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I AM CALS Using only machetes, hoes and their bare hands, CALS student Harry Palmer and his squad of volunteers created a working farm in under two months for a Ghana school serving low-income students. Soon after Harry arrived for a semester at the University of Ghana, he heard that a local primary school needed a farm. Most of their money was spent on food for students, and administrators hoped a farm would help them provide more students with an education. Harry didn’t hesitate. An agricultural and environmental technology major, Harry designed a plan and recruited volunteers to help clear land. They built fences from tree branches and burned old grass to use as fertilizer. Before long, vegetables and fruit trees began to grow. Harry split his time between university and the farm, teaching the schoolchildren basic farming skills. While he was away on a short break, they surprised him by starting a plot of their own. By the time Harry had to return home, he had transformed a neglected piece of land into a functional farm that continues to support the school — and cemented his dream of a career working with small farmers. “I feel compelled to a world responsibility,” he said. “I learned firsthand that agriculture is a worldspoken language.”

NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

CALS IS HERE... ... To Solve Grand Challenges 4 Enlisting the experts with Dean Richard Linton 10 ... When Disaster Strikes Pulling together to face down Hurricane Matthew

... Behind The Front Lines Training U.S. soldiers in animal handling 14

... In Outer Space 16 Partnering in research with NASA 18 ... Underground Finding the root of persistent problems 20 ... On The Airwaves Looking to 2050 with economist and radio host Mike Walden 22 ... In The Classroom Preparing the next generation of agriculture teachers 24 ... On Capitol Hill Implementing new food safety legislation 26 ... Downtown Meeting Extension’s first statewide urban area agent 28 ... In The Grocery Store Putting local food in your supermarket 30 ... For The Future Seeking positive change – by our students 34 ... Through Our Alumni Training farmers through alumni partnerships


Dean’s Letter

35 CALS Campain Kicks Off



36 #AgPackStrong


Five years ago, when I first interviewed with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, I told them I couldn’t stop humming a song by great North Carolina musician James Taylor: Carolina In My Mind. It’s an honor and a privilege to be the dean of CALS, and now that I’ve been here for five years, I have a different song of Taylor’s stuck in my head: You’ve Got A Friend.


When we say “CALS Is Here,” we mean a lot of things, but the most important is this: We’re here when you need us — and in a multitude of ways. As you’ll see in the coming pages, we’ve been here for North Carolina reactively, helping save livestock and rebuild lives after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. We’re also proactive: we partner to train U.S. soldiers to serve in agricultural economies. We pitch in so North Carolina growers can implement new regulations from Washington, D.C. We help NASA grow tomatoes in zero Gs. We want to be the college you can count on, to always be here to address the challenges and opportunities in North Carolina, the nation and the world — from underground to outer space. We’re hiring 40-plus new faculty members over the next few years, ensuring that CALS will continue to be here for the future. Just as we’re here for you, we’re appreciative of all the ways you’re here for us. We are on the heels of a record-breaking year in fundraising — with your generosity, we are two-thirds of our way to our $400 million Think and Do the Extraordinary campaign goal. Together, we have put CALS on a path to be present in grand challenges, to be here for our communities — and continue to deliver on our land-grant mission for generations. Go Pack and go CALS!

Richard Linton, Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences



CALS NEWS A Publication of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences CALS IS HERE 2017 Managing Editor Design/Layout Writers Photographers Videographers

Chelsea Kellner Patty Mercer Chelsea Kellner Dee Shore Suzanne Stanard Marc Hall Becky Kirkland Roger Winstead Ken Ellzey Chris Liotta

Dean and Executive Director for Agricultural Programs Richard Linton Senior Associate Dean for Administration Sylvia Blankenship Associate Dean and Director, NC State Extension Richard Bonanno Associate Dean and Director, N.C. Agricultural Research Service Steve Lommel Interim Associate Dean and Director, Academic Programs John Dole Interim Assistant Dean and Director, CALS Advancement Sonia Murphy Executive Director, North Carolina Agricultural and Tobacco Foundations Kathy Kennel Director of Alumni and External Relations Celeste Brogdon Chief Communication Officer Richard Campbell NC State University promotes equal opportunity and prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon one’s age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status. Send correspondence and requests for change of address to CALS Magazine Editor, Campus Box 7603, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695 -7603. 24,500 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of 56¢ per copy. Printed on recycled paper.

Four New Department Heads Join CALS John Beghin Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics John C. Beghin returned to CALS in January 2017 from Iowa State University, where he was one of two Marlin Cole Professors in international agricultural economics. He directed the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute and headed the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development’s trade and policy division. He was on the CALS faculty from 1988 to 1998.

Patricia Curtis Prestage Department of Poultry Science An expert in poultry and egg processing and product technology, Patricia Curtis returns to CALS from the Auburn University Food Systems Institute, where she was director and a professor of poultry science. She went to Alabama after 11 years at CALS in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. As an NC State Extension specialist, she had worked closely with the poultry industry, commodity groups and county Extension agents to develop educational programs.

Garey Fox Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Garey Fox joined CALS from Oklahoma State University, where he served as director and Berry Endowed Professor of the Oklahoma Water Resources Center, and as professor and Buchanan Endowed Chair in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. An expert in water resources and environmental engineering, Fox has received numerous awards, including the 2010 New Holland Young Researcher Award and the 2012 A.W. Farrall Young Educator Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Melanie Simpson Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry As the Willa Cather Professor of Biochemistry and associate director of the Center for Biotechnology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Melanie Simpson is a top researcher on mechanisms of prostate cancer progression and metastasis. She will take the helm of the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry in June 2017. Simpson led the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s participation in a $20 million NIH grant to establish a network to mentor early career researchers.

CALS IS HERE ... A growing population. Shrinking farmland. Changing weather and prolonged droughts. Complex challenges like these require complex solutions. At CALS, we transform these challenges into opportunities. When we say “CALS is here,” we mean that we’re here for you — for North Carolina and for our global community. Wherever there is a grand challenge in agriculture or life science, our students, faculty and staff are present, partnering to develop solutions that position us for our best possible future together.


in annual expenditures on research



Our students work across disciplines to grow solutions in food, fiber and health, while preparing to be leaders in a global marketplace. Our scientists drive agricultural and life sciences research on campus and at 18 research stations across North Carolina, putting the results to work in communities throughout our state, across the nation and around the world. Our international work is broad and diverse. Our faculty conduct research in sites from Japan to Liberia to Alberta, Canada. In 2016, the CALS Global Academy brought agriculture fellows from around the world to 29 farm sites across North Carolina to learn from our growers and build international relationships. CALS is here. In North Carolina, and around the world. For the next generation — and beyond.



