Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dr. Guochen Yang, Zhongge Lu Receive Patent

Alexandrian laurel (Danae Racemosa L.) is an evergreen shrub in high demand. But meeting that demand isn’t easy: The seed germination of Alexandrian laurel often takes up to 12 to 18 months with a germination rate of only about 20 percent. Due to its slow-growth rate, it can take six years to produce a saleable one-gallon size plant.

Dr. Guochen Yang and research technician Lu (Cindy) Zhongge in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design have found that germinating seeds in the presence of cytokinins and/or auxins increased in vitro shoot multiplication and seedling quality in the shrub. The application of the cytokine Benzyladenine was found to balance seedling development by accelerating shoot growth and slowing root growth, whereas another cytokine, Thidiazuron, significantly promoted shoot multiplication and proliferation by producing 5-30 shoots per seed.

This research and the resulting patent will help ensure a more plentiful and reliable source of Alexandrian laurel in the agricultural marketplace, particularly in the landscape and nursery industries.

A season of student scholarship continues for the CAES

Chancellor Martin congratulates Desiree Hedrick as his 2018 award for Academic Excellence.

CAES scholarship is in full bloom this season, with the recent award announcements of the inaugural Cheatham-White Scholarships, the Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Scholars, and the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence.  All awards are predicated on high grade-point averages and demonstrated scholarship.

Shown with an agricultural communications class, Alston says academic excellence is core to the CAES’s mission.

“Excellence in academics has always been part of the mission for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and these students are examples of this ideal,” says Dr. Antoine Alston, CAES associate dean for academic studies.

The University announced this week the names of the 20 Dowdy Scholars, whose endowments are bestowed in honor of the university’s sixth president, the late Dr. Lewis C. Dowdy and his wife, Elizabeth.  Three of those awardees — 15 percent of the total number of recipients —  will study in the CAES. Those incoming scholars to the CAES are:

  • Lia Artis of Chester, Va., who will major in food and nutritional science.
  • Jaylah Autry of Bayboro, an animal science major.
  • Quincey Lee of Holly Hill, S.C., an animal science major.

Continue reading A season of student scholarship continues for the CAES

N.C. A&T students co-host biggest MANRRS in 33 years

Brianna Holness

More than 1,200 students, faculty and industry leaders from across the country made the 2018 Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) conference the best attended in its 33-year history.

Held April 4-8 at the Koury Convention Center, the conference was co-hosted by the MANRRS chapter of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A&T, and by its sister land-grant affiliated chapter at NC State in Raleigh. Other hosts and sponsors included agrochemical and pharmaceutical companies BASF Corp., Bayer and Syngenta.

The annual gathering and career fair was tailored to students in a range of agriculture-related fields including agribusiness, animal sciences, biological engineering, fashion merchandising, environmental systems and food science.

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Longtime early childhood professor honored in a major way

Dr. Valerie Jarvis McMillan, an early childhood professional with 25 years of experience, was honored by Guilford Child Development at the 2017 Early Childhood Champions Luncheon in October.

An associate professor in childhood development and family studies in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, McMillan was feted for her legacy of training other early childhood educators. She was honored at the luncheon by none other than Gov. Roy Cooper, who delivered the keynote address, and by A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr., who presented the award to her.

“The people in this room get it,” Cooper told a crowd of nearly 600 people, as reported by the Greensboro News and Record. “You know what it takes to start early in the life of children, many of whom are born into circumstances that are difficult.” Continue reading Longtime early childhood professor honored in a major way

Wang on biofuels research team

Dr. Lijun Wang, professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, is part of a University of North Carolina system research team that recently snagged a $2 million grant to convert animal and food waste into carbon-neutral gasoline. Awarded by the UNC System’s Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI), the project will vet technology that uses solar energy to convert biogas to gasoline.

