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Dean's message

periodiCALS, Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2018

Photo: Sasha Israel

Springtime on campus, which brings increased light, warmth and a sense of renewal, is a perfect opportunity to celebrate health and well-being—the theme of this issue.

At Cornell CALS, we define health and well-being broadly in terms of our research—exploring not only human health but also that of our environment, our food, our economy and our ecosystems. Our approach relies on integration of our discoveries with our classroom teaching and our community engagement strategies. 

In this issue of periodiCALS, you’ll read about the life-changing and innovative research we’re doing to impact the health of people, communities and natural systems. 

For example, the more than one million Americans living with Type 1 diabetes—many of whom are children—may benefit from a device developed by Cornell researcher Minglin Ma to revolutionize the management of this disease that has no cure. Meanwhile, research from a new lab in the Department of Natural Resources will combat the woolly adelgid, a deadly insect threatening the health of New York’s 700-year-old eastern hemlock trees.

My own area of expertise, food science, can offer clear paths to preserving good health, including helping us understand how certain foods may positively affect us. But research on the human gut presents significant challenges. As food moves through the body and interacts with trillions of human and bacterial cells, the environment constantly changes, creating variables that are currently outside of our control. The solution is to use research models, created to mimic our intestinal layers, to identify those variables and to achieve desirable results. CALS food scientist Alireza Abbaspourrad is working to further develop these models—called “gut-on-a-chip”—to assess how much of a given nutrient in the food we eat is actually available for our bodies to use. 

It’s worth noting that much of the work featured in this issue is coming out of the farms, fields and laboratories of some of the newest members of our CALS faculty, hired within the past three to five years. Their expertise and collaborative spirit are helping CALS pursue next-generation breakthroughs in areas focused on social, physical and economic well-being.

The goal of improving human health and well-being through our research, teaching and outreach inspires us at CALS, just as I hope the stories in this issue will inspire your sense of renewal and commitment to the college. 

Thank you for your support and interest in CALS—and here’s to your good health and well-being.

Kathryn J. Boor
Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences