Dean's Message Fall 2011

Ron Pardini, Dean & Director CABNR/NAES

Ron Pardini, Dean & Director CABNR/NAES

With a difficult year behind us, I am pleased to announce that the Board of Regents approved Agricultural Science, Range Ecology & Management and Forest Management & Ecology as new majors, along with approving our new Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Science.

May I be the first to welcome interested students into our new majors. In keeping with attracting top tier students, 12 students from within the College were named National Merit Scholars and will receive a $15,000 annual scholarship from the University. Scholarships awarded through National Merit programs are regarded as some of the highest academic honors attainable by U.S. high school students.

At the regional level, our USDA supported multi-state project “Rangeland Education Across Institutional Borders” has been approved by regional directors. This approval opens a new paradigm in rangeland education, by allowing students to attend classes taught across traditionally closed university borders.

As the project’s administrative advisor, I will be identifying and coordinating nine university/colleges, creating a pool of rangeland scientists/educators for the purpose of developing regional instructional opportunities that increase subject matter curricula for future students and professionals alike. Initially, our goal is to determine specific curriculum needs and develop a platform for cross-institution delivery of rangeland course work.

In the spirit of the Land Grant mission, on September 10th we conducted our first field day at our Valley Road Field Lab (VRFL) in Reno. It featured all aspects of our Land Grant heritage including 57 scientific posters representing highly technical basic research to applied research that directly serves our community. To introduce guests to the wide array of research project directly connected to VRFL, a series of tours were conducted by area research leaders. Some of the highlights included tours of our 29,000 ft2 Greenhouse Complex, where visitors learned about our research on controlling noxious weeds in Nevada's rangelands, development of drought resistant crops, evaluating pinyon juniper impacts on Nevada’s resources, wildlife, nutrition and health, animal health, food safety and environmental toxicology. Tour of the growth chambers inside the Greenhouse complex.

Dr. John Cushman gives guided tour of the University's Greenhouse Complex.Other highlights showcased our research on developing biofuels from salt tolerant algae and our experimental vineyard and winery, designed to test a variety of wine grapes best suited for a budding Nevada wine industry.

Some of the most popular activities during field day include a wine tasting workshop where internationally recognized biochemist/horticulturalist Dr. Grant Cramer not only introduced guests to Nevada produced wines, but attempted to educate taster’s palate with a system that helps compare, describe and remember wines. Not to forget our future students, the children’s learning and fun center included hands-on experiments to isolate DNA from strawberries, “tick races” designed to reveal how ticks are attracted, insect life cycle demonstration, smell-a-vision, and edible cell biology.

It was my privilege to also host various Federal and State partnering agencies. Guests were shown how agencies and CABNR/NAES faculty formed partnerships that strengthen both our research and educational programs. In attendance were USDA-ARS, USFS-Rocky Mountain Research Station, BLM, NRSC, NDOW and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. The event also played a role in supporting our student organizations.

All the proceeds from our Wolf Pack Meats BBQ lunch were donated to CABNR’s student organizations. Special thanks go out to all the volunteers that made the VRFL Field Day special. Thank you for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy reading this issue of CABNR’s quarterly newsletter.