Agronomy and Horticulture - Spring 2017 Seminar Series

January 20
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(See last page for links to additional information)
Using formative assessments to improve critical thinking and writing skills

Assistant Director, Innovative Instructional Design, UNL Online & Distance Education

Faculty know writing improves critical thinking and that writing skills are essential for future success, but find giving feedback on and grading long written work, such as term papers, to be prohibitively time consumptive. In this seminar session, we will look at four assessment techniques making use of short written work that improve high-level learning such as analytic thinking and synthesis, but which also improve writing skills and give faculty keen insight into students’ understanding of course concepts.

January 27
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Thinking differently about extension work

Dean and Director, Nebraska Extension

Advancement in teaching and learning methods for Extension professionals is evolving the way we engage Nebraskans. Also, the roles of Extension Educators and Specialists are evolving as we think about collaboration and accomplishment. Our opportunity in this age of digital engagement can strengthen our relationships with learners in ways that enhance outcomes. This will be an interactive seminar on modern Extension methods and applications.

February 3
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Engineering empowerment: Science literacy through engineering design

Science Literacy Specialist and Assistant Professor, UNL Biological Systems Engineering

The IANR Science Literacy Initiative fosters a society with an enhanced capacity, for both individuals and groups to make effective decisions grounded in STEM-informed analyses of complex, real-world challenges. In this presentation Jenny Keshwani will describe several projects that use the engineering design process to promote science literacy.

February 10
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Functional genomics investigation of seed and vegetative development in maize and sorghum

Associate Professor, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture and Center for Plant Science Innovation

This seminar will describe the generation and characterization of mutants for identification of modifier genes in the high-lysine Quality Protein Maize variant. David Holding will also describe our mutagenesis, mapping and candidate gene pipeline for general functional genomics of seed development and mineral homeostasis in maize. Finally, he will describe a gene editing approach for improving sorghum digestibility.

February 17
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Creating a new generation of systems thinkers: Agroecology and phenomenology

Professor, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture, Visiting Professor of Agroecology, Norwegian University Life Sciences

Agroecology has emerged as an alternative and holistic approach to systems thinking in education, applying phenomenology and practical experience along with science as valuable foundations for learning. Working with farmers and food system professionals, student teams use open-ended case studies to pursue education for responsible action. Agroecology explores production, economic, environmental, and social dimensions of food systems, with innovative programs in Norway, U.S. Midwest, Sweden, Uganda, Ethiopia, and India, as well as many countries in Latin America.

February 24
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Translating research into impact: Thoughts on weed science extension

Assistant Extension Educator, Weed Management, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

The importance of research data to inform extension outreach is widely recognized. Nevertheless, one of the challenges facing extension professionals is effectively translating research data into impactful information. While this challenge is not new, this seminar will consider how we might continue to make progress on enhancing the impact of extension related research outcomes.

March 3
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Corn residue utilization effects on yield, crop water use and the soil resource

Research Agronomist, USDA-ARS

Corn residue or stover has been used for decades for grazing, livestock bedding, or harvested as supplemental feed for beef and non-lactating dairy cattle. There are multiple advantages to utilizing corn residue, including managing residue quantity in high production fields, supplemental revenue, and a simple, cost-effective method of integrating crop-livestock systems. In addition to its use for the livestock industry, corn residue is the primary feedstock for a fledgling cellulosic bioenergy industry. This seminar will look at current USDA-ARS research on corn residue utilization in Nebraska and in the Corn Belt Region.

March 10
Video is not available for this seminar
Exploiting fungal microbiomes for plant stress resistance and improved yields in cotton agroecosystems

Professor & Charles R. Parencia Chair in Cotton Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

Beneficial fungal endophytes can confer protection to plants from a variety of stressors and improve yields in major agricultural crops. This talk will highlight progress in the targeted application of fungal endophytes in cultivated cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) to mediate resistance to multiple stressors including insects, nematodes and drought, with significant positive impacts on plant performance and yields in the field.


Wednesday, March 15
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Stalk Lodging: Insights from Structural Engineering

Crop Biomechanics Laboratory, Assistant Professor of Engineering, New York University Abu Dhabi

Douglas Cook’s research focuses on crop biomechanics. The aim of his research is to quantify factors than are predictive of crop stalk strength. To accomplish this goal, he has worked closely with academic and industry scientists to characterize stalk failure, design stalk testing protocols, perform stalk strength experiments, assess stalk geometry, design devices for measuring stalk strength and record the sounds produced by growing corn. His research has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and industry. His research findings have been published in fields as diverse as acoustics, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, agronomy, medicine and botany. Cook earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Utah State along with minors in mathematics and Mandarin Chinese. He also received a master’s and doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University.

