College of ACES
College News

Zhejiang students complete fifth annual summer internship program in ACES

Published September 29, 2014

Thirty students from China’s Zhejiang University (ZJU) completed a six-week summer internship in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) that included individualized work with ACES faculty members, industry-focused field trips, and social and cultural activities. 

The program, coordinated by the Office of International Programs, is in its fifth year. This year’s interns were admitted as part of a highly selective process that for the first time included an interview with OIP’s Associate Director Suzana Palaska-Nicholson.

Palaska-Nicholson visited the ZJU campus during March 2014 along with Dr. K.C. Ting, Department Head for the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, with the overall goal of expanding research partnerships with ZJU.

“Since 2009, this internship program has fostered our relationship with ZJU. Dr. Ting and I had productive conversations with ZJU partners about additional possibilities for research collaborations between our universities. We were also able to work with ZJU to diversify this year’s internship program to include other disciplines, specifically crop sciences, and next year, we plan to add agricultural economics majors,” Palaska- Nicholson said.

The students arrived on July 7, completed orientation and lab safety training, and remained busy at work in their mentors’ labs until the program culminated with a poster session on August 14. 

“It was evident from the poster session that the students had formed productive relationships with their mentors and staff from the labs. Six weeks is not long to conduct a research project, but the students’ engagement was impressive. It was great to see the mentors turn out and support their students at this event,” said Alex Winter-Nelson, director of the Office of International Programs.

As a testament to the support of ACES faculty and the program’s organization, for the past two years, ZJU has named the ACES summer internship as its best study-abroad program. Moreover, this program is serving as an excellent recruiting tool for new graduate students to our ACES programs.

OIP graduate assistant Dani Chen, who is a graduate of ZJU and a 3+2 student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, served as a liaison to the students. OIP Office Manager Karen Driscoll assisted greatly with field trips and details relating to the program.

OIP thanks the ACES faculty members who served as mentors for this year's ZJU summer program:

Felipe Cardoso
Xinlei Wang
Kaustubh Bhalerao
Rex Gaskins
Matthew Wheeler
Steven Huber
Jeffrey Matthews
Gustavo Caetano-Anolles
Robert J M Hudson
Megan Dailey
Mohammad Babadoost
Anthony Yannarell
Adam Davis
Carl Bradley
Juan Loor
Rodney Johnson
Tony E. Grift
Prasanta K. Kalita
Hans-Peter M. Blaschek
Yong-su Jin
Hao Feng
Keith Cadwallader
Hans-Peter M. Blaschek
Hong Chen
Jack Juvik
Richard Weinzierl

Consumers want more pork and they want it now

Published September 29, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, although pork consumers have paid record-high retail prices this year, they want more. The latest USDA Hogs and Pigs report suggests that pork producers will be able to get more pork to consumers and to get it to them more quickly than had been anticipated.

“The rising volume of pork production over the next year will stand on three legs: lower death losses from PED, higher farrowings from producer expansion, and higher market weights this fall and winter,” Hurt said.

How can pork producers produce more pork quickly?

“The PED virus was not as deadly this summer as was anticipated,” Hurt said. “More baby pigs survived this summer than expected, and that will help boost pork supplies by the end of the year and into the winter. The number of pigs per litter this past summer was down 1.6 percent from the previous summer. This is much smaller than the losses in the previous two quarters. The number of pigs per litter was down 5.5 percent in the winter of 2014 and down 5.1 percent in the spring quarter. This meant that the number of market hogs was about 1 percent higher than expected according to the USDA survey results.”

Even more important to the hog and pork price outlook is what will happen to the number of pigs per litter this fall and winter and further into 2015.

“It’s important to keep in mind that PED began to be observed in the national data in October 2013,” Hurt said. “Estimated death losses—measured as the number of pigs per litter below trend—was about 2 to 3 percent in October and November 2013. This rose to 6 to 8 percent in the winter months and then 4 to 6 percent in spring 2014. The critical point is that the number of pigs per litter may actually be above year-previous levels beginning late this fall.”

Hurt said that increasing pigs per litter will be based on the low levels from a year ago and on the perceived “improved management” of the disease this fall and winter.

