Not many people in the United States think about the tsetse fly, much less the sleeping sickness infection it carries.
But in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa — a footprint of land as big as the U.S. — the disease infects hundreds of thousands of people each year and puts a stranglehold on the impoverished region’s economy.
Domesticated animals also die from the parasite, which delivers a tremendous blow to the agricultural economies of these countries because they can’t raise livestock to sell.
“No other disease that I know of can affect the ecology of an entire continent the way this does,” said Zac Mackey, an assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an affiliated faculty member with the Fralin Life Science Institute. Mackey is investigating new ways to develop drugs to combat the sleeping sickness parasite.
Read more about Zac Mackey’s research on sleeping sickness at VT News >>
The start of a new semester brings new opportunities. A record number of first-year students joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the fall of 2012. Our incoming class is almost 500 first-year students. The exact and official count will not be determined until the second week of classes. Joining the newest Hokies are 128 transfer students and 72 students in the Agricultural Technology Program. This is also a new record number of students for the AT program.
To help prepare our new students for their first day of classes, the College Ambassadors held a welcome social and information session on August 26 at Litton-Reaves Hall. This was the sixth year for the event and was attended by a record 235 new students! The students had an opportunity to mingle with upperclassmen and several faculty members and to play a game of corn hole. The gathering was followed by a Q&A panel in the main auditorium. You can read more about the event and the Class of 2016 on the CALS website.
First year experience course
The college first year experience course is being offered for the second time in the fall semester. The course is comprised of students and faculty members from:
- Agricultural and Extension Education
- Animal and Poultry Sciences
- Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
- Food Science and Technology
- Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise
- Life Sciences – undecided
We have 22 students from the college who have volunteered to serve as peer leaders for the FYE course. Biochemistry and AAE offer their own FYE courses for their majors.
Fall Semester Kickoff Picnic
Mark your calendars now for the Fall Semester Kickoff Picnic and a diversity roundtable discussion on Wednesday, September 5 starting at 4 p.m. in the Ag Quad. All faculty, staff, and students are invited to enjoy dinner, learn more about the 30+ organizations in the college, and participate in the diversity discussion.
Thirty-one alumni, including several faculty and staff, were recognized at the college’s annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Mar. 16 at The Inn at Virginia Tech. About 180 people attended the ceremony. Following is a list of the faculty and staff award recipients who were honored for their contributions to the university and the agricultural and life sciences industries. For a complete list of honored alumni, please visit the CALS alumni site.
- William Dimock (In Memoriam), Ph.D. entomology ’04; Retired, Unit Coordinator, Extension Agent, ANR-Environmental Horiculture, Newport News; VCE/VT
- James Biedler, B.S. biochemistry ’96, Ph.D. ’05; Research scientist, Department of Biochemistry, Fralin Biotechnology Center; VT
- David Whitt, B.S. agronomy ’72; Retired, Seed Certification Program Administrator, Virginia Crop Improvement Association; VT
- Heather Cox, B.S. human nutrition, foods and exercise ’97, M.S. ’08; Instructor and Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise; VT
- Alex White, B.S. agricultural economics ’85, Ph.D. agricultural and applied economics ’95; Instructor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, VT
- George Andrew Seibel, B.S. agricultural education ’85, M.S. vocational and technical education ’86, Ed.S. career and technical education ’05; State FFA Specialist and Virginia Team AgEd Leader; Virginia Department of Education and VT