Top 10 SIU College of Ag Research Projects

Top 10 SIU College of Ag Research Projects

Ten of the reasons I'm a proud saluki.

We have all seen the news articles. SIU's enrollment went down again. The budget crisis is sending students away from Illinois. There are all kinds of larger, more successful institutions to go to, why stay in Southern Illinois? As a current student at the fine Southern Illinois University Carbondale, I can give you all kinds of personal reasons that I love this campus. However, for most people, that isn't enough. I don't blame them. With all the bad press this campus has been getting, it's easy to see why some students wouldn't want to come here. As a proud Saluki, I'm taking it upon myself to show the side of this campus that I love. We are a Tier 1 Research Institution, and there is a lot to brag about, especially in the College of Agricultural Sciences. While every college has their proud projects, here are some of my favorites from my favorite college.

10. The Creation of a Compound that Fights Metabolic Syndrome

In 2007, a team of researchers from the Department of Animal Science, the Meyer's Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, and the Department of Physiology teamed up to create a synthetic compound to cut the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. This syndrome leads to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 1 diabetes, and a plethora of other diseases. When injected in mice, the mice had greatly decreased risk factors for all of these diseases. Now, the team is looking for an industry partner to send the drug through clinical trials.

9. Domestication of the San Pedro Fish in Chile

One of SIU's Associate Professors of Animal Science helped a team from Chile domesticate San Pedro, a type of small, flat-bodied fish, back in 2011. He traveled to the country and helped them take stress samples on the fish after crowding them in small spaces, netting them, and putting them through similar events that they would go through in a domestic aquaculture setting. It was thanks to him that Chile will potentially be able to use this fish in their every day meals.

8. New Soybean Lines Resistant to Soybean Cyst Nematode

Soybean Cyst Nematode, or SCN, is a huge problem for soybean growers across the nation. The disease isn't bacterial, but is caused by a parasitic animal. Pesticides don't help, so farmers rely on crop rotation and resistant varieties to ward off these pests. One researcher at SIU in Plant, Soil, and Agircultural Systems has been breeding up soybeans to be resistant to SCN since 2008, and is still in pursuit of better strains to this day. She has released two strains that ranked in the top five advanced strains, according to the USDA.

7. Development of a Sudden Death Syndrome Resistance Test

The next soybean disease that most farmers have to deal with is Sudden Death Syndrome, or SDS. This fungal disease attacks they soybean and causes severe wilting and rotting of the stem and leaves. One of SIU's professors of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems developed a cheap and effective test that labs can use to determine if a plant had resistance to the disease or not. Until his founding of this test, diagnostics were very hit or miss. He founded the test back in 1966, but is still in works of patenting his product. When he applied for a patent, they said it would have to be broken down into four different patents, and he is working on paperwork for the third patent of four. He has been selling this test to industry companies since the patents have gone through.

6. Breeding Soybeans for Biofuels

SIU does a lot of work with soybeans, and each one is as captivating as the last. One of SIU's researchers in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems, in conjunction with a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has discovered two genetic regions that code for oil content in soybeans. Adding this to the three already discovered, and you get a bean that is perfect for biofuels. The sold their first line of soybeans for biofuels to breeders in 2008.

5. Helping Afghanistan Farmers Grow Crops with Little Water

SIUC, along with three other American Universities, traveled to Afghanistan back in 2008 to help farmers grow crops with the little water they have. In Afghanistan, population is increasing, and the forests that help preserve water are being chopped down. These Universities traveled to Afghanistan to help create a national water management plan and promote sustainability.

4. Breeding a 'Supergrass'

SIU's turfgrass expert created a more sustainable version of grass in 2010. It grew thick and short without the use of fertilizers, and cut back on mowing times in the spring and fall, conserving gas that would be used in lawn mowers. It also grows thick enough that no weeds can penetrate, and it is great at resisting drought. He believes this grass, known as Zoysia, is going to be a great tool in cutting down pesticide and herbicide applications, and in turn, prevent superweeds that can withstand pesticides.

3. Saving Fort Knox's Landscape

SIU's Department of Forestry took to Kentucky to save the landscape in Fort Knox. The area has a brittle limestone landscape that is prone to sinkholes. Mix that with tanks running over the surface every day, and you have problems. SIU was the University that came to the rescue and created a sustainable management plan for the military base.

2. Curing Colic in Horses

One of SIU's Associate Professors of Equine Science is working on a project to cure Colic, the leading cause of death in horses around the world. She is using cannulation- a process of placing a hole in the side of the animal to expose healthy bacteria to sick animals. She currently has 8 cannulated horses and is working on perfecting her treatment methods.

1. Preserving Food without Preservatives

A bioprocess engineer at SIU in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems is using Infrared and Ultra-violet light to kill organisms on food that cause spoilage. Through these methods and many more, he hopes to greatly reduce the amount of preservatives used in food today, without sacrificing taste or nutrition.

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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College Can Be Difficult, But Trust Yourself, Girl

Life can throw you curveballs sometimes, and times can get tough, but it is SO important to pick yourself up and trust that you can do anything.


I'll be honest, this school year was one of the hardest years of my life. There were lots of moments throughout the year that I just wanted to go home and get away from it all. I had to be reminded that I have been raised to try as hard as you possibly can, and I was doing that. It took some determination and time, but I didn't give up.

No matter how bad I felt, I stayed and persevered.

Now that I am home for the summer, I have been reminiscing on the past two semesters of school. At the beginning of the school year, I had a much different idea of how it would go. It was going to be "my year," but somehow while the year was going on, I felt that I had been completely wrong. It's easy to come to quick conclusions when life doesn't exactly go your way. Conclusions like "this year has been the worst year ever" and "I can never get a break" were often popping up in my head. My grades weren't where I wanted them, and I was surprised by a lot of occurrences that I never expected to happen (imagine a wild ride). I found out who my true friends are and who I could rely on, and luckily, my circle only grew. Being extremely extroverted, it was hard for me to get out and just do something. Being in this "rut" took a toll on me. I had to make those hard decisions about doing what was best for me in the long run instead of doing something just for the moment. Trust me when I say, this was NOT easy at all.

Through all the tears and change all around me, I decided to proceed to the finish line because I am NOT a quitter.

I decided that it was time for me to allow myself to fully, undeniably be me. I wanted to start doing the little things I enjoy again like working out, taking pictures, and simply just going out to do anything. I started forcing myself to take any opportunity that came my way, and it helped. One of the things that brought me so much joy was kickboxing – talk about therapeutic, people! Kickboxing at least three times a week helped my mood shift so much, and it was a start to seeing me again. I am so blessed with friends who would come over at, literally, any time of the day. Spending time with them helped me more than they could ever know. We did anything from just hanging out in my living room to splurging on a fun dinner. Through everything that I was doing daily, I was learning how to rely on myself. Looking back now, I have never really had to know what it felt like to rely mainly on myself. I did get so much help from my family and friends, but what good could their help do if I didn't want to help myself first?

Even though I felt like this was one of the worst years of my life, it taught me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back now, I grew so, so much. I learned how to smile when times get tough. I learned that it really is okay to not be okay sometimes, and it will be okay eventually. I learned that it's okay to ask for help because we weren't made to do life alone. Most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. My hope for anyone reading this, you will learn from my experience that the worst seasons get better. I am in such a good place right now because I never gave up, and I will continue to never give up. In a short amount of time, I am seeing how far I have come and how much I grew.

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