The research team is led by N.C. A&T chemistry professor, Dr. Debasish Kuila. He is also the research director of the National Science Foundation CERST Bioenergy Center, and an adjunct professor at both the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) and the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Continue reading Wang on biofuels research team

Dr. Godfrey Gayle Secures $400,000 NRCS Contract

Dr. Godfrey Gayle, a professor of biological engineering, has secured a $400,000 contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide scholarships and other support to students studying biological engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The two-year contract seeks to increase enrollment and improve retention of undergraduate and graduate students studying biological engineering, especially natural resources and agricultural engineering programs in the CAES. The contract has multiple goals, including to:

Continue reading Dr. Godfrey Gayle Secures $400,000 NRCS Contract

N.C. A&T Scientist Patents Additional Cancer-Fighting Compounds

Dr. Shengmin Sang, a food scientist with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has received another patent for compounds comprising aspirin and ginger derivatives that have shown promise for preventing and treating cancer. This patent supplements a patent Sang received in 2015 for other novel aspirin-derived compounds.

“N.C. A&T is working with Dr. Sang to build a robust patent portfolio around this ground-breaking research, and we are delighted by this most recent recognition,” says Dr. Laura Collins, director of intellectual property development within A&T’s Division of Research and Economic Development.

Combining aspirin and ginger derivatives with anti-cancer properties, the newly patented compounds are more effective than their individual components in killing colon cancer cells in laboratory tests. The compounds are prodrugs, which become pharmacologically active when they are metabolized.

Continue reading N.C. A&T Scientist Patents Additional Cancer-Fighting Compounds

Dr. Radiah Minor mentors undergraduate researchers

Dr. Radiah Minor, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science, mentored four students in an undergraduate research program funded by the National Science Foundation. The four students – Lauren Blackwell, Christina Bradshaw, Maya Brooks and Zavier Eure – completed swine-related research projects during the 2016-2017 academic year.

The program, North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NC-LSAMP), seeks to increase the number of talented students completing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees and enrolling in STEM graduate programs.

“Participation in research such as that supported by LS-AMP allows students to ‘see’ the real world applications for and put into action the concepts that they learn in class,” Minor says. “As the students continue to perform experiments, collect data and present to peers, I have witnessed increased confidence and greater interest and excitement about the research process.

Continue reading Dr. Radiah Minor mentors undergraduate researchers

Liang trio awarded best higher ed practices by the 2017 Small Business Institute

160817 Kathleen Liang 001ed3Dr. Kathleen Liang has, for the third time in four years, garnered top honors from the Small Business Institute (SBI) during its 2017 conference in San Diego last month. Liang, who is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Community-Based Food Systems in the CAES, teamed with  Guilford College colleagues, Drs. Marlene McCauley and Kyle Dell to win the SBI’s Best Practices Award for a collaboration project between the two campuses. The presentation that took home honors for the trio was: “Building a Collaborative Effort of Training and Education in Sustainable Food System for the 22nd Century through Urban Agriculture Programs.”

Liang’s expertise in  entrepreneurship and sustainable food systems programming  was sought by the Guilford College faculty for building their new sustainable food systems major. Specific strategies designed and proposed for the collaboration between the two Greensboro-based campuses include:

  • Sharing courses and projects to offer collaborative learning opportunities in sustainable agriculture, food systems, and entrepreneurship.
  • Encouraging faculty and students to participate in collaborative workshops and seminars.
  • Recruiting and training undergraduate students from A&T and Guilford College to work jointly on sustainable urban food system issues using Guilford College’s 3-acre farm through partnerships with campus dinning service, local restaurants, refugee resettlement programs, and new immigrant communities in Greensboro.

“The proposed collaboration will benefit N.C.
A&T faculty and students in learning about urban multi-functional agriculture development to support low-income, immigrant communities in the Greensboro area,” says Liang, who says she is honored by the award and in collaborating with Guilford faculty and students.

“The collaboration will also enhance the knowledge and skills in entrepreneurial strategies to support urban food systems for faculty and students at both A&T and Guilford College.”

