Published on 03/30/16

Global Programs Awards International Travel Grants To 11 CAES Faculty Members By Denise H. Horton

By Denise Horton

The Office of Global Programs has again awarded grants through its Faculty International Travel Funding Program that will allow 11 University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty members to meet colleagues in eight countries during the next several months.

New treatments for spinal cord injuries, controlling the spread of Chagas disease, and developing a new form of cooking oil are just a few of the projects that will be explored during their trips.

“In some cases, these trips provide the necessary next step in our faculty members’ research. At other times, they allow for groundwork to be laid for future projects,” according to OGP Director Amrit Bart. “Regardless, they play an essential role in the University of Georgia’s support for sustained global partnerships.”

When he travels to Chennai, India, Lohitash Karumbaiah of UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center and the animal and dairy science department will team with researchers at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University to design and execute clinical trials of a new treatment for spinal cord injured dogs using a chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycan matrix. Long-term, Karumbaiah and his colleagues hope their research also will benefit humans who suffer spinal injuries.

Also traveling to India will be Nicholas Magnan of the agricultural and applied economics department, who is exploring ways to market laser land-leveling technology to poor farmers. Magnan’s earlier research in Uttar Pradesh has shown that the technology reduces irrigation needs—and the diesel costs associated with pumping water—by 30 percent. The next step in the research is developing ways to encourage smallholder farmers to buy the technology and ensure its sustained use via the private sector.

Entomologist Donald Champagne of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases will travel to Ecuador to present a paper at the International Meeting in Infectious Diseases Research and Tropical Medicine. During his trip, Champagne will travel to sites in Ecuador where Chagas disease is being studied to begin gathering preliminary data for a grant proposal to fund field studies of a vaccine against Chagas disease vectors.

Horticulturalist John M. Ruter will spend a week in Shanghai, China, establishing relationships with colleagues at the new Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden that will benefit his research breeding program. He also will visit two tea-seed oil institutions and a commercial pressing operation to extend his research into the development of tea-seed oil as a commercial crop for the Southeastern United States.

Ruter has been conducting research on tea-seed oil since 1999, including testing a variety of cultivars for their ability to grow successfully in the Southeast. Tea-seed oil has many of the health benefits of olive oil, but because its smoke point is much higher, tea-seed oil may be a viable alternative for high-temperature frying applications.

While many of the travel grants focus on research efforts, two faculty members will be traveling to Italy and Spain to further programs that directly benefit students.

Miguel L. Cabrera, graduate coordinator in the crop and soil sciences department, will visit the University of Padova in Italy. During his trip, Cabrera will participate in ceremonies to celebrate the signing of the agreement to establish a dual masters degree program between UGA and the University of Padova in sustainable agriculture. He also will identify areas of common research interest that faculty in both locations can use to develop cooperative projects for the dual-MS students.

Susana Ferreira in the agricultural and applied economics department will travel to the Universidad Publica de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, to advance her research with UPNA faculty members and to continue her efforts to establish a semester exchange program between CAES and UPNA.

Three faculty members will travel to Kenya during the coming months.

Genti Kostandini of the agricultural and applied economics department will present findings at the Africa Green Revolution Forum on the effects of climate change on small-holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and ways to mitigate these risks. The forum includes African heads of state, ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, non-government organizations, scientists and other private citizens.

Romdhane Rekaya of the animal and dairy science department and Sammy Aggrey of the poultry science department will be teaching a capacity-building program for Biosciences eastern and central Africa at the International Livestock and Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. During their visit, they will continue work on a grant proposal to establish a center of excellence in genetical genomics on the campus of the University of Nairobi.

Dennis Hancock in crop and soil sciences will travel to New Zealand to complete plans for the upcoming joint meeting of the American Forage and Grassland Council and the New Zealand Grassland Association, which will occur in November.

Woo Kyun Kim of the poultry science department will visit the National Institute of Animal Science in South Korea to discuss plans to extend the three-year research project he recently completed with colleagues there. He also will present seminars at other South Korean universities and discuss future collaborations.

“In the past two years we have received an ever-increasing number of high quality applications from CAES faculty,” Bart noted. “This indicates the value such seed support provides our faculty for initiating or furthering their collaborations with international partners.”

To learn more about the CAES Office of Global Programs and its programs, visit

Denise Horton is the public relations coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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