is planned for March 4, 2009. Submit news items to newsletter@csrees.usda.gov by February 25.

Editor: Judy Rude, public affairs specialist, CSREES Communications Staff. If you have questions about Update, please contact her at jrude@csrees.usda.gov.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an e-mail message to jrude@csrees.usda.gov. In the body of the message, type: subscribe csrees-update OR unsubscribe csrees-update.

Back issues of CSREES UPDATE are available on the CSREES Web site.

Colien Hefferan, Administrator

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