1. K-State home
  2. »Ag Report
  3. »faculty
  4. »Department Updates

Ag Report


Department Updates

Agricultural Economics

Tim Dalton, professor and director of the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab, serves as chair of the U.S. Agency for International Development Feed the Future Innovation Lab Council.

Barry Flinchbaugh, professor emeritus, offered insight on the next Farm Bill during a session at Cattlemen's Day on March 3.


Mary Beth Kirkham, professor, was elected an honorary member of the International Union of Soil Sciences at its Inter-Congress Meeting in Rio de Janeiro. She was the only person from the U.S. elected as an honorary member in 2016 and the first American woman to be elected. Kirkham will be recognized at the next World Congress of Soil Science in August 2018.

Curtis Thompson, professor and extension state leader, was recognized as a fellow of the North Central Weed Science Society at the organization's annual meeting.

Colby Moorberg, assistant professor, represents the university on the National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils, part of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

P.V. Vara Prasad, university distinguished professor, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Four researchers — Nathan Nelson, Peter Tomlinson, DeAnn Presley, and Gerard Kluitenberg — were awarded a three-year, $468,599 grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The funding will be used to collect additional data on soil health for an existing project that is investigating cover crop and fertilizer management effects on water quality. It also will establish an on-farm demonstration site to illustrate the effects of cover crops on water quality and soil health.

Gretchen Sassenrath, associate professor, is developing a soil health research program in southeast Kansas in an effort to better understand the mechanisms contributing to soil erosion and the extent of erosion in crop production fields.

Animal Sciences and Industry

Chloe Creager, junior in animal sciences and industry, Olpe, was selected as a new research ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Michael Dikeman, professor emeritus, was named a 2016 K-State Open Access All Star for being one of the single authors with the most archive articles within the K-State Research Exchange. K-REx provides a platform to collect, preserve, and discover the creative and scholarly works of K-State students, staff, and faculty.

As of March 13, Curtis Kastner, professor emeritus, had 103 articles deposited in K-REx with 164,808 views or downloads.

Larry Berger, former faculty member at University of Illinois (1978–2009) and former department head at University of Nebraska (retired July 2016), was honored as the 2016 Animal Sciences and Industry Distinguished Alumnus on December 7.

Faculty and students hosted the biennial Kansas Junior Swine Producer Day on March 11. Participants included about 430 youth, parents, extension agents, and swine project leaders from 55 Kansas and two Nebraska counties. Topics included project selection, meat science, breeds and ear notching, proper grooming and clipping, nutrition and management, Youth Pork Quality Assurance® Plus training and certification, daily care, the state nomination process, and Veterinary Feed Directive impacts on show feed and showmanship.

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Ajay Sharda, assistant professor, leads a nearly $500,000 USDA/Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant to advance robust models for irrigation scheduling and practices for efficient on-farm water management.

Other grant partners include Professor Danny Rogers, William Hsu and Pavritha Prabhakar from computer science, and Richard Wang, assistant professor at the University of Kansas.

College of Agriculture Nina Lilja, associate dean for international agriculture programs, currently serves as chair of the International Agriculture Section of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Board on Agriculture Assembly.

Communications and Agricultural Education

Kristina Boone, professor and department head, was among six distinguished alumni honored by Texas Tech University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. After more than 20 years at K-State, Boone has accepted the position of director at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute.

Jason Ellis (B.S. '98 animal sciences/agricultural journalism), associate professor in the department, was selected interim department head.

Diversity Programs Office

Zelia Wiley, interim associate provost for diversity, received a 2017 Spirit of Martin Luther King Community Service Award, from Manhattan's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee.


Frannie Miller, integrated pest management coordinator, was the national winner in the Search for Excellence Award in Farm Health and Safety from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. She also received the 2016 Communicator of the Year Award from the K-State Department of Communications and Agricultural Education.

Grain Science and Industry

Yong-Cheng Shi, professor, received the Phil Williams Applied Research Award from the AACC International for his distinguished contributions to cereal science. He also was named a fellow of the organization.

Horticulture and Natural Resources

Sid Stevenson, associate professor, Bill Horvath, Master Angler from Leavenworth, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism hosted a Fishing's Future youth instructor training clinic in Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center on Feb. 25. About 60 participants, including 12 students, were certified (pending background checks) through the workshop. Fishing's Future is a national program with substantial Kansas participation.

Park Management and Conservation students won the annual student leadership award at the Kansas Recreation and Park Association annual conference. Students also volunteered as session moderators and registration/welcome assistants. Faculty members Ted Cable, Jeffrey Skibins, and Sid Stevenson presented keynote lectures on interpretation and connecting people to parks.

K-State Research and Extension

JoEllyn Argabright, Rawlins County director, was named secretary of the northwest Kansas multicounty Western Prairie Food Farm and Community Alliance.

Awards at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents: Stacy Campbell, Ellis County agriculture and natural resources agent, Distinguished Service Award; Abbie Powell, Marais des Cygnes District agriculture and natural resources/4-H agent, Achievement Award.

Plant Pathology

A team of scientists led by Bikram Gill, university distinguished professor and director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, isolated and cloned a gene that provides resistance to Fusarium head blight, one of the most destructive wheat diseases. Their findings are published online in the journal Nature Genetics. The article details about 20 years of research that included scientists in China and several American universities. The day after a Nov. 1 K-State news release by Pat Melgares, the publication ranked as the top story on NSF Science 360.

Harold Trick, professor; Timothy Todd, instructor; and Jiarui Li, research assistant professor, have designed and patented a soybean variety that protects against nematode parasitic infestation. The new variety could potentially save the soybean industry millions of dollars per year.

Barbara Valent, university distinguished professor, was in Washington, D.C., to encourage stronger funding of agricultural and food science in the 2018 Farm Bill. She leads a team that has developed new insight on managing rice blast disease, which is already a problem in the U.S. The devastating wheat blast fungus only occurs in South America and, most recently, in Bangladesh, and the team has developed the tools to quickly detect and try to defeat the fungus if it appears on U.S. wheat.

In Memoriam

C. Stephen Scheneman, 68, Columbia, Missouri, died Jan. 29, 2017. He came to K-State in 1989 as leader of extension professional and organizational development. He had instituted a statewide master's degree program for agents while at Virginia Tech University and continued that focus with K-State Research and Extension. He retired from this position in 2001.

Hyde S. Jacobs, 90, Manhattan, died Sept. 8, 2016. He served K-State in many capacities from 1957 to 1995: director, Kansas Water Resources Research Institute and the Kansas Evapotranspiration Laboratory; agronomy department head; assistant director, Cooperative Extension and director of agricultural programs; assistant to the dean of agriculture; legislative liaison; and Agriculture 2000 Committee coordinator. During his tenure as department head, construction of Throckmorton Hall Phase 1 was initiated, the statewide network of area extension agronomists was completed, and private funding for crop improvement research
was enhanced.