2015 Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award Winners
Dr. Wayne Smith – Administration
For the past 15 years, Dr. Smith has served as the Associate Head for academic affairs and as graduate coordinator. During his time at Texas A&M, he has made many contributions to the administrative leadership of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Dr. Smith is acclaimed for his efforts in developing and directing the Distance Plant Breeding Program, which is the first and only research graduate degree offered by Texas A&M at a distance and is the only distance research plant breeding degree offered by any Land Grant University in the United States.
Dr. Tobin Redwine – Advising and Student Relations
Dr. Redwine has recently accepted an assistant professor position in the Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communications department. Prior to that, he was the primary advisor for the agricultural communications and journalism major. He proved to be an invaluable part of the daily management of student records, as well as procedures that directly impact students. One nominator stated, “Tobin is a role model for his advisees. He taught them to care for others while accepting responsibility for themselves.”
Dr. Jacqueline Aitkenhead-Peterson – Diversity
In her career, Dr. Aitkenhead-Peterson does not see color, gender or disability. Instead, she observes you as a scientist, a colleague, a potential collaborator or a student willing to learn. She is proud of the achievements of her students. In addition to Dr. Aitkenhead-Peterson’s achievements in graduate education, she is also actively engaged with the international community through teaching and research, which includes leading study abroad trips to Scotland.
Dr. Ryland Young III – Faculty Mentoring
Dr. Young has worked for Texas A&M University for 37 years with 29 of those years spent in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. During his time at Texas A&M, Dr. Young has been very dedicated to the development of young faculty into successfully tenured faculty members. He has led a highly successful and internationally recognized research program and has maintained consistent NIH and NSF funding for his program for over 30 years. One nominator stated, “In my experience, Ry’s level of engagement is unparalleled for a senior faculty in the development of junior faculty through effective mentoring. I can’t imagine a more deserving faculty member than Ry for this award.”
Dr. James Woolley – International Impact
Dr. Woolley has been a faculty member in the Department of Entomology for 32 years. His research program in the taxonomy and evolution of parasitic wasps and their use in biological control of pests is inherently international. Dr. Woolley has collected parasitic wasps in at least 12 countries, with major emphasis on Mexico, Panama and Peru. All of this insect material is now part of the Texas A&M University Insect Collection. Numerous students have accompanied Dr. Woolley on most of his collecting expeditions, gaining valuable professional experience in field biology. Students learn first-hand about the difficulties and complexities of working in the international field. Dr. Woolley also leads a study abroad course on tropical and field biology. He has taught this course 15 times since 1994 and continues to teach it today.
Mr. Peter Krauter – Staff
Mr. Krauter is a senior research associate in the department of entomology. He has demonstrated exceptional dedication, competence, innovation and willingness to go “above and beyond” his expected job duties. His diverse skills enable him to make significant contributions to research projects, as well as build connections between research, teaching and service. He is an extremely conscientious and hard-working scientist with very high standards for his own work, as well as that of others. Mr. Krauter exemplifies the concept of a team player. Regardless of project affiliation, he shares his numerous talents with a wide range of faculty, staff and students within the department.
Mr. Alfred Nelson – Staff
Mr. Nelson has been in charge of the Farm Service Department located at the Texas A&M Farm in Burleson County for the past 32 years. The Farm Service Department controls approximately 1500 acres at the farm and provides a site for conducting field crop research involving researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, and USDA-ARS. Mr. Nelson works well with all personnel and goes above and beyond his duties. His efforts make sure the farm works effectively to facilitate the research and keep the farm profitable. One nominator states, “Al Nelson is a quiet, non-pretentious man who prefers to help rather than boss. However, his role as Farm Superintendent is important, difficult, and demanding.”
Mr. Brian Ray – Staff
Mr. Ray is an exceptionally dedicated and dependable staff member. As manager of the aquaculture research and teaching facility, Mr. Ray is a vital part of the research projects of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. He ensures that all students have what they need to obtain data for their projects…which has even included lending out his own boat when a student was in a bind! Mr. Ray is also known for his endless dedication to the student sub-chapter of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. He regularly helps to acquire and cook fish for their annual fundraiser fish fry. One nominator stated, “I think Brian Ray is one of those incredible people we are likely to take for granted as he is always there for us, making things run smoothly.”