The SBI Best Practices Award recognizes colleges and universities that develop “new entrepreneurial curriculum, new or innovative classroom delivery and superior outcomes from existing programs.” Liang also won top SBI awards in 2015 and 2014, while at the University of Vermont. She was noted for a Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) for Food Systems award in 2015, and in 2014 for her Dollar Enterprise collaborative entrepreneurial curriculum, which she has since been able to establish at A&T between the CAES, the College of Engineering and the College of Business.

Poster posit

Faculty and staff preparing for upcoming conferences and other events are reminded of guidelines for helping create quality academic posters. Please note that new poster templates with the CAES’s name change and the appropriate version of the A&T logo are available and should be used.

Ag. Communications strongly encourages the use of Microsoft PowerPoint to create posters for the large format printer at  C.H. Moore. For best results, start with one of the 36″X48″ templates in the “TEMPLATES” folder on Poster Share. (Directions for getting to the templates are the same as for depositing posters to be printed—below.)

The Ag. Comm. staff needs a minimum of three business days  notice to produce a poster.  Posters that do not make use of the required templates must be pre-approved by a department chair, Ag. Research administration or a unit head.

To get a poster into the Poster Share queue for the large format printer (from a computer with a Windows OS):

1. Left click “Start”

2.  Select “Run” (If “Run is not a menu option, press and hold the Windows Key + R)

3. Inside the command box that appears, type ” \\argyle\poster$

4. Save your poster in the directory “To be printed”

5. Once the poster is uploaded, notify Ag Communications that it’s ready for the printer by emailing

When the poster is ready for pickup, the designation “printed” will be added to the name of your work inside the “To be printed” folder. Posters may be picked up in the bin near B-17 at C.H. Moore.

Producing industrial hemp is focus of CAES growers’ meeting

The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is hosting an upcoming meeting to help small-scale farmers learn more about how to produce industrial hemp.  Scheduled for 1-3 p.m., Feb. 27 at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, at 2907 E. Gate City Blvd. in Greensboro, the meeting will also focus on parameters of the law.

The 2015 North Carolina General Assembly legalized industrial-hemp production and established a pilot program that will help small farmers generate income through production of the new crop. The law was updated in 2016 to establish a research program using the faculty expertise at N.C. A&T and N.C. State University, the state’s two land-grant institutions160321SFW058ed2.

Organized by Dr. Valerie Giddings, the CAES associate dean for research, the meeting will feature information from CAES faculty and staff.

Hemp production in the United States has become a profitable, value-added crop with a number of uses including grain, dietary supplements, textiles, animal bedding, car parts, biofuel, environmentally safe paper and packaging material, and construction. The goal of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission is to help North Carolina become a leader in hemp production and processing, to stimulate the economy and to provide viable opportunities for small-scale farmers.

To reserve a meeting space, email or call 336-285-4701.


CAES professors teach Scouts about STEM

When more than 350 Boy Scouts, ages 11 to17, descended on N.C. A&T in December to learn about STEM disciplines – that’s science, technology, engineering and math – two CAES professors in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design were on hand to help them learn.

Dr. Bill Randle helped a group of Scouts earn the horticulture badge on the main campus, and Dr. Charles Raczkowski took 20 Scouts to the University Farm to learn enough about soil and water conservation to earn a corresponding badge. Both sessions were held  Dec. 10 as part of the Scouts’ STEM Merit Badge College program.Charles Raczkowski 2011ed3 William Randle yellow 2011ed3

“They loved the hands-on,” Raczkowski said of the Scouts. “We took core (soil) samples and had them guess what the levels where. We talked about what soil’s issues were and how to manage those issues. They had to dig, feel, listen and speculate. We had them grab the soil and feel it.”

A lifelong Scout himself, Dr. Raczkowski was a logical person for the Scouts to contact when recruiting instructors for the STEM Merit Badge College, the fourth to be held at A&T. The Scout program enlists experts in a STEM field to volunteer to teach a variety of disciplines to the Scouts in a one-day intensive. Twenty badges were taught to the Scouts in December, on locations all across campus. Some of the other courses held at A&T included engineering, computer programming, architecture and video game design.

CAES students in the news

A couple of current and former CAES students are generating attention in the agricultural landscape.