130M active projects



annual impact from CALS research and Extension in just five crops

... to Solve Grand Challenges “CALS being ‘here’ goes far beyond geography. It means that CALS is everywhere, in every grand challenge in agriculture and life science, lifting up our partners, our community, our faculty and our students to be leaders, now and tomorrow.” — Dean Richard Linton



NC youth participate in 4-H

176 160 faculty working on international projects

students studying abroad

YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND What do we mean by “CALS Is Here,” anyway? Sure, we’re in all 100 North Carolina counties and 90 nations of the world, but presence is more than just geography — it’s a mindset and a practice. CALS Dean Richard Linton gathered a panel of experts from industry, faculty, Extension, international programs and the student body to discuss why CALS’ presence in grand challenges leads to impact and how we can position the college and its partners to continue as leaders in the future.

Participants Craig Yencho, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Department of Horticultural Science; Program Leader, Sweet Potato and Potato Breeding and Genetics Programs Sheri Schwab, Associate Director; Director of County Operations, NC State Extension Liz Gillispie, Third year Ph.D. student, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences Jose Cisneros, Director of International Programs, CALS; Professor, Department of Horticultural Science Richard Linton, CALS Dean Karin Herbers, Vice President, Integrated Trait Knowledge and Research Management, BASF



“From underground to outer space, from academics to research to Extension and beyond, CALS is everywhere. What we do matters because it is important for our community: our state, our students, our faculty, our partners and our increasingly global economy.” — Dean Richard Linton

Dean Linton: We’re here to have a conversation about “CALS is here” — what that means geographically, what that means programmatically, and what that means for the impact we make on North Carolina, the nation and the world. Linton: Can you talk about how CALS is here through Cooperative Extension in all 100 counties? Sheri Schwab: Every day, you can go to a small rural county, and … talk to the people there, whether it’s the county government, producers, youth or families, and hear how Extension made a difference to them. Not a little difference, like “This was an extra bit of knowledge,” but “This made the difference whether I could be in business or not. Whether my kid went to school or not.” It’s not just one-and-done, here-and-gone. Every day there’s that network, and it can really make a difference. Dean Linton: Now I’m going to look to José, because he has a much broader umbrella. … Tell us about some of the great work that’s happening around the world, and why you think CALS is here when it comes to global impact and international activity. Jose Cisneros: We can think about really an international Extension. With the expertise developed by Extension, with the diversity of our state, with the different type of climates, different type of soils — the fact that we have mountains, we have ocean — you have countries with all these different types of needs, and we are really well-prepared for that. It is amazing when you connect farmers, how they speak the same language, even if they don’t “speak the same language.” ... The interest is growing. ... I was talking with collaborators in Jamaica [and Peru], they’re interested in redesigning their Extension programs. Dean Linton: Craig, what do you think about CALS being here to address the grand, global challenges of agriculture?



Yencho: We have a very applied focus. … In many ways I feel, because of what we do so well here already, it prepares us to help others help themselves. I think the Sweet Potato Breeding Program is a great example of that. Our Genomic Tools Program, funded by the Gates Foundation, is developing next-generation breeding tools for the sweet potato, our most important vegetable crop here in North Carolina. That’s being applied in East and West Africa right now, but those very same tools that we’re developing for breeders in Sub-Saharan Africa are going to help … develop new varieties here and address our needs here. Dean Linton: Why is it important for CALS to be here for feeding the world? Yencho: [N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler] said, “Hungry people are angry people.” If we can’t feed people and give them good nutrition ... then it’s going to make our world a more volatile world. I think that’s one thing, in our own very small way, that we can help address. Schwab: Our Extension folks are training military to go into other countries as part of the civilian units. … You think about the impact of that in other countries, not only from a food security perspective, but safety — that those places are stabilizing. ... And who’s training the U.S. military, in part, to do that? CALS. Liz Gillispie: I know a lot of the work we do in CALS to help the military look at water contamination and cleanup. It’s to help them … make sure that, not only their military community is clean, but the communities around them stay healthy. That’s awesome.

Dean Linton: Liz, do you feel that CALS is here when you need us? Gillispie: CALS has met and gone beyond my expectations. No matter where I go after this, I’m always going to have CALS. I’m always going to have people to come to, I’m always going to have professors to collaborate with. Dean Linton: I’m going to now shift to another part of the strategic plan. We value our stakeholders at NC State. ... BASF chose NC State and CALS as a group they want to work with. Karin, can you tell me why you might’ve done that? Herbers: I think you are extremely open. You are very entrepreneurial. You are moving forward with a vision that is also very much aligned with BASF’s vision. … Whether it’s in food systems, in animal systems, or in agriculture and plant systems, you are so strong. We have, in BASF, corresponding divisions.

Yencho: One of the things I really like about being a faculty member here ... is that, no matter where [my wife and I] go, we know we’re going to meet folks that have worked with us. I would rephrase it from an army — I actually consider it more like a family. I love having that connection. Cisneros: And we do have a huge global network. … We can link future business for our state, provide economic development in different areas. Just last year, I went to China with a [North Carolina] company that builds greenhouses, and now they will be building greenhouses in China. … Because we have this network, we can vastly affect future business. Schwab: I think it’s all done with a mind around service. I think that’s what makes it feel like a family. ... It has that global feel to it, like we’re all part of CALS, we’re all “here” no matter where we physically are. We are always considering CALS. If we approach a project, is there somebody at NC State … with whom we could collaborate? It’s really always one of our first thoughts. … There is an underlying mentality and culture that fits. I love the Plant Sciences Initiative. The transdisciplinary research that is being addressed there really is the concept of the future. What comes out of there is the student and employee of the future.

Herbers: I would like to come back to the local view. BASF has been here nearly 30 years. ... It is very important, your Extension program, where you teach and instruct your farmers. ... We do the same, because we want our products to be used in a sustainable way, in an efficient way. These are complementary — because you are educating, it is so much easier for any industry, including BASF, to be in this market and providing this service.

