Quarterly newsletter from ACES International at the University of Illinois.
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ACES International Newsletter - December 2019

ACES International is published twice per semester. Please click on the links for more information about these news items presented by the Office of International Programs in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 


This newsletter begins and ends with pieces about distinguished alumni who have gone from the College of ACES to do impactful work around the world. Ambassador Allan Mustard, who delivered this year’s International Distinguished Lecture, went from graduate studies in agricultural economics to Foreign Service posts in Russia, Austria, Mexico, India, and Turkmenistan, where he worked to create win-win outcomes for Americans and citizens of the countries and regions in which he was posted. Dr. Jimmy Smith, who received this year’s Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement, took his doctoral degree in animal science as well as an Illinois MBA to serve in a range of international organizations aimed at addressing hunger and food insecurity around the world. The service that these and other alumni have provided is inspiring, and their willingness to return to our campus to give us the benefit of their experience and perspective is an invaluable gift to our college. For me, their visits were also a reminder of the great privilege it is to work at the University of Illinois and interact with students who become accomplished alumni. As we come to the close of this semester, it is easy to find cause for celebration in the work of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Happy Holidays!

 Alex Winter-Nelson, Associate Dean, College of ACES Office of International Programs

Ambassador Allan Mustard presents ACES Distinguished International Lecture. 

The College of ACES welcomed back alumnus Allan P. Mustard, a retired ambassador and accomplished Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) professional, to present the annual ACES Distinguished International Lecture.

Allan Mustard was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan in late 2014 and continued in this post until his retirement in June 2019. A widely recognized authority on agricultural and food policy, Mustard has broad experience assisting in the process of economic reform throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He has promoted U.S. agricultural exports for over three decades in the FAS, a unit within the United States Department of Agriculture, and spent 19 years abroad serving as an agricultural attache, counselor, and minister-counselor, before becoming an ambassador.

From his perspective based on nearly 38 years as a public servant and as an FAS historian, Mustard criticized current U.S. trade policies in his lecture titled, "Smoot-Hawley Redux? Who's Hurting Now?"


Students and staff from the College of ACES had the opportunity to hear directly from the newly named director of the Feed the Future Food Safety Innovation Lab (FSIL), Haley Oliver, as part of the ACES International Seminar Series.

FSIL was established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in August 2019.

Oliver, an associate professor at Purdue University, which houses the new lab, has years of relevant experience developing food safety capacity in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Peru. Her seminar summarized her previous USAID-sponsored work with Purdue colleagues to develop a food technology program at Herat University in Afghanistan aimed to improve food safety, quality, and security.  

Under Oliver’s stewardship, the FSIL will focus on improving awareness of the need for food safety measures; supporting local research on food safety issues; building policy and engagement efforts to disseminate information about food safety research; and developing best practices that can be used by households, communities, and commercial stakeholders. Oliver is currently identifying specific needs for FSIL and will widely publicize calls during May 2020 so that researchers from additional universities can get involved.

The seminar was sponsored by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), FSHN 597 Graduate Seminar, and the ACES Office of International Programs. Oliver's faculty host was Matt Stasiewicz. 


Five faculty and staff from the College of ACES have been selected to form the newest cohort of the ACES Academy for Global Engagement (Global Academy).  

The 2019-20 Global Academy, which marks the thirteenth year of the program, will focus on building academic partnerships in the age of digital agriculture in Brazil, specifically with the Federal University of Lavras, the Federal University of Vicosa, the Piracicaba campus of the University of São Paulo, and EMBRAPA.

The Global Academy training program encourages greater internationalization of the College by providing a platform and assistance to ACES faculty and staff who wish to further their global research, teaching, and service engagements. Specifically, this year's program hopes to facilitate collaborations between ACES personnel working with aspects of digital food and agriculture and scholars at institutions in Brazil with complementary interests, skills, or resources to accelerate impact.   

