Griffin Campus

Evidence of study suggests source of pandemic foodborne illness

Posted on
Monday, August 30, 2021

Researchers at the University of Georgia have provided multifaceted evidence to suggest the likely origins behind the global spread of Salmonella Enteritidis, which has caused recurring outbreaks of the foodborne pandemic linked to poultry products.

Using hypothesis-driven data mining, the research team, led by Xiangyu Deng of UGA’s Center for Food Safety, analyzed over 30,000 genomes of Salmonella Enteritidis obtained from global sources and the international trade of live poultry over five decades. The team concluded that the spread likely originated in poultry breeding stocks, or the progenitors chosen to produce future generations of chickens.  

The study, titled “Global spread of Salmonella Enteritidis via centralized sourcing and international trade of poultry breeding stocks,” is out now in the journal Nature Communications.

All the buzz on the third annual Great Georgia Pollinator Census

Posted on
Monday, August 30, 2021

Thousands of Georgians came together on August 20 and 21 to count pollinator insects in their local gardens for the third annual Great Georgia Pollinator Census

Coordinated by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, the Great Georgia Pollinator Census (GGPC) is designed to track the overall health of Georgia’s pollinators. Georgia citizens of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to participate in the count each year, and the census has attracted participation from businesses, school groups and garden groups, as well as families and individuals around the state.  

UGA food scientists get creative with Georgia commodities

Posted on
Friday, August 20, 2021

As farmers across the state swelter in the summer heat tending crops and livestock, food scientists inside a state-of-the-art 14,500-square-foot facility on the University of Georgia campus in Griffin are laboring over a different side of the agricultural equation: How can we get the biggest bang for the buck from Georgia’s food commodities?

UGA’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is a one-stop shop for food businesses looking to launch a product. FoodPIC, as it’s known, provides support for product feasibility, development, packaging, food safety, consumer acceptance (for example, crickets, even in powdered form, are a tricky food sell) and marketing. The center, part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, primarily works with Georgia companies and commodities, although it also conducts research and development for entities in other states as well as overseas.

A glance inside a display case near the entrance bears evidence of FoodPIC’s involvement in bringing locally made products to the marketplace: a tub of Proper Pepper pimento cheese, a jar of Classic City Bee Company smoked honey, a bottle of Pecan Ridge Plantation pecan truffle oil, a package of Charleston & Church cheddar rounds.

From food desert to community oasis

Posted on
Thursday, August 12, 2021

Labeled a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Fairmont community in Griffin, Georgia, has historically had slim options for sourcing fresh, nutritious food nearby. But this desert is becoming an oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to a group of dedicated agencies and volunteers who have worked hard for nearly 10 years to create a thriving community garden.

The Healthy Life Community Garden — which was established in 2012 — began as a partnership between the city of Griffin, the Fairmont Community, Griffin Housing Authority, the local chapter of the NAACP, Spalding County, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Spalding County, and UGA’s Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA). Funding for the project comes from a yearly grant from the Griffin Housing Authority and covers the cost of supplies for operating the garden and a garden manager.

Burnham named ABWA Scholarship recipient

Posted on
Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Each year the Iris Chapter of ABWA (American Business Women’s Association) presents a scholarship to a student who is pursuing a degree in business or a business-related field on the University of Georgia Griffin Campus. This year the scholarship was open to students in the Terry College of Business, those pursing a degree in Agribusiness, or those in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Dusty Burnham, who is currently a senior pursuing a degree in General Business from the Terry College of Business, was recently named the 2021 recipient of the $750 scholarship.

“The ABWA Iris Chapter has a proud history of supporting women as they expand their education and pursue their dreams. We are all honored to support Dusty in her education,” stated Kathleen Smith, President of the ABWA Iris Chapter. “We are proud of all her accomplishments and look forward to seeing her develop her talents further as she builds her life ahead.”

Burnham noted she was incredibly grateful and excited to find out she was selected for the scholarship and for the support of the ABWA.

“I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of their support,” said Burnham. “This scholarship will allow me to finish my degree on a good financial note and will strengthen my community of peers.”

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UGA professor earns award from American Phytopathological Society

Posted on
Tuesday, July 27, 2021

It is said that if you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life. For Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza, this has come true through his work as a plant pathologist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. His passion and hard work have been recognized with the American Phytopathological Society’s (APS) 2021 Excellence in Extension award.