“It’s clear that PED is not controlled, but the hope is that spread of the disease and the number of death losses can be lowered,” Hurt said. “There are a host of reasons the industry believes they have improved management of PED that include: two vaccines approved for use; better understanding of methods of transmission; and better biosecurity on farms.  A milder winter could also contribute. By winter, this improved management could result in increasing pigs per litter by 2 percent to as much as 4 percent over the same measures of a year ago.”

More pigs per litter is one way pork supplies will likely be expanded. Increased sow farrowings is the second way that was revealed by USDA. Producers intend to farrow 4 percent more sows this fall and 4 percent more in the winter.

“It’s easy to understand the incentives producers have to expand, given record profits this summer and high hog prices and low feed prices due to huge fall crop production,” Hurt added.

Breeding herd numbers on Sept. 1 were up 2 percent, or by just over 100,000 head. The biggest portion of this expansion is in two states: Missouri, which was reported to have 40,000 more, and Iowa with 30,000 added head. Other states with noted expansions were: Texas, up 15,000 head, and Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Oklahoma with 10,000 additional.

Hurt said that market weights may continue to be somewhat higher this fall and winter. High weights will continue to be driven by low-priced feed and favorable profit margins. “Reduced PED losses will not provide as much excess finishing space,” Hurt said. “Weights may be up about 1 percent this fall and winter and then fall by ½ percent next spring and summer.

“More pork will be coming from more pigs per litter, more farrowings, and by more weight in the near term,” Hurt continued. “Pork supplies this fall will be down about 1 percent with winter supplies rising by 1 percent. The farrowing expansion this fall will increase pork supplies toward a 4 percent increase next spring and 5 percent greater pork supplies by summer,” he said. 

Will pork production grow enough to really help corn and soybean meal consumption for the 2014-15 marketing year?

Hurt said that only about 2 percent more pork will be produced in the 2014-15 corn and soybean marketing year. However, nearly 4 percent more pork is expected for the 2015 calendar year.

“The point is that it takes time to build the animal base and that more than half of the marketing year will be over before market hog numbers really begin to rise in the spring of 2015. However, grain farmers can be confident that the feed-usage base will continue to build for the 2015-16 marketing year.

“In 2014, the pork industry is having a record profit year, partially due to reduced pork supplies as a result of the PED virus,” Hurt concluded. “Profits for 2014 are estimated at $60 per head for average cost farrow-to-finish producers. The third quarter, which came to a close at the end of September, had an estimated $81 of record-quarterly profits. Profits are estimated to be near $60 in the last quarter and in the lower $40 per head for the first half of 2015. By mid-2015, expanded pork production will cut into prices and profits drop to an estimated $30 per head in the third quarter of 2015 and to $5 per head in the final quarter. Profits for the calendar year 2015 are currently estimated at $30 per head,” he said.



ACES International Seed Grants DEADLINE for Fall Submissions

5:00 PM

For more information, visit:


Tropical Soybean for Development Workshop

All Day Event
Ronald Reagan Building, Washington D.C.

Join us for an exciting event focused on the needs of soybean practitioners. Learn from experts about the economics of tropical soybean development, the role of the soybean-poultry value chain, how to properly scale soybean systems, the importance of savings and credit efforts for soybean, and more.

Sponsored by USAID and the Soybean Innovation Lab.

For more information:

Or contact:


National Defense University International Fellows Visit

All Day Event
College of ACES

Details coming soon.


ACES International Matching Grants Program DEADLINE for submissions

5:00 PM

The Office of International Programs in the College of ACES with the support of the ACES Office of Research is soliciting proposals under the ACES International Matching Grants Program. The ACES Matching Grants Program intends to fund research that will be conducted by teams of ACES researchers and researchers from approved peer institutions outside of the United States.
Projects supported in this program must receive matching support from the international peer institution. The contribution from ACES will be made directly to the Illinois scholar and the matching support may be made to the collaborating researcher at the peer institution. Illinois researchers may request up to $20,000 to be used within 24 months. Collaborating researchers abroad must receive at least the same amount as the ACES researcher.

