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The end of the year is a great time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of the CALS community. Here are some of the stories that made 2015 a memorable year for the college:

CALS adds six new named professorships thanks to Morgridge Match

Tashia and John Morgridge acknowledge audience applause following Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s announcement of the couple’s gift. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.
Tashia and John Morgridge acknowledge audience applause following Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s announcement of the couple’s gift. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

This year, six new named professorships were established at CALS, thanks to the generosity of alumni John and Tashia Morgridge. The couple donated $125.1 million to the UW-Madison to help recruit and retain faculty, providing a one-to-one match for other donors willing to endow a professorship, a chair or a distinguished chair. CALS’ new named professorships will support faculty working in food chemistry; agricultural and applied economics; biological systems engineering; organic plant breeding; genetics; and bacteriology.

Startup founded by animal sciences’ Mark Cook offers antibiotic alternative to animal producers

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CALS animal sciences professor Mark Cook and researcher Jordan Sand developed an antibiotic-free method to protect animals raised for food against common infections. Cook and Sand are forming Ab E Discovery LLC to commercialize the research. One of the four patents they have filed through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has just been granted, and they were recently awarded a $100,000 WARF Accelerator Program grant to pursue the technology.

Fruits of cooperation: UW celebrates cranberry partnerships

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, left, and Kate VandenBosch, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Science, wade into the knee-deep water of a flooded-cranberry marsh as university officials tour farming operations at Cranberry Creek Cranberries, Inc., an 850-acre farm owned by Paul and Sandy Hatch in Necedah, Wis., during autumn on Oct. 27, 2015. Cranberry Creek Cranberries is an agricultural industry leader propagating several productive and profitable cranberry varieties -- including Sundance and HyRed -- bred at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and licensed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and CALS Dean Kate VandenBosch waded into the knee-deep water of a flooded-cranberry marsh during a visit to Cranberry Creek Cranberries. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

Aided by decades of research at UW-Madison, Wisconsin has become the international leader in cranberry production. This fall, Chancellor Rebecca Blank and CALS Dean Kate VandenBosch visited Cranberry Creek Cranberries, Inc. in Necedah, where they stressed that close partnerships between growers and university researchers are key for developing new cultivars, improving management practices and documenting the health benefits of the Badger-red fruit.

“Happy Days Study” meets the microbiome

Members of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) class of 1957 (from back to front) Karen Kisow, Eileen Paulin, Tim Werner, and Jacquelyn Haberling listen to a summary presentation about the study during a 50th reunion held in Lake Mills, Wis., on June 9, 2007. Started in 1957 and led by sociologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study began as a modest project to help the state of Wisconsin prepare for the growing number of high school students who were seeking post-high school education in the late 1950s. The WLS has evolved to become one of the longest-running social science studies ever undertaken and now provides social scientists and policymakers with valuable information about the group's ongoing education, employment, health, family life and aging status. ©UW-Madison University Communications 608/262-0067 Photo by: Jeff Miller Date: 06/07 File#: D200 digital camera frame 8025
Members of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study class of 1957 (from back to front) Karen Kisow, Eileen Paulin, Tim Werner and Jacquelyn Haberling listen to a summary presentation about the study during a 50th reunion held in Lake Mills, Wisconsin in 2007. Photo by: Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.

Subjects of the project known as the “Happy Days Study” — one of the most consistent, comprehensive and expansive studies of aging and health in America — have contributed their time for repeated, highly detailed surveys of health, family life and employment for more than 50 years. This summer, it was announced that CALS bacteriologist Federico Rey would analyze their gut microbiomes.

Student research spotlight: Erik Sanson compares tick genotypes

CALS undergrad Erik Sanson in the lab of entomologist Susan Paskewitz.

Erik Sanson, a CALS senior majoring in evolutionary biology with certificates in global health and leadership, was among a group of undergraduate researchers highlighted on the CALS Facebook Pagethis past year. Based in Susan Paskewitz‘s entomology lab, Sanson is working with graduate student Xia Lee to identify tick genotypes in new areas and compare them to genotypes found on the east coast, where ticks are associated with a higher rate of Lyme Disease.

