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News Briefs

Corpse Flower Blooms

After more than 15 years of greenhouse growth, an unusual flower bloomed in a K-State greenhouse. About 1,500 people flocked to see and smell the rare, tree-like flowering plant.

Chad Miller, associate professor of landscape horticulture, explains the plant’s growth cycle to Elizabeth Dodd, university distinguished professor of English. 

The Amorphophallus titanum, more commonly known as titan arum as well as “corpse flower,” was cultivated by former faculty members, Ken and Janet Schroeder, around 2001. This is the first time it has bloomed.

“The ‘flower’ is actually a conglomerate of florets, creating an inflorescence,” said Miller. “And this species happens to produce the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence.”

The plant emits an odor similar to rotting flesh, hence the common name, “corpse flower.”

Because the flower takes so long to unfold and is only open for 24 to 48 hours, the horticulture and natural resources department closely monitored and documented the process. In addition to greenhouse visitors, plant enthusiasts watched the plant unfurl on Facebook but missed the pungent aroma.


New Associate Director

Following a national search, Gregg Hadley has been hired as the associate director for extension.

“We are so fortunate to have someone of Gregg’s caliber with his experience in industry, academia, and extension in this important role,” said Dean and Director John Floros. “Since joining us in 2011 as an assistant director, he has worked with many Kansans throughout the state, as well as with colleagues within our extension system. His moving into the associate director’s position gives us a valuable resource as we work to be a national leader and a model public research and land-grant university.”


Extension District Updates 

Wilson County joined Crawford, Montgomery, and Labette counties to expand the Wildcat Extension District. Barton and Ellis counties formed the Cottonwood Extension District. With these changes, effective July 1, 2017, K-State Research and Extension now has 48 counties organized into 17 districts.

The Kansas Extension District Law, passed in 1991, gives local extension councils the opportunity to partner with one or more counties to form a district. Forming a district involves agreements between the local extension councils and county commissioners.

Districting allows local citizens access to the expertise of additional agents. As part of a district team, agents can dedicate more time to a specific program area. At the same time, agents have access to more resources and support as they work together in a larger team.


Floros Accepts New Role

Kansas State University will have a prominent role in helping the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine identify compelling future directions for research in food and agriculture.

John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, will serve as co-chair of the academies’ Science Breakthroughs 2030 project with Susan R. Wessler, distinguished professor of genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, University of California, Riverside.

The yearlong study will explore novel scientific approaches suggested by members of the scientific community.

Special attention will be given to ideas that include aspects of science and engineering not typically associated with food and agriculture.

Based on community input, the committee will produce a report describing ambitious and achievable scientific pathways to address major problems and create new opportunities for the food and agriculture system.

The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and the Foundation on Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are providing major support for the study. 


Entomology, Animal Sciences and Industry Earn Worldwide Recognition

Two College of Agriculture departments — Entomology and Animal Sciences and Industry — have been recognized among the best places in the world to study, research, and begin a career.

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) publishes “the largest academic ranking of global universities.” In 2017, the center published its inaugural ranking of individual subjects. CWUR ranked K-State’s Department of Entomology fourth in the world and the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry seventh.

The rankings by subject are based on “the number of research articles in top-tier journals. Data are obtained from Clarivate Analytics (previously the intellectual property and science business of Thomson Reuters).”

“We’ve known for years that the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University has an excellent reputation and is highly regarded nationally and internationally,” said John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension.

“We also know that we have been making significant progress in recent years, but to have several of our programs ranked in the top five or ten globally, is simply inspiring and energizing.”

Ken Odde, head of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, says one big advantage that K-State offers its students is quick, easy access to field experience.

“The quality and type of facilities we have are top-notch, but proximity is equally important. It’s important for research, it’s maybe more important for teaching,” Odde said. “If an instructor has to build 30 or 40 minutes of travel time into their lesson plan every time they want their students to work with growing plants or live animals, that not only cuts into teaching time, it also results in distant facilities that are underutilized.”

“Having these things close to the main campus means that when there’s a teachable moment — it could be a live birth or a disease outbreak — we’re right on top of it, minutes away.”


K-State Research and Extension Multicultural Fellows

Four students completed the eight-week K-State Research and Extension multicultural fellowship. Each student worked on a research project with a faculty mentor and gave a project presentation for faculty and staff. The students with their mentors (l-r): Zelia Wiley, assistant dean for diversity; Associate Professor Jay Amamcharla, animal sciences and industry, and Riann White, Florida A&M University; Associate Professor John Gonzalez, animal sciences and industry, and Christina Bradshaw, North Carolina A&T University; Lonnie Hobbs Jr., Prairie View A&M University, and Assistant Professor Alex Shanoyan, agricultural economics; Dalia Sanchez, Kansas State University, and Professor Karen Schmidt, animal sciences and industry. Sanchez also worked on a project with Zelia Wiley and presented an overview of the fellowship’s 11-year history.