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2014 News and Events

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December 2014

Manuscript by FAFS Alumna, Nour Makarem, Accepted by Cancer Causes and Control Journal 

A manuscript co-authored by Nour Makarem, an NYU doctoral student in nutrition and FAFS alumna in nutrition, has been accepted by the internationally refereed journal, Cancer Causes and Control. Makarem and her co-authors researched the effects of cancer prevention guidelines on cancer risk. The cancer prevention guidelines evaluated by the research study were those developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The research study utilized the data collected in the Framingham Heart Study. The Framingham Heart Study is an on-going study that began in 1948. The study collects data on the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, USA, with the intent of relating collected data to cardiovascular disease risk. The data from the study examined by Makarem and her co-authors includes data on diet, weight, height, body composition, and physical activity.

Makarem and her co-authors found that lower alcohol consumption and a plant-based diet were associated with a decreased risk of body fat-related cancers. The body fat-related cancers are the cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, uterus, kidney, and breast. This finding corroborates the recommendations of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Makarem hopes to continue to demonstrate the effects of diet on cancer risk.

To learn more about the study, you can read the Medscape article on the study

If you are at AUB, you can access the full study on SpringerLink

 

Symposium on “Nutrition and Exercise for Health: Emerging Updates”

The Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics organized a symposium on “Nutrition and Exercise for Health: Emerging Updates.” The symposium emphasized the importance of exercise in health and obesity prevention and addressed EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l'Obésité Des Enfants or Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity) as a framework to combat childhood obesity. While obesity is a pressing issue in nutrition, there are other issues in nutrition and the symposium provided updates on those as well. The symposium touched upon fluoride intake for optimal health while referring to recent data on fluoride status among Lebanese children. Dr. Omar Obeid, professor of nutrition at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), delivered a very interesting presentation on the relationship between fluoride status and health. Placing nutrition in the context of food and economics, food security in the Arab Region and its relation to nutritional status were also discussed.

 

Healthy Baskets of Organic Fruits and Vegetables Available for Purchase

Baskets of fruits and vegetables certified organic by the internationally accredited Lebanese certification body, LibanCert, are available for purchase at the Healthy Basket shop. The prices of the baskets are as follows:

· Baby Basket: 6 items of fruits and vegetables for LL 33,000 (1-2 persons)
· Small Basket: 9 items of smaller fruits and vegetables for LL 33,000 (1-2 persons)
· Medium Basket: 13 to 15 items of fruits and vegetables for LL 40,000 (3-4 persons)
· Large Basket: 16 to 19 items for LL 57,000 (5 persons or more)

You may order a basket and have it delivered to you or you may visit the Healthy Basket shop Mondays through Fridays from 6 am to 4 pm in Ras Beirut, Caracas Street, Yaacobian Building Block A, Facing Al-Rahman Mosque. To request a delivery or for more information, you may contact us at 03/961545 or 03/794438 or 01/747831.

The Healthy Basket is a project by the American University of Beirut designed to improve the livelihood of Lebanese farmers, preserve the environment, and protect human health through the promotion organic agriculture. Organic fruits and vegetables are harvested from several small farms spanning Lebanon. The Healthy Basket is an example of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA is a win-win relationship between consumers and farmers; consumers purchase shares of a farmer(s)’s harvest and in return, farmers provide those consumers with organic fruit and vegetables in quantities dependent on the purchased share. The unique selling proposition of the Healthy Basket is that all fruits and vegetables are organic.

To learn more about the Healthy Basket, you can visit the AUB Healthy Basket website

 

LDEM Hosted Three Presentations by International Landscape Architects

The Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management hosted three presentations by international designers on topics in landscaping. The first presentation was delivered by Dr. SueAnne Ware of RMIT Univeristy, Melbourne, Australia. She discussed her approach to landscape design. Dr. Ware views landscapes as opportunities to involve marginalized groups in society to engage them in political, social, and environmental issues. Dr. Ware’s research studies have won international awards and have been exhibited in the Melbourne International Festival.

The second presentation was delivered by Ms. Caroline Lavoie of Utah State University, USA. Her presentation was on drawing landscapes. Ms. Lavoie argues that landscaping sites should be drawn on site as this allows the landscape designer to incorporate their perception, interpretation, and reflection of the site. Ms. Lavoie conducts workshops on drawing and educates attendees on the importance of incorporating the natural movement of landscapes into drawings.

The third presentation was delivered by Mr. Chris Johnstone. Mr. Johnstone is the director and owner of Bosque Studio Australia. He was involved in the 8 year project to design an arboretum in Canberra. The arboretum was designed after Canberra was devastated by bush fires in 2003. The National Arboretum in Canberra won the World Architecture Festival Landscape of the Year Award in 2014. Mr. Johnstone’s presentation was on the concept behind the National Arboretum of Canberra. The concept is “100 Forests” and aims to protect 100 of the world’s most endangered tree species. In this way, the National Arboretum in Canberra will help preserve biodiversity.

 

 

 

November 2014

Lebanese Primary School Students Will Now Study Nutrition Thanks to AUB Professor

The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education has decided to incorporate the school nutrition education program developed by celebrity dietitian and AUB professor Carla Habib Mourad into the national primary school health curriculum. Mourad designed the program for her Durham University PhD dissertation; Dean Nahla Hwalla was her PhD supervisor from AUB.

The program is a 3 month food and nutrition education program designed for 9 to 11 year olds. The goal is to increase nutritional knowledge and promote healthy behaviors in schoolchildren. It addresses the health behaviors most associated with overweight and obesity in schoolchildren and include activities to empower students to use their nutritional knowledge. All materials used in the program are culturally appropriate; the information is provided in Arabic and features Lebanese foods.

The program is needed to help address the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity among Lebanese schoolchildren; a study published by AUB in 2009 found that 35 % of Lebanese aged 6 to 19 were either overweight or obese. The adoption of the school nutrition education program by the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education will expand the number of participating schools and support the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in fulfilling the part of its mission dedicated to enhancing the health and well-being of the Lebanese population.

The program is currently rolled out as “Nestle Healthy Kids Global Program- Ajyal Salima” and is a part of the Epode International Network, the world’s largest childhood obesity prevention network.

 

AUB Professor, Dr. Talhouk, Publishes Trees of Lebanon

Dr. Salma Talhouk, an American University of Beirut (AUB) professor in the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management, and a number of collaborators published a book detailing how to grow trees from seeds and the importance of trees native to Lebanon. The book is titled Trees of Lebanon. It is designed to promote tree planting from seeds and conservation of native trees. “I cannot stress enough the importance of planting seeds and nurturing them instead of planting trees, as seeds will extend their roots deep into the earth, while newly planted trees will only grow shallow roots,” Dr. Talhouk explains. 

40 different trees and how to plant them are included in the book. Additionally, the history of each tree is covered to help readers form a relationship with Lebanon’s native trees. Trees of Lebanon is written in English and Arabic and will support the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in enhancing the health and well-being of nature in Lebanon. You may purchase Trees of Lebanon for LL 50,000. All proceeds will go to the Nature Conservation Center (NCC) of AUB to help fund its tree planting program.      

BLC Award for Adlieh Roundabout

Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM) students from the American University of Beirut (AUB) were challenged to reimagine the Adlieh roundabout in a design competition organized by BLC Bank. The Adlieh roundabout was chosen because it is one of Beirut's most congested and least attractive squares. After the designs were presented, the jury chose the top three contestants. The top prize went to Nour Farhat for her "Rewind" design, which uses lighting to create the illusion that the roundabout is moving along with the cars.

