U of A System Division of Agriculture recognizes outstanding work by faculty, staff

Jan. 10, 2014
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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Kristofor Brye (center), professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences, receives the John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award from Mark Cochran (left), UA System vice president for agriculture, and Mike Vayda, dean of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences. Photos of all the awards presentations are at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjQBq6yN.

(See photos of the award presentations at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjQBq6yN.)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Research in molecular computation and engineering geospatial solutions for agriculture are among the outstanding faculty and staff projects honored Friday by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in partnership with the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

“The work done by our faculty and staff really does make a difference, not only in equipping students with the tools for successful careers, but also in the discoveries being made on our campuses that will ripple into every aspect of our lives from our farms and forests to the grocery stores to our doctor’s office,” said Vice President for Agriculture Mark Cochran.

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.

The Robert G.F. and Hazel Taylor Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence was presented to Navam Hettiarachchy, University Professor of food science. She has made significant contributions in the advancement of research, education and service programs at the university. Her research program has been multi-faceted with a central focus on developing fundamental knowledge and applied technologies associated with specific food proteins. Her service to the profession along with research and teaching contributions were nationally recognized by her induction as an Institute of Food Technologist Fellow in 2003. She was recognized by her peers in Bumpers College as the recipient of the 2006 John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award.

Leslie Edgar, associate professor of agricultural education, communications and technology, received the Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence. Edgar has developed an industry internship program and provided leadership that led to the creation of a minor in agricultural communications. She has developed exchange programs with government and academic institutions in Belgium to accommodate summer experiential learning opportunities. She has developed 13 courses and taught 16 courses in the department. She was recently appointed as director of international programs for Bumpers College.

G. Scott Osborn, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, received the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences Alumni Society Advising Award. Osborn has provided leadership in developing the department’s honors requirements. He mentors undergraduates, advises Honors College thesis projects, supervises funded undergraduate research projects and advises senior design projects. He was the co-advisor for the design team that was awarded first place in national ASABE student design competition and has twice been awarded Outstanding Mentor by the UA.

John W. White Awards
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 Kristofor Brye, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences. Brye has taught eight courses since joining the faculty in 2001. Three of those courses were additional loads he volunteered to teach to fill gaps left by retiring professors. Outside the classroom, he works with the Soil Judging Team, which has finished in first place in regional competition for each of the past two years and has proceeded to national competition. He provides leadership to the department’s internship program to help students find appropriate placements. He advises numerous undergraduates and serves as a mentor to graduate students. He was inducted into the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy in 2012 and received the Teaching Award of Merit from the Arkansas Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta in 2008.

The John W. White Outstanding Research Award went to Jin-Woo Kim, professor of biological and agricultural engineering. Kim has made significant contributions in nano-biotechnology for device development, molecular computation and molecular biological engineering. He has established an internationally recognized research program in bio/nanotechnology engineering. His work has been recognized externally by various magazines as one of the most innovative research in the fields of bio/nano technology and was recently featured on covers of two top-quality journals in the fields. He has established a multi- and inter-disciplinary research program engaging engineers, biologists, medical scientists, chemists, physicists and mathematicians.

Dharmendra Saraswat, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, received the John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award. Saraswat manages an extension program focused on developing geospatial technologies for managing natural resources. His applied research enables him to investigate and share engineering solutions with policymakers, state and federal agencies, farmers and agricultural consultants. These applications have been designed for a variety of stakeholders such as extension educators, industry and technical agency personnel, farmers, crop consultants and business leaders. More than 200,000 users have accessed tools and information from the two websites that he supports with more than 2,000 downloads of mobile apps in recent months. His watershed modeling has served as the foundation for the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission’s effort in developing the state’s nonpoint source water quality plan.

The John W. White Outstanding County Extension Educator Award winner was Columbia County Extension Agent Shirlye Hopkins. She has served the Division of Agriculture for 36 years and is assigned to Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H. She has worked with local leaders to plan and conduct programs in nutrition, resource management, health and youth development. Her efforts in recent years have included supervision of diabetes education, the Cook Smart Eat Smart program, the Smart Nutrition Active People program, the Fit in Ten program, the Best Care program for child care providers and the Guiding Children Successfully program. She has collaborated with the Area Agency on Aging and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to implement a Healthy Cooking School targeted to diabetics. She has trained youth how to handle finances and young adults how to handle credit. She has networked with neighboring counties to conduct programs in consumer fraud and 4-H leadership training.