Themes for research proposals may include:
            Economic and Community Development
            Food Security (Availability, Access, & Utilization of Food by at-risk populations)
            Global Climate Change
            Natural Resources and Sustainability
            Nutrition and Human Health

Approved peer institutions include:
            Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium.
            National Taiwan University (NTU), Taiwan.
            National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico
            Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi (UASLP), Mexico.
            University of Viçosa, Brazil.
            Zhejiang University, China.
            Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
Applicants wishing to nominate another institution for approval under this program should contact the Office of International

Programs before preparing a proposal. The deadline is 5:00 p.m. on October 13, 2014.

Click here to download Call for Proposals document.


ACES International in Action Food Security Series: "The Impact of Volunteering on Agricultural Education and Research in Ethiopia – A Field Report from the Haramaya University”

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Morgan-Caterpillar Room, ACES Library

Presented by Dr. Martin Bohn, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences 

Brownbag seminar; feel free to bring your lunch.

Dr. Bohn will present on his recent experience in the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program that connects farmers and agricultural experts in the United States with counterparts in the East African nations of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and other developing countries for training and technical assistance.

New way to detox? "Gold of Pleasure" oilseed boosts liver detoxification enzymes

Published September 29, 2014
seedpod of Camelina sativa plant

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois scientists have found compounds that boost liver detoxification enzymes nearly fivefold, and they’ve found them in a pretty unlikely place—the crushed seeds left after oil extraction from an oilseed crop used in jet fuel.

“The bioactive compounds in Camelina sativa seed, also known as Gold of Pleasure, are a mixture of phytochemicals that work together synergistically far better than they do alone. This seed meal is a promising nutritional supplement because its bioactive ingredients increase the liver’s ability to clear foreign chemicals and oxidative products. And that gives it potential anti-cancer benefit,” said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutritional toxicology.

Oilseed crops, including rapeseed, canola, and camelina, contain some of the same bioactive ingredients—namely, glucosinolates and flavonoids—found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and in nearly the same quantities, she noted.

Because the oil from oilseed crops makes an environmentally friendly biofuel, scientists have been hoping to find a green use for the protein-rich seed meal left after oil extraction. Animal feed was the obvious choice, but there were a couple of problems. Some rapeseed glucosinolates are toxic, and producers have balked at paying Canada for canola seed, the low-glucosinolate rapeseed that country had developed.

Jeffery thought Camelina sativa was worth a look so she began to work with USDA scientist Mark Berhow. In the first study of camelina’s bioactive properties, Berhow isolated four major components—three glucosinolates and the flavonoid quercetin—from its defatted seed meal.

Back at Jeffery’s U of I lab, researchers began to test these components on mouse liver cells both individually and together. They found that all four major camelina bioactives induced the detoxifying liver enzyme NQO1 when they were used alone. However, when a particular glucosinolate, GSL9, was paired with the flavonoid quercetin, there was a synergistic effect.

“When these two bioactives were combined, induction of the detoxifying liver enzyme increased nearly fivefold,” said Nilanjan Das, a postdoctoral student in Jeffery’s lab.

In all the experiments, the scientists used sulforaphane, the cancer-protective component of broccoli, as a control because it is known to induce NQO1, the detoxifying enzyme. Like camelina seed meal, broccoli contains the flavonoid quercetin, so they decided to look for synergy between sulforaphane and quercetin.

“As had been the case with camelina’s GSL9 and quercetin, the combined effect of quercetin and sulforaphane—in proportions found naturally in broccoli—was far greater than when either was used alone. This demonstrates to us the importance of eating whole foods. Thanks to synergy among its bioactive components, whole broccoli appears to be more powerful than purified sulforaphane that you might buy at a vitamin store or on the Internet,” Das said.

Nilanjan Das, Mark A. Berhow, Donato Angelina, and Elizabeth H. Jeffery are co-authors of “Camelina sativa Defatted Seed Meal Contains Both Alkyl Sulfinyl Glucosinolates and Quertecin that Synergize Bioactivity.” The article is available pre-publication online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Funding was provided by USDA.