Agriculture honor society recognizes faculty, student accomplishments

April 11, 2014
Contact Information:

Ken Coffey, Department of Animal Science
479-575-2112 /

Dave Edmark, Agricultural Communication Services
479-575-6940 /

Download story
ashley dowling

Ashley Dowling
(Click on image to download full-resolution image.)

elena garcia

Elena Garcia
(Click on image to download full-resolution image.)

mike richardson

Mike Richardson
(Click on image to download full-resolution image.)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta, the honor society of agriculture, presented its annual achievement awards April 11 to faculty and students. Chapter president Ken Coffey, professor of animal science in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, presided at the ceremony and Mike Popp, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, distributed the awards during ceremonies on campus.

Three faculty awards were presented to:

• Mike Richardson, professor of horticulture, who received the Research Award of Excellence;
• Ashley Dowling, associate professor of entomology, who received the Teaching Award of Excellence;
• Elena Garcia, professor of horticulture, who received the Extension Award of Excellence.

Richardson’s research program is in turfgrass management with a focus on fertilizer management, proper species selection and novel methods of quantifying turfgrass color and quality. His program has been fully integrated to include work with visiting scholars, postdoctoral students, doctoral students, master’s students and undergraduates. Last year he was a visiting scholar and scientist at Padova University in Italy.

Dowling has received strong praise from former students for the effort he devotes to teaching. Entomology department head Robert Wiedenmann said students universally respected Dowling regardless of how well they did in his classes. “He has excelled in the classroom, inspiring students from our college as well as from across campus,“ Wiedenmann said. “(Dowling) expects a tremendous amount from all students, regardless of their background, and they respond extremely well.”

Garcia, who serves as an Extension fruit and nut specialist, has concentrated on delivering an integrated education and research program in which horticulture, economic and pest management principles and practices are used to help growers maintain a sustainable agricultural system. She conducts an outreach program across the state through workshops, on-farm visits, office consultations and blogs. Her outreach programs have helped the state’s pecan industry stabilize and grow. She has received several awards and honors and has served on numerous professional boards and committees.

Students receiving scholarships from the society were Fengyi Zhu, a human environmental sciences major who was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta Scholarship; Hannah Newberry, an animal science major who received the Lippert Ellis Scholarship, and Claire Crews, an animal science major who was awarded the John W. White Scholarship.

Awards were presented to students for oral and poster presentations on research topics in their disciplines at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. A list of the winners and their presentations’ titles is online at