Grants Fund Cornell AES Work to Improve Lives in NYS

New USDA grants will fund research through Cornell aimed at improving the economy, food supply and well-being of New York State, helping communities deal with the trauma of the COVID pandemic -19 exploring the impact of labor shortages on farms.

The 52 Cornell projects that were funded with a total of $ 3.9 million, as of October 1, are administered by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Cornell AES).

They include a project by Qi Wang, professor of psychology at the College of Human Ecology and faculty member at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, which examines how adults, teens, and families make sense of their negative experiences throughout. pandemic and identify effective coping strategies.

She hopes her findings will provide insight into how to support others, especially those in rural and minority communities, who have been hit hardest and have fewer resources to seek help.

“Trauma impacts people’s mental health, but it doesn’t fully explain the results we’re seeing; how people interpret and remember their traumatic experiences is very important, ”said Wang. “We can cognitively transform these experiences in ways that improve our resilience and well-being. It is a process of empowerment.

Based in Ithaca, Cornell AES supports hundreds of researchers at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Cornell AES also operates 127,000 square feet of greenhouses on the Ithaca campus and nine research farms in New York State. The Cornell AES Individual Grants are relatively small – a maximum of $ 30,000 per year for three years – but they provide seed funding for new ideas, like Wang’s, or bridge funding for ongoing research.

“The explicit purpose of this USDA grant is to support research that benefits New York State,” said Margaret Smith, director of Cornell AES and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The results of this research portfolio – innovative products, processes and ideas – all contribute to improving the health and well-being of New York City citizens, businesses and environments. “

This year’s funding covers a wide range of research projects important to the food supply, economy, and well-being of New York City and the country. They include work on:

  • Ticks: Laura Harrington, Professor of Entomology, will work to understand the growing range of ticks and tick-borne diseases, which impact human and animal health. She will lead a New York State Tick Blitz, a citizen science project inspired by the National Geographic BioBlitz program, through which community members help scientists collect data over large geographic areas.
  • Pollinators: A third of American crops depend on managed and native bees for pollination, but bee populations have declined dramatically, in part due to the use of pesticides. Minglin Ma, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, will develop detoxifying microparticles that mimic pollen to assess – and, hopefully, mitigate – the impact of pesticides on bees.
  • Shortage of agricultural labor: Immigration restrictions, smaller rural populations and low unemployment rates for 50 years have left farmers struggling to find workers. Richard Stup, Agricultural Workforce Specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension, will conduct in-depth surveys and case studies with farm managers and employees on labor relations, human resource management and innovations in in terms of labor savings in New York operations. He plans to identify best practices to help farms reduce turnover and achieve long-term sustainability.
  • Dairy: Mastitis is a common disease that is expensive for breeders and painful for dairy cows. Current methods of diagnosing mastitis are laborious and expensive. Jessica McArt, associate professor of population medicine and diagnostic sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine, will develop technology to provide immediate assessment of udder health by measuring milk components and somatic cells.

The projects are funded by the Federal Capacity Funds through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA.

Krisy Gashler is a writer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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