College of ACES
College News


A South African perspective on doctor/child/teacher relationships

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Monsanto Room, ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin, Urbana

Presented by Dr. Jawaya Shea, Director of the Child Health Unit in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Shea specializes in neonatal intensive care, public health and health administration. She worked within the Peninsula Maternal and Neonatal Services in Cape Town as a clinician and educator before joining the Western Cape Community Partnership Project team at the University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 1995 to advance community-based education, problem-based learning and collaborative curriculum development with academics, health service providers and communities. In 1997 she joined the Child Health Unit at the University of Cape Town to transform a block-release Masters program into a technology-based, mixed-mode program incorporating problem-based learning and community-based education.

She has considerable expertise in obstetric and neonatal health care, public health, primary health care, health systems management, health promotion, human resources for health (the public health workforce), policy development, child rights and advocacy, adolescent health, reproductive health, the integrated management of childhood illness, challenges and controversies that effect HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and control, communicable disease prevention and management, health information systems, essential support services, project management, good clinical practice, partnerships with human subjects in clinical research, and health systems research.

Her research and publication interests include maternal health, neonatal health, reproductive health, health promotion research, adolescent participation in clinical research, health workforce research, health behavior and lifestyle choices that impact on health, HIV & AIDS research, PMTCT program evaluation, educational research and policy analysis.

She also has expertise in curriculum development, adult learning practices, problem-based learning, community-based education, elearning, and integrated assessment practices in health professions education and training.

Her current focus is on the learning challenges in adult learners with interrupted learning trajectories and children living with HIV.

Jawaya was the UCT coordinationor for the Erasmus Mundus Master's in International Health Program and was a scholar to charite University in Berlin, Queen Margaret university in Scotland, and KIT in The Netherlands.


Earth Week 2015 Speaker Jacquelyn Ottman April 22nd

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room 149 NSRC, 1101 West Peabody Drive, Urbana, IL


Green marketing guru Jacquelyn Ottman will inspire the University of Illinois
community to adopt a no-waste mindset and share some of her own story of
incorporating environmental values into her career and help her audience
find ways to do the same.

Immediately after the keynote will be an awards ceremony for the Certified
Green Office Program, Greeks Go Green, and Campus Conservation
Nationals (Eco-Olympics). Reception to follow.

This event is co-sponsored by:

Act Green
Student Organization Resource Fee
Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
Students for Environmental Concerns

Don’t forget about marestail

Published April 15, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - The harsh realities of poor marestail control with burndown herbicides applied before soybean planting were widespread during the 2013 growing season, according to a University of Illinois Extension weed scientist.

“We anticipated even more challenges with this species for the 2014 growing season, but by and large the forecasted marestail ‘train wreck’ did not materialize in much of the state,” said Aaron Hager.  

Fall herbicide applications coupled with a harsh winter that caused a high degree of mortality to winter annual weed species most likely contributed to a reduced population of marestail last spring.  However, Hager cautioned that it is unwise to assume that a lower marestail population last year will translate into a low marestail population this year.

“It’s not too early to apply herbicides to control emerged marestail in fields that will be planted to soybean,” Hager said. “The small marestail plants we have currently will be much easier to control than the larger plants that will be encountered in several weeks.

“Consider an early herbicide application targeted for marestail control and application of soil-residual herbicides for summer annual weeds closer to soybean planting,” he added.

Hager also recommends recently published suggestions from Mark Loux, an Extension weed scientist at The Ohio State University to improve marestail control with burndown herbicides. These suggestions can be found at

Award winners recognized at College of ACES banquet

Published April 14, 2015

URBANA -- The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) honored outstanding faculty and staff at the annual Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards Banquet held Monday, April 13, at Pear Tree Estate in rural Champaign, Ill.

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award is the College of ACES' highest honor. It is presented annually to faculty for outstanding achievement and major contributions to the betterment of agriculture, natural resources, and human systems, said ACES Dean Robert Hauser, host of the evening's award ceremony.