Dr. Kathrin Dunlap – Early Career Teaching
Dr. Dunlap has a long history of excellence in teaching. As a doctoral student, she was recognized with the Mauro Prockner Memorial Award, given to recognize excellence in academics and research, patience in teaching, innovation in the laboratory, and quality in writing. These descriptors still apply to Dr. Dunlap today. Upon completion of her postdoctoral work she returned to the Department of Animal Science as an Associate Research Scientist, and is now an Assistant Professor. One nominator said, “Our students talk about Kathrin’s passion for teaching, enthusiasm in the classroom, and new approaches to teaching animal science subject matter. Her passion for teaching and ability to motivate students to achieve their highest goals is impressive.”
Dr. Julie Harlin – Teaching
Dr. Harlin served as the team leader of the department of agricultural leadership, education and communication’s teacher education program for 15 years. A large part of the high quality and size of this program is attributable to the outstanding teaching, advising, service, and leadership of Dr. Harlin. She revitalized curriculum that was 15 to 20 years old and within 2 years had implemented two new courses. In the classroom, Dr. Harlin is organized and demands excellence. She is a facilitator of learning and engages her students in discovering and searching for solutions to real problems.
Dr. Leo Lombardini – Educational Enrichment & Innovation
Dr. Lombardini’s nomination letter begins, “To say that internationalization and integration of multiculturalism in the horticulture curriculum took a magnitude leap forward with Leo Lombardini’s arrival is an understatement!” Dr. Lombardini is passionate about including a multicultural, international dimension in all aspects of his teaching program. He has excelled in teaching in the classroom through organized courses, in the field through enabling and guiding hands-on learning, and also through research exchanges. His passion to include international experiences and service learning in both his courses and research activities brings richness to the student experience. His consistent desire to encourage students to dig deeper and push their boundaries illustrates the very essence of innovation and high impact student learning.
Dr. Kevin Conway – Early Career Research
Dr. Conway has been an integral part of the research programs in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences for five years. His research is centered on the morphological diversity and evolutionary relationships of teleost fishes, as well as the molecular phylogenetics and skeletal system development for select subgroups of teleost fishes. Dr. Conway’s research program has been highly productive, spans three different focal areas, and has state, national, and international components. Through his collaborations, he has successfully competed for over $1.1 million in research funding, with over $350,000 directly to his lab. One nominator stated, “It has been and continues to be a wonderful experience working with Dr. Conway.”
Dr. Brad Wilcox – Research
Dr. Wilcox has been on faculty at Texas A&M University for 15 years and is currently a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. His research career spans more than 30 years, during which he has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of how humans are altering the water cycle—particularly on rangelands. He is a leading scholar in the new discipline of ecohydrology, which spans the disciplines of ecology and hydrology. Recently his work has become even more interdisciplinary, incorporating the social sciences. To date, he has produced over 100 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and scientific proceedings. Some of Dr. Wilcox’s best-known work has been conducted on Texas rangelands.
TAM Wheat Improvement Team – Interdisciplinary Research
The TAM Wheat Improvement Team is comprised of members from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. The team members of the TAM Wheat Improvement Team include: Dr. Jackie Rudd, Dr. Amir Ibrahim, Dr. Shuyu Liu, Dr. Clark Neely, Dr. Qingwu Xue and Dr. Joseph Awika. This team has developed, released and licensed 12 wheat, 4 oat and 2 triticale varieties in the past 12 years. A primary measure of success for a breeding program is that producers adopt the new varieties, and by that criterion the TAM breeding program has been very successful.
Ms. Karen Beathard – Service
Karen has been with Texas A&M University for 16 years and now serves as a senior lecturer in the department of nutrition and food science. She has a reputation for serving not just the academic community, but the local community, professional community, and the people of our state. Karen serves as the co-advisor for the Nutrition and Dietetic Association and is also the Program Director for the department’s dietetic track. In addition to those responsibilities, she also chairs the department’s Assessment Committee. A nominator described Karen’s service to the public, stating, “Karen’s reach extends well beyond the university borders. She actively works to help individuals achieve a healthy lifestyle. Her development and coordination of a local Eating Disorder Group demonstrates a very important example of these efforts.”
Ms. Tasha Womack – Undergraduate Research
Tasha graduated magna cum laude in May with a degree in Animal Science. During her undergraduate career, she was a student worker in both the Animal Reproduction and Genetics Lab, as well as the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group. During her time in Dr. Gill’s lab, Tasha prepared white blood cells for long-term storage, performed DNA extraction, and microsatellite-based parentage testing for the beef cattle genomics program. In 2013, Tasha successfully completed a summer internship at the US Meat Animal Research Center, where she worked on a project to characterize the bacterial populations in nasal swabs collected from cattle with bovine respiratory disease.
