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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

December 10, 2004

ISU experts peer into the future

by Linda Charles

A new year is just around the corner. Inside asked several experts on campus what the new year may hold for us. Here's what they said.

Ruth Litchfield

Bye-bye, low carb

"Low-carb diets will become a fad of the past by the end of 2005. You'll see many of the low-carb products disappear from the grocery store shelves. People will be talking about a new diet or portion control by the end of the year. Both the consumer and industry will shift to an emphasis on portion control."

-- Ruth Litchfield, assistant professor, food science and human nutrition

Rich Pirog

The brand's the thing

"Consumers increasingly will be looking for branded food products, in which the brand signifies exceptional taste, quality and authenticity. They want food products with a story that is traceable back to the farm. Foods in which the quality, heritage and reputation are linked to a specific place or geographic region will hold special appeal, as well as foods perceived to promote health and well-being."

-- Rich Pirog, program manager, Leopold Center

David Swenson

No bull on Wall Street

"The national economy doesn't look so hot. We have an eroding dollar, which is undermining investment confidence in the United States. So, I see flat to no growth in the stock market."

-- David Swenson, assistant scientist, economics

Ann Marie Fiorie

Shopping as a lifestyle

"Shopping will become a more personalized, experiential encounter as retailers incorporate more mass customization technology to individualize product fit and style, and customers combine shopping with entertainment and leisure. Jordan Creek is an example. People may go to buy a product, but also stroll around the lake, eat in a stylized restaurant and then see a movie. It's more than shopping. It's offering a lifestyle."

-- Ann Marie Fiore, associate professor, apparel, educational studies and hospitality management

Lois Warme

Faux still in favor

"We're finally at a wonderful 'place any' furniture style, and many colors are on the forecast for furniture markets in January. The big emphasis will be on ease of care and maintenance of interior materials and ease of use of spaces. Microfibers (suede-looking) will be big for upholstery because they can be spot- cleaned easily and come in hundreds of colors. New buildings will incorporate greater use of accessible features. Backgrounds will be neutral or subdued colors of greens and blues. Faux painting of walls will continue to be big."

-- Lois Warme, associate professor, art and design

David Oliver

Plants take on TNT

"We're going to see an increase in the whole idea of using plants to deal with toxic substances in the soil. For instance, TNT has been scattered through many sites during production. The danger is not that it's explosive but that it becomes a toxic. Plants can be used to destroy the TNT before it leaches into the water system."

-- David Oliver, professor, genetics, development and cell biology

John Schuh

Competition for students

"In the upper Midwest, competition for students is going to continue to be very robust because the population of students graduating from high school is going to decline. And, even though the economies of some states look as if they are improving, institutions in the public sector will continue to be faced with financial challenges."

-- John Schuh, chair, educational leadership and policy studies

Cynthia Jeffrey

Consumer, be knowledgeable

"There will always be the possibility of another Enron. But new federal requirements are intended to make it more difficult for management to commit and conceal fraud. Initial indications are that these requirements, and the related increased penalties, are making a difference. The best defense against being one of the losers next time is for individual investors to be knowledgeable or have competent financial advisers."

-- Cynthia Jeffrey, associate professor, accounting

Mark Engelbrecht

Respect for resources

"I think we're finally at the point where we all understand that we are running out of resources, and architects will begin to be sensitive about both the resources that are used to create their designs and the resources needed to maintain those structures."

-- Mark Engelbrecht, dean, College of Design