Division of Agriculture recognizes achievements by faculty, staff

Jan. 11, 2013
Contact Information:

Dave Edmark, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
479-575-5647 / dedmark@uark.edu

Mary Hightower, Cooperative Extension Service
501-671-2126 / mhightower@uaex.edu

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yanbin award

Yanbin Li receives the Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence from Mark Cochran, left, vice president for agriculture, and Michael Vayda, dean of Bumpers College.
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Download photos of award recipients and of award presentations at http://www.flickr.com/photos/89175420@N02/sets/72157632499178728/

ROGERS, Ark. – The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture recognized outstanding performance by faculty and staff members at an awards luncheon Friday, Jan. 11, at the Embassy Suites in Rogers. Recipients included Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences faculty members at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Vice President for Agriculture Mark Cochran said, “The award recipients represent some 1,500 faculty and staff members on five university campuses, at research and extension centers and stations throughout Arkansas, and in all 75 counties.”

The Division of Agriculture includes the Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition to conducting research and delivering information and educational services on agriculture and forestry, it also promotes public health and nutrition; opportunities for youth, families and communities; safe and secure food systems; and environmental sustainability.

Many research and extension faculty members are also members of the teaching faculty on five university campuses.

The Robert G.F. and Hazel Taylor Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence was presented to Yanbin Li, professor of biological and agricultural engineering. Li is known internationally for his development of a world-class research program pioneering in biosensor technology for rapid detection of pathogens and as one of a handful of recognized experts in biosensing engineering. He has conducted critically important research in food safety through models for microbial prediction and quantitative risk assessment, and antimicrobial technologies for food processing and for the detection of avian influenza.

Charles Rosenkrans, professor of animal science, received the Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence. Rosenkrans has attended numerous teaching conferences and has included several new technologies in his teaching style to further stimulate student learning. He has been a frequent participant and organizer of teaching and advising workshops both locally and at professional meetings. In 2000, Rosenkrans was selected to become a member of the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy.

Bruce Ahrendsen, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, received the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences Alumni Society Advising Award. Ahrendsen is known for maintaining an open-door policy and for encouraging the students he advises and has initiated several innovations as an adviser. He developed the Agribusiness Management and Marketing concentrations and its eight-semester plan that has enabled students to structure their programs to pursue double majors or minors. He has also developed a network of employers to assist students in job placement.

John W. White awards for outstanding teaching, research and extension service are named for the U of A System's first vice president for agriculture when the Division of Agriculture was made a statewide unit of the U of A System in 1959.

The John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award, jointly awarded by the Division of Agriculture and Bumpers College, was presented to Leslie Edgar, associate professor of agricultural and extension education. Edgar has developed 12 courses in the five years she has served on the Agricultural Communications faculty. She also redesigned two courses and developed an agricultural communications minor and has developed curriculum for four graduate courses. Edgar has also spearheaded the development of a study tour and internship program in Belgium that served 11 students in the past year. Twenty-six of her students have received awards for materials created in coursework and 28 students published research manuscripts or abstracts.

The John W. White Outstanding Research Award went to Pengyin Chen, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences. Chen has implemented one of the nation’s top soybean breeding programs as part of a comprehensive research program encompassing soybean cultivar breeding, germplasm enhancement and molecular marker development. During the past decade he has released 12 new soybean cultivars and six germplasm lines. He has also developed and identified edamame types and provided the basis for a new industry for the state. Chen has remained a prolific writer amid his research, publishing six book chapters and 113 refereed journal articles while receiving grants totaling $6.2 million in research funding.

Michael Daniels, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences in the Extension Water Quality and Nutrient Management program, received the John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award. Daniels has served as an Extension specialist during the past 16 years focusing on reducing agriculture's impact on the environment, gaining trust from farmers and environmental groups to implement effective and innovative efforts such as the Arkansas Discovery Farm program. He has also helped livestock operations adopt nutrient management planning as a strategy to reduce environmental impact, comply with new state and federal regulations and lessen individual legal liability.

The John W. White Outstanding County Extension Educator Award winner was Iris Phifer, county Extension agent-staff chair in Ashley County. She has served 38 years in Ashley and Desha counties as a county agent. She has taught many health and nutrition education classes that include two of her specialties, diabetic workshops and the Strong Women and Men classes. Through these programs, she has reached over 4,000 individuals. She has been recognized for having one of the most successful Walk Across Arkansas programs.

The John W. White Outstanding Team Award was presented to a group of faculty and staff that developed and executed the 300 Days Grazing Program, a strategic livestock and forage management system designed to educate producers and agents in ways to reduce livestock production expenses, help mitigate the impact of drought and improve the sustainability of livestock farm operations. Team members are John Jennings, Kenny Simon, Tom Troxel, Shane Gadberry, Steve Jones and Paul Beck, all of the Department of Animal Science; Don Hubbell, resident director of the Livestock and Forestry Research Station, and Mary Hightower, assistant director of Extension Communications and Marketing.

The John W. White Non-Classified Support Personnel Award went to Mary Hightower, assistant director of Extension Communications and Marketing. She has developed numerous initiatives to improve the Cooperative Extension Service’s communications effectiveness during her years with the organization. In the past two years she has created and implemented a media campaign to promote the annual Rice Expo field day that resulted in substantial news coverage and contributed to increased attendance. Hightower has also reorganized the procedures for collecting and disseminating news by cultivating a "news network" of county agents and specialists who regularly offer insights into conditions on the ground and are willing to be interviewed frequently by news media.

The Classified Support Personnel Award for the Cooperative Extension Service was presented to Mona Norris, administrative support supervisor in Family and Consumer Sciences at the Extension offices in Little Rock. Norris has worked for FCS for nearly 15 years. She received the Classified Employee of the Quarter in both 2004 and 2009. She is an integral part of the success of the Best Care program by outlining presentations and editing lessons with little supervision and has enhanced the quality of Best Care curriculum materials.

The Classified Support Personnel Award for the Agricultural Experiment Station went to David Gilmore, a research technologist at the Fruit Research Station. Gilmore has been on its full-time staff since 1986 after graduating from Arkansas Tech University with a math degree. In his current position he has been in charge of breeding activities under the direction of the resident director and principal investigators, serving as their eyes and ears when they are unable to be at the station.

The Division also recognized several faculty for patents that were issued on their projects. The faculty and their patented projects are:

• Charles Rosenkrans, professor of animal science, for “Identification of Cattle Productivity.”

• Charles West, retired professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences currently at Texas Tech University, and Edgar Piper, retired professor of animal science, for “Non-toxic Endophytes, Plants Injected Therewith and Methods for Injecting Plants.”

• Tommy Daniel, retired professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences, and Mark Reiter, doctoral degree graduate in crop, soil, and environmental sciences now at Virginia Tech University, for “Value-Added Granulated Organic Fertilizer and Process for Producing the Same.”

• John R. Clark, professor of horticulture, for “Prime-Ark 45 Blackberry.”

• John R. Clark, professor of horticulture, and James Moore, retired professor of horticulture, for “White Diamond Peach.”

• Karen A.K. Moldenhauer, professor, Rice Research and Extension Center, for “Taggart Rice.”