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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

News from the Southeast Area

Agency Accomplishments

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has named twelve individuals as ASABE Fellows. They were inducted at a ceremony on July 27 at the 2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting, held in New Orleans.  Named to the class of 2015 ASABE Fellows from the Southeast Area were:

KURT C. LAWRENCE, supervisory agricultural engineer and research leader, Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Athens, Georgia, for his outstanding technical contributions to grain moisture sensing and multispectral and hyperspectral imaging for food safety and quality monitoring applications.

BOSOON PARK, research agricultural engineer and lead scientist, Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Athens, Georgia, for his outstanding contributions in the advancement of hyperspectral and real-time multispectral imaging and nanotechnology for food safety and quality.


To be considered for the grade of ASABE Fellow, an individual must demonstrate unusual professional distinction, with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of agricultural engineering. Twenty years' membership in ASABE is also required. Only about two percent of the active members of ASABE have achieved the grade of Fellow.

Press Releases:


An invention by Research Entomologist Margaret L. Allen of the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit, Stoneville, MS was reported by the Japan Agricultural News Service at URL (English):  The report described the ARS invention publicized in ARS AgResearch Magazine Online “Improving a Native Ladybug's Biocontrol Prospects”, written by Jan Suszkiw and published online July 9, 2015 . The article was also covered by Entomology Today on July 10, 2015, entitled “New Device Makes Lady Beetles Better, Easier Biocontrol Agents”. The article was subsequently reported on July 24, 2015 in Global Plant Protection News

Stakeholder Announcements:

Dr. Anne M. Gillen and Dr. James R. Smith of the Crop Genetics Research Unit, Stoneville, MS hosted the Southern Soybean Breeders Tour 2015 on August 26th and 27th in Stoneville, Mississippi.  The tour rotates yearly among the public southern soybean breeders.  This is an opportunity for private and public soybean breeders to view the Uniform Soybean Tests –Southern States trials which are located at Stoneville, and for ARS and Mississippi State University scientists to showcase their work. We had 82 visitors, including 2 scientists from Uruguay and two from Paraguay.



Outreach and Professional Activities:


Mr. Fabio Palczewski Pacheco, Ph.D. student from Western Parana State University, Brazil, arrived at USDA-ARS- Crop Science Research Laboratory Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research Unit at Mississippi State on July 27, 2015, to work on his Thesis research.  Mr. Fabio will be with ARS for 6 months doing research and training. During this visit, he will process samples and write his thesis/manuscript under the direct supervision of Dr. Ardeshir Adeli.  Dr. Adeli at the GSARU will give training and assistance to Mr. Fabio on development of corn inoculated with Azospirillum brasiliensis and fertilized with swine waste water and mineral fertilizer. Fabio is a research scholar and the Brazilian Government (CNPQ) is providing the financial support for him.


September 3-15, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Hydraulic Engineer Robert Wells and Hydrologist Glenn Wilson of the Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, Oxford, MS have been invited by Prof. Dr. Fenli Zheng, Dean, College of International Education, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Yangling, Shaanxi, China. Each have agreed to mentor graduate students seeking PhDs through the Chinese Ministry of Education. Collaborative efforts will include guidance to Chinese students in laboratory and field investigations, seminars and/or short courses, assistance in manuscript preparation, and discussions concerning cooperative research plans.

 September 7-11, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Molecular Biologist Ben LaFrentz, of the Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit in Auburn, AL will present “Intragenomic heterogeneity in the 16S rRNA genes of Flavobacterium columnare and standard protocol for genomovar assignment” at the European Association of Fish Parasitologists 17th International Conference on Diseases of Fish and Shellfish in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.

September 7-11, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Molecular Biologist Craig Shoemaker of the Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit in Auburn, AL will present “Parasitism affects vaccine efficacy against Streptococcus iniae in Nile tilapia” at the European Association of Fish Parasitologists 17th International Conference on Diseases of Fish and Shellfish in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.

