Ph.D. Student David Jespersen ’15: From Psychology to Plant Science

David Jespersen taking field samples at the University of Georgia–Griffin agricultural research station in Summer 2014 as part of a collaborative project to better understand the underlying genetics that control heat tolerance in grasses. Photo: Courtesy of David Jespersen.

David Jespersen taking field samples at the University of Georgia–Griffin agricultural research station in Summer 2014 as part of a collaborative project to better understand the underlying genetics that control heat tolerance in grasses. Photo: Courtesy of David Jespersen.

David Jespersen, doctoral student in plant biology, received the Graduate School–New Brunswick Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research for his exceptional research accomplishments at the Spring Awards ceremony on April 23. He was one of six awardees chosen among all graduate students campuswide.

A mere six years earlier, David graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the School of Arts and Sciences—far removed from the world of plant science. So, how did he get from studying psychology to being on the verge of completing his dissertation research on identifying heat-tolerance traits and genes in bentgrass and helping to develop heat-tolerant bentgrass and other species, all the while earning several significant accolades for his achievements along the way?

“I’d taken a few electives in plant science as an undergraduate and found that I had a growing interest in plants, and in my final undergraduate semester I went to talk to the graduate program director about pursuing a master’s degree in plant science,” explains Jespersen. “As it turned out, instead of pursuing a master’s degree, I turned my attention to a Ph.D. instead, with the encouragement of Prof. Huang.” [Read more…]

Unearthing a Buried Treasure, Part II: Student’s Vision for Trail Renovation Enabled by Fellow Students

Eliot Nagele by one of two man-made ponds that are part of the trail.

Eliot Nagele (SEBS 2015) stands by one of two man-made ponds that are part of the trail.

The Arbor Trail is located behind the University Inn and Conference Center on the Douglass Campus. Rutgers purchased the property in 1965. The Inn is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the trail had its grand re-opening on Rutgers Day 2015 on April 25, as part of the Inn’s anniversary celebration.

In 1908, armed with a degree in mechanical engineering, young Sydney Bleecker Carpender began his business career with the Brunswick Refrigerating Company, a manufacturer of refrigerating and ice-making machinery. Carpender became the company’s vice-president and general manager in 1911, at age 27. That same year he had a manor built on his family’s property in New Brunswick for him and his wife, the former Louise Johnson, daughter of one of the founding brothers of Johnson & Johnson. A horticultural enthusiast, Carpender created a unique man-made landscape on the estate complete with rolling meadows, ponds and a wooded trail established with select landscape plantings and trees. [Read more…]

Rutgers Launches New Fostering Program for Rescue Horses

Pictured with Dr. Sarah Ralston is Bling, a “sweet and sassy” 6-year-old unregistered Arabian mare who is being fostered from the Arabian Rescue Mission.

Pictured with Prof. Sarah Ralston is Bling, a 6-year-old unregistered Arabian mare who is being fostered from the Arabian Rescue Mission. Photo by Carey Williams.

Creating a sustainable equine teaching program on a suburban university’s campus requires considerable ingenuity since keeping a horse on campus is very expensive. Maintaining a herd dedicated for teaching and outreach can easily cause a budget to go in “the red.” However, the Department of Animal Sciences on the Rutgers Cook Campus came up with a creative solution, which involves “fostering” horses from equine rescue/placement programs and seeking sponsors to help pay for their per-diem costs. Some of the fostered horses will be available for adoption after the Ag Field Day Horse Show on Rutgers Day in late April, leaving a core herd of four horses for teaching and outreach throughout the year.

This new and exciting addition to the department’s Equine Teaching program is called the Rutgers University Teaching Herd (RUTH): Fostering Horses for Teaching and Extension. The eight horses in RUTH will allow faculty to expand students’ hands-on learning experiences and service in outreach. The horses will be dedicated solely to outreach endeavors, such as clinics and treadmill demonstrations, and teaching activities in didactic (classroom-based) courses like Horse Management and Comparative Anatomy and experience-based classes including Horse Practicum and Animal Handling, Fitting and Exhibition. In the latter course, students learn how to groom and train horses for in-hand exhibition on Ag Field Day. [Read more…]

John and Anne Gerwig Endowment to Support Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Former and current Rutgers Cooperative Extension directors John Gerwig (left) and Larry Katz cut the cake at the Rutgers retirees event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Cooperative Extension.

Former and current Rutgers Cooperative Extension directors John Gerwig (left) and Larry Katz cut the cake at the Rutgers retirees’ event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Cooperative Extension in 2014.

Announcement by Larry Katz, director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

A strong workforce will support a strong community. That was the topic of conversation when John and Anne Gerwig asserted their desire to help all of Rutgers Cooperative Extension by establishing a fund that will provide resources to extension professionals in perpetuity. I am pleased to announce that, in honor of the Smith-Lever Anniversary, John and Anne have jointly established the “John and Anne Gerwig Director’s Endowment for Rutgers Cooperative Extension,” with a gift of $200,000.

The goal of this fund is to empower Cooperative Extension professionals so that they can make a bigger impact on our communities. A portion of the fund will be reserved to award through a formal “request for proposal” process set up and managed by the Director’s office. Remaining funds will be used to support emerging issues, internships, awarding additional proposals and other needs that arise. [Read more…]

Component in Olive Oil Looks Promising in the Fight Against Cancer

Paul Breslin

Paul Breslin

While it is well known that olive oil contains a type of healthy fat that can protect against heart disease, its role in preventing cancer has not been as well researched. Rutgers professor of nutritional sciences Paul Breslin and colleagues at Hunter College have found that an ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, ruptures a part of cancerous cells, releasing enzymes that cause cell death. Read more at Rutgers Today.