Gentry honored for service to CAES

(l-r) CAES Advisory Board Chair Denver Caldwell, Chair Emeritus Jimmy Gentry, Dean Mohamed Ahmedna and Vice Chair Carroll Moseley

Jimmy Gentry, who served as chair of the CAES Advisory Board from August 2017 until July 2019, was honored with a plaque at the board’s August 23 meeting.

Gentry, now chair emeritus of the board, is president of the North Carolina State Grange. A resident of Statesville, he is a former vocational agriculture teacher and school administrator. He has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from N.C. State and two master’s degrees from N.C. A&T.

Hemp survey highlights prospects, unknowns

North Carolina’s certified-organic farmers are excited by the prospect of growing industrial hemp, but are also cautious of the many unknowns that still surround hemp production, according to the results of a survey co-authored by research professors Beatrice Dingha, Louis Jackai and Arnab Bhowmik, all of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, along with researchers from Purdue University.

“Industrial hemp has the potential to be a moneymaker and at the same time a risky crop given the many unknowns surrounding its cultivation and the laws governing its production,” Dingha says.

The results of the survey by Dingha and her colleagues were published recently in the scientific journal Sustainability.

Of the 245 certified organic farmers contacted for the survey, 85 percent indicated an interest in growing hemp on their farms; the majority wanted to learn more about the crop production practices, adapted cultivars and the legality of growing it. Most (65 percent) were willing to be among the first in their area to grow and sell hemp. Just over half (52 percent) of the survey responders indicated that they wanted to grow hemp for its cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Most agreed that the ability to sell CBD oil positively influenced their willingness to grow the crop.

Fueled by mostly anecdotal health claims, CBD oil, is obtained from the buds of the plant, and is confirmed to have health benefits for anxiety, insomnia, seizures and other conditions.

Younger organic farmers were slightly more willing to grow hemp than their older counterparts, according to the survey; as a group, younger farmers are overall more likely to try new crops and technologies, Dingha said. North Carolina is among the top 10 states for certified-organic sales.

The government’s interest in hemp as an area for national agricultural growth stems from the crop’s huge potential payoff. The global market for industrial hemp is projected to be 10.6 billion by 2025. Total U.S. sales was $820 million in 2017, boosted by an explosive growth in hemp-derived CBD oil.

The adoption of new technology in agriculture is at the core of agricultural growth, but the adoption of new practices, including new crops, is seldom rapid, Dingha says; half of the survey’s respondent indicated that would try a new crop or farming practice if they see sufficient evidence that it has worked in the past.

“We need funding for further fundamental studies on hemp,” Dingha says, “The USDA and other funding agencies are aware of the demand for knowledge about this crop.”

Liang receives 2019 Emerald Literati Award

Kathleen Liang, Ph.D. has received a 2019 Emerald Literati Award for a paper she co-authored, “Farm business financial performance in local foods value chains.” The paper appeared in the journal Agricultural Finance Review, which is a publication of Emerald Publishing Group.

The paper’s purpose is to identify the factors associated with financial success for farms that produce for local supply chains. The analysis considers alternative measures of farm financial performance and considers the role of the local foods supply chain in the choice to market locally.

Extension agents are 2019 NCEAFCS Award Winners

Three N.C. A&T Extension agents have won awards from the N.C. Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.  

Shelina Bonner won the second place Communications Award for the Nutrition Matters column in the Greene County Senior Center newsletter each month. Bonner also received an award for Second Place Community Partnership. Greene County Cooperative Extension has partnered with local agencies to offer the 2nd Annual Community Diabetes Walk to improve the quality of life through increased physical activity for Greene County citizens.

Shameca Battle received the Dean Don Felker Financial Management award for teaching limited resource families and communities about financial literacy. She is committed to working with local organizations to bring awareness to the struggles that families may have with budgeting.

Hayley Cowell received the SNAP-ED/EFNEP Educational Program Award for the multi-session nutrition program and body walk exhibit to youth since 2015. Her efforts have contributed to the growth and success of this SNAP-ED program.

Farmers learn the latest at Industrial Hemp Field Day

More than 100 prospective hemp farmers from across the state – some new to hemp cultivation, some new to any kind of farming – came to Cooperative Extension’s Industrial Hemp Field Day at the University Farm on Sept. 12 to learn the current best practices.

Other hemp field days will follow later in the year to help farmers stay informed, according to Sanjun Gu, Ph.D., who led the field day.

A&T researchers described cultivar varieties, fertilization rates, pest control practices, soil modifications and other successful growing strategies for both in-field and greenhouse cultivation. Guochen Yang, Ph.D., of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission, gave an update on the program’s status across the state.

FCS nutritionists invited to present at food and nutrition conference

Heather Colleran, Ph.D. and her A&T research team have had two research abstracts accepted for presentation at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE,) to be held in Philadelphia Oct. 26-29. FNCE is the national conference for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Abstracts undergo a peer review process and are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“This is a huge honor for us to be invited to showcase our research for the second year in a row,” Colleran says.

The first project deals with the development of a nutrition curriculum for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a mentoring program.