“The Swiss Touch in Landscape Architecture” 

 “The Swiss Touch in Landscape Architecture” is an event initiated by ProHelvetia and brought to Lebanon by both the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon. “The Swiss Touch in Landscape Architecture” exhibits the richness, diversity, and complexity of the field of landscape architecture and covers aspects of theory and history and conceptual frameworks and influences that have shaped the Swiss landscape. The exhibit also looks at a range of projects stretching from historical gardens to contemporary open spaces and highlights the latest landscape architecture studios and the designers of today.

The opening lecture was delivered by Michael Jakob. Jakob is professor in history and theory of landscape at Hepia University (Geneva) and professor of comparative Literature at Grenoble University (France). He is also a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (USA). His opening lecture was on “Switzerland, the Idea of Nature and Swiss Landscape Architecture.” His teaching and research focus on landscape theory, aesthetics, the history of vertigo, contemporary theories of perception, and the poetics of architecture. He is widely renowned in the field of landscape architecture and his work is acclaimed in New York and other cities setting the trends in landscape design.

 
 

Dr. Abou Jawdeh wins the Rebeiz Award 

Dr. Youssef Abou Jawdeh won the Rebeiz Award for Agricultural Research for the year 2013. The purpose of the Rebeiz Award is to promote agricultural research at AUB. The Constantine Rebeiz Committee selected Dr. Abou Jawdeh’s article in the international Journal of Virological Methods titled “Detection and quantitation of two cucurbit criniviruses in mixed infection by real-time RT-PCR." In layman’s terms, Dr. Abou Jawdeh developed a method to identify two viruses responsible for damaging crops of cucurbits. Cucurbits are a group of crops that include pumpkins and zucchinis.

As Dr. Abou Jawdeh explains, cucurbits are a source of quick income for farmers because they can be produced and sold every two months. However, for a certain number of years, there was a virus attacking cucurbits and reducing production by 40%. There was difficulty in identifying the offending virus; tests were run in the USA and it was discovered that a white fly transmitted the virus. After determining the cause, Dr. Abou Jawdeh developed a toolkit that reduced the cost of detection from $40 to $0.4; he and his team are pioneers in this activity. Their toolkit is now commercialized by a Swiss firm.

To learn more about the Rebeiz Foundation, please visit the AUB Award page on the Rebeiz Foundation website.

 

FAFS Students Nominated to Attend AFED

Michelle Moawad and Mohammad Mourtada, FAFS students who were nominated to attend the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) in Jordan, travelled to the forum in November 2014. Moawad and Mourtada delivered a statement at the forum. Their statement reflected their enthusiasm for ensuring food security for the Arab region present and future: “It is an exciting time to be agricultural and food scientists and specialists as this imposes a great responsibility to protect the right of Arab future generations to sustainable food supplies,” they said.

During their trip, Mouawad and Mourtada had the opportunity to experience an international conference and to hear high-level discussions on the very current topic of food security. They were not only active listeners at the forum, but were active participants too, with both students networking with other students and Mourtada posed questions to an FAO representative. Both students described their experience as “eye opening.”

   

October 2014

Freezing of AREC residency for the academic year 2014-2015

FAFS met with Agriculture students to discuss the freezing of AREC residency for the academic year 2014-2015. The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences would like to clarify the following:
1.    AREC will continue to be an integral part of AUB and of the agricultural education and research program and there is no intention to close it or  change its status as an educational and research center.
2.    A plan B is being prepared by the department of Agriculture as an alternative to AREC residency while ensuring that all learning outcomes and hands- on- experience continue to be given in the best interest of the students.
3.    The decision of freezing or shortening student residency at AREC for the spring semester 2015 will be re-examined in January 2015 based on the security situation.
4.    Students will be invited to take part in the discussion and decision-making regarding the residency program.
The faculty met with the President and Provost and briefed them on their discussion with the students and they expressed support for the aforementioned meeting outcomes.  

Press Release from Daily Star:
AUB Bekaa Valley program suspension is temporary: Dean Hwalla

A decision by the American University of Beirut to suspend programs on its agricultural campus in the Bekaa Valley (AREC) is only temporary and will be reviewed in two months, the dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science Dr. Nahla Hwalla revealed to The Daily Star.

AUB announced Monday October 20, 2014, that it had canceled all classes at AREC due to security concerns, in light of a growing number of altercations with locals in the area and general instability in the Bekaa Valley due to the Syrian war next door.

The move means AUB students will not be allowed to conduct their residencies there, knowing that  Agriculture students routinely spend the spring and summer semesters of their third year living in AREC campus, and masters and doctoral students also conduct most of their thesis work on the farm. Landscape Design and Food Science students are also required to reside for a semester. The institution is also used by engineering students studying rainwater harvesting and renewable energy.

However, Dean Hwalla said students could visit the grounds for the day for the sake of research. Security concerns prompted the faculty to issue a waiver of responsibility for the students' safety last year, but parents and students refused to sign it which put the faculty under tremendous pressure
The decision to suspend classes prompted protest in front of FAFS building on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 blaming the faculty for not announcing the decision prior to the start of the academic year.

Although university officials have insisted AREC will not be shut down completely, fears that its fate was hanging in the balance peaked when students noticed that there were no longer any farm animals on site. However, Dean Hwalla said this was a normal part of the institution’s livestock trading and that enough cattle would be repurchased for student research and education.
Further, in a meeting between the Faculty and the university’s President and Provost, agricultural student representative Mohammad Murtada said those gathered confirmed that “AREC would remain an integral part of AUB and would not be sold.”

Read Full Article on Daily Star website

 

Introducing the Plastic Hive

The Apiculture class is one of the many interesting courses offered by the American University of Beirut. It offers a different perspective to students as they grasp a comprehensive understanding of beekeeping through both written examinations and rigorous fieldwork. It also allows them to establish a solid foundation in bees and ultimately invites other generations to raise awareness about the important role that bees play in the well being and survival of the ecosystem.  Mohamad Dalle, who has taken this class, has gotten acquainted with how the bees’ life is interlocked in all the majestic phenomena of nature and has aspired to take the process of beekeeping to a whole new level.  Under the supervision of the apiculture professor, Rami Ollaik, Mohamad has started designing a product that could drastically improve on the traditional wooden beehive. This enhanced version of the beehive is actually the first of its kind in the Arab region, is made out of plastic, and keeps up with modern beekeeping through providing a more suitable and safer environment for the bees and their growth.

The new product is practical as it makes the beekeepers’ job much easier in many different ways. Plastic is much more hygienic than wood, which grants the bees a longer life away from possible pathogens. The plastic hive offers a safer environment from the parasitic varroa mites, a major problem for beekeepers worldwide, by having a built-in treatment inserted specifically for that purpose. The plastic hive is ultimately the better choice since it is much lighter in weight, more handy in general, and most importantly is built to last long, unlike wooden hives which tend to wear out pretty quickly.

The product is now being tested at FAFS Honeybee Lab.


FAFS review study warns: The region’s inadequate infant feeding practices may increase risk of adult-onset diseases

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences have concluded that infant feeding practices are suboptimal across the Middle East and North Africa region and necessitate public health intervention.

This flurry of groundbreaking research projects comes as the department celebrates the highly esteemed accreditation it has recently acquired. The Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Program (NDCP) in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences was accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), which is the accrediting agency for education programs of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the US. NDCP is only the third program outside the US, and the first in the Middle East, to receive this accreditation.

To celebrate the NDCP accomplishments, FAFS hosted a gala dinner on Thursday, October 9, 2014. The event was held at La Magnanerie in Beirut and featured a keynote presentation by accomplished AUB alumnus Ray Debbane, co-founder of The Invus Group, a private capital equity and venture capital firm, and is currently its president and chief executive officer; he also chairs the boards of a number of other companies including Weight Watchers International.

