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Kelly Zering

Extension Specialist

Nelson Hall 3328


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Date: 09/30/22 - 9/29/26
Amount: $2,160,099.00
Funding Agencies: Agricultural Marketing Service - USDA

Processing milk and other dairy products on the farm provides added value to dairy producers. These types of operations also provide an opportunity for affordable, local food sources in their communities. The goal of this project is to support improved farm efficiency and milk quality, new product development, and quantify the economic and environmental impact of these dairy operations.

Date: 08/01/22 - 1/31/25
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Plant disease outbreaks are increasing and threaten food security for the vulnerable in many areas of the world and in the US. Climate change is exacerbating weather events that affect crop production and food access for vulnerable areas. Now a global human pandemic is threatening the health of millions on our planet. A stable, nutritious food supply will be needed to lift people out of poverty and improve health outcomes. Plant diseases, both endemic and recently emerging, are spreading and exacerbated by climate change, transmission with global food trade networks, pathogen spillover and evolution of new pathogen genetic lineages. Prediction of plant disease pandemics is unreliable due to the lack of real-time detection, surveillance and data analytics to inform decisions and prevent spread. In order to tackle these grand challenges, a new set of predictive tools are needed. In the PIPP Phase I project, our multidisciplinary team will develop a pandemic prediction system called ????????????????Plant Aid Database (PAdb)??????????????? that links pathogen transmission biology, disease detection by in-situ and remote sensing, genomics of emerging pathogen strains and real-time spatial and temporal data analytics and predictive simulations to prevent pandemics. We plan to validate the PAdb using several model pathogens including novel and host resistance breaking strains of lineages of two Phytophthora species, Phytophthora infestans and P. ramorum and the cucurbit downy mildew pathogen Pseudoperonspora cubensis Adoption of new technologies and mitigation interventions to stop pandemics require acceptance by society. In our work, we will also characterize how human attitudes and social behavior impact disease transmission and adoption of surveillance and sensor technologies by engaging a broad group of stakeholders including growers, extension specialist, the USDA APHIS, Department of Homeland Security and the National Plant Diagnostic Network in a Biosecurity Preparedness workshop. This convergence science team will develop tools that help mitigate future plant disease pandemics using predictive intelligence. The tools and data can help stakeholders prevent spread from initial source populations before pandemics occur and are broadly applicable to animal and human pandemic research.

Date: 09/01/18 - 8/31/24
Amount: $2,997,865.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Challenges at the FEW nexus are not simply technological, but convergent in the sense of spanning technical, ecological, social, political, and ethical issues. The field of biotechnology is evolving rapidly - and with it, the potential for creating a diverse array of powerful future products that could intentionally and unintentionally impact FEW systems. Depending on what products are developed and how those products are deployed, biotechnology could have a positive or negative impact on all 3 of these systems. Wise decisions will require leaders who can integrate knowledge from engineering, design, natural sciences, and social sciences. We will train STEM graduate students to respond to these challenges by conducting convergent research aimed at development, and assessment of biotechnologies to improve services provided by FEW systems. We will train our students to engage with non-scientists to elevate societal discourse about biotechnology. We will recruit 3 cohorts with emphasis on students who have shown a passion for crossing between natural and social sciences. We will work with the NCSU Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity in recruiting students from underrepresented minority groups. Cohorts will have 6 students who will take a minor in Genetic Engineering and Society (GES). They will receive PhDs in established graduate programs such as Plant Biol, Chem & Biomol Engr, Econ, Public Adm, Entomol, Plant Path, Communication, Rhetoric & Digital Media, Forestry & Environ Res, Crop & Soil Sci, and Genetics. For students in natural science PhD programs, at least 1 thesis committee member will be from a social sciences program and vice versa for students in social sciences. For all students, at least 1 thesis chapter will demonstrate scholarship across natural and social sciences. The disciplinary breadth of our proposed NRT is very broad, so we will focus student projects narrowly on a specific biotechnology product that impact FEW systems. When they first arrive at NCSU, cohorts will participate in a training program off campus where they will be exposed to the issues they will address. Students will carry out a group project in the focus area of the cohort to continue team development. To fulfill the GES minor, students will take 3 specially designed courses: Plant Genetics & Physiology, Science Communication & Engagement, Policy & Systems Modeling. There are no NRT-eligible institutions partnering on this project outside of an evaluation role.

