New Extension faculty are driven to discover
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New University of Minnesota Extension specialists have joint faculty appointments in University colleges:
- College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS)
- College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)
- College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
- Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Engaging families to become financially capable
"How families communicate and interact about their finances can transform their economic well-being," says Joyce Serido, Extension family finance specialist and associate professor in CEHD.
Serido's research findings are informing Extension programs that provide education for low-income families. A pilot program in 2015 and 2016 is helping families understand different types of college financial aid and ways to manage expenditures proactively to reduce potential for high levels of post-college debt. "My long-term research goal is to explore the connection between parenting practices and financial behaviors among low-income and diverse youth," she says.
Developing technology to help forests thrive
"Forests are one of our best tools to reduce carbon dioxide emissions," says Matt Russell, Extension specialist and assistant professor in CFANS.
Russell uses the power of technology to help landowners and natural resource professionals better manage forests. He recently partnered with the USDA Forest Service to create the Forest Carbon Xplorer, an app that uses forest inventory data to show how much carbon a forest can absorb.
"With one-third of the state covered in forest land, Minnesota can teach the world how to make sustainable decisions," Russell says. The forest industry contributes 60,000 jobs and over $9 billion to Minnesota's economy.
Protecting our lakes, rivers and streams
Dan Larkin and his team work to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plant species. Larkin an Extension specialist in the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and assistant professor in CFANS.
"We want to support healthy lakes that benefit biodiversity, recreation, tourism, and the other goods and services that we value so highly," says Larkin. "We are taking a multi-pronged approach to understand what's driving the spread of invasive species, limit and control those species, and turn back damage that has been done."
Funding support from Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources/ Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Leading the conversation about water resources
"One of the biggest challenges we face today is protecting the quality and supply of our water resources," says Jeffrey Peterson, Extension economist and director of the University's Water Resources Center.
The center, a partnership between Extension and CFANS, provides objective, science-based information to help farmers, communities and governments make informed decisions that impact water quality. Peterson coordinates the efforts of faculty engaged in water-related science, policy and economic research.
Peterson says, "Our goal is to bring together different groups of people with different areas of expertise, to collaborate, encourage conversation and listen."
Addressing family issues with information, compassion
Jenifer McGuire, Extension specialist in family relations and an associate professor in CEHD, is closing gaps for those who have not been well served by parenting education. These include same-sex couples, such as those going through a divorce or break-up who still need to co-parent in ways that are healthy for their children.
McGuire is also a pioneer in research on the needs of transgender children. "Bullying is a common but harmful reaction toward gender-variant youth," says McGuire. "Their well-being improves when those who provide services are informed and when families and communities practice acceptance."
Detecting sugarbeet diseases
Sugarbeet growers need information on how to effectively manage plant diseases, but first they need to know which disease is present. Ashok Chanda, Extension plant pathologist and assistant professor in CFANS, gives an example: "Root rot is a common symptom of disease, but a lot of diseases look the same. There are many diseases that can rot roots and they each require a different strategy."
Chanda is developing new molecular tools to detect and diagnose pathogens in the Red River Valley, where 600,000 acres of sugarbeets are grown. He is based at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston.
Funding support from the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Giving dairy producers the technology to succeed
"The more dairy farmers are able to share information and collaborate, the better chance they have of succeeding," says Kota Minegishi, Extension dairy scientist and assistant professor in CFANS.
Minegishi is developing apps to help dairy producers and advisors see new opportunities, make better decisions, monitor risks, and use more precision in animal care and nutrition.
Minegishi says, "To compete today, dairies need to embrace the advantages provided by advances in technology." The apps he and his team are developing will make the power of data more accessible to dairy producers.
Helping immigrant voices be heard
"Our cities have large groups of people who are part of our daily lives, but are not represented in the decisions that shape their lives," says Fernando Burga, Extension civic engagement specialist and assistant professor in the University's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Burga and his team are working to give immigrants and other underrepresented individuals a voice in political conversations about education, transportation, zoning and other important issues.
"By interviewing individuals and community organizations, we are able to understand their unique perspectives and share their stories with the larger community and decision makers," says Burga.
Studying grapes from vine to wine
"Someday soon, you could be drinking wine from the new grape developed at the University of Minnesota, named Itasca," says Matt Clark.
Clark, Extension horticulturist and assistant professor in CFANS, works with grape and wine experts from around the globe to breed new cold-hardy grapes in marketable styles. He also studies ways to use DNA tests to determine how seedlings will perform as adults, which could speed up the time it takes to breed new grape varieties.
"Minnesota grapes are good for our economy," Clark adds. A recent Extension report showed that Minnesota cold-hardy grapes pumped $401 million into the U.S. economy and created 12,600 jobs.
Helping protect Minnesota's poultry industry
"Last year, more than 9 million birds on over 100 poultry farms died as a result of avian flu," says Sinisa Vidovic, Extension animal scientist and assistant professor in CVM. "Our goal is to interrupt the cycle of transmission of disease-causing microorganisms in environments associated with the poultry industry."
Vidovic and his team are researching how pathogens sense and adapt to various environmental stressors in order to create new vaccines to stop the spread of diseases.
"There is tremendous potential for our research to naturally slow down pathogens, which could help poultry farmers produce healthier food with fewer antibiotics," Vidovic adds. "This could have a far-reaching impact on the poultry industry."
AXEL GARCIA Y GARCIA:
Innovating cropping systems
"Crops need water and nitrogen to grow, but excess nitrogen may pollute water. Cover crops can improve water and nitrogen use efficiencies in corn and soybean rotations," says Axel Garcia y Garcia, an assistant professor and Extension Agronomist in CFANS located at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton.
Remote sensing can detect nitrogen stress in cornfields. Crop models may be used to make fertilization recommendations. Garcia y Garcia is working on the integration of both technologies to deliver recommendations in near real time. "Improved technology helps farmers become more efficient and cropping systems more sustainable," he says.
Garcia y Garcia holds the Wally Nelson cropping systems faculty position.