Strawponic for Potato Production at AREC 

Strawponic is an innovative and exotic system for growing potato on soil surface (bare soil, turfgrass, straw, any soft medium) using crop straw as a cover.  A field trial was carried out last spring/summer at AREC by Prof. M. Haidar and his graduate student Mr. Ali. Msheik to test the suitability and economical viability of this system for small potato producers in the Beq’aa plain.  Simply, potato tubers were placed on bare soil surface (no cultivation) containing animal manure, covered them with a blanket of crop straw, and watered through drip irrigation system.  Straw was removed by hand at the end of the growing season and potato tubers were picked up by hand. 

This system is simple, economical (no machinery, no soil bed preparation, no digging or hilling, and high potato yield), sustainable (no contamination/pollution-no herbicides), saves water, appropriate for dry and urban areas (gardens) and suitable for organic farming


Dean Emeritus Nuhad Daghir appointed to Med Poultry Network

Dean Emeritus Nuhad Daghir, the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) former dean, has been elected as council president of the Mediterranean Poultry Network. Dean Hwalla said that this appointment brings further international recognition to AUB and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.

Full Article

FIT-A-THON

Want to become Fit and healthy but don’t know how?
Wondering if you’re on the right track or if you need to modify your lifestyle?

The AUB Wellness Program and the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences are inviting you to join them on a
“Tour in the Health Republic”

Date & Time: Friday October 10 between 11am -3 pm
Place: West Hall

Visit the Nutrition booths located near West Hall to find out about:

- Key Nutritional information at Knowledge Town
- Useful Tips about Sports Nutrition at Sports Valley
- Your Nutritional Status and Body Composition at Assessment Ville

Don’t miss out on the Rally Paper taking place on the same day between 11 am-12 pm and learn more about nutrition myths and facts, portion sizes, win prizes and much more!

To register for the Rally Paper contact us before October 8 at:
cjs10@mail.aub.edu

Hope to see you all there!

September 2014

Dean Emeritus Nuhad Daghir appointed to Med Poultry Network

Dean Emeritus Nuhad Daghir, the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) former dean, has been elected as council president of the Mediterranean Poultry Network. Dean Hwalla said that this appointment brings further international recognition to AUB and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.

Full Article

PhD program in “Biomedical Sciences/Nutrition” in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine

Link to admission: http://www.aub.edu.lb/admissions/applications/Pages/apply.aspx

For more information, please visit the following website: Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

A WHO Collaborating Centre for Research, Training and Outreach in Food and Nutrition at the American University of Beirut

The NFSC department has been designated as a WHO Collaborating Center* for Research, Training and Outreach in Food & Nutrition, with Dr. Hwalla serving as the Director of the center. This designation acknowledges the NFSC department for its outstanding achievements in teaching, research and services. The department’s research activities as a WHO collaborative center focuses on nutritional issues of public health relevance in Lebanon and the Middle-East, including obesity, malnutrition, nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, early life nutrition as well as food safety.

The specific objectives of the WHO Collaborating Center are:

  • To serve as a center for initiating proper awareness in issues related to food and nutrition and to work towards enhancing the nutritional wellbeing and health of families and populations in the Eastern Mediterranean region
  • To assist the WHO in the collection and dissemination of information on health, illness and risk behavior, to collaboratively work towards the prevention and treatment of nutrition-related diseases prevalent in the Eastern Mediterranean region; under-nutrition (e.g. anemia and micronutrient deficiencies) and over-nutrition (e.g. obesity and its related comorbidities such as diabetes and hyperlipidemia)
  • To enhance capacity building in nutrition in the Eastern Mediterranean region, through training workshops and seminars, publishing articles in academic journals, and generating reports to stimulate further discussion and research.
  • To present its findings to policymakers, the community, and representatives of civil society organizations, as well as to disseminate findings on the social implications of health and related issues.
  • To serve as an information resource center on food, nutrition, and bio-safety, and to develop outreach programs for extending research-based information to the general population, consumers and professionals in food science and nutrition.

*”WHO collaborating centers are national institutions that have been designated by the Director-General to form part of an inter-institutional collaborative network set up by WHO and which cooperate with WHO programmes at national, regional and global levels.” (WHO, 2014)

AUB research team identifies Lebanese microalgae with food and fuel potential

An AUB research team, led by Professor Yusuf Abou Jawdah from FAFS, has identified a number of algae species in Lebanon that show promising potential as super foods, as well as possible sources of fuel. This important subject has been highlighted in a full article published in AUB's weekly newsletter and through a reported broadcasted on LBC News on 13/09/2014.

Full Article

LBC News Report

Watch a short clip of the various containers (MP4 = 6.46MB)

AUB Hosts 4th Mediterranean Poultry Summit

The 4th Mediterranean Poultry Summit was held on the AUB campus from September 2-5, 2014. This conference is held once every two years in one of the Mediterranean countries and is an activity of the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA). The conference was organized by the Lebanon Branch of the WPSA in cooperation with the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at AUB and the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research. The opening ceremony was held in the Assembly Hall and included speeches by Dr. Nuhad Daghir, President of the WPSA- Lebanon Branch, Dr. Edir Silva, President of the WPSA, Dr. Nahla Hwalla, Dean of FAFS, Dr. Muin Hamzeh, Secretary General of the LNCSR and Dr. Peter Dorman, President of AUB. The ceremony also included musical interludes by AUB students which were very well received by all.

Over 150 participants attended the conference from 31 countries and from all five continents. The scientific program consisted of three parts, the first being the 15 invited papers, followed by thirty short oral presentations and 50 poster presentations. All these addressed a wide variety of timely topics with emphasis on the problems and challenges of the poultry industry in the Mediterranean region. The scientific committee of the conference was chaired by Dr. Nuhad Daghir , Dean Emeritus at FAFS and the organizing committee by Dr. Muhamad Farran, Professor of poultry Science at FAFS.

During the same period of the conference, an exhibition was held in the area of West Hall for 27 national and international companies that dealt with various industries serving the poultry sector. All these companies provided support for the holding of this conference and some of the speakers were sponsored by them. At the same time interviews were held with some FAFS graduates for job vacancies in these companies.

The conference also included organized tours around the campus as well as to important sites in Lebanon. All participants were very impressed with the beauty of the campus as well as the research papers presented by the Lebanese researchers. The conference was considered a great success and gave AUB and Lebanon a beautiful image in spite of the chaos in the region.

ESDU: Promoting nutrition education in universities and organic farming in wakfs

ESDU has been awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund by Waterfront City Cares (WFC) for its sustainable organic agriculture efforts, through its project Souk Aal Souk.

Full Article

 

June 2014

Dean Hwalla recognized for her mentorship of women in breast cancer research and education

Dean Nahla Hwalla has been awarded the 2014 Susan Bulkeley Butler Leadership Excellence Award by the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) group at Purdue University. Accordingly, she has been invited to give the Susan Bulkeley Butler Leadership Excellence lecture at the fourth International Breast Cancer Prevention Symposium to be held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA from October 16-18, 2014.

Full Article

 

FAFS Faculty Go On Retreat

Faculty members from all four FAFS departments reunited for a four-hour retreat in Auditorium A West Hall. The meeting was kicked off by a brief introduction by Dean Nahla Hwalla followed by the screening of a short documentary about FAFS directed by Carol Mansour, and a slideshow showcasing the curiosities, research findings, and future ambitions of the faculty.

Then three main themes were tackled: Food Security, Nutrition for Health, and Environmental Resilience. To encourage interdisciplinary problem-solving, groups of four were decided upon by drawing names from a basket and randomly assigned group members were to combine their strengths in order to conjure a plan for each category, each of which contained a hypothetical problem statement, goal, and research outcome.