The award recognizes an APS member who has made outstanding contributions by creating, developing or implementing extension-related programs or materials or has provided significant leadership in an area of extension of plant pathology.

“I was ecstatic when I got the call from the APS President,” said Martinez-Espinoza. “I couldn’t believe it. There are so many deserving people who put their soul into their work; I am honored and humbled to be selected.”

David Buntin, interim assistant provost and campus director for the UGA Griffin campus, was delighted to learn of the award presented to Martinez-Espinoza.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza and his work,” said Buntin. “His hard work and dedication to plant pathology extension is well known on the UGA Griffin campus and we are thrilled he is now being recognized by the APS. We congratulate Dr. Martinez-Espinoza and are glad to have someone of his caliber at UGA-Griffin.”

UGA plays pivotal role in food safety

Posted on
Friday, June 11, 2021

World Food Safety Day is celebrated annually on June 7. Established in 2018 through a U.N. General Assembly resolution, the day seeks to bring awareness to foodborne risks and “to celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food,” according to the U.N.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually in the U.S. That means that roughly 1 in 6 Americans will contract a foodborne illness this year, and these illnesses are spread through common foods such as produce, meat, fish, dairy and poultry. 

Globally, the impact is more significant, with children under the age of 5 and people living in low-income countries hit hardest. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 600 million people contract foodborne illnesses annually, and of those, 420,000 will die. Yet the organization fears that the actual numbers are much higher, as there are places in the world where surveillance data for foodborne illnesses are not available. 

The CDC says that most of these illnesses are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites that are transmitted to humans through the food they consume. This is why food safety is a vital component of the entire agricultural production system and is critical to ensuring food security.

Computer software helps solve what-if questions in agriculture

Posted on
Thursday, June 10, 2021

Anyone familiar with agriculture knows that a successful harvest largely relies on environmental factors. An especially hot summer with no rain in sight or poor soil quality can cause as many problems as a late cold snap right in the middle of planting season. Often farmers must rely on trial and error to get the best results. But for agricultural scientists, the guessing game can be reduced thanks to a computer software program called Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT).

Created by a team of researchers from the universities of Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Guelph and Michigan State University in partnership with the International Fertilizer Development Center, DSSAT is designed to better understand agricultural systems and environmental influences to make predictions that give farmers options for their crops. The current version — version 4.7.5 — can model growth, yield, irrigation, and fertilization requirements for 42 different crops, as well as regional environmental impact. DSSAT has been used by more than 16,500 researchers, educators, consultants, extension agents, growers in more than 174 countries worldwide.

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UGA Weather Network celebrates 30 years of service to agriculture in Georgia

Posted on
Thursday, June 3, 2021

On June 1, 1991, the first agricultural weather station operated by the University of Georgia began transmitting data from Griffin, Georgia. Since then, the UGA Weather Network has grown to include 87 stations scattered across the state, providing weather data to a variety of users. On June 1 this year, this 30-year record of continuous weather data makes the UGA Weather Network one of the oldest state weather networks in the country.

The network, originally known as the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, was the brainchild of Gerrit Hoogenboom, an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the UGA College of Engineering. He placed the first four stations at UGA facilities around the state  — in Griffin, Tifton, Midville and Watkinsville — and directed the network until 2010. He was followed by Ian Flitcroft, who retired in 2018. Hoogenboom, now a professor and preeminent scholar at the University of Florida, still uses the UGA weather data as inputs in his ongoing Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) training classes that are offered each summer on the Griffin campus.

Giant invasive bees could threaten native pollinators

Posted on
Friday, May 28, 2021

University of Georgia entomologists are seeking citizen help to document the presence of the sculptured resin bee — also known as the giant resin bee — an invasive bee that could threaten the native carpenter bee population.

The sculptured resin bee is native to Japan and China and was first found in the U.S. in North Carolina in 1994. While they are not aggressive to people, these bees have the potential to create problems for native carpenter bees by taking over their nests, where they then lay their own eggs. Sculptured resin bees take advantage of the cavities created in wood by carpenter bees because they do not have the mandible strength to bore into the wood on their own.

Dan Suiter, a professor in the Department of Entomology on the UGA Griffin campus, added that although he doesn't see resin bees frequently, they are known to be a good pollinator of some plant species.

“We don’t see this bee very often,” said Suiter, noting that he is occasionally sent a sample of a resin bee to identify. “But we know that it’s invasive and uses kudzu as a food source.”