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Agriculture's Global Challenges: Food Security, Bioenergy, and Biodiversity Building Educational and Research Partnerships with Brazil

Investigators
Czymmek, Kirk; Donofrio, Nicole; Sims, J Thomas
Institutions
University of Delaware
Start date
2011
End date
2014
Objective

1. Internationalize UD and UFLA Curricula: develop or enhance curricula related to food security, biodiversity, biofuels, and international trade for developed and developing countries, using the U.S. and Brazil as examples. UD undergraduates and UFLA graduate students will interact with faculty to develop teaching modules to be integrated into existing UD and UFLA courses and an online capstone course for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Visits to UFLA and other areas in Brazil by UD faculty and undergraduate interns will facilitate the development of curricula reflecting current real?world issues.

2. (i) UFLA Ph.D. students who have completed three years of their graduate program will receive funding from a UFLA Ph.D. "sandwich" program to conduct research at UD with UD faculty teams and (ii) UD graduate students and faculty will visit UFLA to view ongoing research conducted by UFLA cooperating faculty and obtain first?hand experiences on the nature of Brazil's agricultural, environmental, and ecological problems.

Expected Outputs:

1. Activities: Substantial mentoring, teaching and training of UD grad and undergraduate students through an international collaboration with the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Brazil. Students will gain an enhanced International perspective on global issues and will learn new problem-solving skills, as well as develop critical thinking through designing teaching modules. We will implement an assessment plan for the grad and undergraduate student experiences and teaching modules, for future improvements.

2. Events: Intensive training of seven UD undergraduate interns in multiple international aspects of agriculture and the environment through their interactions with UD and UFLA faculty in the development of teaching modules and their personal experiences during site visits to UFLA and other areas in Brazil. We will hold a university-wide symposium with members of the team from UD and UFLA, leading to widespread dissemination of project findings via the project website and publications.

3. Products: Products will include an online, "capstone" course for students at UD and UFLA that enriches their educational experiences and fosters further collaborations between UD and UFLA. Along these lines will be complete and assessed teaching modules to enhance the UD agricultural curricula. This project will foster an ongoing, well?established program with Brazil that enhances the global competence of UD faculty and students in areas of critical importance to the U.S. This project will bring greater competiveness to UD faculty for funding from international agencies to conduct long?term research with Brazilian colleagues. We will develop a UD-supported website that will house all information regarding and pertaining to this project, which will be updated on a regular basis. We will post the project goals and participants, slide-shows from Brazil trips,mteaching modules and links to the capstone course. We will reach out to "K-16" teachers in Delaware with a portal on the website dedicated to explaining the global importance of biofuels, biodiversity and food security.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
Our project with the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil (UFLA) really began two years ago when a colleague and Co-PI, Dr. Kirk Czymmek, gave a seminar at a meeting close to Lavras. There, he met Dr. dos Reis Figueira and they identified many common research interests between their two departments and colleagues. From that point on, we have had continued contact with UFLA, including the forging of an official International Partnership between our two universities, and a year-long visit from a UFLA faculty member working in the labs of Co-PIs Donofrio and Czymmek on a Brazilian ""sandwich"" program. Our goal for this USDA-ISE project was to diversify and expand our connections with UFLA, one of the leading agricultural universities in Brazil, with an eye towards enhancing and expanding the International experiences of University of Delaware's students and faculty members. Through conference calls and in-person visits, we have identified twenty-five faculty members, organized into specific ""teams"", between UD and UFLA that will be working together in the next three years to enhance student education, as well as faculty research programs. Everything that we both propose and achieve within this program will be listed on a website to begin development with the start of this project. UD will host the website, where we will list project goals, progress towards achieving them, completed teaching modules and links to the capstone course to be developed, blogs from students' visits to Brazil as well as slide shows. We will also develop a portal to reach out to K-16 teachers and students in Delaware and beyond, in order that they may convey to theirs students the importance of an international perspective when considering today's (and the future's) global challenges. During the course of these three years, we will train both undergrad and grad students in develop research and teaching programs with an international focus on five subject areas that define issues in the 21st Century: (1) Food safety and security; (2) Biofuels; (3) Animal Agriculture; (4) Biodiversity and (5) Economics of agricultural markets and trade.