Date: 02/17/20 - 6/30/24
Amount: $556,250.00
Funding Agencies: Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for Plant Sciences (GRIP4PSI)

Emerging plant disease and pest outbreaks reduce food security, national security, human health, and the environment, with serious economic implications for North Carolina growers. These outbreaks may accelerate in coming decades due to shifts in the geographic distributions of pests, pathogens and vectors in response to climate change and commerce. Data-driven agbioscience tools can help growers solve pest and disease problems in the field more quickly but there is an urgent need to harness game-changing technologies. Computing devices are now embedded in our personal lives with sensors, wireless technology, and connectivity in the ????????????????Internet of Things??????????????? (IoT) but these technologies have yet to be scaled to agriculture. Our interdisciplinary team will build transformative sensor technology to identify plant pathogens, link local pathogen data and weather data, bioinformatics tools (pathogen genotypes), and use data driven analytics to map outbreaks, estimate pest and pathogen risk and economic damage, in order to coordinate response to emerging diseases, and contain threats. Sensor-supported early and accurate detection of pathogens before an outbreak becomes wide-spread in growing crops will significantly reduce pesticide use and increase crop yields.

Date: 11/01/22 - 12/31/23
Amount: $15,000.00
Funding Agencies: NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission

This project supports development of a Masters of Agribusiness degree program at NC State in order to support agriculture and rural businesses; both by creating an opportunity for them to upgrade the education of their current management and by creating an upgraded workforce graduating from NC State. It will also create opportunities for students from every NC county to gain a professional degree in agribusiness. The funding will support a fulltime person and some temporary assistant time and costs of travel and surveying. The project will survey stakeholders in every part of the state and across NC State U and across agribusinesses and ag-related organizations in NC and associated with NC State U. The project will also survey prospective students and survey comparable existing programs across the country. The survey is intended first to quantify the need and demand for the program, second to understand features that stakeholders most want to see in the new program, and third to build engagement among a diverse group of leaders to support and steer development of the program. This initiative arises from feedback we have been receiving from a broad range of stakeholders.

Date: 02/01/22 - 10/31/22
Amount: $50,000.00
Funding Agencies: PIC (Pig Improvement Company)

GenusPLC wishes to sponsor a project lead by Kelly Zering to analyze the costs arising from the PRRS virus in swine. The funding provided by the sponsor will be used primarily to support about six months of graduate student and/or postdoctoral research economist time to assist Zering with the work. A small portion of the funding will support a few weeks of Zering's time spent on the project. The project will be conducted under an MOA.

Date: 02/01/19 - 8/31/21
Amount: $10,000.00
Funding Agencies: VentureWell

This project enriches the one year old undergraduate agribusiness entrepreneurship course sequence at North Carolina State University by creating a Launch Lab for student teams developing new STEM based ventures nurtured by the local ecosystem. The Launch Lab provides new in-class support for diverse student teams working to develop new ventures based on technological innovations emerging from North Carolina State University. The Launch Lab will support student teams with new entrepreneurship and innovation mentorship from members of the local ecosystem. The Launch Lab will also provide technology specific mentorship from venture specific advisers at NCSU and companies and institutions in the region. Student teams are comprised of 5 undergraduate students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and other colleges at NCSU. Teams are diverse in gender, field of study, and social background and enroll in a 3 course sequence in entrepreneurship. The Launch Lab supports a fourth course in the sequence focused on actual creation of start-ups and new ventures in existing institutions. Teams will have developed a business model in previous courses. The Launch Lab will match teams with legal, investor, and technology specific ecosystem members to create and advance their new ventures. The course sequence and the Launch Lab seek technologies from diverse fields of research at NCSU including engineering, IT and data sciences, biology, chemistry, and social sciences, that improve the welfare of people and the environment.