Trequan McGee, a senior in the CAES’s Urban and Community Horticulture program, was prominently featured in a video shown during the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ annual meeting Nov. 13-15 in Austin, Texas.  More than 1,300 senior leaders from public higher-education institutions from across North America, including N.C. A&T, attended the conference. Click here to view the video:

Daniel Johnson, agribusiness graduate, who is an economic market analyst reporter, with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, was recently profiled in the AMS newsletter. Click here to read the article:


University Farm shares harvest to alleviate food insecurity

The University Farm at N.C. A&T has donated 1,308 pounds of produce worth about $3,205 to community hunger relief agencies this year, and is still harvesting.  Working through Share the Harvest, Backpack Beginnings, the Bonner Center for Community Learning at Guilford College and other community groups, the farm has provided fresh produce to as many as 16 agencies in and around Greensboro, where food insecurity remains high.

The farm’s surplus can be used to alleviate that problem, says John Beck, horticulture unit coordinator at the farm and program associate for Cooperative Extension. Last year, the farm provided 5,738 pounds of produce worth about $12,700.

Although the farm’s primary mission is still to provide vegetables and small fruit crops for applied research and demonstration, a fair amount of the harvest is always left over. Beck and farm support staff  harvest, weigh and package the crops for Share the Harvest and other agencies to pick up.

Thanks to the farm’s high tunnels, the harvest continues to flow even when the plants’ traditional growing seasons are over, offering: mustard greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pac choi, salad mix, chard, eggplant, basil, pea shoots and even strawberries.

That’s good news for a city that has 17 identified food deserts, in which residents have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and one of the highest overall food insecurity ratings in the country, according to a 2015 report by the Food Research and Action Center.

For people in need, every little bit adds up. If one person consumed one pound of fresh produce each day, the farm’s 2015 donations would be enough to provide 16 people with enough fresh fruits and vegetables for an entire year, according to the farm’s donation report.

“The goal is to target food insecurity,” Beck says. “We are pleased to be able to help.”

Yang gets patent for Alexandrian laurel

150902yang001edcaesDr. Guochen Yang has been awarded a patent associated with a popular landscape evergreen that has the potential to increase production and profits for small-scale growers.

Yang, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design,  has worked more than 10 years to formulate a micropropagation protocol he’s developed for Alexandrian laurel. The process reliably produces many of the plants in far less growing time than nature could.

Naturally, the laurel has a 20 percent chance of growth; growers that plant 100 seeds may get 20 plants. With Yang’s method, growers are guaranteed to get 100 shoots from 100 seeds, and each of those shoots has the potential to contain up to 50 plants. What’s more, the time each plant will take to grow to marketable size is reduced by one or two years, from six or seven years to four or five.

Yang’s research has been directly inspired by the commercial marketplace, with the owner of a local plant nursery encouraging him to find a quicker way than usual to get the slow-growing Alexandrian laurel to market.

Now, the patent that protects the Alexandrian laurel-growing protocols is the intellectual property of Yang and A&T. Landscapers, nursery operators or anyone else who wants to know how to grow the plant from tissue samples can do so, but must first sign a contract with A&T.

The shortened growing process overcomes the difficulty of cultivating enough sellable plants to make space in growers’ greenhouses, which can cost up to $15 per square foot, per year, pay.

“Once you get the formula, the protocol, you can quickly produce many plants,” Yang says. “Time is money. This has the potential to significantly increase the production, and profit margin, for U.S. agriculture overall.”




Workshops show growers how to extend growing season

High tunnels can be used for season extension and natural resources conservation.
High tunnels can be used for season extension and natural resources conservation.

CAES faculty who work with vegetable growers will want to point them toward several upcoming workshops on high tunnel vegetable production that The Cooperative Extension Program has organized for different climatic regions across the state.

Geared toward producers selling into wholesale markets, as well as toward Extension agents who are assisting growers with wholesale market expansion, this full-day, hands-on workshop will offer a variety of tools to assist growers in maximizing the efficient use and profitability of high tunnels. Presenters from The Cooperative Extension Program and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will discuss various high-tunnel equipment vendors, as well as updates on regional marketing strategies and federal funding for high tunnel construction.