March 17
This seminar has been rescheduled for Fall 2017
Assembling soil microbiomes that modify plant traits

Assistant Professor, Cornell University

The soil surrounding roots holds a diverse array of microorganisms that can influence plant development. Microbial experimental systems can be used to tease apart components of the microbiome responsible for trait development in plants. I will be discussing the concept of assembling microbiomes that alter specific plant traits, in hopes of developing microbial technologies that enhance agricultural sustainability.


Thursday, March 23
10:00 am

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Glyphosate-Resistant Weeds in Ontario, Canada - Distribution and Control

Professor, Weed Management – Field Crops, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, Ontario

Peter Sikkema’s research focuses on the development of precision weed management programs in corn, soybean, edible bean and cereals to improve the level of weed control, reduce crop injury, increase crop yield and maximize net returns to Ontario producers. Recent or current projects include crop tolerance and weed management in corn; soybean, edible beans and cereals; benefits of two-pass weed management strategies in Roundup Ready corn and soybean; control of problem weeds in corn, soybean and wheat; surveys on the distribution of glyphosate-resistant (GR) weeds in Ontario; and development of strategies for the control of GR weeds in Ontario. There are four weed species with confirmed resistance to glyphosate in Ontario, among the 37 globally known GR weeds. These include giant ragweed (seed collected in 2008), Canada fleabane (seed collected in 2010), common ragweed (seed collected in 2011) and waterhemp (seed collected in 2014). Surveys show that over time the number of locations is increasing and GR weeds are found over a wider geographical area. Field trials were established at various sites with GR giant ragweed, Canada fleabane, common ragweed and waterhemp in 2010–2016 to evaluate control options in corn, soybean and wheat. Sikkema will speak about the importance of implementing weed management practices that limit the selection of additional GR weeds. Long-term approaches to weed management will be presented.

March 31
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Regulating plants: The diverse and essential roles of hormone amino acid conjugates

Professor, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

Conjugating amino acids to jasmonic and indole-3-acetic acids is critical for proper regulation of plant growth, development and defense response. Recent study of the enzyme family responsible for conjugation will be highlighted to illustrate their surprisingly diverse roles in activating, inactivating and changing the biological function of these signal molecules.

April 7
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Response surface methodology in genomic prediction

Assistant Professor, UNL Statistics

Response Surface Methodology (RSM) is a strategy to aid accurate predictions for genomic prediction (GP) methods and will be described in this seminar. RSM will be illustrated with a simulated example on double haploid lines with factors such as the number of progeny, markers, QTLs, genetic architecture of the population, and heritability.


Thursday, April 13
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Breeding for heat tolerance in Pearl millet: a pioneering effort at ICRISAT

Ph.D. in Plant Breeding, ICRISAT Head Quarters in India

SK Gupta has a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and about 20 years of experience in breeding of several crops—pearl millet, chickpea, pigeon pea, green gram, red gram, Sesbania and black gram.

In his earlier role as legume breeder, he released about 12 cultivars of different legume crops. He has been working with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics since 2008 and is now leading the Pearl Millet Breeding Program at ICRISAT head quarters in India. He is engaged in the development of diverse range of pearl millet hybrid parents (both seed and restorer parents) which are utilized by public and private sector breeding program to develop hybrids for different geographies.

Gupta is leading a consortium of seed companies engaged in pearl millet research, with about 30 members, and providing them materials for developing hybrids. He has been coordinating pearl millet breeding activities for ICRISAT in Eastern and Western African countries in some of the mega-projects. Recently, he was product line coordinator for the CGIAR Research Program – Dryland Cereals for promoting hybrids in SA and ESA countries. He has published about 70 research papers in prominent journals, is guiding post-graduate students, and is currently engaged in about 12 projects in different capacities.

April 14
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Expanding integrated agricultural systems using multidisciplinary research and extension strategies

Associate Professor, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

The identification, development, and evaluation of agronomically sound, environmentally acceptable and economically viable forage-crop-livestock systems is fundamental to agricultural diversification. Our efforts towards developing such systems will be described.

April 21
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Emerald ash borer: An agent of change

Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine

Stilwell will address how the emerald ash borer (EAB) and other wood-boring pests transformed landscapes and legislation and what’s being done to manage it. This presentation will discuss everything you wanted to know about the impacts of EAB, but were afraid to ask.

April 28
This seminar has been cancelled
Modeling the effects of climate change on U.S. corn and soybean production (live stream not available)

Assistant Professor, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture

The projections for corn and soybean production till the end of the century were simulated and analyzed based on the CropClimate platform for United States. The results of each individual ensemble member from all the available climate models projecting climate change will be presented.