The awards program was established in 1970 by the Paul A. Funk Foundation of Bloomington, Ill., as a memorial to the late Paul A. Funk, who attended the college as a member of the class of 1929 and devoted his life to agriculture.

The three recipients of the Funk Awards—Elvira de Mejia of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Brian Diers of Crop Sciences, and Alan Hansen of Agricultural and Biological Engineering—headlined this year's ceremony.

The Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award went to Scott Irwin of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Karen Chapman-Novakofski of Food Science and Human Nutrition received the Faculty Award for Global Impact.

The five recipients of the ACES Alumni Association Award of Merit were: Dan Hoge, ’66, B.S., Animal Sciences, ’68, M.S., Animal Sciences, Cambridge, Ill.; Susan Johnson, ’93, Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, Louisville, Colo.; Daniel Kittle, ’78, M.S., Plant Pathology, ’80, Ph.D., Plant Pathology, Carmel, Ind.; Gregory Oltman, ’72, B.S., Ornamental Horticulture, Barrington, Ill.; and Kenna Rathai, ’93, B.S., Ag Communications, Saint Anne, Ill.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Soo-Yeun Lee of Food Science and Human Nutrition, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Animal Sciences, and Ryan Dilger, Animal Sciences, received the Senior Faculty Award and College Faculty Award, respectively, for Excellence in Research.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Mohammad Babadoost of Crop Sciences, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

The Teaching Associate Teaching Award was given to Margaret Norton of Crop Sciences.

The John Clyde and Henrietta Downey Spitler Teaching Award went to Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development.

The Team Award for Excellence went to the members of the STRONG* Kids/I-TOPP** team: Kelly Bost, Human and Community Development; David Buchner, Kinesiology and Community Health; Sharon Donovan, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development; Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, Kinesiology and Community Health; Craig Gunderson, Agricultural and Consumer Economics; Jessica Hartke, Nutritional Sciences; Charles Hillman, Kinesiology and Community Health; Rodney Johnson, Animal Sciences; Brenda Koester; Human and Community Development; Soo-Yeun Lee, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Janet Liechty, School of Social Work; Brent McBride, Human and Community Development; Salma Musaad, Human and Community Development; Margarita Teran-Garcia, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Jennifer Themanson, Human and Community Development; Donna Whitehill, Nutritional Sciences; and Angela Wiley, Human and Community Development. (*Synergistic Theory and Research on Obesity and Nutrition Group, **Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program)

The Professional Staff Awards for Excellence were given to Elizabeth Reutter, Food Science and Human Nutrition, for Sustained Excellence in Advising, Teaching, and Outreach; Lowell Gentry, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, for Sustained Excellence in Research; and Linda Tortorelli, Human and Community Development, for Innovation and Creativity.

Luis Mejia, Food Science and Human Nutrition, received the Service Recognition Award.

Dianne Carson of Crop Sciences and Donna Stites of Agricultural and Consumer Economics received the Staff Award for Excellence. Maria Rund, Human and Community Development, was awarded the Marcella M. Nance Staff Award.

The Graduate Student Research Awards went to Kale Monk, Human and Community Development, and Laura Chatham, Crop Sciences, for Ph.D. work and M.S. work, respectively.

Louis V. Logeman Graduate Student Teaching Awards were given to Adam Ahlers, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Kimberly Crossman, Human and Community Development.

For more information and videos, go to


Could the corn carryout really reach 2 billion bushels?

Published April 13, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – The last time the United States ended a marketing year with more than 2 billion bushels of corn was 2004-05. At that point in time the “old era” marketing-year average corn price was $2.06 per bushel. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist John Newton, while “new era” corn prices have experienced record highs, those high prices have been reduced on the back of record corn production in 2014.  Now, followed by weaker-than-anticipated first-half implied feed and residual use of corn, some expect the 2014-15 marketing-year ending stocks of corn to be within reach of 2 billion bushels. Recent trade guesses for 2014-15 marketing year, corn-ending stocks averaged 1,854 million bushels, and ranged from 1,750 to 1,999 million bushels.