“Season extension is one way that farmers can access markets six weeks longer, and really capitalize on their vegetable production,” says Laura Lauffer, coordinator for local farms and foods for The Cooperative Extension Program.

Two sessions of “Season Extension with High Tunnels – Maximizing Use & Producing Profits” have been scheduled; both are 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; cost is $25 and participants may register online through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS):

  • Monday, Nov. 21 at the Ashe County Cooperative Extension Center, 134 Government Circle, Suite 202, Jefferson, N.C. 28640. Registration  deadline is Nov. 17.
  • Monday, Dec. 12 at the Sandhills Research Station, 2148 Windblow Road, Jackson Springs, N.C. 27281-9124. Registration deadline for that session is Dec. 7.

Both days will conclude with high-tunnel farm tours. The Ashe County workshop will include information about high tunnel features that are important for extended season growing in the southern Appalachian mountain region, while the Jackson Springs workshop, will provide information about high tunnel features that are important for the Sandhills region.

An additional three sessions have been scheduled for 2017: February 9 in Onslow County; March 27 at Lomax Farm in Cabarrus County, and March 30 at the North Carolina A&T State University Farm in Guilford County. Details and registration for these workshops will be posted at the CEFS website in December.

For more information about these workshops, or other initiatives from N.C. A&T in support of local farms and foods, contact Lauffer at The Cooperative Extension Program at (336) 285-4690 or (919) 444-1478, or emailing her at

Dairy food safety training scheduled Oct. 5

In keeping with the CAES’s Local Food & Health Initiative, The
160318-poerter-myrick-130ed2Cooperative Extension Program has organized a food safety training class for dairy producers 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 in Coltrane Hall on the N.C. A&T campus. Cost is $40 which includes a workbook and training by Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel, CEO of Dirigo Food Safety a nationally recognized authority on dairy food safety. Registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 3.

This class for cheese makers and dairy producers will focus on the basics of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and documented food safety planning, a topic of critical importance to anyone in the dairy industry.

“HACCP training allows farmers to assure a safe product to meet a growing consumer demand for locally produced artisanal cheeses and dairy products,” says Laura Lauffer, project coordinator of local farms and food for A&T’s Cooperative Extension Program.

Participants will learn how to write standard operating procedures (SOPs), write process-flow diagrams, describe their product accurately and understand value added dairy operations. At the end of the course, participants will earn a certificate in Food Safety for Value Added Dairy Production.

Farmers and others interested in artisanal dairy production should register online and click on “Artisanal, Safe and Efficient: The Way Forward for Dairy Producers”

CAES Homecoming Celebration scheduled

Alumni who preregister online will get a first class "boarding pass" to the buffet line.
Alumni who preregister online will get a first class “boarding pass” to the buffet line.

The Greatest Homecoming on Earth is approaching, and as always, the CAES will host the greatest welcome-back-alumni cookout on earth during its annual CAES Homecoming Celebration.

This year, the celebration will be 1 – 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, on the lawn of B.C. Webb Hall.  On the program are fun games; great food by David Pittman, (class of ’97); dynamic entertainment by DJ, Courtney Lawrence, (class of 2009);  and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, faculty and students. The CAES will also have a table for alumni to donate to the CAES and/or the department or program of their choice.

Alumni can show up without reserving in advance — but those who do so online will be privileged with a first-class “boarding pass” for seating, and for the buffet line.  Alumni can find the online registration form by visiting the CAES homepage, and clicking on “Alumni.”

This year, the CAES cookout revolves around the theme, “The CAES Footprint.”

“The event will be an opportunity for faculty and staff to share the many ways CAES makes strides, steps up to challenges, and keeps pace with 21st century change, thus leaving a positive imprint across North Carolina through relevant research, Cooperative Extension outreach, and academic programs that serve industry and society,” says Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies, and chair of the CAES homecoming committee.