Ms. Carol Arantes – Graduate Research
Carol is a doctoral student in the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences. Her dissertation is on the ecology of the fishes in the floodplains of the Amazon River. Throughout her academic career, Carol has been awarded multiple fellowships from government agencies in Brazil and the U.S., with a total value of nearly $100,000. Since joining the Applied Biodiversity Science program, Carol and her collaborators have received over $400,000 in research funding from international non-governmental organizations and the Brazilian government.
Mrs. Kasee Smith – Graduate Teaching
Kasee is a second year doctoral student in the department of agricultural leadership, education, and communications focusing on agricultural science and teacher preparation. She has been the instructor of record for many ag science courses and has served as a graduate teaching assistant in many more. She also mentors and supervises student teachers in the field each semester and has coordinated the on-campus student teaching block for the last two semesters. One nominator states, “Kasee’s outstanding teaching ability is well-documented. Couple her teaching ability with the evidence of her strong scholarship in the area of teaching and learning, and Kasee becomes even more award worthy.”
2014 Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award Winners
Dr. Gregory Reinhart – Administration
For the past 14 years, Dr. Reinhart has served as the department head of biochemistry and biophysics. Dr. Reinhart has drastically increased the number of students, faculty, grant dollars, and research publications in the department and the staff reflects his positive attitude. One nominator states, ìhis thoughtful use of faculty input and teaching both graduate and undergraduate students shows his desire to remain personally connected to the departmentís mission to educate studentsî
Ms. Pam Vernon – Advising and Student Relations
The agricultural economics department has been lucky enough to have Ms. Vernon as a Senior Academic Advisor for the last 24 years. As one nominator notes, ìIf one were to travel almost anywhere and talk to graduates in the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness, one name that will be mentioned time and time again would be Pam Vernonís.î Another nominator states, ìMs. Vernonís comments behind closed doors and away from the public eye reinforce her heart for her students and her tireless dedication to her studentís success.î
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Recruiting Team – Diversity
Dr. Danielle Harris, Mr. Ray Person, Ms. Katie Swift, and Mr. David Salinas, from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Deanís Office, work side-by-side as strong and consistent advocates of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to potential students. This team is committed to enhancing the diversity of our College and on average, communicates with more than 6,000 prospective students a month. In 2013, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences enrolled a record-breaking 888 new students, and 31.5% of those students were from underrepresented backgrounds.
Dr. Thomas Welsh, Jr. – Faculty Mentoring
Dr. Welsh has been with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 31 years. During his time in the department of animal science, Dr. Welsh has not only been recognized for conducting meaningful research and excelling as a teacher, but also for his philosophy of service and teamwork. As stated by a colleague, ìthe foundation of Dr. Welshís commitment to faculty mentoring is his philosophy that if we do our job correctly, then the contributions and accomplishments of the next generation of students and faculty will exceed ours.î
Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos – International Impact
Dr. Cisneros has served as an associate professor in the department of horticultural sciences for the last 15 years. Dr. Cisneros has a very active fruit and vegetable postharvest biology program that has been built upon extensive network of international collaborations. He has created ìstrong collaborations with research institutions from the three largest centers of biodiversity in Latin America, Asia, and Europe.î Most recently, he initiated an agreement with the USDA and the Brazilian government to conduct research and recruit visiting scientists and new incoming graduate students.
Ms. Elke Aguilar – Staff
Ms. Aguilar has been with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for the last 13 years and is currently an Administrative Assistant in the department of agricultural leadership, education, and communications. One nominator said, ìMs. Aguilar exemplifies the qualities of a leader and her maturity and attention to detail consistently set her above her peers in academic and leadership settings.î She also works with the Hispanic Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment Fellowship Program. She keeps the fellows focused on their academic goals and helps them create a professional support network and learning community.
Ms. Grace Glenn – Staff
Mrs. Glenn has dedicated the last 16 years to working in the animal science department and has contributed to the welfare of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences through exceptional service that goes well beyond the expectations of her position. Her colleagues are constantly impressed by her ìdedication, loyalty, and work ethic that she demonstrates on a daily basis.î Mrs. Glenn is the stabilizer who makes sure the department runs smoothly and ensures that it is a great place to work.