Linton: And we want students to leave this institution with a feeling that CALS prepared them well, so they can be leaders.

Dean Linton: When you think about partnerships, or potential partnerships,what are some of the things that come to mind?

Cisneros: When local students get exposed to international agricultural environments, they become more aware of how North Carolina products and services can meet the needs of a global market. For our students to be competitive finding jobs or vstarting businesses, they have to be globally competent.

Gillispie: One is local organizations - for me, local environmental organizations. … Being able to partner with other people who are interested in how to communicate environmental or water quality issues. … And the second thing I think of is looking at my colleagues, my fellow students.

Gillispie: When I hear “CALS is here,” I think of an army. … CALS trains us, and then when we’re done, we go out and make our own armies from what CALS taught us.

Yencho: Bingo.

Gillispie: I’ve always thought that the students I grow up with ... are going to be professors. They’re going to be the people I collaborate with. So building those partnerships now is only going to make my work stronger and more collaborative in the future. Dean Linton: Sheri, Extension might have the most diverse partnerships in the whole university. What can you relay about our partnerships that folks might not realize? Schwab: People don’t know as much about our partnership with county governments. … For example, right now we’re going to start working with our county government partnership around the opioid issue. It affects people at all these different levels, and because we are this great hub of connection, they came to us to say, “Hey, what can we do together?” Yencho: This partnership thing is sort of like an onion. It’s multileveled and multi-tiered, and critical to our success. Dean Linton: What partnerships do you think are critical for having CALS be “here”? Herbers: My first suggestion is to partner up with a theoretical institute about how to optimize, to define what sustainability and its processes are. … You’ll have to look at it in a very abstract way. Then I think you can focus the research on those areas, and it makes you really authentic and believable in the future. Linton: As I close this conversation, I’ve learned a lot today. … I hope everyone can recognize that CALS being here means much more than CALS being “right there.” It means that CALS is everywhere. CALSRoundTable2

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... When Disaster Strikes


Dread knotted Andy Meier’s stomach as he sat in his pickup truck on a hill overlooking Cherry Research Farm. Hurricane Matthew had clobbered much of Eastern North Carolina the day before, and he was certain his research station would flood. So he waited. And watched. Little did he know how high the water would rise. Or how massive the wave of support from throughout the state would be.

“We had already done the planning, the equipment was up and all the tactical work was done,” said Meier, Cherry Research Farm manager. “One of the lessons we learned from Hurricane Floyd was where to put the animals. ... They were essentially on islands.” He also had set up a mobile command center, thanks to John Garner from Castle Hayne Research Station. Garner navigated around countless impassable roads on Sunday afternoon to deliver a fully-loaded bus. The 45-minute drive took several hours. Meier camped at the farm Sunday night. When he woke the next morning, it was almost entirely underwater.

Of 2,000 acres, only 45 did not flood. Located in Goldsboro, Cherry Research Farm houses 100 beef cows, a dairy herd of 200 and a couple barns of pigs, along with row crops and research plots. It’s one of 18 research stations across the state that are operated

through a partnership between NC State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Surrounded by the Neuse and Little rivers, the station relies on levies for protection from flooding. And the storm caused several big breaches.

Meier struggles to find words to describe the outpouring of support and the herculean efforts of his own staff. His team became boat captains and safety leaders. His administrative assistant tracked every person’s whereabouts and every meal and supply delivered. At the end of the ordeal, her list was 30 pages long.

“We learned quickly that our stored feed for the dairy had flooded, so we didn’t have anything to feed the cows,” Meier said.

“We’d hold hands every morning, say a prayer and get on with it,” Meier said. “We did that every day. And even though the water was still rising that week, more and more people were able to find routes and come in to help. It was amazing.”

Within hours, a North Carolina Forest Service helicopter had been lined up. Over the course of three days, the crew air-lifted nearly 100 bales of hay to the stranded cows.

The majority of the farm’s cotton and soybean crops were destroyed, as well as countless research samples.

And when feed ran out for the pigs and beef cattle, the NC State Feed Mill responded in record time. They ground fresh feed, and bagged it in 1,000-pound totes that could be airlifted. Staff from Central Crops Research Station delivered it to Cherry Farm within 90 minutes. People from a number of research stations delivered supplies and cooked meals for the Cherry Farm staff, as did N.C. A&T State University and NC State’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, which calls Cherry Farm home. Folks even came from the mountains to help.

And in the midst of the crisis, 38 calves were born. Thanks to the relentlessness of farm staff and volunteers, there wasn’t a single disaster-related animal loss. “This partnership saved the farm,” Meier said. “NC State, NCDA, N.C. A&T … you couldn’t tell us apart. When you looked at that response and the way that that team interacted with each other, you would never know that we don’t work together every day.

“You can’t script that. ... It was a commitment to each other, a commitment to research and a commitment to solving a problem.” — Andy Meier

CALS IS HERE ... 2017



Massive recovery efforts took place all over Eastern North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. And NC State Extension was front and center in the hardest-hit counties.

From rescuing livestock and assessing crop losses to setting up temporary housing and feeding displaced families, Extension was there. Extension was everywhere. “Because Matthew left hundreds of roads in eastern North Carolina impassible, getting feed to livestock became an issue,” said Mike Yoder, Extension coordinator of emergency programs, who embedded with the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center during the crisis. “Our agents also jumped in and did a great job helping to address human needs.” Specialists and agents also served as a critical link between farmers and state-level organizations, relaying urgent information quickly. Today, Extension is still hard at work helping farmers and communities recover. “We all know Extension is not an 8-to-5 job,” said Extension Director Rich Bonanno. “I’m really proud to be at the head of an organization where people are so dedicated to what they do. This was a situation where there was a lot of pressure ... a lot of things needed to happen fast, and I’m thankful that our people really showed what they were made of.”

“The sheer will of the people to be able to jump in and out of these boats and wade through grass ... everything that happened to get the food from the dry areas over to those places where the hogs were and the dairy cows were, to make that all happen — it was real dedication.” — Rich Bonanno, Director of NC State Extension 12


“The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, NC State and NC A&T State University all worked together … to put the Cherry Research Farm back together. We’re very, very proud of the heroic efforts that were taken.”

