Foreword – Fall 2017


It’s just the opposite. Our theme for this issue of STORIES refers to the scale in which selected scientific and educational efforts are underway, not the impact the projects are making.

As Basil Nikolau says in his Voices essay on page 14, “Iowa State University researchers are looking for discoveries in small plots, in small organisms or in small molecules, which will uncover advances and provide the foundation for major scientific breakthroughs.” Nikolau is the Frances M. Craig Professor of Biochemistry in the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, a department co-administered by our college and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The collaborative nature of Nikolau’s work and his explanation of “small science” illustrates three other factors which could have easily been used in the title of this issue: Collaboration. Innovation. Relevance.

Collaboration. The work of Asheesh Singh and Kevin Falk in agronomy focuses on the small but mighty root system of soybeans. It’s a great example of the collaborative nature of much of the research featured in this issue. Together with plant pathologists, breeders, geneticists, engineers and computer and data scientists they are gaining better understanding of soybean roots and the important microbial community surrounding them. Their results could help improve profitability.

Innovation. Alumna Diane Young built a hub for the latest testing technology in her corner of rural Iowa. The company attracts top talent to test everything from food products to regulatory water samples to co-products from the ethanol industry.

Relevance. Animal scientist Josh Selsby’s research on muscular structure, proteins in muscle and how muscles work may someday help boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy preserve muscle and live longer. CALS grad Rob Stout’s efforts to improve soil health—cover crops, a bioreactor, prairie strips and more—are managing nutrients and reducing run-off in his watershed and downstream.

You’ll also read about faculty, students and staff making impacts—big and small—in the lives of students and Iowans and tackling tough issues with global significance.

In closing, I hope you’ll make plans to attend the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebration at the Cyclone women’s basketball game and reception February 10, 2018. We’ll be hosting a complimentary pre-game party and will recognize the 2018 CALS Emerging Iowa Leader. Watch STORIES Online for registration details. If you’re not receiving your monthly e-news from the college in STORIES Online, e-mail to subscribe.

Kind regards,

Melea Reicks Licht