Mr. Terry Lovingshimer – Staff
Since 2008, Mr. Lovingshimer has served as the biochemistry and biophysics facilities manager. According to one nominator, he defines the ìword ëoutstandingí because of the manifold of ways he supports the teaching and research endeavor in the department.î Mr. Lovingshimer is essential to the success of the department and the Biomolecular NMR facility would not be what it is today without his contributions. Mr. Lovingshimer is known as one of ìthe most reliable, enthusiastic, and resourcefulî facilities managers and is extremely knowledgeable about anything related to equipment and facilities in the department.
Dr. Robert L. Strong, Jr. – Early Career Teaching
Dr. Strong is an assistant professor in the department of agricultural leadership, education, and communications. For the last four years, he has taught using high-impact learning experiences, traditional courses, and web-based courses. Dr. Strong believes that if students are not actively engaged in the learning process, they will not learn as well or as much. His teaching style and delivery allows for the presented material to be very palatable and easily digestible. One nominator said, ìthrough mentoring, instruction, advising, and encouragement, Dr. Strong pushes students-not to pass a courseóbut to be class acts.î
Dr. David Briske – Teaching
Dr. Briske is a professor and research faculty fellow in the department of ecosystem science and management. During his 36 years in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dr. Briske has established an impressive record of exceptional classroom instruction. According to his colleagues, he is a ìnatural born educator with an unwavering commitment to academia and strongly believes that the development of human potential is among the greatest pursuits of mankind.î He is known by his students as approachable, dedicated, involved, and encouraging.
Dr. Pete Teel – Educational Enrichment & Innovation
Dr. Teel has been with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 35 years and is currently a professor and Associate Department Head for Academic Programs for entomology. One example of his innovation was his development of a smart-phone application designed to teach a broad range audiences about tick identification and biology. Dr. Teel has also developed various undergraduate curricula in entomology and has provided ìleadership in the growth and development of the forensic science program.î
Dr. Craig Kaplan – Early Career Research
Dr. Kaplan is an assistant professor in the biochemistry and biophysics department. Since 2009, Dr. Kaplan has developed vibrant and well-respected research groups and is recognized by his colleagues as an outstanding scientist. He has been invited to write three reviews on RNA polymerase II indicating that he has attained a high status among senior colleagues faculty. A colleague noted that Dr. Kaplanís research expertise has ìassisted a number of labs within the department and his collaborations are truly beneficial.î He has also received a prestigious NIH R01 grant and Welsh Foundation grant after only two years at Texas A&M.
Dr. Clare Gill – Research
Dr. Gill has been with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for 13 years and is currently an associate professor in the department of animal science. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her contributions to the field of bovine genomics and her efforts to identify genes that affect production efficiency in beef cattle. Dr. Gill is well regarded by the scientific community and is a ìsought-after presenter at conferences and industry conventions.î
Bacterial Source Tracking Team – Interdisciplinary Research
The BST Team is a model of team building, cooperation, and education across the state. From five of our departments, Drs. Kevin Wagner, Roel Lopez, Raghavan Srinivasan (Rag-haven Shrini-vas-an), R. Karthikeyan (Karth-ih-key-an), Saqib Mukhtar, and Terry Gentry have created one of the most widely recognized and respected BST programs in the country. Because the technologies used for bacterial source tracking have evolved greatly, the team collaborated to host and conduct a statewide workshop which was the first in Texas and presented recent advancements in BST technologies, methodologies, applications and results. Their accomplishments have had significant and lasting impacts on the protection of our environment and public health, conservation of natural resources, and adoption of sound agricultural practices.
Dr. Summer Odom – Service
In her years with the department of agricultural leadership, education, and communications, Dr. Odom has had a distinguished record of service. One nominator said, Dr. Odomís ìselfless service to the profession, organizations, department and collegeî exemplifies the kind of person she is and raises the bar for other professors in the department. She has a passion and enthusiasm about service that gets students excited about getting involved and giving back. Dr. Odom always ensures that she is readily available for her students outside of class and brings a servantís heart to all of her efforts.
Mr. Aaron T. Griffin – Undergraduate Research
Mr. Aaron Griffin is a third year student in the department of biochemistry and biophysics. One nominator states, Aaron has shown a ìremarkably strong ability to successfully carry out researchî and has a strong grasp of the research he is conducting. He was selected as an Undergraduate Research Scholar in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program where he wrote a thesis and gave an oral presentation about his research on mitochondrial copper metabolism. After just one semester in the Gohil lab, Aaron was selected as a Research Mentor in the Aggie Research Scholar Program where he mentored and guided two other undergraduates in research in the Gohil lab.
