Two members of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) were honored for their outstanding contributions to education and research with Distinguished Faculty and Staff Awards at the annual MSU Awards Convocation Feb. 12.
Doug Landis and Jane Herbert joined other winners and other recipients of all-university awards at the awards convocation at the Wharton Center's Pasant Theatre. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon congratulated the honorees at the ceremony and saluted their contributions to the university's excellence.
Distinguished Faculty Award winners are honored for a comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction and outreach.
Landis is passionate about the natural world and helping people work with, rather than against, nature. Landis's research focuses on the interactions of insects with landscape structure and the application of that knowledge to ecologically based management of insects and weeds. His research investigates the ecological problems associated with seemingly innocuous landscape alterations; specifically, he has found that landscapes dominated by annual crop production --for example corn and soybean – often support reduced populations of beneficial insect predators and parasites, which increases the need to control pest insect with insecticides, adding to growers costs, and increasing risk to other beneficial insects such as pollinators.
Motivated by a desire to create agricultural landscapes that support biodiversity as well as high agricultural productivity, Landis's recent work has shown that strategic inclusion of perennial biomass crops like switchgrass and mixed prairie into annual crop landscapes can increase biological control of pests, support diverse communities of pollinators, and even provide habitat for grassland birds.
In terms of grants and publications, Landis ranks near the top of MSU faculty. His funding includes support from the USDA, the DOE, and several other agencies. To date, he has participated in garnering more that $28 million with nearly $7 million assigned to him. He has published more than 110 papers, 17 in 2010-11. Two of his publications have been in the prestigious "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
Landis has mentored countless students and served as the major professor for nine doctoral students, 12 master's students, and 15 postdocs. His graduate courses require original laboratory or field research from his students—a requirement often cited as the highlight of the course.
The Distinguished Staff Award is given to academic specialists and MSUE academic staff for extraordinary achievement, excellence and exceptional contributions in advising, curriculum development, outreach, extension, research and/or teaching.
Herbert, a senior extension educator for MSU Extension, is nationally recognized as an expert on inland lake management, with an emphasis on natural shoreline landscaping and bioengineered shoreline erosion control. She assumed a leadership role in the creation of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, bringing together academia, industry representatives, regulatory agencies, and nonprofits to develop and deliver innovative natural shoreline education. She led the effort to develop a technical, certified training program for professional landscape and marine contractors that focused on more lake-friendly shoreline designs that promote erosion control while integrating native plants and engineering techniques in aesthetically pleasing designs attractive to lake residents.
Herbert's brings together scientific knowledge and educational expertise to help waterfront contractors, lake residents, state agencies, and local officials work together to protect Michigan's water resources for everyone's benefit. A fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes Herbert's role in the success of the MNSP, "Ms. Herbert's unceasing passion for restoring and protecting aquatic resources has been instrumental in the overwhelming success of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. Her technical skills and dedication to the education and outreach goals of the partnership have resulted in true progress toward restoring Michigan's inland lakes."
Through grants totaling more than $1 million, Herbert has developed curricula, educational materials and demonstration areas to teach, develop, and deliver water resource management programming to Michigan residents. In particular, she has worked with dozens of lake associations to protect and restore their inland lakes. The Glen Lake Association acknowledges Ms. Herbert as the person "who educated us as to the importance of the naturalization of shorelines along lakes and streams."