Mark Devisser: Tsetse Fly Habitats

Tsetse_Fly_Close_UpKenya is home to a pest called the tsetse fly. They can carry and transmit a disease called “sleeping sickness” through their bite. Figuring out where they live is crucial, especially for farmers who spend a lot of time outside.

But tsetse flies cannot swarm a new habitat like other insects do. When they find a suitable place to live, that population of flies is constrained to that area.

Mark Devisser is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at Michigan State University. His research focuses on the livestock version of the disease, which impacts East Africa’s beef production.

Listen to the podcast here.

Rachel Sparks: Hydroponics


The world population has exceeded 7 billion. How can we find enough space to grow food for that many people? One possible solution is hydroponics. Hydroponics uses water with nutrients to grow plants, instead of soil.

Rachel Sparks wants to figure out how to produce enough crops to support a growing population when there’s not enough fertile land. She thinks hydroponics systems might be part of the answer.

Listen to the podcast here.

Practical Utility Platform Vehicles


Transporting a crop to market can be incredibly challenging in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roads are poorly maintained. Access to a bike, cart, or motorcycle or truck is limited. That leaves the good old-fashioned option of carrying it. Not fun or easy.

Jeremy Robison is a master’s student in the school of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. He and a fellow student David Wilson are working in Cameroon on a project called the Practical Utility Platform Vehicle, or PUP, seen in this photo. They are also trying to understand how farmers will actually respond to this innovation once it is launched in the community.

Listen to the podcast here.

Great Lakes aquaculture has growth potential

MichAquacultureYou might not guess that Michigan is a haven for seafood since it is so far from the ocean. But the state has long had thriving commercial fisheries. And it has the potential for growth in both Canada and the U.S.  Jim Diana recently organized The First Annual Seafood Summit at Michigan State University.  Here he discusses the potential for aquaculture in the binational Great Lakes.

This interview by Mark Bashore aired on WKAR’s Current State program.  The Food Fix staff did the pre-production work.

Photo: Jim Diana