Ms. Amanda M. Hulse – Graduate Research
As a Ph.D. student in genetics, Ms. Hulse has indisputable potential and motivation for research and is truly committed to academic excellence. Amanda has made significant contributions to the field of cotton genomics in the past two years through the development of a cotton SNP chip and is rapidly becoming a leader in the cotton community. She has done a stellar job in all aspects of leading the project and has displayed management skills beyond what is expected from a graduate student researcher.
Dr. Angela Durko – Graduate Teaching
Dr. Durko is a teaching assistant in the department of recreation, park, and tourism sciences. This year, Dr. Durko worked with professors at institutions in Afghanistan, Ghana and Dubai to organize multiple virtual visits for students to see campuses on other continents. Her studentsí have said that she is ìcharismatic and always willing to talk to studentsî and that she ìgenuinely caresî about her work and her students. She represents the very best of what it means to be an educator and always finds a way to make the material she is teaching exciting. Dr. Durko goes well above and beyond the call of duty of a teacher.
2013 Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award Winners
Dr. Gary Ellis – Administration
For the past five years, Dr. Ellis has served as the Department Head in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. Dr. Ellis’ strong and composed leadership has been exemplary. His thoughtful use of resources, creative partnerships, innovative programs and updated course offerings are all examples of his ability to lead the department. When Dr. Ellis first arrived, RPTS had fewer than 300 undergraduate and approximately 70 graduate students. Under Dr. Ellis’ leadership, the department has grown to 430 undergraduate and 75 graduate students. In his five years here, Dr. Ellis has kept the bigger picture in mind and acted with an eye toward the future.
Dr. Patricia V. Pietrantonio – Faculty Mentoring
As a 17-year veteran of the Department of Entomology, Dr. Pietrantonio understands the importance of mentorship for female and minority faculty. Dr. Pietrantionio is a member of the NSF funded “ADVANCE subcommittee of Women of Color in STEM” and she serves as an Internal Advocate, mentoring minority female faculty in STEM. Dr. Pietrantonio’s mentoring also extends to her graduate and undergraduate students. Her style demonstrates patience and encouragement without compromising her standards of excellence.
Ms. Amanda Schwede – Advising and Student Relations
For the past six years, Amanda Schwede has worked as an advisor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. Amanda is not only an advisor, but a recruiter, teacher, and coordinator of the department’s undergraduate program. One student said, “Amanda’s most memorable traits are her upbeat attitude and her desire to build personal relationships.” Amanda makes it her goal to see her students succeed, which improves the student experience and strengthens the department as a whole.
Dr. Carlos F. Gonzalez and Dr. Manual Piña, Jr. Diversity Team – Diversity
Dr. Gonzalez, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and Dr. Piña, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, work side-by-side as strong and consistent promoters of research and educational opportunities for underrepresented students in the College and Texas A&M. In 1998, Dr. Piña initiated the Hispanic Leaders in Agriculture and Environment program and since 2006, has been the project director of the Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. program. Dr. Gonzalez is the founder and faculty advisor for the Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapter at Texas A&M and recently received the 2013 Legend Award from their national society. Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Piña have worked together to establish connections with multiple Hispanic Serving Institutions in the Rio Grande Valley, recruiting many underrepresented undergraduates to attend our University.
Dr. Amanda Stronza – International Impact
In her eight years here, Dr. Stronza has significantly improved the internationalization of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences. Dr. Stronza has led research in ten countries on three continents. She has developed two multidisciplinary international research programs and taught five study abroad courses. Her latest research has taken her to the Okavango Delta of Botswana where she is studying trophy hunting and human-elephant conflicts.
Mrs. Linda Brochu – Staff
Mrs. Linda Brochu is an Administrative Services Officer in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. In her 19 years with the department, Linda has become the definitive “go-to” person when questions arise. Linda is actively involved in all departmental matters, and she goes well above and beyond to ensure the department functions smoothly. Linda also displays an outstanding ability to supervise staff members on all matters ranging from specific job duties to hiring to training new workers.
Mr. Paul J. Greer – Staff
Mr. Paul Greer is a senior systems analyst in the Department of Horticulture Science. One nominator said, “Paul is the most knowledgeable, professional, courteous, hard-working, bend-over-backwards-to-get-the-job-done person with whom I have ever worked.” Paul is technically proficient in all aspects of computer technology and imparts his knowledge with everyone from the newest freshman to emeritus professors.