Judith Kimble leads effort to help fix America’s biomedical research enterprise

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Judith Kimble at the April 11 workshop she helped organized, titled “Rescuing U.S. Biomedical Research from its Systemic Flaws: Strategies and Pathways Ahead.”

From spring through summer, CALS biochemistry professor Judith Kimble helped lead a campuswide discussion about the current state of – and a future vision for – America’s biomedical research enterprise, which has become damagingly hypercompetitive. The process was lauded for its inclusiveness, and the group’s findings were published in eLife.

Allen Centennial Gardens welcomes new curator Ben Futa

Curator Ben Futa removes weeds in the Allen Centennial Gardens. Photo by Bryce Richter/UW-Madison.

Ben Futa took over as curator of the Allen Centennial Gardens this spring. Futa, who came most recently from Fernwood Botanical Garden in Michigan, is passionate about bringing more people – and more types of people – into the gardens and has already established exciting new public programming to do so.

Food Research Institute solves deadly caramel apple mystery

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Food Research Institute researchers led by Kathy Glass found the cause of a deadly 2014 Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples. Glass’ team concluded that sticks poked into caramel apples can release enough juice to create a microenvironment that allows for Listeria growth. The findings were shared far and wide via the media, including stories in ABC NewsThe Huffington Post and The Washington Post.

UW-Madison’s first enologist will aid wine and cider industry in Wisconsin

Nick Smith, CALS’ new wine and cider outreach specialist, standing next to a fermentation set-up in his Babcock Hall lab. Photo by Kelly April Tyrrell/UW-Madison.

Nick Smith joined the Department of Food Science this spring as the university’s first enologist. Smith’s job is to serve as a resource for the state’s 110 wineries and commercial cider makers – and help them grow and compete.

CALS undergrad Frank Kaminsky interviews Will Ferrell, his “Frank the Tank” namesake

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Badger mens basketball star Frank Kaminsky, a.k.a. “Frank the Tank,” got to meet his namesake in March when he interviewed Will Ferrell for Access Hollywood following Ferrell’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in Los Angeles. It was an exciting and nerve-racking “beyond the classroom” experience for Kaminsky, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication in spring, as he explained in this YouTube video.

Plant breeding embraces big data

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CALS agronomists Natalia DeLeon and Shawn Kaeppler are involved in an exciting, data-intensive project that is linking genetic information about scores of corn varieties to plant performance (yield, ear shape and color, tasseling time, etc.) in various environments and under various growing conditions. This “phenotyping” work, as it’s called, is expected to revolutionize plant breeding.

Cow feed efficiency project builds on a century of UW-Madison dairy R&D

Lloyd and Daphne Holterman, owners of Rosy-Lane Farm, are strong supporters of the Department of Dairy Science, implementing university discoveries on their farm. Photo: Morgan Strauss.

The Department of Dairy Science has been a major player on a $5 million USDA project that will deliver genomic predictions for residual feed intake to the dairy industry — information that will help farmers select animals that can digest feed and convert it to milk and body tissue more efficiently than their herdmates. The UW-Madison has a long track record of conducting research that supports the dairy industry.

A bobbing bounty: Horticulture’s Giant Pumpkin Regatta a go

Participants in the annual Hoofer Sailing Club Pumpkin Regatta paddle the waters of Lake Mendota while riding inside giant pumpkins at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 10, 2015. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
Participants paddle around a buoy during the Giant Pumpkin Regatta. Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison.

It was a great year for pumpkins – including giant pumpkins – which means horticulture professors Irwin Goldman and Jim Nienhuis were able to put on a Giant Pumpkin Regatta event this year. Participants, primarily horticulture students, paddled on Lake Mendota in massive, hollowed-out pumpkins made buoyant by inflated inner tubes.