APPROACH:
Methods will be carried out by faculty and student teams in 5 core areas: (1) Safe and Secure Food Supply: plant improvement, disease resistance, food safety; (2) Biofuels: biofuel production, impacts on soil and environmental quality, global energy policy, trade and economics, ethics, societal impacts; (3) Animal Agriculture: modernization and mitigation of environmental impacts of large?scale animal production, global dissemination and management of zoonotic diseases; (4) Biodiversity: implications of tropical forest loss or fragmentation on wildlife habitat, invasive species, loss of native plant species; (5) Economics of agricultural markets and trade in Brazil: causes and consequences of international trade policy, agricultural marketing, economic growth/development. 1. (A) Internationalize UD Curriculum: Teams will work with UD interns to develop comprehensive teaching modules for CANR courses during a 10-week internship. The process will consist of literature reviews, discussions with UD faculty and UFLA Ph.D. students in the "sandwich" program, and electronic communications with UFLA faculty in Brazil. (B) Experiential Learning: Teams and their interns will visit Brazil for four weeks to interact with UFLA participants to become familiar with agricultural/environmental successes and problems and how these contrast with those in developed countries. (C) Capstone Course: UD/UFLA faculty, with support from UD undergrad interns and visiting UFLA graduate students, will develop an online capstone course to be offered at both universities. 2. Building research links: In 2010, three UFLA faculty met with UD faculty in all CANR departments and identified many common areas of interest. UFLA Ph.D. students who have completed three years of their graduate program will receive funding from a UFLA Ph.D. "sandwich" program (stipend, travel, living expenses for 3 years at UFLA and one year at UD) to conduct research with a UD faculty team. Goals for these students are to learn advanced research techniques, publish in peer?reviewed journals, and help internationalize UD curricula. A team of UD researchers and graduate students will visit Brazil for four weeks to interact with UFLA faculty. Upon return, students will present seminars and help develop new undergraduate curricula for UD and UFLA. Teaching modules will be evaluated by faculty outside of our college who will answer a series of questions designed by both the faculty teams and a PLSC department Assessment Fellow. We will evaluate the student internship experiences through written and oral exit interviews, as well as having them generate a ""portfolio"" of their learning experience. The portfolio will contain the content of their teaching modules and/or capstone course as well as reports on any other experiences (i.e. visiting Brazil), and will be evaluated using a standard rubric designed by the faculty teams and the Assessment Fellow. The success of Objective 2 will be evaluated by the nature and strength of the research collaborations that arise, specifically defined by quality of papers published and proposals submitted and funded by the international faculty teams.