Dr. Rosana Moreira – Service
In her 22 years with the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Dr. Moreira has had a long and distinguished career. Dr. Moreira has been instrumental in the growth and enrollment of quality undergraduate and graduate students. She is a consummate advocate and passionately promotes and advertises the department, College, and University. Dr. Steve Searcy, her department head accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Moreira in her absence.
Dr. Kyle M. Woosnam – Early Career Teaching
In his four years as assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Dr. Woosnam has proved to be a superior teacher by engaging and interacting with students on a personal level. “Dr. Woo”, as his students call him, spends countless hours meeting with students in small groups and individually in his office. He has revamped both undergraduate courses that he teaches by adding practical, experience-based education opportunities. Combine his dedication in the classroom with his strong research record and you have an outstanding up and coming faculty member.
Dr. Tryon Wickersham – Teaching
In his six years with the College, Dr. Wickersham has made an immediate impact in the Department of Animal Science by challenging students yet maintaining an approachable demeanor. One nominator said “the concept of teaching and mentorship is ingrained in Dr. Wickersham, and this desire to help future generations is evident in his daily life.” In addition to his success as a teacher, Dr. Wickersham has maintained a highly successful research program, securing over $1 million for research in beef cattle nutrition.
Dr. Richard T. Woodward – Educational Enrichment and Innovation
Dr. Woodward has adopted a wide range of innovative teaching techniques over his 15 years in the agricultural economics department. From developing an online trading game to having students work in teams, it is evident that Dr. Woodward is innovative in the classroom. In one of his undergraduate courses, Dr. Woodward has adopted the Team Based Learning approach, where students are placed in permanent small groups and a majority of class time is spent with the groups solving problems based on knowledge that has been acquired outside the classroom. Dr. Woodward’s consistency in bringing new methods to the classroom proves that he is truly dedicated to educational enrichment and innovation.
Dr. Libo Shan – Early Career Research
Although early in her career, Dr. Shan has become an exceptional scientist and is leading the way in the field of plant innate immunity and plant-microbe interactions. Within her first two years in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Dr. Shan received both an NSF and a NIH R01 grant, an impressive accomplishment. Dr. Shan has already mentored 17 undergraduates in her research laboratory and is the major advisor or co-advisor for 10 Ph.D. and eight graduate committees. Dr. Shan was also the organizer of last year’s annual Molecular Environmental Plant Sciences Symposium and graduate student poster competition.
Dr. Bhimu S. Patil – Research
As a professor in Horticultural Sciences and Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Dr. Patil is recognized as a leader in the “foods for health” agenda, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Patil has mentored more than 32 graduate students since coming to the department in 2005. High quality research programs require continuous long-term funding, for which Dr. Patil has secured more than $17 million in collaborative grants and more than $11.8 million for his own research and educational programs.
NSF IGERT in Applied Biodiversity Science – Interdisciplinary Research Team
The NSF IGERT in Applied Biodiversity Science is a model of team building, cooperation, and graduate training across departments and colleges. From four of our departments, Drs. Lee Fitzgerald, Amanda Stronza, Kirk Winemiller, Richard Woodward, Urs Kreuter, and Leslie Ruyle have created one of the most widely recognized and respected IGERTs in the country. This program is truly interdisciplinary, as it has spread from our College to 11 departments across five colleges. It has also been extremely successful in recruiting a diverse student body of graduate students with exceptional research capacity. Participating faculty and graduating students have published over 200 articles and given 350 presentations since 2007.
Mr. Kyle Landolt – Undergraduate Research
Mr. Kyle Landolt is starting his senior year pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ecosystems Science and Management’s Ecological Restoration Program. Kyle serves as a research technician on the Greens Bayou Wetland Mitigation Bank Project, where he planned, surveyed, established and implemented the experimental design for controlling the spread of Chinese Tallow. Kyle also completed an internship with the University of Fribourg in Switzerland where he researched the biological control of an invasive plant species using insects.
Mr. Suhas S. Vyavhare – Graduate Research
As a Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology, Mr. Suhas Vyavhare has indisputable potential and motivation for research and he is truly committed to academic excellence. Suhas’ research focuses on the redbanded stinkbug, an emergent pest in soybeans. Suhas actively participates in field days, workshops, and extension meetings and presents his research to large audiences. During his academic career, Suhas has won several awards for his research presentations, academics, and extracurricular activities.