The second project examines a birth doula’s role in increasing breastfeeding rates among women of color.

Undergraduate Research Scholar wins second place prize in ARD Poster Contest

Undergraduate Research Scholar Jared Via won second place in the student poster presentation for his research, “Industrial Hemp: Determining Growing Conditions in North Carolina, at the 2019 Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD) research symposium in Jacksonville, FL.

Via’s mentor is Arnab Bhowmik, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design. Via works with Bhowmik, research technicians Matthew Todd and John Ivey, and Abolghasem Shahbazi, Ph.D. on N.C. A&T’s industrial hemp project.

FCS Faculty win awards at NCAFCS Conference

Two professors in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences have won awards from the North Carolina Association of Family and Consumer Sciences at their annual conference.

Meeshay Williams Wheeler, Ph.D., an associate professor of child development and family studies, was named 2019 Leader of the Year. She has served as president, first vice president, second vice president and on the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences’ Community of Obesity Prevention. She has also held leadership roles in other organizations, such as the National Council on Family Relations and the Family Science Association, and contributed to the profession through scholarship and grant activities. She received funding from AAFCS to promote healthy eating and physical activity in a family mentor experience, and from the USDA to coordinate a demonstration program to promote healthy eating for children in the child development laboratory and their families.

Devona Dixon, Ph.D., an assistant professor of fashion merchandising and design, received the 2019 New Achievers Award. She is advisor to the Fashion Xcetera club on campus and a mentor for students in the summer Research Apprenticeship Program, as well as being an active member of AAFCS and the International Textiles and Apparel Association. The organization also cited Dixon’s creativity in engaging students in experiential learning and her strong advocacy for the profession.

Robinson wins first place in CAES Student Showcase of Excellence poster competition

Doctoral student Julia C Robinson won first place in the graduate student research poster competition at the 2019 CAES Student Showcase of Excellence, held in Webb Hall on Sept. 4. Her poster was titled, “Callus and Shoot Initiation of Black Cohosh under Different In Vitro Conditions.” Robinson’s advisor is Guochen Yang, Ph.D.

Tahergorabi receives travel awards

Reza Tahergorabi, Ph.D., associate research professor of food and nutritional sciences, has received a travel award of $1,250 to attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), to be held next month in Anaheim, CA. Tahergorabi will serve as a judge for the student poster and oral competitions at the conference.

During the four-day conference, more than 2,500 students from more than 350 colleges and universities participate in poster and oral presentations in twelve STEM disciplines. All undergraduate and postbaccalaureate student presentations are judged and given an award.

Earlier this year, Tahergorabi received a $700 division leader travel award to attend the Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Event and Food Expo. One of the largest events of its kind, the event brings together food science professionals from around the world, representing all segments of the profession.

The Institute of Food Technologists is an international, non-profit scientific society of professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related areas in academia, government and industry. It has more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries.

New Publications

  1. Sharaf Eddin, A., Ibrahim S. A., & *Tahergorabi, R. (2019). Egg quality and safety with an overview of edible coating application for egg preservation. Food Chemistry, 296, 29 – 39.
  2. Azahrani M., Ananey-Obiri, D., Matthews L., & *Tahergorabi R. (2019). Development of low-fat fried fish using two-prong strategy. CyTA-Journal of Food. Accepted.
  3. Bhowmik, A., Kukal, S., Saha, D. Sharma, H., Kalia, A., and Sharma, S. Potential Indicators of Soil Health Degradation in Different Land Use-Based Ecosystems in the Shiwaliks of Northwestern India. Sustainability. 11:3908
  4. Dingha, B., Sandler, L., Bhowmik, A., Mensah, C., Jackai, L., Gibson, K., and Turco, R. Industrial Hemp Knowledge and Interest among North Carolina Organic Farmers in the United States. Sustainability. 11:2691
  5. Kumar, A., Rakshit, R., Bhowmik, A., Mandal, N., Das, A., and Adhikary, S. Nanoparticle-Induced Changes in Resistance and Resilience of Sensitive Microbial Indicators towards Heat Stress in Soil. Sustainability. 11:862
  6. Liang, C. (2019). Creating A Successful and Effective Mentor-Protégé Relationship based on Empirical Studies, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal. Volume 63, Number 2, Available online:
  7. Liang, C. and Brown, A. (2019). Local food policy councils – Adopting social network theories to support food systems, Agricultural Research and Technology. Volume 22, Issue 3 – August 2019. DOI: 10.19080/ARTOAJ.2019.22.55619 Available online:
  8. Yu, J., Mikiashvili, N., & Liang, C. (2019). Deoxynivalenol and ochratoxin A in North Carolina grown organic wheat grains, Journal of Food Safety, available online:
  9. Yu, J., & Mikiashvili, N. Effectiveness of different proteases on reducing allergen content and IgE-binding of raw peanuts. Food Chemistry, submitted on May 10, 2019; revised manuscript submitted on 08/29/2019, accepted on 09/17/2019.
  10. Maman, R., & Yu, J. (2019). Particle size and chemical composition of grape seed flour and their effects on the characteristics of cookies. Journal of Food Research. 8(4): 111-121.