“On the bright side, with respect to both old- and new-crop grain prices, the consumption levels needed to reach a 2-billion-bushel carryout result in a stocks-to-use ratio of only 14.8 percent,” Newton said. “Based on a recent price and stocks-to-use analysis, the implied corn price associated with a 2-billion-bushel carryout may be consistent with the current marketing-year projection of $3.70 per bushel.

“The cause for concern is the price implications associated with a potentially big crop in 2015 given anticipations for a large carryout in 2014-15,” Newton added. “March intentions revealed expectations for 89.2 million acres of corn planted in 2015. If stocks come in above current projections, a larger-than-projected corn yield with marginally lower corn consumption would combine to push corn prices in 2015-16 to prices below those currently experienced.”

Newton provided this review of the ongoing pace of corn consumption by category as it pertains to potential beginning stocks for 2015-16.

Based on the March 1 Grain Stocks report implied feed and residual use for the first half of the marketing year was 3,648 million bushels. This total represents 69 percent of the USDA’s marketing-year projection of 5,250 million bushels. (April 13 USDA Feed Outlook will provide revised estimates of feed and residual use.) In previous years the percent of first-half feed and residual use has varied from 64 percent during 1996-97 to 2005-06 to as high as 74 percent during the most recent 2010-11 to 2013-14 marketing years. Applying these historical percentages to the implied first-half feed and residual use suggests a wide range for the 2014-15 marketing year between 4,900 and 5,700 million bushels.

“It is no coincidence that following the March 1 stocks report the average trade guess for corn-ending stocks fell within a 250 million bushel range,” Newton said.

A similar situation emerged last year following the March 1 stocks report. At the time, the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE) projection for 2013-14 feed and residual use was 5,300 million bushels and first-half feed use was 3,765 million bushels, approximately 71 percent of the WASDE projection. Ultimately, feed and residual use declined to 5,036 million bushels, with first-half use representing 75 percent of the marketing-year total.

“It is possible that a similar situation is emerging and feed and residual use could be revised downward as the marketing year continues,” Newton said. “However, at this point there is no evidence to suggest an overly bearish or bullish perspective on feed and residual use. Recent expansion in livestock supports higher feed use than last year, and the USDA projection of 5,250 represents a midpoint of possible outcomes.”

With respect to exports, Newton said the April 9 USDA WASDE projections have 2014-15 corn exports at 1,800 million bushels. USDA’s April 6 Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) report indicated that as of the week of April 2, cumulative corn exports for the 2014-15 marketing year totaled 917 million bushels. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Global Agricultural Trade System census data through February 2015 indicate that corn exports totaled 810 million bushels and were 65 million bushels higher than the FGIS inspection numbers through February. Newton said that, assuming this pace continues, corn exports through February may be as high as 982 million bushels, representing approximately 55 percent of the projected WASDE total.

In addition to corn already exported, the April 9 USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Export Sales Report (FAS) revealed 566 million bushels of outstanding corn export sales. Combining the outstanding sales with the implied export volume, sales remain 252 million bushels short of the WASDE projection.

“With nearly 60 percent of the marketing year in the books, corn exports need to accelerate in order to reach the 1,800 million bushel WASDE projection,” Newton said.  “The current slow pace suggests that corn exports could fall marginally short of the WASDE goal.

“Combining first-quarter Feed Outlook estimates of corn use for ethanol with the USDA April 1 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report suggests first-half corn use for ethanol at 2,582 million bushels,” Newton said. “This total represents approximately 50 percent of the WASDE projection for the 2014-15 marketing year. Additionally, Energy Information Administration (EIA) ethanol plant production data show marketing-year total ethanol production of 8.6 billion gallons through the week ending April 3, 2015. This total is 5 percent above prior-year ethanol production levels. While some may point to a slowdown in corn use for ethanol in recent months based on Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production data, this slowdown could be attributable to seasonal ethanol-yield variations.”

Newton concluded that, collectively, the pace of corn consumption for ethanol, exports, and feed and residual use is supportive of current WASDE projections. “A 2-billion-bushel carryout seems like a distant, and unlikely, outcome given current consumption indicators. USDA’s June 30 stocks report should provide additional clarity on the ongoing pace of corn consumption.”





News Source:

John Newton, 217-300-1051

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

First report of a new crop virus in North America

Published April 10, 2015
Switchgrass leaf samples from which a new mastrevirus was identified show mosaic symptoms. Photo courtesy of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

URBANA, Ill. - The switchgrass exhibited mosaic symptoms—splotchy, discolored leaves—characteristic of a viral infection, yet tested negative for known infections. Deep sequencing, a new technology, revealed the plants were infected with a new virus in the genus mastrevirus, the first of its kind found in North America.

University of Illinois scientists reported in Archives of Virology evidence of the new mastrevirus, tentatively named switchgrass mosaic-associated virus 1 (SgMaV-1). Other members of the mastrevirus genus, a group of DNA viruses, are known to be responsible for decimating yields in staple food crops (including corn, wheat, and sugarcane) throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It has never been reported in North America.

Many mastreviruses are transmitted from plant to plant by leafhoppers. The rate of infection rises with leafhopper populations, which can cause widespread epidemics and complete yield loss in some crops. Researchers are not sure what vector transmits SgMaV-1 and the impacts of the virus on switchgrass biomass yield, nor do they know what other crops the new virus affects. 

“My fear is that this virus is in corn and wheat, and we are not even aware of it,” said first author Bright Agindotan, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Energy Biosciences Institute, housed within the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “It’s like when you are sick and go to the hospital, but the doctors say nothing is wrong with you because they only test for what they know.”

To be considered the same species in the mastrevirus genus, two viruses must share a minimum of 75 percent of the same genome. Agindotan and his team found two virus isolates that shared 88 percent of the same genome, but just 56-57 percent of any other known mastrevirus. These two isolates are strains of SgMaV-1.

Researchers tested 17 switchgrass varieties that had mosaic symptoms at the EBI Energy Farm. They detected the new virus in all but one variety, called Shenandoah. Switchgrass is a perennial crop, so these infected plants will continue to grow and accumulate the virus year after year, serving as a reservoir for the virus.

“We don't know the impact of this virus on the biomass yield of the energy crops,” said Agindotan, who is currently a research assistant professor at Montana State University. “We don't know if this virus will affect cereal crops. We don't know the specific leafhoppers that transmit it, assuming it is transmitted by leafhoppers like other members of the mastrevirus genus.”

The mosaic symptoms may have been caused by SgMaV-1, another type of virus infecting the plant, or some combination of the two. In future studies, virus-free plants will need to be infected with SgMaV-1 to see which species are vulnerable and what symptoms emerge. Additional research will determine infectivity, host range, pathogenicity, epidemiology, and vector transmission of SgMaV-1.

“The world is like a global village,” Agindotan said. “Plants are imported into United States legally (and illegally) after being certified free of a list of restricted pests. The list is based on known pests. So, it is possible to import plants infected with unknown pests. The origin of the new virus is unknown, but it is most closely related to members of the mastrevirus genus found in Australia.

“You can only test for what you know. Using a technology that detects both known and unknown pathogens is a good tool for food safety and biosecurity,” Bright concluded.

Associate professor of crop sciences Carl Bradley, also a member of the IGB, and assistant professor of crop sciences Leslie Domier contributed to this work. The paper, “Detection and characterization of the first North American mastrevirus in switchgrass,” is available online (DOI 10.1007/s00705-015-2367-5).