Ms. Dianne A. Stroman – Graduate Teaching
Ms. Dianne Stroman is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Dianne has taken an innovative approach to teaching by developing several new lab exercises, such as collaborative role-playing. She has also integrated online and social media tools into her online course that she solely teaches. Diane goes well above and beyond her call of duty as a teacher, making her a deserving recipient of the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Graduate Teaching.
2012 Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award Winners
Dr. Jennifer R. Williams-Early Career Teaching
As an assistant professor at Texas A&M University for the last two years, Dr. Jen (as she is known to her students) contributes to the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications through her extraordinary commitment to promoting personal growth and career success in her students. She uses a multitude of innovative teaching methods in her classes such as incorporating popular culture. She is also a recognized scholar with 13 peer-reviewed articles on teaching methods in leadership development.
Dr. Calvin B. Parnell-Teaching
One nominator noted that Dr. Parnell developed a reputation early in his career as being an engaging and demanding instructor with high expectations for his students. As a teacher in the biological and agricultural engineering department, he has the ability to motivate and inspire burdened college students. Dr. Parnell imparts a desire to excel and truly learn the art and science of engineering. He has been an advisor to more than 50 masters and doctoral students, spreading his trademark enthusiasm for agricultural engineering.
REU-EXCITE TEAM—Educational Enrichment and Innovation
This award recognizes excellence and dedication to high impact student experiences and exceptional innovation in student learning, in or out of the classroom. The Department of Entomology’s REU-EXCITE Team is the 2012 winner. Dr. Kevin Heinz and Mrs. Rebecca Hapes envisioned, created, and implemented a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates. The Expanding Scientific Investigation Through Entomology (EXCITE) program brings students to campus for a 10-week summer entomology program. EXCITE increases diversity, recruits students and gives them a complete scientific experience…with 13% of participants actually publishing findings in scientific journals.
Dr. William B. Faulkner- Early Career Research
Although early in his career, Dr. Faulkner has already developed a national reputation for quality research and service as well as an outstanding teaching record. As author or co-author of 24 peer-reviewed articles, his research is already having an impact. He developed a decision tool for cotton producers to compare harvesting methods. Another of his research projects led to revisions of the particulate emission factor for almond harvesting operations in California. He serves on two federal advisory committees and provides leadership in national societies, winning the Young Engineer of the Year award in 2009.
Dr. David D. Briske-Research
With 34 years of experience, Dr. Briske is a faculty member in the department of ecosystem science and management. He has an impressive record of scholarship including 61 refereed papers and thousands of citations. With at least 14 major federal grants, he has effectively integrated his research accomplishments, national and international scientific network, and experience as an academic journal editor. His research discoveries include novel insights into the ecology of grasses, resilience-based ecosystem management and global change biology.
Sorghum Bioenergy Breeding and Genomics-Interdisciplinary Research Team
The ability to address complex research questions across disciplines is exemplified by the Sorghum Bioenergy Breeding and Genomics Team. From three departments, Dr. William Rooney, Dr. Patricia Klein, and Dr. John Mullet’s work has ensured that sorghum is one of the first US commercialized bioenergy crops and a primary genomic model. Termed as the “dream team” of research, their long history of interdisciplinary collaboration has resulted in enormous impacts, both scientific and practical. An industry leader noted that their approach is “necessary in today’s world for rapid and significant progress in crop improvement.” As a nominator noted, the team is a powerful assembly of researchers with vision, tenacity and responsibility.
Michelle Bedenbaugh-Undergraduate Research
Michelle Bedenbaugh, a spring 2012 summa cum laude animal science graduate, completed the honors undergraduate research fellows program with a thesis in the physiology of reproduction section. She pursued a sophisticated line of research and balanced her bench time with leadership in student organizations. Her mentor noted that “the quality of her research was comparable to that of advanced graduate students in our group.” Ms. Bedenbaugh is currently a graduate student in animal science.
Mr. Edinalvo Camargo-Graduate Research
Affectionately referred to as “Edge,” Mr. Camargo, a PhD student in agronomy, has demonstrated exceptional prowess and potential as a researcher. His work with herbicides, rice tolerance and weed control has been awarded with several first place poster prizes. His nomination noted that “He has combined dedication to scholarship with strong, practical scientific accomplishments …that will be an agent of positive change in his home country of Brazil for years to come.”
Ms. Kelly N. Winsco-Graduate Teaching
Kelly Winsco is a PhD candidate in the department of animal science. She has taught more than 900 students in just five years as a graduate student and has won both departmental and university teaching awards. She is unable to join us today, but Ms. Josie Coverdale will accept on her behalf.