PROGRESS:
2011/09 TO 2012/08
OUTPUTS: The goals of our international project with the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Brazil are manifest in two objectives: (1) Internationalize UD and UFLA Curricula and (2) Build research links and partnerships between faculty and students at UD and UFLA that enhance graduate student education and research. Our work towards these goals is outlined below. Activities: PI Donofrio taught one course at UFLA in Brazil in March, 2012. Donofrio was accompanied by two co-PIs, Drs. Greg Shriver and Tom Powers. Two graduate students also came on this trip, Zachary Ladin (student of Dr. Shriver) and Emily Alff (advised by Dr. Bais, a co-PI on this project, and worked with Dr. Donofrio). Ms. Alff and Dr. Donofrio conducted a week long class on fungal transformation, in the lab of Dr. Eduardo Alves, Donofrio's collaborator. Since the beginning of this project, the co-PIs have mentored four UFLA students in their labs as part of the Brazil ""sandwich"" program; the Brazilian government pays for their stipend, while this USDA-ISE grant provides a supply budget for the hosting PI's lab. The students are Glauco Teixeira, who worked in the Donofrio lab, November 2011 - June 2012; Henrique Ferro in the Bais lab, November 2011 - November 2012; Silvino Moreira in the Donofrio lab, August 2012 - May 2013; Fabiano Perina in the Wisser lab, September 2012 - June 2013. The PIs on this grant are also mentoring four undergraduate interns from UD who applied and were accepted into our internship program. They have been working closely with UD PIs, as well as the visiting students and professors from UFLA, to generate ""modules"" for UD courses. These modules cover specific topics that (a) fit nicely into both Objectives 1 and 2 listed above and (b) help the undergraduates gain an international perspective of agriculture, economics and research ethics in a developing country with a booming agricultural sector. These modules will be taught in PI's courses in fall 2013, and spring 2014 at UD. Events: We hosted a ""mini-workshop"" at UD in October, 2011, where a soils science professor, Dr. Guilherme from UFLA came to UD with two graduate students and one post-doc. They each gave a presentation, and then there was time to make more connections between UD professors and the UFLA delegation. Dr. Guilherme has since sent his two graduate students to UD for the sandwich program. All of this was facilitated through this mini-workshop, partially supported with funds from this project. Products: As mentioned above, all of the co-PIs on this project have working drafts of course ""modules"" in hand, and these will be utilized in the next academic year, after the four interns travel to Lavras in June 2013. Dissemination: Email exchanges and visits have been the primary means of communication, however the in the final months of this project, UD will host a Symposium with co-PIs on this project and UFLA PIs and students. All proceedings will be recorded and added to the website, which will be developed over the coming months. This website will host all aspects of the project, and will be supported by the UD web developer, as described in our project narrative. PARTICIPANTS: There is a large team of researchers and students at UD working on this project, as listed below: Co-PIs: Dr. Donofrio: Lead PI on project; has traveled to UFLA in March 2012, and taught one course; has hosted two sandwich students from UFLA in her lab; has worked with one intern on course modules, and facilitates communication between PIs at UD and UFLA. Dr. Sims: Lead PI on project; has assisted with all accomodations for visitors from UFLA and has parlayed this project into an agreement between UD and UFLA for ""Science without Borders"", an undergraduate program for UD to host UFLA undergraduates for one year for classes and research. Was also the force behind interviewing and selecting team of four undergraduate interns for course module development. Dr. Shriver: Co-PI, traveled to UFLA in March 2012, will teach a course in June 2013, collaborates with a PI at UFLA, has worked with an intern on course module. Dr. Powers: Co-PI, traveled to UFLA in Match 2012, will travel there again in June 2013 to facilitate student exchange in research ethics and science policy. Dr. Wisser: Co-PI, will travel to UFLA in June 2013, is hosting one sandwich student in his lab. Dr. Bais: Co-PI, will travel to UFLA in June 2013, has hosted one sandwich student in his lab. Dr. Benson: Co-PI, will develop training certificate for UFLA in poultry practices, is working with intern. Dr. Taylor: Co-PI, is working with intern, and is a forage biologist. Dr. Barton: is working with intern, and will likely travel to UFLA in June 2013; Dr. Barton specializes in functional roadside landscapes, and is already very familiar with Rio de Janeiro, but wants to see other urban and rural settings. Dr. Kniel: Co-PI, traveled to UFLA in March 2011 with Dr. Awokuse (another co-PI on project) on other monies, but worked to set the stage for this project. Both are working with interns, and will likely take a sandwich student for next year to be co-advised. Interns: Four interns, Ms. Jaqueline Hoban, Ms. Melanie Allen, Ms. Sara Laskowski and Ms. Sarah Thorne, have been receiving a stipend, and working on course modules with UD professors since about May, 2012. Their stipends are finished, however the students have completed rough working drafts of approximately ten course modules. They will also travel to UFLA for the month of June, where they will attend courses, interview faculty and students, and put the final touches on their course modules and capstone course. Partner Organizations and collaborators: UFLA; Dr. Antonia dos Reis Figuera; Dr. Eduardo Alves, Dr. Julio Posada. Training and professional development: Thus far, the faculty who have traveled to Brazil have received professional development; for Donofrio and for other faculty who will teach courses there, this includes a formal certificate from UFLA, and teaching in an international setting, which requires a different skill set than teaching in the US. TARGET AUDIENCES: As mentioned in a previous section, one course has been taught at UFLA in March, 2012 on fungal transformation techniques. This was taught by PI Donofrio, and TAed by a UD graduate student, Ms. Emily Alff. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Project Modifications: Since the beginning of this project, we have lost Dr. Greg Binford, a nutrient management specialist, and Dr. Kirk Czymmek (a microscopy and fungal pathology expert), both of whom left UD for different jobs. We have since recruited onto the project Dr. Carl Schmidt, who is an evolutionary biologist, focusing on poultry. He brings his knowledge of evolution and bioinformatics expertise to this project, both of which were originally lacking. We would like to recruit Dr. Amy Shober, a nutrient management specialist to this project, however she just joined faculty at UD in September 2012, and so needs some time to adjust. We hope she will join starting in June 2013, for the final year of the project.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DEL00701
Accession number
225875
Categories
Food Defense and Integrity
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game