By transforming their differences into strengths rather than weaknesses, each group registered the collective result of their brainstorming session on several pieces of paper before alternating to a new group to start afresh. The papers were then collected en masse and showcased on a board for all to consider, debate, and discuss.

Overall, the retreat served two essential purposes: to gather FAFS faculty under a common umbrella where a free flow of ideas can pro-actively be exchanged; to reach the realization that whatever pressing issues of global concern facing us today can be confronted head-on by exploiting the comparative advantage that exists between faculty members, rather than having each function as an autonomous microcosm unaware of their untapped potential collective energy.


Dean Nahla Hwalla observing the panels where group discussion outcomes were put on display


Group discussions in session

May 2014
Young Students Learn through AUB ‘Tree Tours’

1100 excited students have visited AUB since 2010 to discover the rich variety of flora spread out on campus and the workings of the greenhouse. The group of youngsters aged between 4 and 7 hailed from International College (IC), College Protestant Francais (CPF), Wellspring, Rawdah High School amongst other schools in Lebanon and were taken on these educational tours which were organized and led by Monika Fabian.

“The children leave very happily and want to come back again – some children don’t even want to leave at all,” says Fabian.

The students begin their journey at the greenhouse where they identify various vegetables still sprouting from the earth. One student innocently wondered out loud if there is rice and meat inside the eggplant, having only seen the vegetable in a popular dish that combines the three. Another asks if snails are responsible for carrying the nutrients to the growing vegetables. Fabian playfully addresses their questions while retaining a fun and educational atmosphere.

Students also held squirming earthworms in the outstretched palms as they are taught the essential benefits of having worms in the soil. This, according to Fabian, children enjoy the most alongside watching the mist irrigation in awe and planting their seeds to take home with them. After the greenhouse session, Fabian guides them through campus where they learn to identify various types of trees, how to age them according to the ring patterns found in their trunks alongside a selection of other interesting factoids.

“You have shown AUB to our students from a totally different angle than what they’re used to and none of them will ever look at any of its trees the same way again,” says CPF head teacher Lina Kerbage. When the tour reaches completion, the young ones have more than quenched their curiosities concerning all things tree-related.

Fabian sums it up as such, “As a mother of two I know how important is to have such trip and how much they can remember things just because they saw or touched something. I personally love to give these tours.”

>> Check Full Photogallery <<


Student holding earthworm


Fabian handing out various vegetables to students


Fabian & group of students digging earthworms out of pot and handling them

"Control Food, Control People" by Rami Zurayk and Anne Gough

"Control Food, Control People: The Struggle for Food Security in Gaza", written by Dr. Rami Zurayk and Dr. Anne Gough, takes an in-depth look at the struggle for food security in Gaza in the face of a bullying neighbor. The title, aptly making reference to Henry Kissinger's quote "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people", addresses how food can and has been used as a potent political tool throughout history and within Israel's siege on Gaza. "Food security is within my area of expertise and I could not help seeing how the Israeli were using food as a weapon of control while the whole world watched," says Dr. Rami Zurayk, co-author and Landscape Architecture Chairperson at FAFS.

This instability is a major concern in Gaza where over half of its households are food insecure naturally leading to major health complications amongst its people such as stunted growth, anemia and starvation. The problematic cluster of food scarcity, unreasonable food prices and lack of job opportunities put the locals in a bind making 88% of its inhabitant dependent on food aid. "We are food secure if the Israelis leave us alone and stop trying to make our lives a nightmare. If they do that, then we can be food secure because we can earn a living, cultivate our lands, raise our animals, eat fish, and import food as we desire," says a Bayt Hanun resident. 

This use of food control as a means to control the people seems to be often overlooked by the media and its spectators who assume the insecurity to be a byproduct of the conflict rather than a tool, a calculated means to an end. This publication argues otherwise using theory, accessible language, thought-provoking statistics and charts to build a compelling case on one of the greatest hostilities of our time and its underlying mechanisms. Zurayk says "Food can be a tremendous weapon. It has been used for millennia and will continue to be used, often surreptitiously. One must be very careful when endorsing concepts such as food security as much can be hidden underneath."

This book was published by the Institute for Palestinian Studies and made possible thanks to the grant provided by the Palestine Investment Fund.


Cover page of “Control Food Control People” by Dr. Rami Zurayk

Healthy Kids Ajyal Salima Becomes Official Member of Epode International Network

The Healthy Kids Ajyal Salima Middle East has jumped the rungs of recognition by becoming an official member of the world’s largest obesity prevention network, the Epode International Network (EIN). The program was originally developed at the Nutrition and Food Sciences department at FAFS in partnership with Nestle and has been implemented in Lebanese schools around the country for the past three years. This milestone of recognition marks a great step forward for the program as it is the first in the Middle East to join the EIN family. 

This legitimizes the Healthy Kids program as an internationally recognized, high standard program connecting them to a worldwide network of partners. Being a part of the network means being able to connect with 24 member countries across the world. This facilitates multi-partner Community-Based Programs (CBPs) and best practice sharing between EIN member programs.

Another benefit lies in that EIN provides visibility at a global level. This network gathers leading experts from the world  and fosters a fertile environment for dialogue between public, civic, and private sectors.

Professor Jean-Michel Borys, President of the EIN, says "The mission of the EIN is to support organizations that want to implement or that are already implementing Community-Based Programs based on the EPODE methodology for obesity and non-communicable disease prevention. EIN provides broad-based support to individual programs, accompanying them in optimizing their effectiveness, mobilizing multiple stakeholders and assisting them in scaling up their initiatives to a community-based approach, based on the EPODE methodology.”

Dean Nahla Hwalla schoes this positive sentiment with regards to this events: "This is an important success for our Nestlé/AUB partnership, with many opportunities coming along with this membership."


Healthy Kids students who participated in the program


Healthy Kids students performing

Agribusiness Students Receive Aana Prize for Ideas

Agribusiness students were presented with the challenging opportunity of turning their academic assignments into a real business opportunity. For the first time, the Aana Prizes in Agribusiness allowed students to come forth with ideas that represented innovation or meaningful benefit to the community. Students presented to a jury of professionals in the field to compete for two cash prizes in the amount of $1,000. This inaugural event was sponsored with the support of Mr. Carlos Edde and an anonymous donor. 

This year acknowledged two groups as winners of the Aana Prizes for their potential to benefit the community or introduce innovation into the Lebanese market, and also demonstrated practicality and creativity: "Pruning Chill" consists of using wood chips and olive oil byproducts to create a long-lasting and cheap fire log, whereas "Live Green, Grow Green" presented a business model which exploits protein-rich algae to be grown on farms in ponds in Lebanon and transformed into a protein supplement. Tarek Suleiman (“Live Green Grow Green” winner) says, “I'm a professional athlete and I care about my health so I always up to date with supplements and sport nutrition. Since the Lebanese market has doubts about the existing supplements, I decided to make my own.”

The students who participated in the Aana Prizes competition were from the Agricultural Sciences (AGSC) 292 - Final Year Project course. "Final year agribusiness students prepared business plans for agribusiness projects, where they applied various concepts and principles in agriculture, management, finance, marketing, economic theory, and accounting […] and through the Aana Prizes in Agribusiness they interacted and networked with professionals from the agro-food industry," says Makram Bou Nassar, lead instructor of the course. 

FAFS hopes to offer the Aana Prizes in Agribusiness on a yearly basis where students can receive heightened exposure for their ideas, confront difficult questions, an actual investor might ask, and confidently deal with the inner-workings of an industry they will have to face head-on upon graduating by moving "from the classroom and into the field", says Ms. Rachel Bahn, co-instructor of the course.

Sara Nahouli (“Prunning Chill” winner) learned that “with dedication, perseverance and commitment, every small idea can be developed into an innovative masterpiece.”


Mr. Edde giving a speech at the Aana Prize ceremony


Dr. Ali Chalak awarding students Samir Berjaoui and Sara Nahouli the first prize for “Pruning Chill”


A group of participants taking a group photo during the Aana Prize ceremony

Rethinking Shared Spaces: The "Souk O Shouf" farmers’ market Design Competition
Souk o Shouf Farmers’ Market – LDEM 216 Student Design Presentations
May 12, 2014 at 5:00 PM – FAFS Olive Garden

Design students joined creative forces to tackle innovative ideas for a new farmer's market in the Shouf region as a part of their final project. Working in cooperation with Al Shouf Cedar society (the Shouf Biosphere Reserve), students of Dr. Maria Trovato and Hala Chmaitelly were given the following challenge: to design a theme park around the new and improved market that includes a play area, picnic spaces, a river promenade and agriculture space in an attempt to transform the space into an attractive haven for farmers and their customers. As a part of the design competition "Souk O Shouf", students had to consider three different landscapes and ecosystems in the creation of each project: the woodland, the orchard and the concrete slab. The market site is provided pro bono by Mr. and Mrs. Walid Joumblat in support of small-scale producers in the region and can be found nestled away in on the southern riverbank of the Damour River in the Shouf (in Multaka el Nahreyn, to be specific).

The 20 resulting designs were proudly presented at the “Souk O Shouf” showcase event on May 12th at the garden of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in the presence of Mrs Nora Joumblat from the Shouf Biosphere reserve.

The event kicked off with an opening speech by Dr Nahla Hwallah, dean of the faculty of agricultural and food sciences, who expressed her pride in this creative collaboration which aims at bettering the livelihoods of local farmers while engaging students in hands-on projects with a social conscience. Dr Shadi Hamadeh, the Chairman of the departments of Agricultural and Animal and Veterinary Sciences, director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, and Dr. Rami Zurayk, the Chairman of the Landscape Department and Eco-management, both attended the competition to appreciate the work envisioned by FAFS students.

Dr Salwa Tohme Tawk and Dr Trovato presented the competition and reminded the audience how important such an initiative happens to be - whether from the perspective of the creatively and socially engaged student (who can give the market a fresh spin it desperately needs) or that of rural farmers (in need of a restructured, modern model for how they engage with their buyers).

Many important actors from the Al Shouf Biosphere Reserve appreciated the showcased designs such as Faisal Bu Ezzeddine (Senior Expert), Mr. Charles Noujaim (President of the Committee) and Nizar Hani (Manager). Mr. Wissam Abu Daher (Director of the Agriculture Extension Center in Deir el Qamar) and Mr Tawfic Bu Alwan (President of the Farmers’ Cooperative in Barouk village) were also present for their future involvement in the market.

The overall project was made possible through a collaboration between the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) through the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) and the Department of Landscape and Ecosystem management in cooperation with Al Shouf Cedar Society-the Shouf Biosphere Reserve.

Four project winners were announced followed by a traditional Lebanese cocktail served by the Food Heritage in a celebration of novel ideas bursting into life to serve the greater good of the community.
 

ESDU Catalyzes the Establishment of the First MENA Professional Association on Development Evaluation

The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) organized the closing workshop of the project “Mainstreaming Evaluation Theory and Practice in the MENA region” in Amman, Jordan. This happening was held alongside the 3rd General Assembly of the Middle East and North Africa Evaluators Network (EvalMENA). The network came into being as an “unplanned positive outcome” of the project, and has quickly established itself as the main professional and scientific reference of the evaluation profession in the MENA region.

Over 80 participants from 13 different nationalities attended the conference. Six parliamentarians representing Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia who collectively launched the MENA Parliamentarian Forum on Development Evaluation were also present at the conference.

Dr. Ibrahim Seif, Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation delivered the keynote address of the conference, stressing the role of evaluation in improving development effectiveness and evidence-based policy making. Dr. Seif also noted that after hosting the 5th General Assembly of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) in 2011, the Arab world now proudly boasts its own professional evaluation organization.

The conference ran over two and half days and consisted of five streams: The role of the evaluation in democratic transition; towards the emergence of an “indigenous” M&E culture in MENA, the MENA challenges in delivering Evaluation Effectively, Enhancing the use of evaluation in MENA and Towards “2015 Evaluation Year”.

To set the atmosphere, the conference was preceded on April 27th by a full day of professional development workshops. Themes of the professional development workshops revolved around the five levels of RBM with Mr. Jean Quesnel (Canada), Theory of Change (ToC) based evaluation with Dr. Lucien Bäck (Netherlands), How to Design, Manage and Use Evaluations from an Equity and Gender Equality Perspective with Ms Mona Selim (UN WOMEN), and a comprehensive introduction to Impact Evaluation by Dr. Jyotsna Puri (India) in collaboration with the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation (3IE).

The conference was also the occasion to launch the first online training on development evaluation in Arabic, developed jointly by EvalMENA, UNICEF and EvalPartners.

 


H.E Dr. Ibrahim Seif, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan surrounded by Mr. Ziad Moussa, EvalMENA Coordinator (left) and Dr. Shadi Hamadeh, ESDU Director (right)

 


H.E Ibrahim Seif, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan

Date: May-13-2014 at 03:30 PM to 05:30 PM
Location: Bathish Auditorium, West Hall
Category: Panel Discussion: "Nutritionists in the Media: The effects of media on nutrition beliefs and choices "

The panel discussion is part of a series of events organized by the Nutrition and Food Sciences (NFSC) department in celebration of housing the first Nutrition and Dietetics program in the region to achieve accreditation by the US Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

The program features professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics who routinely appear in the media:
Dr. Carla Habib Mrad, Mrs. Nathalie Asmar Yaghi, Ms. Vanessa Ghossoub, Mrs. Sawsan Wazzan Jabre

The panel will also include a presentation entitled “Nutrition experts and media obsession with the idealized body type” by Dr. Jad Melki, Assistant professor at the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies, who will also serve as moderator of the session.

Related: Assafir's article

Date: Sunday May-04-2014 at 10:00 AM to 04:00 PM
Location: AREC
Category: AREC Day 2014

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences cordially invites you to AREC Day 2014 which will be held on Sunday May 4th, 2014. Tickets are sold at the Agriculture Square and West Hall for LBP 20,000 which includes transportation, breakfast, lunch, snacks, tours, and games.

Buses will leave from the Medical Gate at 7:30am.

For more information or for tickets please contact Mr. Hilal Dbouk (hd38@aub.edu.lb), Ms. Nour Hamouie (nmh47@mail.aub.edu) or Mr.  Muhammad Murtada (mrm17@mail.aub.edu).

Hope to see you all there!!!

April 2014

Nutrition-Cancer

“AUB has the potential to become a center of excellence leading the way in breast cancer prevention research in the Eastern Mediterranean Region,” says Dr. Isabelle Romieu, the Head of the Nutrition and Metabolism unit at the International Agency for Cancer Research, World Health Organization (WHO). The Nutrition and Food Sciences Department hosted a series of seminars featuring Dr. Romieu’s insights on breast cancer prevention worldwide, which were funded by the University Research Board at AUB.