Sep 11, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Molecular Biologist Katherine Aronstein from the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA will attend the Hill Country Beekeepers Association Meeting in Monroe, LA.  Title of talk “Honey Bee Diseases”.

September 7-18, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Entomologist Lilia deGuzman from the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA will attend the 44th Apimondia International Apicultural Congress in Daejeon, South Korea from 15-20 September 2015.  Title of the presentation is “Observations on the flight activities of Apis mellifera using radio-frequency identification [RFID] technology”.

September 13 -17, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader David Fang and Research Molecular Biologist Hee Jin Kim with the Cotton Fiber Bioscience Research Unit, (CFB), Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA will attend the 2015 Cotton Breeders Tour. The Cotton Breeders Tour is organized by Cotton Incorporated, and held every other year in different cotton growing regions. The 2015 tour will be in the East region that covers Carolinas and Georgia. The Cotton Breeder Tour is a great meeting that cotton breeders from private organizations and public sectors interact and exchange ideas related to cotton breeding.

September 22-26, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist Marsha Cole of the Commodity Utilization Research Unit, Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, LA has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Lloyd Ferguson Young Scientist Award.  She will be presented this award at the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Conference held in Orlando, Florida.  This award recognizes and honors her achievements and service over the past 8 years. Also, it awards Marsha’s dedication that she has shown in her research and commitment to the STEM community.

In addition, Dr. Cole has been invited to speak at the “Chat and Chew Symposia” about the advancements made in the Sugar and Biofuel CRIS and a give a research presentation at the Analytical Chemistry: Separations Technical Symposia titled: “A Simple Method to Predict Raw Sugar Filterability Using IC-IPAD and its Correlation to Simulated Carbonated Press Filtration.”

Sept 18, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Hydrologist Michele L Reba of the Delta Water Management Research Unit, Jonesboro, AR will attend and present Northeast Arkansas Research Findings for 2015 at the Mississippi County agricultural field in Manila, AR.

September 21-25, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Hydraulic Engineer Robert Wells of the Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, Oxford, MS has been invited by US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas District, to assess erosion potential of sediments within Tuttle Creek Lake, Manhattan, KS. Cores will be extracted from the impounded sediment, sectioned, and tested using a submerged jet-test device. The effort will provide sediment transport estimates to USACOE for drawdown events used to flush sediment impounded behind the reservoir.


News Clips:

ARS:  Athens, Ga. - Poultry disease is an international issue and developing animals resistant to disease may be one of the long-term solutions.  University of Georgia researchers Steven Stice and Franklin West in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Claudio Afonso at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service have spent the last four years gathering data that could make the process a reality.

The team used a technology platform called shRNA—single strands of RNA that fold back on themselves—to selectively stop the production of nucleic acids that cause disease, such as the Newcastle disease virus.  Dr. Afonso was responsible for the design of the products used to reduce virus replication (gene specific shRNA) and together with his team developed methods to conduct the challenges with virulent viruses and evaluate the results.  Initial experiments were conducted at UGA and final testing and evaluation was done at the BSL3 facilities of U.S. National Poultry Research Center in Athens.

The research team's tooling process for enhancing disease resistance, published recently in the Journal of the International Alliance for Biological Standardization, is potentially a much better way of disease protection than vaccination because it introduces permanent genetic resistance that is transmittable to a bird's offspring. In contrast, many vaccines provide protection for a given period of time and must be re-administered periodically.

Multiple types of animals and disease could be targeted. This technology could also be applied to avian influenza and swine flu.  To read the full story, "Delayed Newcastle disease virus replication using RNA interference to target the nucleoprotein," is available at


ARS News Articles

A New Vaccine to Fight Poultry Diseases
Mar 20, 2015
A New Spanish Peanut Variety for Consumers, Growers
Feb 24, 2015
Killing Fish Egg Fungus with a Disinfectant
Feb 18, 2015
USDA Research Yields Cotton Resistant to Top 20 Ag Threat
Feb 12, 2015
ARS Study Shows No Damage to Soils from Grazing of Cover Crops
Feb 11, 2015
Last Modified: 9/3/2015