— Richard Linton, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences




The 23 Cherry Research Farm employees are charter members of the $100 Billion Club, a program created by North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and CALS Dean Richard Linton to celebrate everyday heroes across North Carolina. The award, which Linton said recognizes “exceptional work done by any group or agency within the state of North Carolina” ties to his and Troxler’s shared goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry. “These are the folks on the front lines who make it happen, so they’re very special,” Troxler said.

“Everybody knows how bad it was with Hurricane Matthew, but especially so with the [Cherry Farm] research station … they went way beyond what people would expect of them.”

— Steve Troxler, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture

“We’d really been preparing for that kind of event without knowing it … by building a culture of collaboration between NC State, NCDA and all the other agencies to help each other out.” — Sandy Stewart, Director of the NCDA&CS Research Stations Division

“It was overwhelming. Everywhere we once had land, there was no land to see. I wanted to be sure that everybody got back [from flooded areas] … and was home safe.” — Lisa Flowers, Cherry Research Farm administrative assistant

CALS IS HERE ... Behind The Front Lines


Partnering with the College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State Extension helps provide hands-on farm animal training before U.S. soldiers deploy to countries with agricultural economies.

When Staff Sgt. Angelsea Sorrells reported to the CALS Beef Educational Unit in summer 2016, she had never been near an animal bigger than a cat or dog. And then she was faced with a cow. “It was intimidating at first because, for example, even sheep are fairly large,” Sorrells said. “Not knowing animals, I didn’t know which ones could side-kick you or would run you over if they felt intimidated.” A member of Fort Bragg’s 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion, Sorrells and her unit are charged with forging relationships with civilians overseas. Since 2013, members of NC State Extension have partnered with the College of Veterinary Medicine and Fort Bragg to provide livestock-handling training to soldiers who will serve in agriculture-based economies around the world. Capt. Sarahanne Simpson, battalion veterinarian, said the training aids their mission in more ways than one. In many countries, agriculture is a major economic engine. A basic understanding of farm animal handling and care allows soldiers to help improve local livelihoods while building human connection. “Being able to walk into an area and have a knowledge of what’s important to the population … gives us credibility,” Simpson said.



Army Embraces Ag When the soldiers arrive at CALS’ Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratories, their experience levels vary. For most, it’s their first time around farm animals. The first day of class is general background, followed by three days of training with specific animals. Participants learn how to conduct a basic physical exam, how to wrangle a rope into a halter, how to gauge age from one end of the animal and nutrition from the other. Research and Extension Associate Sharon Freeman returned from retirement to assist with the program. Freeman, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition from NC State and formerly managed CALS’ Metabolism Education Unit, works with CVM veterinarians Harrison Dudley, Derek Foster and Andrew Stringer on soldier training. “The agriculture they’ll see overseas is often very different from the agriculture they’ll see here,” Freeman said. For example, Freeman said, American farms are often very large and most of the livestock relatively undomesticated. “If you go to Africa, you might see kids riding around on the back of the family cow, while here you would rarely see that — the animals wouldn’t allow it,” Freeman said. “We try to consider where they’ll be going and what they need to know.”

“If I can help them be more efficient at their jobs, it may keep them a bit safer.” — Sharon Freeman

For Freeman, the work is personal. Many of the soldiers she teaches remind her of her nephew, she says: U.S. Air Force Captain Joel C. Gentz was a “born leader” who was killed at age 25 on his first deployment. Like Gentz, the soldiers Freeman sees in the workshop are “eager to learn,” she says — “the perfect students.”

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


Photo courtesy of NASA

CALS IS HERE ... In Outer Space



A major grant from NASA establishes a Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) in Plant Gravitational Biology and Genomics at NC State University. The center, which continues until 2003, supports work that results in 92 peer-reviewed journal articles.

NC State’s Chris Brown and Nina Allen organize a national science symposium on gravity. Wendy Boss reports on NC State research showing that oats and maize use the chemical inositol trisphosphate, or InsP 3, to sense changes in their orientation with the respect to the gravity vector.

2007 Transgenic tomato seeds from NC State travel on the Space Shuttle Endeavor to the International Space Station, where they were grown in chambers specifically designed for the challenges of the space environment. The seeds have been genetically altered to have reduced levels of InsP 3.

2017 While Perera awaits the return of a second molecular plant biology experiment that went to the International Space Station on Space X last summer, NC State plant biologist Marcela Rojas-Pierce continues her quest to understand how large organelles known as vacuoles help plants perceive changes in gravity. Based on her earlier research, she speculates that the endoplasmic reticulum, a plant cell’s network of tubules and flattened sacs that produce and process lipids and proteins, somehow tethers the vacuoles to smaller organelles known as the amyloplasts. These amyloplasts are thought to initiate the first signal that perceives the direction of gravity when they settle to the gravitational “bottom” of a cell.


For more than two decades, CALS researchers have been working with NASA to develop food solutions for astronauts. The findings have implications not only for long-term space missions, but also for Earthbound agriculture.

For humans to embark on long-term space missions, they will need plenty of food – not just food they can pack and carry with them, but food they can harvest from plants grown in space. At CALS, much of the research effort has been basic scientific research focused on plant’s response to gravity, which in turn advances our understanding of how plants respond to stress.

“It will be fascinating to see not only what we learn when the plant signaling samples come in for analysis — but also to see what comes next for the students inspired by the study.” — Imara Perera



The final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program carries an NC State plant experiment to the space station. Astronauts grow the tiny seedlings of wild and genetically modified Arabidopsis plants for five days, then freeze them for post-flight analysis by Imara Perera. Perera, who had been a post-doctoral researcher in Boss’ lab, is now a research associate professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology.

The Space X Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft in history to return cargo from the space station, carries Perera’s seedlings back to Earth, to be processed and subjected to next-generation sequencing. She continues to analyze data from the experiment to find out more about the molecular mechanisms plants use to sense and respond to changes in their environment.

2016 To provide astronauts with a fresh, healthy source of protein, Mary Ann Lila and Allen Foegeding, of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, find a way to fuse the polyphenols from cranberries, muscadines and black currants with edible protein. The result: light-weight, shelf-stable protein bars that don’t lose their texture and health benefits as they travel in space.

