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While many people recognize that clean water and air are signs of a healthy ecosystem, most do not realize that a critical part of the environment is right beneath their feet.

Dana James has always been ambitious. In high school while peers were putting in a few local community service hours, she chose to volunteer in Guatemala. She approached her college education 
with the same above-and-beyond attitude.

Since becoming the Commonwealth’s sole land-grant institution in 1863, it has been Penn State’s goal to offer its students a practical education to enter the workforce and provide service to their communities. Perhaps no alumnus has better carried out Penn State’s original mission than Calvin H. Waller, the University’s first African American graduate.

Kelcey Grogan was named by the Ag Alumni Society as outstanding senior in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences Class of 2013.

Robert Van Saun, professor of veterinary science, has been selected to receive the Ag Alumni Society’s 2013 Excellence in Academic Advising Award. The award recognizes overall effectiveness in student advising, individual student goal-setting and career planning, and personal counseling.

The number-one turfgrass program in the nation hit a hole-in-one this year: all three major U.S. golf tournaments were hosted at courses run by Penn State turfgrass grads

May 2013 officially marks one year of my adventure as the Ag Alumni Society intern. What a year it has been!

In July, Roxanne Molnar ’99 Food Sci became president of the Ag Alumni Society. You’ve probably seen her at alumni events, but did you know these fun facts about her?

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!

The stories in our magazine, in part, reflect changes—in research, education, and how our alumni engage the world. But this issue reflects a change that underlies every story you read.

Lignin is nature’s plastic. It gives plants the ability to stand tall and to withstand weather, insects, and diseases. But while lignin is useful for plants, it’s an obstacle to humans who want to use cellulose—a type of sugar found in plant cells that is tightly interwoven with lignin—to make biofuels.

Managing bacteria and other microorganisms in the body, rather than just fighting them, may lead to better health and a stronger immune system, according to Eric Harvill, professor of microbiology and infectious disease.

David Geiser, professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology, talks to Steve Williams about Fusarium.

The Jordan Soil Fertility Plots were the oldest extensive fertility plots in North America used to determine the best lime and fertilizer conditions for growing crops profitably.

For many crops in Pennsylvania, particularly no-till grain crops, slugs are a serious pest.

While a national search for a permanent replacement is under way, Barbara Christ has been named interim dean of the college.

Andrew Read and Matthew Thomas have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mark Brennan will hold the UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development in the college.

Team Green, a five-student team, won the 2012 AG Springboard Competition for developing technology for hydroponics greenhouses for spatially constrained environments using discarded shipping containers.