Past Mini-Symposia

In May 2014, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences began hosting an annual series of mini-symposia to encourage networking among Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and increase awareness of faculty research areas. Faculty are encouraged to use the networking relationships formed at the mini-symposia to build teams to address projects related to the College’s Grand Challenges.

2015 Spring Mini-Symposia

Soil Security

Friday, April 24, 2015
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

  • Why we need a concept of soil security – Dr. Alex McBratney, University of Sydney
  • Soil-Water-Food Nexus – Dr. Rabi Mohtar, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Why we need a concept of soil security, too – Dr. Cristine Morgan, Department of Soil and Crops Science
  • The Soil-Food-Water Nexus: A Public Policy Perspective – Dr. Kent Portney, George Bush School of Government and Public Service
  • Agricultural Management for Soil Condition – Dr. Paul DeLaune, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Vernon AREC

Soil security requires maintenance and improvement of the soil resource to produce food, fiber, and fresh water, to contribute to sustainable energy production, adapt to climate changes, and to maintain biodiversity and function in ecosystems. Those concerned with achieving soil security recognize that attainment involves scientific, economic, and political engagement to effectively and credibly inform political and legal frameworks and implement appropriate actions.

We will convene experts and innovative thinkers across the University from a range of disciplines including agricultural and resource economics, sociology, information technology, soil science, and agronomy to further develop the concept of soil security, and to work toward assessment and implantation strategies.

Food Waste Reduction

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
9:30 am – 12:00 pm

  • Scope of Food Waste – Steve Searcy, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Value Chain Concepts and Sources of Food Loss – Roger Norton, Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Preservation Techniques that can Minimize Food Losses – Suresh Pillai, Departments of Nutrition and Food Science and Poultry Science
  • Food Waste in School Lunches – Ariun Ishdorj, Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Food Security Through Postharvest Handling – Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, Department of Horticultural Sciences
  • Behavioral Aspects of Food Waste – Jenna Anding, Department of Nutrition & Food Science
  • Policy Impacts on Food Waste – Marco Palma, Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Processing to Extend Shelf Life and Expand Markets – Elena Castell, Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering
  • Discussion: What is the next step? – All

The need to produce more food to feed the world’s growing population is well known and documented.  However, without improvement in the way we store, deliver and consume food, any attempt to expand food production will suffer an unintended handicap.  By many estimates, 30% of the food produced is discarded as waste, a number that is consistent in both the developed and developing worlds.  This symposium will highlight existing technologies, social and policy measures at Texas A&M addressing food waste reduction, and examine the potential for greater impact on this topic.

STEM Challenge: Preparing, Promoting, and Producing STEM Scholars

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

  • Why Race Together? A Discussion on the Changing Demography and Learning Preferences of College Students Today – Jack Elliot, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications
  • Enriching Youth Interest in STEM Degree Programs: A Discussion on Youth Development Activities to Recruit College Students – Toby Lepley, Texas 4-H and Youth Development
  • Engaging Undergraduate Students in a Virtual STEM Environment – Kevin Heinz, Department of Entomology & Rebecca Donnelly, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)
  • Retaining Undergraduates and Graduates in STEM Disciplines:  A Discussion about Near-Peer Teams for Laboratory Mentoring & Management – Chris Quick, Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology
  • Designing a Research Focus for Transforming STEM Teaching, Learning, & Retention –  All

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics drive innovation, grow the economy and provide successful career pathways.  Yet STEM fields are reporting a shortage of qualified workers.  How can we solve this problem?  This symposium will focus on the changing demography and learning preferences of today’s students, youth development through Extension programming, using visualization tools for teaching undergraduate STEM courses, and recruiting and retaining graduate students in STEM careers. Participants will have an opportunity to help design a research focus for transforming STEM Teaching, Learning, and Retention throughout our college and agencies.

Spring 2014 Mini-Symposia

Tuesday, May 13

The Energy Complex and its Interactions with Food, the Environment and Society

  • The Energy Complex Principle – Bob Avant, Program Director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research Corporate Relations
  • Modeling/ClimateBruce McCarl, Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics
  • Water/Energy NexusRabi Mohtar, TEES Endowed Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Developing High Value BioproductsJoshua Yuan, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Education Innovation & Achievement

  • Educating Leaders for the 21st CenturyKim Dooley, Associate Dean for Academic Operations
  • Ill-Preparedness of College Students for STEM CourseworkKevin Heinz, Professor of Entomology and Director of the Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program
  • Preparation for Higher Education STEM PathwaysJulie Harlin, Associate Professor of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications
  • Enriching Youth to Promote STEM PathwaysCorliss Outley, Assistant Professor of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences
  • Attracting Students for Graduate School John Siebert, Professor of Agricultural Economics

Wednesday, May 14

The Texas Water Observatory Network 

  • Introduction to the Texas Water Observatory Network – Jack Baldauf, Executive Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Geosciences
  • Water Economics and PolicyAri Michelsen, Regents Fellow and Center Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso
  • Water Networks and ModelingBinayak Mohanty, Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Modeling Soil Water InteractionsChristine Morgan, Associate Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • EcohydrologyBrad Wilcox, Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management
  • The Coastal Interface Rusty Feagin, Associate Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management

Food, Feed, Fiber, Bioenergy, and Environment for 2050

  • An Introduction to Plant Genetics, Biology, and TechnologyWayne Smith, Associate Department Head and Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • Host Plant Resistance in Crop ImprovementGreg Sword, Professor and Charles R. Parencia Chair in Cotton Entomology
  • Genomics in Crop Improvement John Mullet, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Breeding for Stress Environments Seth Murray, Assistant Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • High Throughput Phenotyping Steve Searcy, Department Head and Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Thursday, May 15

Root Biology and Rhizosphere 

  • Welcome and Overview Sandy Pierson, Department Head and Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, & David Stelly, Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • Role of Breeding to Enhance Plant Roots/Rhizosphere Communities – Xeujun Dong, Assistant Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • Role of the Plant Root on Microbial Communities – Michael Kolomiets, Associate Professor in Plant Pathology and Microbiology
  • Utilizing the Rhizosphere Microbiome: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability –  Elizabeth Pierson, Associate Professor of Horticultural Sciences
  • Breeding Crop Roots: Unearthing Subterranean Strategies to Meet Future Agricultural Demands Sean Thompson, Graduate Student in Soil and Crop Sciences

Reducing Stress & Obesity – Genetic & Environmental Regulation of Metabolic Health

  • An Overview of the Reduction of Stress and DiseaseTom Welsh, Professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow in Animal Science
  • Reproductive Biology ImpactsCarey Satterfield, Assistant Professor of Animal Science, & Fuller Bazer, Regents Fellow, Distinguished Professor and O.D. Butler Chair in Animal Science
  • Obesity and Metabolic DiseasesChaodong Wu, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Science
  • Phytochemical Influences Bhimu Patil, Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and Professor of Horticultural Sciences
  • Microbiome Effects – Rosemary Walzem, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, Graduate Faculty of Nutrition, Poultry Science Department
  • The Role of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Preventing Chronic Disease: Improving Diet Quality – Jenna Anding, Associate Department Head for Extension and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Science

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