The John W. White Outstanding Team Award was presented to a group of faculty and staff that developed and executed the Modeling Agriculture for Spatial Implications of Adoption of Dedicated Bioenergy Crops, Greenhouse Gas Policies and Reduced Irrigation Capacity project. The project is a county-level crop production model that provides an approach for analysis and integration of carbon emission and sequestration into standard economic models of farm cropping decisions. It estimates the inputs required, profitability, irrigation water use and greenhouse gas footprint of the six largest row crops, biofuel crops, hay, pasture and pine in Arkansas. The model is being accepted as a benchmark for understanding carbon management in agriculture. Team members are Kristofor Brye, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences; Lanier Nalley, associate professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, and Michael Popp, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness.

The Division of Agriculture Non-Classified Support Personnel Award went to Judy Robison, grants officer in the Cooperative Extension Service State Office. Robison helps Extension employees at all levels through the grant writing process and provides a high level of customer service. She developed tools for employees and a Grants.gov application guide that she is converting to an online course. She has developed more than 850 fact sheets, publications and other support materials for topics related to grants and to her previous responsibilities as a 4-H faculty member. She also developed the Internal Innovative Competitive Grants Program, which provided seed money for innovative projects and aided personnel in being more competitive in external competition. Robison has worked for Extension as a grants officer since 1994, but her career with the Division of Agriculture dates back to 1974.

The Classified Support Personnel Award for the Cooperative Extension Service was presented to Sherry Funderburg, administrative support supervisor for the Ozark District. She assists with operations in 25 counties by providing support to county agents. She maintains records, budgets, travel requests, reimbursements and performance evaluations. She also communicates with the staff in the counties to solve problems and answer questions. Her other tasks include completing internal hiring documents, tracking and arranging district displays and educational kits, supporting and assisting in the planning of district conferences and completing purchase requisitions. She has worked for Extension since beginning as a high school student employee in 1976. After becoming a full-time employee upon graduation the next year, she was promoted through the ranks of the business office and went on to hold several positions in payroll, purchasing and accounting.

The Classified Support Personnel Award for the Agricultural Experiment Station went to Chris Pruitt, skilled tradesman at the Lon Mann Cotton Research Station. Pruitt is known as a valuable and highly versatile employee. He uses his carpentry and trades skills to maintain all station structures and to meet specialized construction needs as well as to supply skilled work in research plots. In the past five years he has taken over a program technician’s responsibilities by assisting with planting, applications of pesticides and operating the plot picker. He also takes notes on research plots and monitors plots beyond what he has been assigned. He is the primary plot picker operator at the station and has generated data that has been accurate and produced in less time than required.

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

• A Capillary-Column-Based Bioseparator/Bioreactor With An Optical/Electrochemical Detector for Detection of Microbial Pathogens
Yanbin Li (Biological and Agricultural Engineering)
Yongcheng Liu (Biological and Agricultural Engineering)

• System and Method for Dissolving Gases in Fluids and for Delivery of Dissolved Gases
G. Scott Osborn (Biological and Agricultural Engineering)
Marty D. Matlock (Biological and Agricultural Engineering)

• Apparatus and Method for Predicting Meat Tenderness
Jean-Francois C. Meullenet (Food Science)

• In Vivo Test-System to Monitor Tissue Responses in Birds
Gisela F. Erf (Poultry Science)

• Process of Extracting Procyanidins by Alkaline Hydrolysis
Luke R. Howard (Food Science)
Brittany L. White (Food Science)

• System and Method of Determining Nitrogen Levels from a Digital Image
Larry C. Purcell (Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences)
Robert L. Rorie (Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences)
Douglas E. Karcher (Horticulture)

• Method of Bacteriophage Delivery and Amplification
Billy M. Hargis (Poultry Science)
Lisa Bielke (Poultry Science)
Guillermo Tellez (Poultry Science)
Gerardo Nava (Poultry Science)
Daniel J. Donoghue (Poultry Science)

• Rice cultivar CL 142-AR
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

• Rice cultivar CL 181-AR
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

• Rice cultivar Roy J
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

• Rice cultivar CL 171-AR
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

• Rice cultivar Taggart
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

• Rice cultivar Templeton
Karen A. K. Moldenhauer (Rice Research and Extension Center)

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.