During her weeklong visit, Dr. Romieu delivered three seminars tackling the role of nutrition in preventing breast cancer. This aggressive illness is the most common type of cancer striking 70 out of 100,000 Lebanese women. This staggering rate makes it the highest in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The first seminar revealed how lifestyle changes can remarkably off throw the risk of breast cancer by 20 to 30% through a combination of a balanced diet, physical activity, no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Dr. Romieu insists that further studies specific to Lebanese women are necessary to delve deeper into the matter. The second and third seminars had a more specialized audience in mind and shed light on the little-known link between obesity, trans-fatty acids (the type present in processed foods such as cookies and crackers) and the risk of breast cancer. Obesity has become an epidemic in the region. As waistlines widen and calorie consumption soars, rates have reached 20% among Lebanese women. Several types of cancer have been linked to this obesity outbreak including: colorectal, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium, pancreas, esophagus, and kidney and (probably) gallbladder and liver. Another instigator of breast cancer is serum level of trans-fatty acids, mainly found in industrial vegetable oils. Ruminant-produced natural transfatty acids were not linked to the risk. At this point, what seems to be lacking is a deeper understanding of how fatty acids subclasses affect breast tumor development.

All three seminars proved popular attracting faculty members and students from a variety of different faculties such as Faculty of Medicine (FM), Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and FAFS. The convention was neatly wrapped up with a Q&A session with the speaker.

Dr. Romieu extended her reach by meeting faculty members involved in cancer research at the university and planned potential collaborations as well as student exchanges in the near future. Not to be outdone, Dr. Romieu also met with the Lebanese members of the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) team to discuss an exciting cluster of research and collaboration prospects.


Dr. Romieu presenting her findings to an auditorium (Lecture room 102) of FAFS students and faculty


Dr. Romieu presenting her findings to an auditorium (Lecture room 102) of FAFS students and faculty


Dean Hwalla presenting Dr. Romieu

International Biodiversity Day at AUB

The International Biodiversity Day at AUB (IBDAA) is a competition organized by the AUB Nature Conservation Center (AUB NCC) inviting undergraduate students of all backgrounds to come up with creative ideas that address ecological and environmental issues.

"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" was the theme of this year's event which was held on April 25.  From Agribusiness and Landscape Architecture to Civil Engineer and English, students of all walks of life created projects that were assessed based on innovation, presentation, applicability and team spirit. These projects were then presented to an audience of peers, faculty and visitors who freely walked between one panel to the next on an exploratory journey through a rich variety of projects. 

Project categories spanned far and wide, encompassing the following: arts and humanities, business plan, improved energy efficiency, product development, research and renewable resources. 

With conversation and sustainable use of biodiversity in mind, ideas such as "Green Bump Energy Converters", which spoke of capturing energy from cars going over custom-designed speed bumps, and "Life Green Grow Green", which conceived of manufacturing preservative and chemical-free supplements using protein-rich algae, both used IBDAA as a platform to present and propel themselves to a wider audience. Algae resurfaced as a material rich in potential in "Improving Algal Biofuels Production" where micro algae deliver an easily harvested alternative to other more harmful energy sources.

"Playground Package: Patchwork of Fun" suggests an outdoor playground for children in Syrian refugee camps as thought up by Dr. Wissam Melhem's classroom Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM) 249: Site engineering III - Design Implementation. Their plan proposed recycling items such as tires, steel poles, ropes, and wooden pallets to create sandboxes, a jumbo swing, a maze, a tunnel structure and more for the children's enjoyment simply by combining these basic materials in various ways. One team with a rather artistic slant hypothesized about transforming usually painful-to-look-at garbage into aesthetically pleasing art. 

This open, innovative and collaborative platform has become a yearly event since 2007 that encourages AUB students to sustainably make use of biological resources. Students have the possibility to compete for four different Jammal Trust Bank Eco-Innovation Awards of $2,000 each. In addition, this year, there will be two awards of $2,000 each presented by the Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources distributed to the winners of the two categories: renewable resources and improved energy efficiency.

Check the list of winners and their respective prizes distributed to this year's contestants.


A group of students being awarded the IBDAA prize


Another group of students being awarded the IBDAA prize


Several cash prizes for the competition winners

>> Check IBDAA 2014 full photo album <<

 

Distribution of Community Nutrition Manual
Workshop about "The Optimal Implementation of the Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Lebanese Adults"

Lebanon has long-needed a food-based dietary guideline that fits the specific dietary habits of its people. Having followed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-based models (e.g. my pyramid, my plate) for years, it became increasingly obvious that a tailored guideline for the Lebanese had to be created to address health issues that are specific to its people.

CEDAR became the answer to this need by presenting an evidence-based dietary recommendation that aims at preventing rather than treating avoidable diseases. “Primary prevention aims at preventing before existence of these dangerous disease and that’s exactly what we aim to do,” says Dr. Lamis Jomaa, creator of the manual.

Considering Lebanon's shockingly high diabetes and obesity rates as well as being prone to cardiovascular diseases and cancers, CEDAR focuses on tackling the presence of these non-communicable diseases through accessible guidelines easily understandable by the layperson.

Our heavy shift away from a Mediterranean diet towards a westernized eat-on-the-run one is suspected to be one of the main culprits. Two factors have made this manual relevant: by making the manual food-based rather than nutrient-based and by training health practitioners on how to relay the message to the average person who otherwise may not come into contact with this much-needed guide helps ensures that CEDAR does not end up collecting dust on a shelf.

In fact, an extensive workshop taught to representatives from all corners of Lebanon so that the primary health caregivers can effectively reach out to those most in need. “We have chosen seven ‘representatives’ from across Lebanon to teach the manual to by giving them three full day training workshops to make sure they know exactly how to deliver the message after learning it,” says Jomaa

This is essential because those belonging to the lower socioeconomic strata are often those who are most susceptible to these non-communicable diseases and the most likely to receive poor treatment from primary health-care practitioners.

This initiative was pioneered by the WHO, funded by UNICEF then distributed with effective training by AUB and the Ministry of Health. The guideline refers specifically to adults but a variation aimed at children and adolescents will soon be made available to the public.


Dr. Lamis Jomaa presenting the guide


Workshop taught to representatives across the nation to familiarize them with the manual


Another workshop aimed at familiarizing relevant professionals across Lebanon in properly using the manual

Date: April-25-2014 at 10:00 AM
Location: Agriculture, Room 205, Wing A
Category: Seminar about "An Introduction to Permaculture"
Speaker SOILS Permaculture Association Lebanon, in collaboration with Difaf

The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) cordially invites you to a presentation/discussion entitled "An Introduction to Permaculture" working with nature for sustainable agriculture and development systems Presented by SOILS Permaculture Association Lebanon, in collaboration with Difaf.
Permaculture involves working with all elements of an ecosystem (Plants, Animals, People and Climate) to design sustainable productive systems that work with nature to cover all aspects of individual and community life, providing food and shelter.
At home: Using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste and energy consumption
- In the garden: Growing more plants and food, using natural fertilizers
- In our consumer habits: Spending more responsibly, reducing emissions
- In our community: Building lasting ties and relationships
- In ourselves: Achieving a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle

Date: April-23-2014 at 12:00 PM
Location: Agriculture, Room 205, Wing A
Category: Seminar about "Green Plan, Lebanon"
Speaker Mrs. Gloria Abouzeid Monarcha

The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) cordially invites you to attend “Green Plan, Lebanon“ a lecture given by Mrs. Gloria Abouzeid Monarcha Director of Green Plan. The Green Plan, Lebanon is a technical autonomous directorate under the Ministry of agriculture, created in 1965 to help farmers with land reclamation.

 

March 2014
Porous Pavements in AREC Save Water

Lebanon has more water than any Middle Eastern country. Lebanon also suffers from chronic water shortage. Five civil engineering students decided to tackle this issue by implementing a porous pavement in Agriculture Research and Educational Center (AREC) farm in the Beqaa valley.

The idea centers on filtering rainwater that is all too often wasted into underground reservoirs to be reused for irrigating the surrounding landscape and crops. Implementation of porous pavements is one of the sustainable Low Impact Development (LID) methods used for rainwater collection. It saves natural resources by harvesting rainwater.