This research was supported by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a public-private collaboration where bioscience and biological techniques are applied to help solve the global energy challenge. The partnership, funded by energy company BP, includes researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and BP.

News Source:

Carl Bradley, 217-244-7415

News Writer:

Claire Sturgeon

Two University of Illinois food scientists receive USDA food safety grants

Published April 9, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Two University of Illinois professors have received $861,714 in grant money from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to fund research that will improve the nation’s food quality.

A four-year grant for nearly $500,000 was awarded to Pawan Takhar, a U of I associate professor of food engineering, to study damage to foods caused by ice recrystallization during freeze-thaw cycles. Shyam S. Sablani, associate professor of biological systems engineering at Washington State University, is a co–principal investigator on the project.

“Millions of dollars’ worth of food products are damaged during shipping and storing due to moisture migration and ice crystal growth caused by freeze-thaw cycles. Data generated from our physics-based mathematical modeling and experimentation will help the food industry improve the operation and design of its freezing units,” Takhar said.

Youngsoo Lee, a U of I assistant professor of food science, was awarded a USDA NIFA grant for over $360,000 for research that will enable food manufacturers to design solid food systems that will enhance saltiness and achieve sodium reduction in a broad range of products.

“Six in 10 American adults either have high blood pressure or are on the borderline of this diagnosis largely because they eat too much salt,” he explained.

Because 70 percent of the salt Americans consume comes from processed foods, Lee studies the relationship between the microstructural properties of these foods and the way salt is released when it is chewed.

“Much of the salt that is added to processed foods is not released in our mouths where we can taste it, and that means the rest of the salt is wasted,” he said. “We want to alter porosity in these foods to see if we can get more of the salt to be released during chewing. Then food manufacturers won’t have to add as much salt as before, but the consumer will taste almost the same amount of saltiness.”

Soo-Yeun Lee, a U of I associate professor of food science, and Jan Ilavsky, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, are co–principal investigators on Lee’s grant-funded research.



Scientists tackle our addiction to salt and fat by altering foods' pore size, number

Published April 9, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Two University of Illinois food scientists have learned that understanding and manipulating porosity during food manufacturing can affect a food’s health benefits.

Youngsoo Lee reports that controlling the number and size of pores in processed foods allows manufacturers to use less salt while satisfying consumers’ taste buds. Pawan Takhar has found that meticulously managing pore pressure in foods during frying reduces oil uptake, which results in lower-fat snacks without sacrificing our predilection for fried foods’ texture and taste.

Both scientists are experts in food engineering and professors in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Regarding salt, Lee said, “Six in 10 American adults either have high blood pressure or are on the borderline of this diagnosis largely because they eat too much salt. Overconsuming salt is also associated with the development and severity of cardiovascular and bone diseases, kidney stones, gastric cancer, and asthma.”

Because 70 percent of the salt Americans consume comes from processed foods, Lee began to study the relationship between the microstructural properties of these foods and the way salt is released when it is chewed.

“Much of the salt that is added to these foods is not released in our mouths where we can taste it, and that means the rest of the salt is wasted,” he said. “We wanted to alter porosity in processed food, targeting a certain fat–protein emulsion structure, to see if we could get more of the salt released during chewing. Then food manufacturers won’t have to add as much salt as before, but the consumer will taste almost the same amount of saltiness.”

Increasing porosity also changed the way the foods broke apart when they were chewed, exposing more surface area and increasing saltiness, he said.

“When foods crumble easily, we further reduce the amount of salt that is needed. Changing the number or size of pores in the food’s surface can help us to accomplish this,” he said.

Takhar said that his porous media approach to understanding the behavior of water, oil, and gas during frying will help create strategies that optimize the frying process, reduce oil uptake, and produce lower-fat foods.

The articles Takhar publishes in academic journals feature page after page of complex mathematical equations that describe the physics involved in the transport of fluids and in textural changes in foods. These equations then guide the simulations that he performs in his laboratory.

