Alumni Story: Steven Gomez (Cook ’01, GSNB ’10): Thinking Outside the Bun

Steve in his test kitchen.

Steve Gomez in his test kitchen.

The next time you go into a Taco Bell, look for the poster promoting the Doritos Locos Taco and thank alumnus Steve Gomez for his role in making this wildly popular taste treat a reality.

An article in Business Insider describes it this way: “The Doritos Locos Taco is one of the most successful food innovations of all time. Taco Bell released the product in 2012 and sold more than a billion units the first year. The fast food company had to hire an estimated 15,000 workers to keep up with the demand.”

The distinctive orange shell – mimicking the Nacho Cheese Doritos corn chip – is filled with the traditional seasoned ground beef, lettuce and cheddar cheese in the “regular” version, and topped with chopped tomatoes and sour cream in the “supreme” edition. It looks like a very simple dish. But don’t tell that to Steve, who worked in test kitchens in Taco Bell’s Irvine, California, headquarters and manufacturing plants around the country for years to perfect it. [Read more...]

Rutgers Turfgrass Program Raises $400,000 for Henry Indyk (AG ’50) Graduate Education Fellowship

Henry Indyk

Henry Indyk

The Rutgers Turfgrass Program has raised a total of $400,000 to support the Henry Indyk Endowed Graduate Fellowship at the university. Thanks to a $61,000 donation from the New Jersey Turfgrass Association (NJTA) and the New Jersey Turfgrass Foundation (NJTF) in March, the seven-year capital campaign has met its goal of continuing support of graduate education at the university.

According to Bruce Clarke, chair of the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology and director of the Center for Turfgrass Science, this fundraising effort was initiated in 2007 to provide an ongoing source of funding for graduate students in turfgrass science at Rutgers. Clarke expressed appreciation “to the NJTA and NJTF for their tremendous support of the Henry Indyk Endowed Graduate Fellowship, to the tune of more than $150,000 in funding since we started our campaign.” [Read more...]

Rutgers Alumna Finds Thousands of Creepy Crawlies Live in our Homes

marmorated stink bug isolated on whiteNancy Brill earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management from Rutgers in 2000. After completing a master’s degree in horticulture at North Carolina State University (NCSU), she returned to Rutgers as a field researcher in vegetable pathology at Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Upper Deerfield, NJ. Brill, who later earned a Ph.D. in Entomology at NCSU, conducted a  study as a postdoc that sought to reveal the arthropods that can be found in our homes. The result? Over 10,000 specimens were collected from just 50 houses. The New York Times published Brill’s inside peek into just what kind of creepy crawlies lurk inside our homes.

Note: While she conducted field research at Rutgers, she found time to publish an essay spilling the dirt on being a woman working in agriculture, which was published in Newsweek in 2007. Brill is currently an Agronomic Service Representative at Syngenta Crop Protection.

Rutgers Master Gardeners Care for Historic Cherry Trees in Branch Brook Park

Cherry blossom time at Branch Brook Park in Newark, home to the largest collection of flowering cherry trees in the U.S.

Cherry blossom time at Branch Brook Park in Newark, home to the largest collection of flowering cherry trees in the U.S.

Editor’s Note: Two alumni have been instrumental in the care and maintenance of the remarkable cherry tree collection in Essex County. Paul Cowie is a consultant to the Branch Brook Park Alliance. He graduated in 1985 with a B.S. in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Forestry. He cooperates with the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Essex County and their advisor Jan Zientek of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County. Zientek is himself an alum – a 1982 graduate with a B.S. in Forestry and Wildlife Biology. The story of their work is featured here.

The emergence of cherry blossoms is renowned in Japanese culture as representing the end of the winter, the beginning of new life and the start of the spring growing season. Throughout Japan, cherry blossom festivals are celebrated under the trees with singing, dancing and elaborate tea ceremonies. While profuse and beautiful, cherry blossoms are relatively short lived. It is said that the Japanese use the example of the short lifespan of the cherry blossoms that vividly burst into life and then proudly whither to symbolically reflect on, and as a metaphor for, their lives. [Read more...]

Alumni Story: Anthony Broccoli (Cook ’77, GSNB ’79, ’98): Studying the Bigger Picture of Climate Change

Ever the outdoorsmen, Tony hiked the trail in the Swiss Alps above Zermatt this past summer.

An avid outdoorsman, Tony hiked the trail in the Swiss Alps above Zermatt this past summer.

“Many of the important turning points in my life took place at Rutgers,” says Anthony J. Broccoli, an alumnus and professor of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “I came here as an undergraduate to study meteorology because of a fascination with the weather that began in my childhood. My professors showed me that there was more to meteorology than just forecasting the weather; they introduced me to scientific research.”

A dedication to research and teaching shaped Broccoli’s future. “I’ve followed a career path that was different from most university faculty. I came to Rutgers in the 1970s to study meteorology and left with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I was on the staff here as an instructor and lecturer for a couple of years before leaving to work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Princeton at its Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, where I was a research scientist.”

“About 10 years after I began at NOAA, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at Rutgers as a part-time student. I completed my degree in 1998 and continued working for NOAA until the opportunity to return to Rutgers came along in 2003. So the road has taken a few turns before leading me to where I am now.” [Read more...]