This innovative step forward can eventually be used as a prototype for farmers in the Beqaa and across the country. Lebanon has a history of water mismanagement due to poor infrastructure, which is why this project has garnered considerable attention. It also has many positive environmental ramifications since it will guide us towards a future that wastes less and treasures more.

Jessica Chartouny, one of the students involved in the porous parking lot’s implementation, says, “Porous pavement directly drains rainfall water after filtering it from pollutants thus eliminating untreated storm water, creating zero runoff, and allowing water infiltration and air percolation into the roots of the trees which will help in protecting them.”

Water drainage also helps road safety in wet conditions. The students involved in the project’s inception were Meran Abou Rached, Jessica Chartouny, Abeer Haddad, Josleen Mosleh and Wissam Slim as part of the course CIVE 501.

The Porous Pavement Project was funded by AREC through the FAFS.

Food Safety Manual

What you don't know can kill you. This applies as much in activities that range from the dangerous to the mundane, which is why the Food Safety Manual was assembled by the Lebanese Association for Food Safety (LAFS) and released in 2014. Its main aim is to train people within our community on how to work with specific food safety standards to ensure cleaner, healthier eating standards for all.

Since the manual aims at educating cooperative women in the community, it had to keep in mind its audience: that of a lower socioeconomic strata with little to no understanding of the English language and generally low literacy levels. They also may not have access to the internet or renting books from the library, adding more obstacles to receiving the proper guidance.

After visiting their kitchens and taking note on common problems found, this comprehensive guide was compiled then written in Arabic to be used in kitchens throughout the country. Complementary basic training sessions were offered to women in the community in order to further cement the recommended guidelines provided in the manual.

Although this may not be the first manual to address these concerns, what differentiates this manual from the rest is "its simplicity and accessibility which makes it understandable to anyone, whether that person has the most basic or the most advanced understanding in the field", says Dr. Zeina Kassaify, Food Safety Manual supervisor and Chairperson of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at AUB.

Known venues such as Roadster Diner, Deek Duke and Coral Suites Hamra have agreed to abide by the LAFS Food Safety Seal of Commitment and to follow the manual. Roadster Diner and Deek Duke even made it a part of their placemats in an attempt to raise awareness and dispel certain myths revolving around food that exist among the general public.

The manual was made possible by the funding of the International Development Research Center.

8,700 km Apart Yet In the Same Room: AUB-UMASS Digital Classrooms

Even when students are living continents apart, distance creates no major obstacle when using digital media to teach across borders. Just ask the landscape architecture students in Advanced Design (LDEM242) from AUB and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMASS) who meet to swap ideas and engage in teamwork in an exciting digital dialogue, despite more than 8,700 kilometers separating both classrooms. This is not an online course, but rather an exploratory classroom “magically stretched so that we are teleported to the US,” says Kristelle Boulos, fourth year AUB student. “Cyber conferencing is much more interesting than a conventional classroom.” Dr. Yaser Abunnasr laid the groundwork for this pioneering idea at AUB in collaboration with Dr. Jack Ahern from UMASS. Dr. Ahern believes it to be an excellent study of “how cultural differences are manifest in the design of public open spaces in cities” that sheds light on how the urban design issues vary from country from country “specifically in terms of how water is managed and valued.” Forty students gather in one digitally expanded classroom for a three-hour power-charged exchange of ideas five times a semester. Through the live exchange of audio and video, students share ideas, argue their points of view, and present common projects highlighting the cultural differences and similarities between both contexts. This futuristic approach in teaching transcends geography to gather bright minds to push the definition of a traditional classroom.

One of the main benefits lies in broadening students’ perspectives on the class topic of landscape urbanism. “Urban expansion of cities into the suburbs means very different things when studied in an American context,” says Dana Ali, fourth year AUB student. UMASS sudent Ngoc Doan says, “It provides opportunities to connect and collaborate with students from across the globe and offers opportunities to exchange information and learn from other students.” This experiment in teaching across borders allows full audio-visual communication using FUZE box, a free application used for web conferencing. How does it compare to a formal classroom set-up? Dr. Abunnasr says, “The format that we are developing provides an opportunity for as close as possible to in-class face to face teaching.” UMASS student Ross Kahn hopes that more courses will follow in their same digital footsteps: “I would highly recommend that other courses start to engage in cyber-conferencing.  I think it is a great way to exchange thoughts and ideas from other students around the world.”  

Overall, the exchange has left a sweet aftertaste on both sides who work side by side on joint projects, focus groups and case studies. Doan says, “I was very impressed with the amount of positive energy from the Beirut class. I look forward to keeping in touch with my teammates and possibly visit Beirut in the near future.”  

Dr. Abunnasr can envision AUB adopting digital classrooms in the future: “After this successful experience, the intention is to formalize it and expand it to other departments since the subject is of relevance to architecture, planning, urban design, engineering, urban studies students.”

Similar explorations through the digital realm have taken place on two occasions before at AUB yet remain a new approach to education. In 2007, a graduate course called Design Methodology (MECH798) engaged in an online class with Professor George Fadel from Clemson University in the US. Also, Ms. Rima Iskandarani offered an online module in her Academic English (ENGL 203) class in collaboration with an American university last fall semester.

Date: March-26-2014 at 12:00 PM to 03:00 PM
Location: Agriculture, Room 205, Wing A
Category: Seminar about "Ethics and Agricultural Science"

Abstract: Those engaged in agriculture possess a definite but unexamined moral confidence or certainty about the correctness of what they do. The seminar will examine the origins of that confidence and question its continued validity. The basis of the moral confidence is not obvious to those who have it, or to the public. In fact the moral confidence that pervades agriculture is potentially harmful because it is unexamined. The seminar will advocate analysis of what it is about agriculture and society that inhibits or limits agriculture. All engaged in agriculture should strive to nourish and strengthen the aspects of agriculture that are beneficial and change those that are not. To do this we must be confident to study ourselves, our institutions, and be dedicated to the task of modifying the goals of both.

About the Speaker:  Dr. Zimdahl, Professor Emeritus of Weed Science in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University, USA has published more than 100 refereed articles and 14 books during his 37 years at CSU. He received the Pennock Award, the University Excellence in undergraduate teaching, two Fulbright awards and is a Fellow of three professional societies. In the later part of his career he developed a course on Agricultural Ethics, and published a book entitled “Agriculture’s Ethical Horizon” (Now in its 2nd ed.). His international experience includes talks in Argentina, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia and Turkey.  

February 2014
Dr. Maria Trovato Receives EU Grant

The EU research fund for the "Development of Landscape Character Assessment as a Tool for Effective Conservation of Natural Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean” was awarded to Dr. Maria Trovato and her colleagues for the development of a methodology for landscape character assessment in pilot lands in Lebanon, Greece, Jordan and the entirety of Cyprus.

The goal of this hefty collaboration was to create a tool for sustainable land use for decision-makers and risk assessment – both apparently lacking in the landscape vocabulary of the countries involved.

The project, which requires a two-year period, involves eight partners from four different countries:
         - Cyprus (leading partner): Laora Foundation and Open University
         -  Lebanon: Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon and AUB
         - Jordan: Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and Jordanian University
         - Greece: Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos and University of the Aegean

After assessing the landscape character of a pilot area in Mount Lebanon, two maps will be devised that will help to better understand the land and communicate its characteristics, whether on a municipality or a ministerial level.

When asked about why this achievement matters, Dr. Trovato says, “This is a really interesting project. Until now, there hasn’t been a tool to translate landscape and I think it’s the first time that Lebanon and Jordan start taking this into consideration. Starting to assess the landscape is a way to provide for the different stakeholders a tool that they can apply later on in the planning process.”