“Frying is such a complicated process involving more than 100 equations. In a matter of seconds, when you put the food in the fryer, water starts evaporating, vapors form and escape the surface, oil penetration starts, and heat begins to rise while at the same time there’s evaporative cooling off at different points in the food. Some polymers in the food matrix may also change their state, and chemical reactions can occur. It’s not an easy set of changes to describe,” he said.

Within 40 seconds of frying, the texture of gently fried processed foods like crackers is fully developed, the scientist said. “That’s the cracker’s peak texture. Any longer and you’re just allowing more oil to penetrate the food.

“A lot of frying research has focused on capillary pressure in the oil phase of the process, but we have found that capillary pressure in the water phase also critically affects oil uptake,” Takhar said.

Capillary pressure makes overall pore pressure negative, and that negative pressure tends to suck oil from inside. His simulations show when that pressure is becoming more negative.

“The trick is to stop when pore pressure is still positive (or less negative)—that is, when oil has had less penetration. Of course, other variables such as moisture level, texture, taste, and structure formation, must be monitored as well. It’s an optimization problem,” he noted.

When this exquisite balance is achieved, lower-fat, healthier fried foods are the result, he added.

“Temporal Sodium Release Related to Gel Microstructural Properties—Implications for Sodium Reduction” was published in a recent issue of Journal of Food Science. Lee and Wan-Yuan Kuo are co-authors of the study, which will continue to be funded by USDA. “Modeling Multiscale Transport Mechanisms, Phase Changes, and Thermomechanics during Frying” was published in a recent issue of Food Research International. Co-authors are Takhar and Harkirat S. Bansal of the U of I and Jirawan Maneerote of Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand. The Takhar study was funded by USDA and the Royal Thai Government.

Eimly Becker
Students are shown the way to succeed and are reassured that support is there for the bad days.
Springfield, Illinois

The satisfaction of looking around a full dining room to see smiling faces enjoying friendly conversation, beautiful plates of delicious food, and a skilled team performing their “dance” from table to table is what food science and human nutrition (FSHN) alum Emily Becker loves most about her job. Great service and attention to detail are the keys to success in hospitality management, and Emily loves catering to peoples’ needs.

“It gives me such joy to know that I helped make a positive hospitality experience possible, whether it is a special occasion or just a midweek lunch,” Emily says. “Our staff are trained to be observant and take note of details, which can make a big difference in the life of someone’s membership. The private club industry emphasizes exceeding expectations with every encounter. It gives me great pleasure when a server excitedly tells me about delivering a ‘wow’ moment.”

Emily’s focus on excellence has contributed to her success in the world of hospitality and has helped her apply herself in the workplace. The hospitality industry centers around kindness and courtesy, and her experiences in relationship-building have taken her farther than she ever thought possible. Emily is confident in her ability to maintain healthy relationships with guests and employees because of her University of Illinois experience.

“The professional and personal confidence I gained as a student at the University of Illinois really helped set me apart from other young professionals,” Emily says. “The confidence was a direct byproduct of feeling not just prepared for but excited about succeeding in the real world, thanks to the relevant and challenging curriculum, talented and supportive educators, and diverse and prestigious student peers.”

Emily says that her activities at the U of I reinforced the university’s commitment to excellence. She was a member of Kappa Delta sorority and the Hospitality Management Association. Serving on her sorority’s executive council for 3 years strengthened her leadership skills.

“The U of I encouraged leadership, and I’ve felt those effects in what I do today,” Emily says. “When you’re surrounded by the best, you feel compelled to rise to a higher level, raise your hand, and get involved. Students are shown the way to succeed and are reassured that support is there for the bad days. In that way, the U of I is like really great parents—and I don’t think the same can be said for other academic institutions.”


Save the Date Auction

6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tent between Mumford Hall and ACES LIAC

Proceeds benefit the "I Pay It Forward Students Helping Students" campaign.