The scholars selected for the 2019-20 ACES Global Academy are:

  • Talon Becker (Extension)
  • Girish Chowdhary (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)
  • Jorge Guzman (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)
  • Alexander Lipka (Crop Sciences)
  • Andrew Margenot (Crop Sciences)
  • James Lowe (Veterinary Clinical Medicine)

The Office of International Programs in the College of ACES with the support of the ACES Office of Research congratulates the most recent awardees of the International Joint Research Grants. This program supports ACES faculty who work jointly with researchers who are based at approved peer institutions abroad and are funded at a matching level by their own institution or another agency.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 International Joint Research Grants:

  • Zeynep Madak Erdogan (Food Science and Human Nutrition) with Izmir Katip Celebi Research and Training Hospital, Turkey: "Determination of biomarkers to be used in the diagnosis of cardiac microvascular disease in postmenopausal women”
  • Joshua McCann (Animal Sciences) with Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brazil: "Harnessing the rumen microbiome for efficient beef production in Brazilian feedlots"
  • Hope Michelson (Agricultural and Consumer Economics) with Sokoine University, Tanzania: "Collaborating to test the market-level impact of fertilizer quality initiatives in Tanzania"

The International Seed Grants Program was initiated by the ACES Office of International Programs to stimulate and promote strong relationships between ACES faculty and international faculty that will develop and flourish into larger, sustainable, collaborative efforts in research, education, and outreach. Each project is funded through the Arlys Conrad Endowment Fund.

Congratulations to the Fall 2019 Seed Grant recipients:

  • Anna Arthur (Food Science and Human Nutrition): "Feasibility of a carbohydrate-restricted, high-fat diet to improve cancer outcomes: A pilot randomized controlled feeding trial" (East Jerusalem)
  • Angela Lyons (Agricultural and Consumer Economics): "Enhancing the livelihood and economic security of Syrian refugees in Lebanon"
  • Kenneth Olson (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences): "Impact of extracting massive amounts of arsenic laced groundwater on the land subsidence and food supply of the Vietnamese living on the Mekong Delta"
  • Cory Suski (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences): "Role of size-selected harvest on stress responsiveness: implications for harvest fisheries" (Germany)
Online Integrated Pest Management course creator and SIL extension lead Nicole Lee, pictured here with Nelito Rosario, agronomic technician for IITA in Mozambique and SIL partner. 

The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) recently launched Africa's first free, open-access, certificate-based online course in integrated pest management (IPM) and pesticide safety. Before SIL’s new digital course, comprehensive information on IPM was not readily available in many parts of Africa. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, pest control is typically manual which is labor-intensive and often ineffective. For newer, more input-intensive commercial crops such as soy, an understanding of IPM practices, including safe pesticide use, is critical not only for increasing soybean production but also for reducing environmental and human health risks. The objective of the course is to equip extension agents and other practitioners, such as those working in the private sector or in development agencies, with the skills needed to successfully implement an IPM system.

Since the course launch in August 2019, SIL has reached almost 400 new learners across 31 countries around the globe and awarded over 60 certificates. The course is currently available in English, and SIL is currently translating the course into Portuguese and French.

The course was developed by Nicole Lee, a graduate researcher (crop sciences) and extension lead for SIL, a Feed the Future Innovation Lab based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Five postharvest loss-related research projects totaling $128,000 were recently selected for funding through ADM Cares, ADM’s social investment program, which directs funds to organizations that drive meaningful social, economic, and environmental progress around the world. The five funded projects are:

  • Postharvest loss experimental training hub at Njala University, Sierra Leone, AgReach
  • Storage stability and sensory evaluation of soy-fortified Ghanaian staple foods, Juan Andrade (University of Illinois) and Francis Amagloh (University of Development Studies, Ghana)
  • Multi-crop thresher trainings in four African countries to reduce postharvest loss, Soybean Innovation Lab
  • Sustainable literacy for agriculture in Tanzania and South India, Sustainable Marketplaces Initiative, Madhu Viswanathan
  • Overcoming constraints to scaling up small-scale dryers in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Agricultural University
Rodrigo Trevisan with coffee plants near Cali, Colombia. 

