Oregon State University Gets $1.25 Million to Study Carbohydrates Taste

Dr. Juyun Lim, Professor of Sensory Science, and her research team in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University has received a $1.25 million grant from National Institute of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Deafness of Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to study sensory mechanisms underlying taste perception of complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are abundant in the human diet and their consumption has been directly linked to overall healthfulness. For example, prolonged consumption of high-carbohydrate diets can cause obesity and type 2 diabetes. In contrast, consumption of non-digestible oligosaccharides can positively affect human health by promoting healthy bowel movement, and stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the colon. This project will provide new insights into how the human gustatory system detects complex carbohydrates and thereby modulates their consumption. In addition, the outcomes of this research project will have broader implications to agricultural sciences as carbohydrates are the primary and/or common constituents of food crops such as potatoes and many vegetables.

Congratulations to our own Dr. Scott Lukas for winning the American Society for Horticultural Science’s 2020 Early Career competition!

At the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference, the Early Career Competition is hosted for new faculty and professionals (within the first 5 years of service) to communicate the impact of their extension, research, teaching, and other scholarly activities. The purpose of this national competition is to provide a platform for new scholars to advance their work and reputation in addition to helping facilitate peer-reviewed extension, teaching, and/or research from a wide range of horticultural professionals.

Each participant is required to submit an expanded 1000-word abstract detailing and explaining their entire program and how their research, teaching, extension and/or scholarly activities interact. From the extended abstract submissions, five selections are advanced to give a 20-minute presentation outlining their scholarly activities.

This award is significant because it allows for early career scholars to engage with colleagues from institutions across the country to share their successes and challenges. The competition culminates with an award that recognizes the most impactful scholarly achievements.

This year at the 2020 ASHS annual conference, Scott Lukas, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture, based at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) was selected as the first-place winner of the Early Career Contest. His horticulture program was recognized for his contribution of impacts to the field of horticulture on a national level, as well as the integrated framework of the research, extension, and teaching efforts. Scott’s program focuses on enhancing irrigated horticultural production systems while promoting environmentally centered approaches. Specifically, one aspect of his program aims to improve water and nutrient use efficiency to reduce nitrogen leaching into groundwater systems. Other aspects of his program work to reduce crop protection inputs, such as soil fumigants, through novel methods of plant grafting for disease resistance. Projects in his HAREC horticulture program are identified by regional needs and are intended to produce applied results that can be readily adoptable to agricultural producers.

Caleb Yann received the 2020 Dave Liscia Volunteer Award from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

A hearty congrats to Fisheries and Wildlife undergrad Caleb Yann on receiving the 2020 Dave Liscia Volunteer Award from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

The award is presented annually to outstanding volunteers in honor of Dave Liscia, a former ODFW employee who coordinated many volunteer efforts and was killed in a car accident while on the job.

The Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society enthused: "In addition to volunteering literally hundreds of hours with ODFW, Caleb has served as both the MHCC Sub-unit officer and, now, as the OSU Sub-unit Student Rep. Giving back to the fisheries profession is just something he can't seem to get enough of."

Please join us in congratulating Caleb for this well-earned honor!

Impact of COVID-19 on the Agricultural Research Foundation’s Investment Portfolio       

Dan Arp, Executive Director

The Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF) manages funds derived from gifts and from contracts with non-profit organizations and commodity commissions.  Those funds support agricultural and natural resource research at OSU and other universities.  As those funds come into the Foundation, they can be added to ARF’s investment portfolio and then drawn on by researchers as they are needed.

Over the years, that portfolio has grown to nearly $30M.  The annual earnings from the portfolio are used to support the operating expenses of ARF—employee salaries and benefits, office expenses and other costs associated with running a 501c3 organization.  In this way, ARF can administer funds without charging a fee on contract funds.  Commodity commissions in particular are pleased to see all of their research funds going to the researchers and the work they have identified.  There is sufficient annual income left over from the investment portfolio after paying ARF expenses to fund the ARF’s competitive grants program.  This program routinely provides grants of up to $15,000 to as many as 40 scientists annually.

So how is the investment portfolio doing in this time of economic challenge resulting from COVID-19?

The Board of Directors--the 24 volunteers who direct the activities of ARF--set the policy for investing and managing those funds.  The policy provides for both growth of the portfolio and income from the portfolio, but also to be sure the funds are available for their intended uses.  The portfolio is heavily weighted towards bonds and also includes some equities.  The bonds and equities have continued to provide income during the pandemic at levels similar to prior to the pandemic.  Unless something changes in the future, ARF will continue to administer non-profit and commodity commission funds with no fees assessed and will continue to run our competitive grants program. 

The Building University-Industry Linkages through Learning and Discovery in Dairy program (BUILD) entered its third year in 2020. This program was initiated by the dairy industry and multiple Universities who are invested in building up talent in dairy and driving relevant research. This last year, BUILD fully funded 13 graduate students in the Food Science and Technology department whose research was focused specifically on dairy. That accounts for 31% of all grad students in the program.

Graduates of this program are prepared to take on leadership roles in industry and even during COVID, there’s a tremendously high rate of employment.

As the program has evolved, it has demonstrated that close partnerships between industry and the University presents a tremendous win-win-win. For students, for the University, and for the industry. Working in collaboration with one another, more opportunities have been made available to students interested in pursuing careers in dairy and more dairy businesses are investing in the growth of the program.

The success of the BUILD at OSU is also testament to the strength of the dairy science program as one of the most notable in the western region.