CALS IS HERE ... Underground


Beneath your feet is a hidden world, vital for human survival. CALS scientists are digging deep to find solutions for everything from water quality to food security. BUILD A BETTER SWEET POTATO The same CALS plant breeders who developed the popular Covington sweet potato have come up with another variety that could benefit North Carolina growers. Covington, released in 2005 by Craig Yencho and Ken Pecota, makes up about 90 percent of the state’s sweet- potato acreage and 20 percent of the nation’s. Yencho said the new variety — known for now as NC 05-198 — probably won’t dominate acreage the way Covington has. That’s because the new variety may not ship or store as well as Covington. However, NC 05-198 has nice storage roots and can be planted and harvested earlier than Covington. If farmers grow the two varieties together, they can extend their growing season and, thus, use labor more efficiently. 18


NC 05-198 has another plus: It’s less susceptible to internal necrosis, a stress response that creates brown spots inside the part of the plant we eat — the storage root. “We expect NC 05-198 to be complementary to Covington, and we hope growers will give it a try,” said Yencho, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Horticultural Science. “It should be a good fit for the early, fresh market window.”



Keeping vineyard soil in the “Goldilocks zone” of appropriate moisture — not too little and not too much — can be challenging. To fix that, CALS soil physicist Josh Heitman is helping generate better water management strategies for North Carolina’s burgeoning winegrape industry.

Studying the distribution of manganese from the soil surface all the way to the bedrock, NC State scientists have figured out why pockets of the southeastern Piedmont region contain high concentrations of the element in well water — especially shallow wells.

In lab, field and modeling experiments, Heitman is working with scientists in the United States and Israel to figure out ways to measure and model evaporation and transpiration processes taking place in vineyards and their components: the vines and soil, and in the United States, the grass that grows between vine rows. Because the mechanisms by which combined moisture and energy transfer occur in soil are poorly understood and difficult to predict, the sensors, measurement techniques and theories Heitman develops have significance for other croplands and rangelands, forests and urban areas.

FIGHT WORLD HUNGER In the developing world, the starchy root crop cassava is a major staple food, capable of thriving in drought and poor soils — but viral diseases regularly lead to major crop losses. CALS scientists are making headway with African colleagues in understanding how the viruses that cause one of these diseases changes over time. That’s important because cassava mosaic disease is an increasingly difficult challenge. Varieties favored because of their former resistance to the disease have become more vulnerable in recent years, said William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant and Microbial Biology Linda Hanley-Bowdoin. The basic knowledge being discovered as a result of the partnership has implications for developing rational, durable strategies not only for CMD but also for other plant pathogens that threaten global food security.

That’s important. High wellwater manganese levels have been associated with heart and developmental defects, as well as cancer. The Piedmont’s geology and hydrology play a major role in how manganese spreads, said Ph.D. student Elizabeth Gillispie, who conducted the study with soil scientist Matt Polizzotto and others. “When bedrock ... breaks down to form soil, you get a buildup of manganese in the saprolite, the layer just below the soil surface and near the water table,” Gillispie said. “That’s why some of the shallow wells have higher concentrations of manganese.” The porousness of the North Carolina saprolite, where much groundwater is stored, helps move manganese deeper into the bedrock, she said. Because more than 1 million Piedmont residents in four states — North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia — use well water with manganese levels above recognized water-quality standards, the scientists emphasize the importance of testing well water to ensure its safety.

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... On The Airwaves

ECONOMIC ORACLE By Chelsea Kellner Governors and growers, city councils and small businesses have sought the insights of Extension economist Mike Walden since he started his radio show in the late 1970s. And now he’s looking farther ahead than ever — to the year 2050. Every two weeks for 39 years, in an unassuming studio on NC State’s main campus, Mike Walden has leaned in to the microphone to record the state’s most influential economic radio program.



There is no script — just a bulleted list of talking points and his wife, Mary, as prompter. Together, they record the next 10 episodes of his daily radio spotlight, Economic Perspective. The rest of us hear him five days a week in two-minute segments, on our car speakers or in our earbuds, filling us in on wage growth or the relative value of a college education. You can read his syndicated column, You Decide, in newspapers across the state, or catch him on UNC-TV. Maybe you’ve read one of his 11 books, or taken in one of his 1,400 or so personal presentations. Despite being a self-proclaimed introvert and naturally private person, Walden has spent his career connecting with the public.

“I never tell anyone how they should use their resources,” Walden said. “What I try to do is to give them good tools to use to make their decisions.” In his upcoming book, Beyond the Connected Age: North Carolina in 2050, Walden looks even farther ahead. He lays out his thoughts on economic probabilities, from the industries that are likely to have prospered and grown, to population-based challenges with water and energy. A sequel to 2008’s North Carolina in the Connected Age, the book is slated to be published in August 2017. He has a prestigious audience. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler often references Walden’s work in Troxler’s Today’s Topic series with Southern Farm Network. He praises Walden’s style as “informative and helpful.” “Mike is somebody I depend on for … trying to figure out what the future might hold for North Carolina agriculture,” Troxler said.

complex economic concepts. He is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics. His awards include North Carolina’s prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2013, and NC State’s Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence in 2014. “People always ask when I’m going to retire,” Walden said. “But I still like what I do. I’m still excited to go to work every day — I get to meet great people. As long as my health is fine, I plan to keep on going.” The key to the kind of clear economic communication that won him acclaim: talk like a normal person. “Every discipline has its jargon, and if you spend all your time talking to people who study what you do, you run the risk of speaking in that jargon,” Walden said. “Presenting in the classroom and across the state, I was forced not to do that.” His priority, whether in person or on one of his more than 7,000 episodes of Economic Perspective, is to keep economics accessible.

“A surprise, and a little bit of a thrill” Born in Ohio and educated at the University of Cincinnati and Cornell University, Walden accepted a job in CALS after completing his Ph.D. in 1978. Since then, Walden has become known for his concise, accessible explanations of

And despite the decades, it’s still exciting when someone says they’ve heard him on the radio. “It’s always a surprise,” Walden said, “and a little bit of a thrill.”

What you might not know about Mike Walden... >

He’s a published suspense novelist. His three economics-based thrillers – Micro Mischief, Macro Mayhem and Fiscal Fiasco – star fictional economist and magnet for trouble Lydia “Dia” Fenner.