Date: 09/01/16 - 8/31/20
Amount: $1,043,877.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Biomass sorghum has not been produced at large scale anywhere as a purposefully-grown feedstock for bioenergy production. Many of the current biomass sorghum hybrids have been planted only on test plots. Current limitations of optimal production will be addressed in this collaborative study and include 1) Evaluating performance of commercial biomass sorghum varieties and identifying traits suitable for feedstock production and processing; 2) Examining optimal agronomic practices for maximized biomass yield per acre for growers and and the bioenergy industry; 3) Indentification of weeds and best managemnt practices suitable for biomass sorghums grown in the Mid-Atlantic Region; 4) Investigating biomass sorghum feedstock delivery logistics, quality and conversion potential when stored as silage; 5) developing an enterprise production budget to understand potential profitability of the proposed feedstock production system.

Date: 01/01/18 - 12/31/18
Amount: $20,030.00
Funding Agencies: NC Pork Council

This project will produce a new estimate of the impact of the pigs and pork sectors on sales, income, and employment in North Carolina. The PI will work with the NC Pork Council to estimate new input and output coefficients for the NC pigs and pork sectors. The PI will work with IMPLAN to produce new estimates of the multipliers and total impact of these sectors on sales, income, and employment in North Carolina

Date: 01/01/14 - 8/31/18
Amount: $122,167.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Animal production is the largest sector of agriculture, plays important roles in the U.S. economy with an output of $252 billion in 2009. Building and facility technology development in the past decades has made animal production in larger scale, concentrated, and energy intensive for high production efficiency. However, these large facilities cause significant environmental concerns and have difficulties in achieving healthy indoor environment. Recently raised climate change concerns, animal welfare issues, and increasing energy costs present significant challenges for the viability and sustainability of animal production. Environmental control of animal facilities plays a critical role in animal production. Knowledge and technology development in environmental control can provide potential solutions to these emerging challenges that the animal industries are facing. Unfortunately, fewer land-grant universities offer courses on "environmental control for agricultural facilities" than did in the past, due to declining faculty resources, which means many students in land grant universities do not have opportunity to take such a course. The courses that are offered focus primarily on meeting thermal comfort needs of animals and plants through ventilation and use a 22-year-old textbook written by Dr. Lou Albright, Environment Control for Animals and Plants; meaning emerging challenges are not addressed in current courses. On the other hand, research has been continuously conducted in the challenge areas in the past decade. There is a critical need to capitalize upon recent research findings and integrate the resulting knowledge and technology into the curricula of educational programs involving environmental control of animal production. The animal industries need workforces and professionals that are trained with new knowledge and technologies to transform the industries' challenges into opportunities for sustainable operations. We propose to address this need by developing new eLearning modules that addresses both traditional and emerging challenge areas of interest for Controlled Environment Animal Production (CEAP). In addition, students in a digital age learn and access information in significantly different ways from students a decade ago. Mobile devices, internet, and other eLearning tools are spreading exponentially on higher education campuses. College students are eager to embrace the new communication technologies for their effective and convenient learning. Therefore, it is a necessity to develop new digital leaning curriculum and materials for effective learning and outreach of new generation students. This project is to meet the critical needs through advancing educational curriculum materials in NIFA challenge areas and adoping new eLeaning and teaching methods in CEAP. Our long-term goal is to support U.S. animal production industries in achieving sustainable operations by connecting research and educational efforts in CEAP. The specific objectives are to: (1) develop new eLearning educational modules in the NIFA challenge areas related to Controlled Environment Animal Production (CEAP); (2) establish an eCEAP online education platform for educational material exchange and distance delivery ; (3) write a digital textbook on ''Environmental Control of Animal Fcilities for Sustainable Operation" with online epub standards, and further develop the textbook for ipad tablet interactive delivery; (4) develop and conduct professional trainings on the new eLearning course materials and delivery methods; and (5) Develop and offer experiential learning internship opportunities for underrepresented, minority, and woman students. The target audiences of this project are faculty members interested in teaching topics related to CEAP and students enrolled in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Animal Science, and Vet degree programs that are interested in learning of the topics. With special consideration in curriculum development and online distance delivery capacity, we anticipate tha

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