Summer 2022 News Stories

Strengthening Food Safety Systems in West Africa

As part of a U.S. Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) grant, Dr. Dave Stone traveled to Senegal and Nigeria in June.  The project, entitled Strengthening Food Safety Systems in West Africa, is a joint effort between FAS, Oregon State University and the University of Missouri.  Dr. Stone met with government officials and toured labs in Dakar, Senegal and Abuja, Nigeria. In Senegal, the project focused on the valuable groundnut sector by identifying health risks in the value chain and food safety capacity gaps, particularly for mycotoxins and pesticides. In Nigeria, the project supports the passage of a national food safety bill and addresses needs in risk assessment, traceability and pesticide education. Based on stakeholder input, a series of technical trainings and resources were identified for future engagement.  The anticipated outcomes are for a safer and secure domestic food supply, as well as a science-based framework to facilitate international trade. Additional technical expertise on this project from OSU in microbiology and food safety is provided by Dr. Joy Waite-Cusic and Dr. Jovana Kovacevic. 

Members of Senegal’s Ministry of Agriculture with people from the U.S. Foreign Ag Service. 

Student Profile: Alexander Butcher

My name is Alexander Butcher. I am a master’s fellow in the Crop Science department working in Silvia Rondon’s Irrigated Agricultural Entomology Lab at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center. My research uses elicitors, which are activators of inherent plant defenses, to control the Colorado potato beetle in potato crops. This summer I have been conducting multiple lab and greenhouse trials to determine the impacts which various commercially available elicitors have on the beetle’s fitness. In addition to this work, I have been trialing a new RNAi based product for the control of Colorado potato beetle. The development of these “softer” chemistries, which have a reduced impact on the environment and human health, is crucial to meet the expanding needs of increased agricultural production. I will be discussing the data gathered this summer in my fall seminar hosted by the Crops department.

Student Profile: Mikkos Willard Argyres

My name is Mikkos Willard Argyres, I am an undergraduate in the Harper Lab. My major is biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry. I went into the Harper Lab with the intention of completing my honors thesis. Currently, I am doing a summer internship through the Clean Water Initiative. The project I am working on for the internship was originally focused on observing micro- and nanoplastics in vivo utilizing a strong fluorescent stain called Dil. The idea was to stain the outside of different types of plastic particles and expose organisms (zebrafish embryos / Daphnia) to the stained particles. Ultimately we would use a fluorescent microscope to observe the movement of the particles. Sadly, the Dil project was doomed to fail because Dil is strongly lipophilic, meaning it is more likely to stain lipids than plastic. We discovered that Dil was leaching from the plastic to stain the inside of the organism, making Dil a poor stain for these purposes. Since that discovery, we have shifted gears and are studying the toxicity of fluorospheres, 0.2 μm plastic spheres with a fluorescent stain embedded in the sphere. The hope is that the sphere will prove to be non-toxic and we can move onto observing the movement of the plastic.   

Mikkos Willard Argyres
tray of samples
micro- and nanoplastics in vivo

Toxicology Undergraduate Summer Internships

The Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Department hosts an 8-week paid summer internship program for OSU undergraduate students to gain experience in toxicology research.  Students participate in laboratory, field and/or computer-based independent research under the supervision of EMT faculty in addition to learning about career opportunities in toxicology.  Visit our website to learn more.  Applications for Summer 2023 are due by March 1st.  Our internship program is made possible through an endowment established by OSU Alum and Professor of Agricultural Chemistry, Dr. Sheng C. Chung Fang.

2022 Introduction to Toxicology Internship Recipients (left to right, Samantha Visaya, Mackenzie Allison, Zachary Kowash, Abigail Lawrence)

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.