He has a collection of 150 neckties. His favorites are the three 75-year-old ties that his father brought back from the South Pacific after World War II.


He loves to garden. He and his wife, Mary, have such highly developed green thumbs that their garden was featured on a tour in 2016.

Subscribe to the Economic Perspective podcast online on iTunes, or on SoundCloud at

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... In The Classroom

LEARNING TO TEACH, TEACHING TO LEARN By Chelsea Kellner “What can you find in the dirt?” “Worms!” “Would you want to eat worms?” Students glance at each other and laugh. A few shake their heads, roll their eyes or make gagging sounds. “No!” “But some things that we want to eat grow in dirt, right?” It’s CALS day at the Reality Center, a Durham nonprofit focused on teens and adults with developmental disabilities. About a dozen students from Joy Morgan’s Teaching Diverse Learners class are rolling out their first lesson of the semester — and their first ever to a classroom of students with a variety of needs. Today, a few use wheelchairs. Others rarely sit still. Morgan’s students have prepared two flexible lesson plans: learning about agriculture by making soil cups, and how to plant mason jars with parsley or cilantro so they can watch them grow the rest of the semester. “A lot of students are apprehensive about it before their first time teaching, because they don’t know what to expect. That’s how I felt,” said Tori Gwaltney, a senior agricultural education major who took the class last semester and chose to return as a teacher’s assistant. “But it’s really fun. It’s like making new friends.”



The Teaching Diverse Leaders class started as a special topics course by Elizabeth Wilson, now director of the Agricultural Institute. At the time, Wilson said, data showed more than 50 percent of freshmen high school students with some type of special need or individual education plan. “Our high school teachers were overwhelmed, because they had no prior experience working with people with disabilities,” Wilson said. When Morgan took over the class, she set up partnerships with both the Reality Center and the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. In their professional lives, CALS’ future agriculture educators will need the flexibility and knowhow to reroute a lesson plan or develop a new one based on each student’s needs. Morgan is a new faculty member — she was made assistant professor in 2016 — but has deep roots at CALS. She earned her bachelors, masters and doctorate here in agricultural education, then returned to teach.

Joy Morgan’s Teaching Diverse Learners class develops creativity and flexibility in future agriculture teachers who must accommodate students with a variety of needs in a single classroom.

“Joy changes people’s lives ... and you can see that impact in their faces immediately,” said Dean Richard Linton, who visited one of Morgan’s classes in 2016. “This is a great example of how much our college cares about the people of North Carolina ... I was both proud and inspired by her work.”

Because agriculture classes are very hands-on, collaboration with facilities like the Reality Center is crucial. Last year, a student with cerebral palsy found that his motor control did not allow him to fill a mason jar with soil himself. One of Morgan’s students filled it for him, while encouraging him to touch the soil and smell the cilantro instead.

“You can tell after their first visit that students start relaxing and valuing individuals on their abilities and not focusing on their disabilities.” — Joy Morgan CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... On Capitol Hill

LAW AND ORDER: AG UNIT By Suzanne Stanard

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in nearly a century, North Carolina fruit and vegetable growers needed a hand adapting their operations. CALS faculty have been working with partners statewide to meet those needs. How, exactly? Through leadership of the Fresh Produce Safety Task Force, created by CALS faculty nearly a decade ago. Task force members reviewed the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and assessed its impact. They hosted FDA farm visits, educated growers and associations, and actively collected and delivered their comments straight to lawmakers – giving farmers a science-based voice at the table. The task force is a partnership of NC State and NC A&T State universities, the N. C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Farm Bureau, farmers, commodity groups and industry associations statewide. “North Carolina is leading the country in its effort to help stakeholders comply with FSMA regulations, so that every farm and food

manufacturer can contribute to the challenge of feeding the population safe food,” said Chris Daubert, head of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. Signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011, FSMA aims to keep the country’s food supply safe by shifting the focus from contamination response to prevention, which requires different approaches at all levels. Food safety faculty secured a $200,000 Golden LEAF Foundation grant in 2016 to provide growers with FSMA training at significantly reduced costs. And several CALS departments collaborated with Extension to hire five food safety area specialized agents in 2016 — including Lynette Johnston — to help the state’s food and animal feed industry implement FSMA requirements.

“Compliance dates for many farmers and processors [of both human and animal food] are fast approaching,” Johnston said. “Our team’s most pressing goal is to effectively train as many farms and food manufacturers as possible on how to comply with the new regulations.” The NC State team is “incredibly helpful,” said Larry Kohl, director of food safety and quality assurance for Food Lion parent company Delhaize America. His staff took a course led by Johnston and area specialized agent Chip Simmons. “We were able to create customized examples integrated throughout the training curriculum specific to a distribution center,” Kohl said. “This was highly impactful to our associates and further enabled them to apply the training.”

“We’re all working together to make a real difference … to support North Carolina farmers and help ensure a safe food supply for our state and beyond.” — Ben Chapman 24


Three Extension specialists — Ben Chapman (food safety), Chris Gunter (vegetable production) and Adam Farenholz (feed mill), pictured above — have created training curricula that are now used as national models. Gunter also is working with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to develop the On-Farm Readiness Review Tool that prepares growers for on-farm inspections for fresh produce safety. After helping roll out the program in Michigan and Florida, Gunter is gearing up for the next on-farm pilot, which takes place in North Carolina.

“I believe the task force and its ability to connect producers, university research and Extension personnel, regulatory agency staff and all of the support industry stakeholders statewide has been a critical component of increasing awareness of fresh produce safety across the state,” he said. “This has been a great collaborative effort.”