Seminars, workshops with stakeholders, creating momentum and awareness on the importance of landscape: this is how they will dedicate the two following years “with the common goal of four countries working together for a better future.”

Nutrition and Food Sciences First to Receive ACEND Accreditation in Arab World

The Nutrition and Dietetics Coordinated Program (NDCP) in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at FAFS has received a highly valued accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), which is the accrediting agency for education programs of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the United States (US), with close to 72,000 members.

“Hard work since 2008 has paid off, and our program is the first in the Middle East and the third outside the US to get this accreditation“ said FAFS Dean Nahla Hwalla.

The program has been reviewed, approved, and considered comparable in content and experience to that of a US-based program, added Hwalla . “This accomplishment not only brings credit to FAFS and AUB but will also make our students eligible to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration examination for dietitians in the US,” she said.

AUB Students, Bill Gates and the World’s Largest Agriculture Conference

The world is facing an agriculture crisis, which is why 14 AUB students attended the prestigious Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) 2014 in Abu Dhabi between February 3rd and 5th to seek out solutions.

Bill Gates, key speaker and main sponsor of the event, spoke to 3,200 experts, innovators and a select few students about the agricultural revolution that our planet so desperately needs.

“It’s an exciting time for all of us involved in food security and agriculture. We are all aware of the challenge we face – feeding 9 billion people by the year 2050 – yet we are also aware of the solution, namely agriculture innovation.” says Mark Beaumont, the project director.


Gates voiced his message via a virtual interface
150 innovation presentations and 125 exhibiting companies displayed a generous collection of ideas that tackle concerns on how to feed an ever-expanding planet using an ever-shrinking supply of resources in world where there’s less water, less energy and less fertile land.

Ever wondered how: to make an artificial burger in a test tube/meat in vitro? Robots could be the future of pest-control? A necklace for cows can revolutionize milk production? Produce can be grown within supermarkets? That was only a modest sample of the innovative talks given at the forum.

Roundtable discussions or group discussions of 10 people with no audience present allowed students to engage in discussions, raise questions, and voice their opinions in close proximity with experts from different corners of the world.

14 AUBites attended thanks to a joint sponsorship by Tanmia, Unifort and AMC. They were the largest student delegation to the present at the event.

“GFIA reflected the vital role that agriculture plays on maintaining world food security imposing a great responsibility on agriculture engineers to be part of a new agricultural revolution,” says Muhammad Murtada, 4th year Agriculture student.


The group of AUBites that attended the world’s largest showcase of sustainable agriculture innovations

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
AUB mourns death of Professor Emeritus Raja Izzat Tannous

It is with great sadness that we announce to you the passing away of Professor Emeritus Dr. Raja Tannous.  Dr. Tannous joined FAFS in 1963 as Assistant Professor of Food Technology and Nutrition and retired as Professor in 2009 during which he has served intermittently as Chairperson of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department (NFSC) for 15 years and as Acting Dean of FAFS for 5 years. Dr. Tannous was appointed as Emeritus Professor in November 16, 2012. During his 40 year tenure at AUB, he has been  a mentor to many graduates, a kind and accommodating teacher and a keen researcher. He served on a variety of Faculty  and university committees. Dr. Tannous’ expertise was solicited by other institutions in the region and he was consultant on food technology to the industry as well as to several international agencies such as FAO, UNICEF and UNIDO where he served as Chairman of the Food Safety Panel that prepared a first draft of a Food Safety Law and Authority for Lebanon. Dr. Tannous served also as the President of the Lebanese Association of Food Scientists and Technologists.

Full Article

 

Funeral arrangements will be communicated with the faculty members & satff as soon as the obituary information is received from his family.

May his soul rest in peace.

FAFS develops first degree program in rural development in Arab world

The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) will start a new graduate program in rural community development in the fall of 2014.

The Rural Community Development Master of Sciences program (RCODE) will allow students to build their capacities in community development to better design, manage, follow up, evaluate and monitor development projects, either in the public or private sector and locally, regionally and internationally.

Full Article

 

Dr. Mohamad Farran received the research excellence award from the CNRS for the year 2013 for the theme food security and safety.

Wouldn’t you prefer that the price of one kilogram of chicken be lowered enough to feed more people? Well, four professors from AUB have been looking for solutions related to these questions through research they did on software reliability, 3-D computer graphics software, food science and agriculture, and neurology. For Farran, his focus was on producing better quality animal feed for poultry, which, in turn, would lead to more nutritious chickens, thus feeding more people.
In particular, he is studying various locally-grown, water-efficient crops, such as barley and safflower, to replace the imported soybean animal meal. By reducing the cost of animal feed and enhancing the nutrient-content of poultry, agricultural production could be increased and poverty and hunger alleviated.

 

Full Article

Thursday, February 13, 2014
AUB’s President’s Club supports the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences

Thanks to the generosity of the President’s Club, FAFS students are now enjoying refurbished lounges on campus and at AREC Center (Advancing Research and Empowering Communities) in the Beqa’a.  “We’re very thankful to have such a bright and inviting area to study in,” said Nutrition Senior Rita El-Mousharafieh commenting on the new FAFS lounge on campus.  Agriculture Graduate Darine Roumi said that the new lounge at AREC helped to make “our days in AREC the highlights of our student years.”  Dean Nahla Hwalla explained.  “It is so important to have comfortable and inviting places like this where students can relax and enjoy themselves – and also study, share ideas, and collaborate on research.  We are very grateful to the President’s Club and its members for their support.” 

The President’s Club has been raising funds for projects that enhance student life at AUB for more than 30 years.  “This is our mission and we are eager to fulfill it. We look for opportunities to support projects that will encourage students to come together,” explained Club President Mona Khalaf.


Multidisciplinary Training Programme (DIPLOMAzia)
Training Scholarships for Graduates and Graduated Administrators


Financed by the General Direction Office for the Italian Cooperation for Development of the ItalianMinistry of Foreign Affairs and implemented through the ItalianConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council - CNR);

DIPLOMAzia is a Multidisciplinary training programme for young graduates and administrators from North African, Balkan Region and Middle Eastern Countries, including Lebanon; which aims at selecting 70 graduated professionals and officials in public institutions for six month specialized training courses.

 Selected candidates will be able to benefit from training courses held at the CNR Institutes, in one of the three main disciplines outlined below:
- Governance and management of marine and fishing policy (28 students).
- Management and usage of agrifood resources with the aim of fostering sustainable agriculture and forestry as well as reduction of the effects of climate change. (28 students).
- Governance of knowledge and management, conservation, promotion and sustainable fruition of cultural heritage (14 students). 
- Public Call- DIPLOMAzia
- The deadline for application submission is on February 28, 2014 (by 15:00 CET)

All applications have to be submitted online, on the following application portal: http://www.cnr.it/diplomazia

Further information about the programme is available on the following websites: 

Italian Embassy in Beirut
http://www.ambbeirut.esteri.it/Ambasciata_Beirut/Archivio_News/140116+DIPLOMAzia.htm

CNR-Italy
http://www.cnr.it/sitocnr/Englishversion/CNR/Activities/IntActivity/Diplomazia.html

January 2014

Lecture by Mr. Said Kaissi: Irrigation Methods and Technologies

Mr. Said Kaissi, President of the WAAUB FAFS Chapter, will be giving a presentation on current irrigation methods and technologies to FAFS students on Wednesday February 5 in room 205 at 10:00 am. Mr. Kaissi will also be demonstrating the use of some water conservation equipment which will be handed over to the FAFS for demonstration and display. The equipment used was graciously donated by Weathermatic a leading company in water conserving technology.

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