ISU Ag College Presents Annual Awards

Iowa State University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences honors faculty and staff with annual awards for a job well done.

Published on: Feb 29, 2012

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University presented annual awards to faculty and staff at its spring convocation on February 16, 2012. Award winners include:

Matthew Darr, an assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering, received the Early Achievement in Teaching Award. In 2008 he redesigned the precision farming systems class based on industry needs. As a result enrollment has increased and graduates are sought out by leading agricultural technology companies.

Kevin Schalinske, a professor of food science and human nutrition, received the Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award. Schalinske strives to teach students critical-thinking skills and believes technology is not a substitute for personal attention. Schalinske is highly rated on student evaluations.

Nancy Boury, a lecturer in animal science, received the Lecturer and Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award. Boury teaches multiple courses across different disciplines and advises most of the students in microbiology. She designs each course to emphasize critical-thinking, writing and skill-building activities for students.

The Distance Education Teaching Award goes to John Pleasants, adjunct assistant professor in the ecology, evolution and organismal biology department. Pleasants was a pioneer in the development of distance education courses in biology in the 1990s, and believes that on-line courses should be as effective and engaging as classroom courses.

LeQuetia Ancar, a professor in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, received the Early Adviser Award. Ancar started advising in 2008 after graduating from the Industrial and Agricultural Technology program. She has aided efforts to increase the diversity and cultural adaptability of students in the department.

The Outstanding Adviser Award was presented to Jack Girton, a professor in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology. Girton has played an essential role in advising undergraduate genetics majors for more than 20 years. He believes advising is an essential part of the educational process and an opportunity to guide students.

Ron Deiter and William Edwards, both professors in economics, received the Outstanding Service in Student Recruitment and Retention Award. Under their joint guidance the Agricultural Business Club has won the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association's Outstanding Club Award for the past six years. Their guidance has increased student recruitment and retention within the agricultural business major.

Ebby Luvaga, a lecturer in economics, received the Learning Community Coordinator Award. Luvaga has established a welcoming environment for freshmen into the agricultural business learning community. Since 2001, she has increased participation while sustaining the quality of the learning community.

Aaron Gassmann, an assistant professor in entomology, received the Early Achievement in Research Award. Since Gassmann came to Iowa State in 2008, his research has focused on managing pest resistance in Bt crops. He recently published an article documenting the first case in the world of Bt corn resistance by the western corn rootworm. This is an important finding, since Bt crops cover 140 million acres globally.

Jason Ross, an assistant professor in animal science, also received the Early Achievement in Research Award. Ross joined Iowa State in 2008 and his research is focused on the reproductive physiology of the pig. He is a leader in using molecular techniques to research mammal reproduction, which has applications in both agriculture and biomedical science.

Toni Wang, a professor in food science and human nutrition, received the Mid-career Achievement in Research award. Wang has developed processing techniques and value-added utilization of soybean, corn, eggs and other crops. Her research work in lipid chemistry and oil processing has contributed to the basic knowledge of edible oils.

Philip Becraft, a professor in genetics, development and cell biology received the Outstanding Achievement in Research. For nearly 20 years Becraft's research has focused on developmental plant biology, which has provided a critical framework for understanding seed and leaf development.

David Grewell, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, received the Outstanding Achievement in International Agriculture Award. Grewell is internationally recognized for his leadership role as a researcher and expert in bioplastics and ultrasonics. He engages international corporations and institutions in his research and promotes Iowa agriculture and Iowa State.

Jacinto Fabiosa, a scientist with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, received the Professional and Scientific Research Award. Fabiosa is a scientist and co-director of the Iowa State University Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI). He is a leading expert in emerging issues and both industry and policymaking representative seek his expertise. As a member of the FAPRI team he also developed cutting edge methodologies in the analysis of proposed ag policies for several farm bills.

John VanDyk, a systems analyst in entomology, received the Professional and Scientific Excellence Award. VanDyk has exhibited exceptional leadership in information technology adoption. He has implemented computer and network solutions that have cut costs and increased access. His work on the BugGuide.net website has advanced entomology and promoted Iowa State.

The Outstanding Achievement in Extension Award to John Mabry, professor of animal science and director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center. Mabry's contributions to extension encompass a broad range of program areas and include genetic herd evaluation, farm performance record systems, niche market development and traceability of swine production systems.

The Faculty Award for Diversity Enhancement was presented to Diane Debinski, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology. Debinski is known for her leadership in bringing the ADVANCE Institutional Transformation National Science Foundation grant to Iowa State. The ADVANCE program is focused on diversifying faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Team Award was presented to the Iowa State University Dairy Extension Team. Members of the team include:

Leo Timms, the team leader and a professor of animal science;

Lee Kilmer, professor of animal science and an extension dairy specialist;

Chris Mondak, extension dairy field specialist;

Jennifer Bentley, extension dairy field specialist;

Ron Lenth, Bremer County Extension coordinator;

Larry Tranel, extension dairy field specialist;

Kristen Schulte, extension farm management field specialist;

Angela Reick-Hinz, extension program specialist;

Jan Shearer, professor and extension Veterinarian;

Melissa O'Rourke, extension farm and agribusiness management; and

Brian Lang, Extension agronomist.

The Iowa State University Dairy Extension team developed a plan to with priorities in production and herd management systems; dairy economics and financial management; crop, manure and energy management systems; and human resources. The team worked together on these priorities using extensive partnerships and resources to develop a successful dairy extension program for Iowa.

Erica Burkheimer, an accountant in food science and human nutrition, received the Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award. Burkheimer has been at Iowa State for almost four years and has helped her department expand and improve its technology and trained faculty and staff. Implementing this technology has eliminated duplication and streamlined departmental workloads.

Jackie Jens, a research veterinary technician in animal science, received the Merit Award for Achievement and Service. Since 2005, her performance, dedication and skill have been key to numerous research developments in the laboratory where she works.

Michael Castellano, assistant professor of agronomy, received the Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award. Castellano's research interests include soil biogeochemistry and agro-ecosystems ecology, with a focus on nitrogen transport and transformation. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the agronomy environmental science programs.  

Steve Lonergan, a professor of animal science, received the Rossmann Manatt Faculty Development Award. The award recognizes a faculty member who has shown exceptional productivity in scholarship, teaching and service. Lonergan's research focuses on molecular mechanisms that impact muscle growth and meat quality. He also has a long list of awards that emphasize teaching, service and research.

The Dean's Citation for Extraordinary Contributions was presented to Josie Six, director of budget and finance in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Marshall Ruble, who manages the Iowa State Beef Teaching Farm.

Six manages complicated budgets, which involve federal and state funding, revolving funds and general funds. She also developed a multi-year forecasting tool, which incorporates funding and costs. Ruble's oversight of the beef-teaching herd has produced genetics that are sought after commercially. He is an excellent teacher and role model for students who work at the farm and who take his classes.