The Expertise of Our Faculty and Staff Reaches Beyond the Classroom

Stink Bugs Cost Pennsylvania Farmers Millions

Greg Krawczk

Greg Krawczyk, senior research associate in entomology, talked about the damage that the brown marmorated stink bug does to apples.

“Fruit loses visual appeal,” says Krawczyk. “Stink bugs destroy the looks of the crop. Apples that might sell for $1.50 per pound at a farmers market or grocery store will be sold for processing at one-tenth of that price if they are disfigured by stink bugs.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 11, 2014

Drink Green Tea on the Run to Lose Weight

Josh Lambert

Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science, discussed the findings of his recent study that suggested consumers could achieve weight loss through a combination of exercising and drinking green tea.

“What is significant about this research is that we report for the first time that voluntary exercise, in combination with green tea extract, reduced symptoms of metabolic syndrome and diet-induced obesity in high-fat-fed mice more significantly than either treatment alone,” says Lambert. Green tea, he says, “seems to modulate genes related to energy metabolism.”

The Oregonian, Portland, Ore., Jan. 3, 2015

Training Computers to Help Farmers Save Their Crops

David Hughes

David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology, described PlantVillage, a web-based, mobile program designed to help those who grow food crops around the world to “crowdsource” answers to plant problems.

During the Irish Potato Famine, Hughes notes, the government dispatched agricultural experts into the countryside to advise farmers. The idea spread throughout Europe and eventually the United States, where it exists today as the Cooperative Extension System, in which “people with science-based knowledge go out into the field sharing that information,” says Hughes. “That extension system was exported from the U.S. to parts of the developing world, like India and Mexico in the 1960s, ushering in the green revolution. Yet that didn’t reach Africa. But now Africa has hundreds of millions of mobile phones. Our vision is an extension of extension, imagining a mobile Green Revolution.”

Wired, Nov. 17, 2014

Philanthropist Howard Buffett Backs Brown Revolution in Africa

Jonathan Lynch

Partnering with university researchers, including Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation hopes to improve irrigation methods and to develop drought-resistant crop varieties that can produce higher yields from poorer soils like those found in many parts of Africa. A recent news story discussed Lynch’s work on the foundation’s research farm in Arizona.

“The site in Arizona is useful for us because it is a high desert environment, where we can reproduce heat and drought as stresses,” says Lynch. “Once we have a plant that’s drought tolerant here, it’s likely that those same mechanisms are going to give us drought tolerance in Rwanda or anywhere else.”

Al Jazeera America, Feb. 1, 2015

Alabama College Student Dishes Up Insects

Audrey Maretzki

Audrey Maretzki, professor emeritus of food science and nutrition, commented for a national media story about a college student in Alabama who spent 30 days supplementing his usual college diet with an unusual ingredient: insects. Camren Brantley-Rios, a senior at Auburn University, experimented with turning creepy-crawly ingredients into delicious dishes.

“Much of the rest of the world—Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia certainly—it’s an important part of their diet,” said Maretzki. “They’re high in protein and high in calories. They’ve got other trace minerals. It makes them a desirable part of the diet.”, Feb. 18, 2015