The Expertise of Our Faculty and Staff Reaches Beyond the Classroom

Why $7-Per-Gallon Milk Looms Once Again

[Going over the "dairy cliff" without a new farm bill] "would be terrible," says Jim Dunn, professor of agricultural economics at Penn State University. "Every refrigerated warehouse in the United States would be full of cheese and butter," he says, "and nonrefrigerated milk warehouses would be full of powdered milk."

National Public Radio, Dec. 4, 2013

Gas Pipeline Boom Fragmenting Pennsylvania Forests

"Pipelines are going in and dissecting forest habitats and creating corridors within (them)," said Margaret Brittingham [professor of wildlife resources], an ecologist at Penn State University who has been studying the impact of gas drilling on forest habitats, concentrating on songbirds in Pennsylvania.

Brittingham and her colleagues predict that as more forest territory is chopped up into smaller pieces, habitat for specialists—species that require a specific set of conditions for survival—will decrease, which may in turn lead to their extinction. Those include the scarlet tanager, the blue-headed vireo and the hooded warbler. In contrast, animals that tend to do well around people will likely increase in number. Raccoons, deer, crows and blue jays are among them.

"It’s a shift in the competitive advantages that you give species," Brittingham said. "It’s biotic homogenization."

Bloomberg News, Dec. 10, 2013

Is Horticulture A Withering Field?

Horticulturists in both countries say the crisis has been building for decades, greatly influenced by the globalization of the food and flower trades, the population shift from farm to city, and the loss of personal connection to the land. “When do most people get interested in plants now?” asked Richard Marini, head of Pennsylvania State University’s plant science department. “Usually, when they buy a house, and by then, they’re out of college.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 7, 2014

Penn State Device Asks: Which Shoes Are Safe?

Athletes like a lot of linear traction so they can start and stop quickly. But Pennfoot measures its unwanted cousin: rotational traction—the amount of torque exerted on the shoe when it tries to pivot.

With too much torque, the shoe sticks in the grass while the leg keeps twisting and—pop! There goes the anterior cruciate ligament.

“You want the shoe to pivot with you,” said Tom Serensits, manager of the university’s Center for Sports Surface Research.

[Turfgrass Science Professor Andrew] McNitt is an avid football fan, but as he flips among games on Sundays, his eyes also are trained on traction. “How much do you need to make the moves that football players make?” he said. “At what point does it become dangerous?”

Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 9, 2013