The Office of International Programs has initiated the Global Food Security Graduate Fellowship Program to support exceptional students who are interested in conducting research in a developing country, in collaboration with a mentor from an International Agricultural Research Center in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research or a national research institute devoted to food and agricultural issues.

The first round of fellows included Rodrigo Trevisan, a graduate student in crop sciences advised by Nicolas Martin. Trevisan is working with CIAT, CIMMYT and the CGIAR Big Data Platform on resilient cultivar development with predictive analytics. Read more about his project at the link above. A call for applications for the 2020 round of Global Food Security Graduate Fellowships will be posted soon.

Sadie Marks during her internship in Kenya. 

Sadie Marks, a senior in agricultural and consumer economics with a concentration in public policy and law, recently received the Illinois International Undergraduate Achievement Award. This award recognizes one University of Illinois undergraduate student “for their significant service and contribution resulting from their participation in an international study abroad course, program, or project.”

This award was presented to Sadie in recognition of her time and achievements in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was able to complete an internship at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance, and for her work in the AgReach office where she wrote an assessment findings report to better understand survey research from the World Vision Office in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sadie also previously studied abroad in the Dominican Republic through a faculty-led program and in Ireland for a summer program where she worked as an intern at the Killruddery House and Garden. 

Austin Schorfheide 

Austin Schorfheide, a sophomore in agricultural economics with a concentration in public policy and law, has been selected as a 2019 Cargill Global Scholar. He is one of three University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students to be selected for this prestigious and distinctive international scholarship program. 

Schorfheide joined nine other scholars selected for the program’s seventh cohort in the U.S. for a three-day leadership development seminar held during the summer at Cargill Global Headquarters in Minneapolis. In the summer of 2020, Schorfheide and his fellow U.S. cohort members will participate in a five-day global leadership seminar with scholars selected for the program from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Russia to further build on their leadership development skills and broaden their global mindsets.


The Daily Illini recently profiled an agricultural and biological engineering class, ABE 498, taught by Luis Rodriguez, that is preparing for its upcoming disaster relief trip set for winter break.

Members of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) with its most guest Clélio Campolina Diniz. 

The members of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) led by Sandy Dall'erba, professor in agricultural and consumer economics, recently hosted Clélio Campolina Diniz, who is currently affiliated with the University Federal de Minas Gerais and is the former Minister of Science and Technology in Brazil.

During his visit, Diniz delivered a talk co-sponsored by REAL and the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies. He provided feedback to current graduate students and visiting-scholars and shared information about his extensive network of stakeholders and academic scholars.

Led by Prof. Sandy Dall’erba since 2015, REAL is a research center that focuses on the development of theories and quantitative tools to model urban, regional and interregional economic systems. Since 2015, 87 international visitors (PhD-students, post-doctoral students and faculty) have spent a period of two to 12 months at REAL. During their stays at REAL, visitors have the opportunity to exchange and discuss research views with University of Illinois faculty and students, often leading to collaborations and joint publications. In addition, REAL faculty and students present their research in a weekly seminar, and visiting scholars are invited to participate.

Jimmy W. Smith, Director of ILRI and ACES alumnus 

Jimmy Smith (M.S. and PhD animal sciences) recently received the Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement as part of the 2019 Illinois International Achievement Awards.

Smith has used livestock to transform lives and livelihoods, grow economies, and address food insecurity around the world in ways that are socially just and environmentally sustainable. He came to the University of Illinois as an international student in 1980 and has since returned as a distinguished lecturer and active member of various external advisory boards.

Smith is currently Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a position he assumed in October 2011. ILRI is an international research organization in the family of CGIAR Centres working towards a food secure world. ILRI’s work focuses on livestock research for sustainable development.  


The Office of International Programs newsletter highlights the international activities in the College of ACES. If you have any comments, questions, or news items, please contact Leslie Sweet Myrick at lsweet@illinois.edu. Click here to: subscribe or unsubscribe from ACES international e-news.

Stay informed and involved! The Office of International Programs maintains lists of current international funding opportunities and upcoming international events.