CALS grad Caitlin Boon serves as senior adviser to the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She provides advice to senior management on scientific, policy and operational issues, including FSMA. Read Caitlin’s story online:

CALS IS HERE ... Downtown

“There’s an opportunity to bridge the gap [between rural and urban areas] and build regional prosperity.” — Kristin Feierabend 26


BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY FOR EXTENSION By Chelsea Kellner Kristin Feierabend is NC State Extension’s first statewide urban area agent. What does that mean? She’s working with communities to decide. Kristin Feierabend’s workday involves a lot of listening – to residents, partners and county officials at the local level, and to Extension staff in urban counties across the state. “I’m not assuming anything,” Feierabend said. “I’m listening first to identify what the needs are.” Her full title is a mouthful: Area Specialized Agent, Community Resource Development Urban Extension. She’s based in the Wake County Extension office, in the east-central part of the county. But unlike most area agents, who focus on a specific region, Feierabend’s charge is two-fold: piloting community development efforts in Wake while working with Extension staff to strengthen Extension’s position in urban communities throughout North Carolina. And she’s ready. Originally from a small city in Tennessee, Feierabend has worked on community economic development in cities and towns of all sizes across the country. She most recently worked with The Aspen Institute, a policy nonprofit in Washington, D.C., where she helped communities develop and implement strategies to combat poverty. Excited to be back in the South, Feierabend sees great potential for Extension. “We have an opportunity to bridge the gap between

rural and urban areas and help build regional prosperity,” she said. To kick off statewide efforts, she is visiting urban counties around the state to understand their unique strengths and challenges. She will then work with staff to develop a shared vision for urban Extension. In Wake, Feierabend works to engage residents in the county’s Social and Economic Vitality Initiative, a collaborative effort to increase economic opportunity, educational attainment and positive health outcomes in two pilot communities. Verna Best, program manager for the initiative, praises Feierabend as “very knowledgeable and very grounded in community relations.” Social and economic vitality is a crucial quest for all community members, Best said, not just those directly affected by this effort. “It’s important for Extension to focus on these defenseless zones in urban areas,” Best said. “Your community as a whole is only as strong as its weakest parts.” Feierabend agrees. “There’s a lot of hidden potential in our urban communities,” she said. “We have to start talking to folks to find out what they care about, and work alongside them to help move their communities forward.”

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... In The Grocery Store


“We decided to work in various parts of the food system to develop an agriculture that works for everybody.” — CEFS Director Nancy Creamer, professor of horticultural science 28


Thanks in part to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, it’s getting easier for North Carolinans to find fresh food from local farmers in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and farmers markets. Since CEFS started 23 years ago as a partnership of NC State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the program has emerged as an international leader in the local foods movement. Learn more at

> 30+ buyers — including grocery chains, food service wholesales and distributors, restaurants and small retailers — have connected with 238 smalland mid-sized food producers through speed networking or other events offered by CEFS’ North Carolina Growing Together program. To learn more, visit

> Loyal NCGT partner Lowes Foods now purchases 30 percent of its in-season produce from local sources, according to Richard McKellogg, Lowes Foods’ director of produce and floral merchandising. The company has more than 100 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

> To continue growing its local food offerings, Lowes Foods turned a shared CEFS internship into a fulltime locally grown accounts representative: Krista Morgan, an NC State alumna in horticultural science and landscape design.

> CEFS helped launch a statewide Community Food Strategies program and more than 30 local food policy councils to improve pathways to healthy local food. Go to to learn more online.

> Since 2010, individuals, organizations, businesses and institutions that signed up for the CEFS-led 10% Campaign have tracked more than $70 million in local NC food purchases. To learn more, go online to

CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... For The Future

STUDENTS TACKLE WORLD CHALLENGES Allie Briner Crawley Ph.D. student, Functional Genomics Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences When Allie Briner Crawley started at NC State, she had never heard of CRISPR. But the revolutionary cut-and-paste gene editing system quickly became her passion. She studies CRISPR-Cas systems in lactic acid bacteria, with the ultimate goal of creating better probiotics that improve gut health in new ways. At the same time, she takes bacterial immune systems and, using CRISPR processes, essentially turns them on themselves to create genetic engineering tools in bacteria. This could lead to the development of gene therapies that eliminate human disease.

“I didn’t realize when I started grad school that my work was going to have an impact ... I had no idea I’d be able to do research that people would cite and use to spin off their own research. That’s been really neat.”



Elsita Kiekebusch Ph.D. student, Zoology Global Change Fellow, Southeast Climate Science Center, Department of Applied Ecology

“I feel an ethical obligation towards species conservation.” Combining a passion for preservation with a love of insects, Elsita Kiekebusch studies how changes in climate are affecting the life cycles and development of butterflies. Increased temperatures could have severe impacts on creatures that depend on warmth to develop from eggs to adulthood. To study this, Kiekebusch and her research technician hike into the forested wetlands around the U.S. Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to capture female Appalachian brown butterflies. They then put them into “caterpillar corrals” to study the impact of temperature on the development of their eggs. Kiekebusch hopes her research will aid conservation strategies for rare and endangered species. CALS IS HERE ... 2017


Ryann Rossi Ph.D. student, Zoology Department of Applied Ecology Off in the Caribbean, Ryan Rossi dives deep into the region’s mangrove ecosystems. Mangroves are beneficial both environmentally and economically. These halophytes — plants adapted to grow in saltwater — provide an estimated $1.6 billion in ecosystem services worldwide, protecting and stabilizing shorelines, creating homes for fish and aiding carbon sequestration. Rossi centers her study on three factors: insect grazing, disease and high salinity — their impacts both individually and in cooperation with each other. For instance, she used DNA sequencing and morphology to identify a pathogen of interest and combined it with her earlier research on grazing by the robust bush cricket. Results suggested a possible link, leading to further investigation. Her goal: find the causes of mangrove die-off and figure out how to prevent it.

“This is increasingly important as climate change progresses.”



Grayson Walker Graduate student, Poultry Science B.S., Poultry Science, CALS 2015 Prestage Department of Poultry Science Grayson Walker got to work trying to eradicate salmonella bacteria in poultry when he was an undergraduate in CALS. Now, he’s continuing that quest in graduate school. What Walker is working to develop is a “systems approach” to salmonella bacteria control. He’s experimenting with a yeast-derived feed additive that has actions to reduce salmonella bacteria in poultry. Yeast by-products also provide an alternative to the use of antibiotics. Using CALS’ fully integrated on-campus research facility, Walker has been looking at feed effects from the breeder flock to broilers. This would keep poultry healthy and safe to eat, boost consumer safety and be particularly helpful for large companies that own their own supply chain from feed production through meat processing.

