Feature Story from 2008
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Scientists have known for decades that animals are good stand-ins for humans in research, and one Mississippi State University veterinarian was on the front lines of the fight to protect the welfare of laboratory animals.
Dr. John Harkness retired in 2005 from his position as laboratory animal veterinarian at MSU. He began his career in the early 1970s, just seven years after federal legislation mandated the kind of care laboratory animals must receive.
By Robert H. Wells
Delta Research and Extension Center
STONEVILLE -- The distressed Mississippi catfish industry received a small boost in January as state producers were granted $8.1 million in disaster assistance for losses sustained in the hot summer of 2006.
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Seventh-graders in the Mississippi Delta are discovering career opportunities in a place they least expect -- home.
A collaborative project between Mississippi State University and the Delta Health Alliance is motivating these students to dream big, study hard and return as doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, radiology technicians and other health-care professionals.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Lead poisoning is a real threat to Mississippi children, many of whom are exposed to the potentially deadly substance in painted surfaces in their homes.
Jane Clary, health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said high levels of lead exposure can lead to the development of colic, kidney damage, anemia, muscle weakness and brain damage, which can cause death. Lower levels of lead exposure can affect the blood, development and behavior.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association is seeking peanut producers who are interested in serving on the National Peanut Board.
The MPGA will hold nominations to select a member and an alternate to the National Peanut Board during a meeting at 8:30 a.m. April 21. MPGA members may participate in the nominations by video conference at any Mississippi State University Extension Service county office or in person at the Forrest County Extension office, located at 952 Sullivan Drive in Hattiesburg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Overall demand for wood products is down, but one segment of the industry is experiencing stronger demand.
Pulpwood prices are expected to reach, and possibly exceed, $10 a ton during the first half of 2008, which is almost double their level last summer, said Mississippi State University Extension Service forestry economist James Henderson.
“There is increased demand from the pulp and paper industry for pulpwood,” Henderson said. “This increase is being driven by two factors -- the weak U.S. dollar and the subprime mortgage crises.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Well before planting time, the fight against Asian soybean rust is already under way in Mississippi as sentinel plots are planted and genetic resistance to the disease is being developed.
Billy Moore, pathologist emeritus working parttime with the rust program for the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Schillinger Seeds is developing resistance to soybean rust.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University is offering different kinds of family vacations this summer.
Four educational summer camps that appeal to families who enjoy the outdoors will be offered: two are based at the MSU campus in Starkville and one will be in north Mississippi at Crow’s Neck Environmental Center in Tishomingo County. The location of the fourth is still being determined.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- David Jones has joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service as the first forest products specialist.
Jones, a wood quality expert, formerly worked as a postdoctoral associate at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in forestry. He received a bachelor’s degree in forest resources from Clemson University, a master’s from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a doctorate in forestry from the University of Georgia.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bob Ratliff of Starkville is serving as the interim department head of Mississippi State University’s Office of Agricultural Communications.
Vance Watson, serving as MSU’s vice president for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine, appointed Ratliff to the interim task after the retirement of Tom Knecht on Feb. 29.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A Mississippi State University alumnus and forest products faculty member is the new head of the university’s forest products department.
Rubin Shmulsky, who assumed his new duties April 1, will lead the largest state-funded laboratory of its kind in the United States. His appointment was approved during the March meeting of the state Board of Trustees for the Institutions of Higher Learning.
By Robert H. Wells
Delta Research and Extension Center
STONEVILLE -- A multi-state project to reveal genetic markers for some of the Mid-South's best rice breeding lines in history is underway with the goal to produce a genetic map of about 470 of the most successful rice varieties.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University Extension Service clientele have access to a new national resource that offers information and innovative resources beyond what is possible online at MSUcares.com.
In late February, eXtension.org went live as an online educational partnership between 74 universities. The interactive Web site offers a wealth of knowledge in 16 content areas, known as communities of practice. Three more areas are in development, and more are being added each month.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Reuben Moore has been named the interim head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
As director, he will oversee the daily operations of this regional facility, one of four strategically located across the state to meet the local information, research and programming needs of Mississippians. The center serves as a hub of Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and Mississippi State University Extension Service research and outreach activities.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Scott Willard has been named head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mississippi State University.
He will assume this position May 1, although he has held it in interim status for a year. Since 1999, he has been in MSU’s Department of Animal and Dairy Science as a professor of reproductive and environmental physiology.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The new interim associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine said he plans to continue the successful programs of his predecessor.
Stephen Pruett, head of the CVM Basic Sciences Department since July, assumed his new responsibilities Feb. 25. He succeeds Jerald Ainsworth, who retired after 28 years of service.
“I want to maintain a stable, efficient office that meets the needs of our faculty and students,” Pruett said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Jac Varco of Starkville has assumed duties as the interim department head of Mississippi State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.
Varco assumed the responsibilities after the departure of Michael Collins on March 31. The department provides instruction, research and outreach for MSU and the state in agronomy, horticulture, soil science and weed science.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horse owners and others wanting to learn more about equine nutrition will have two options for attending a conference May 8-9: online or in Memphis.
The Southeast Equine Conference, “Horse nutrition for the future,” is sponsored by the Extension Services of Mississippi State University and the University of Tennessee. Participants can attend in person at the Agricenter in Memphis, located on the corner of Walnut Grove Road and Germantown Road, or online with an interactive Webcast.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A recent incident on the Gulf Coast involving angry European honey bees reminds Mississippians to be prepared for the likely arrival of more aggressive Africanized honey bees.
On March 6 in Pascagoula, a swarm of bees attacked and killed a dog and stung the dog's owner when he tried to rescue it. The swarm was destroyed, and DNA from the bees was tested.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An upcoming event will offer guidance to the many Southern gardeners compelled by beautiful spring weather to work -- or play -- in their yards.
Mississippi State University’s Spring Garden Day will be from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on May 17. The annual event will take place at the Hiram D. Palmertree North Mississippi Research and Extension Center on Highway 145 South in Verona.