“As a CALS student, it is my duty to contribute to agriculture advancement ... while simultaneously taking into account the health of animals, and the health of people who depend on them.” CALS IS HERE ... 2017


CALS IS HERE ... Through Our Alumni


The Executive Farm Management Program gives farmers business training from experts around the region – thanks in part to Johnny Barnes, a 1987 CALS graduate in agricultural economics. Johnny Barnes believes in the value of learning for a lifetime – not just for himself, but for the managers who help him run a diversified farming operation across five counties. With a recent gift to CALS, he’s making sure others with similarly complex farms and agribusinesses have access to first-rate continuing education in business management and leadership. The newly launched Executive Farm Management Program will give farmers exposure to expertise, not just from CALS but also from East Carolina’s College of Business and the Center for Innovation Management Studies in NC State’s Poole College of Management. The three institutions work together on the program. “Unlike growers in the Midwest and Great Plains, who can have highly mechanized farms with tens of thousands of acres of one or two crops, many of us are managing, financing and running operations based on specialty crops and labor-intensive crops,” said Barnes, whose Spring Hope farm produces sweet potatoes, tobacco, soybeans, watermelon, peanuts and wheat. “We needed a program targeted to the challenges we face.” 34


Barnes and another farmer, Richard Anderson of Nashville, recently contributed a total of $50,000 to help launch the program, along with a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Bill Teague, chairman of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission’s board of directors, said he expects that the program will have an impact even beyond the farms represented. “These agriculture leaders will certainly take new ideas back to their farms,” he said. “That will benefit not only all aspects of their farming operation, but also the communities they are in.” Blake Brown, CALS’ Hugh C. Kiger Professor of Agricultural Economics, serves as program director. He said the initial program is tailored to North Carolina sweet potato and tobacco farmers. Subsequent programs will likely focus on different segments of the agricultural industry and be open to farmers from throughout the Southeast.

CALS Campaign Kicks Off The college has reached 67 percent of its “Think and Do the Extraordinary” campaign goal — $268 million of $400 million — and there’s no slowing down.

CALS is well on its way to raising 25 percent of the university’s $1.6 billion goal. That’s important, Barnes said, because southeastern farmers have unique needs when it comes to business management and leadership. He’s been to a similar program offered in Texas, but found it wasn’t precisely targeted to the needs of growers here. Representatives of 21 farms that grow 31,000 acres of sweet potatoes — a fifth of the nation’s crop — and 11,000 acres of tobacco signed up for the pilot program, Brown said. The program fee of $2,500 covers two weeklong workshops and lodging in Raleigh. The workshops, one held in February and one in November, focus on such topics as strategic planning, financial management, human resource and labor issues, and leadership styles. Each month between workshops, participants will be able to connect with each other and with university faculty through one-hour online sessions on topics ranging from tax management to the impact of mergers and acquisitions in the agriculture industry. Participants can also obtain business planning help for their farms, Brown said. Barnes believes the program will not just help develop business management skills, but also connect farmers with others facing shared challenges. And that’s not just talk. Barnes enrolled two of his own farm managers in the program.

“When we are out here on the farm, it’s easy to get focused on the day to day. Sometimes we are isolated. This gives us a chance not only to get continuing education but to come together and network.”

“To be at 67 percent … is something to be proud of, but the true goal is not a financial number. It’s the impact of these contributions in order to benefit our people, our programs and our positive impact on agriculture and the life sciences.” — CALS Dean Richard Linton

Presentations at the campaign kickoff event spotlighted the ways CALS embodies the campaign pillars — extraordinary purpose, opportunity, leadership, places and experience ­— and honored donors who have accelerated the college toward its goal. “It’s very important to fulfill our dream [through this campaign],” said Bill Culpepper, ’66, SePRO president and CALS Campaign chair. “I ask others to join in and help us achieve the objective that we have in front of us, for the benefit of the citizens of North Carolina and the world.”

— Johnny Barnes CALS IS HERE ... 2017


“I want to highlight how proud I am to be an alumna of CALS — what a great privilege. The basis of my success is the education I received there.”

#AGPACKSTRONG: Sepideh Saidi Founder of top civil engineering firm SEPI, CALS grad Sepideh Saidi has been named one of the top 20 CEOs in the Triangle – and a 2016 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. SEPI has worked with NC State since 2008, most recently on the Center for Technology and Innovation, completed in January 2017.



“When I first came to the United States, when my family sent me here to get my education, the intention was for me to go back to Iran. I was very passionate about doing anything that would help the underprivileged ... and biological and agricultural engineering sounded like it could do much for the fabric of society. “I learned a lot, but when I graduated, Iran had gone through its major revolution. ... Everyone had left, it was chaos. ... So the first job I got was at the North Carolina Department of Transportation. I went back and finished coursework at NC State to get a civil engineering degree as well. “When I decided to start my business, it was partly because I felt I had to challenge myself. I say that to my staff and to my children — you always have opportunities to grow and evolve, and because of that, if you don’t want to stay stagnated, you will face many challenges. “Depending on what phase you’re in, those challenges change... Right now, my biggest challenge is to make sure we recruit the right candidates for the right positions, and create a healthy, supportive and positive work environment for our employees to have a very positive work experience.



State’s Biggest Tailgate! Imagine over 2,000 of your classmates, friends and family celebrating the Pack together. That’s the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Tailgate! This year — our 26th — we want you there enjoying barbecue and all the fixin’s, plus our own delicious Howling Cow ice cream. It’s all part of Ag Day, with exhibits and activities for one and all. And, of course, the big game against the Marshall’s Thundering Herd. Mark your calendar and get your tickets today!

Saturday, Sept. 9 3½ hours before kickoff PNC Arena, East Entrance (gametime to be announced)

Mr and Mrs Wuf are going to be there. How about you? Contact us at 919 - 515 -7222 or

NC State University


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Campus Box 7508 Raleigh, NC 27695


Be an Extraordinary Part of CALS’ Future SePRO® CEO Bill Culpepper is a forward-thinking man. That’s why he became CALS’ Chair of NC State’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. He knows CALS can solve the grand challenges of a complicated world. And that your support will help give CALS the power to do the extraordinary.

Join us at

Signup for CALS Weekly Bulletin @NCStateCALS

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CALS Magazine, Spring 2017: CALS Is Here  

NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is present in grand challenges in our state, nation and world.

CALS Magazine, Spring 2017: CALS Is Here  

NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is present in grand challenges in our state, nation and world.