Dr. David Baltensperger-Administration
Dr. Baltensperger serves as the department head of Soil & Crop Sciences, with more than 80 faculty members statewide. He is also the interim head of ecosystem science and management. A respected administrator, he has gained the support of faculty and staff in the department by implementing his “can-do attitude”. His letters of support note that his sense of humor and positivity have been greatly appreciated, especially during tough budget times. Dr. Baltensperger’s understanding of all functions of the land-grant system and emphasis on recruiting diverse faculty makes him an excellent ambassador.
Dr. Deb Dunsford-Advising and Student Relations
Dr. Deb, as her students affectionately call her, is the embodiment of an excellent teacher and advisor. As one student said, “Dr. Deb’s ability to take such a personal interest in every student is remarkable…Her dedication, interest, respect and care for her students goes above and beyond her job description.” In addition to teaching and advising duties for agricultural communications and journalism students, Dr. Dunsford also serves an advisor to the departmental student group and is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo internship coordinator.
Dr. Nancy Ing-Faculty Mentoring
Dr. Ing, a nineteen year veteran of the Animal Science department, is the organizer of the Agriculture Women Excited to Share Opinions, Mentoring and Experience (also known as AWESOME). The group is funded by a mini-grant that Dr. Ing obtained with her co-PI from the ADVANCE program. She has a demonstrated passion for bringing together and developing faculty in our college and across campus. As one nominator wrote, “this is a faculty member who deserves recognition for years of dedication mentoring women faculty members.”
AGTEC Team-International Impact
The AGTEC Team of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture is recognized for their exceptional international outreach in Guatemala. The team includes five members, Johanna Roman, Yanet Rodriguez, Carolina Oleas, Dale Rodgers, and Dana Lewis. Since 2008, this team has provided training and assistance to 10,000 Guatemalan farmers, delivered Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Junior Master Gardener curricula to 600 children, and provided hands-on learning opportunities to 40 Texas A&M University students. This outstanding team has changed thousands of lives in Guatemala, provided rich learning opportunities for Aggies, and facilitated teaching and extension opportunities for faculty of Texas A&M University. For their impact on improving agricultural systems, training and marketing and improving food production and processing in Guatemala, the 2012 International Impact Award is given to the AGTEC team.
Mrs. Faustina “Tina” Vega-Staff
Mrs. Tina Vega is a business coordinator for the department of recreation, park and tourism science, widely recognized for the depth of her knowledge of all things A&M and budgets. She routinely adds extra hours to her work day to ensure outstanding customer service. Her willingness to contribute whatever time is required to anticipate the needs of others and complete projects is truly extraordinary, commented one nominator. Mrs. Vega is a noted mentor and committed to developing a strong team to support the department. Her knowledge and skills have benefited eight different department heads since she began working in the department in 1978.
Mr. Roger Horn-Staff
Mr. Horn serves as a research associate for the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology. As the plant growth facilities manager, he seamlessly operates more than 35,000 square feet of research greenhouses and growth chambers. His strong leadership abilities, outstanding communication, and cooperation make him the go-to resource for public tours (including a Saudi prince), and student and faculty assistance. One nominator wrote, “I have worked at several universities and used greenhouse facilities. Roger’s shop is clearly the most organized, user friendly and efficient…they are also the cleanest, with the prep/potting soil room usually cleaner than my house!”
Mrs. Carol Jean Rhodes-Staff
Mrs. Rhodes is the administrative services officer for the department of soil and crop sciences. She is the “go to” person in the department and is a great problem solver. One nominator wrote that she possesses a “willingness and ability to return sage advice, maintain confidentiality, and has a real concern for people.” Her service to four department heads is marked by her intelligence, honesty and optimism that make staff, faculty and students alike consult her. Mrs. Rhodes is lauded for her ability to solve problems, address issues and still have everyone feel that they were treated with respect and fairness.
Dr. Ronald Kaiser-Service
Dr. Ron Kaiser has demonstrated excellence in service through outreach and engagement, particularly in the arena of water management. At multiple levels, he has had significant impact on water issues in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock wrote that “his work helped inform and improve the laws governing water management in Texas.” Beyond the scholarly arena, Dr. Kaiser’s service touches the university, professional organizations and the community at large. He has served as the deputy speaker of the faculty senate and a member of the Vision 2020 committee. He has been a leader in the state bar association, offered countless educational seminars on groundwater, and is a noted resource to organizations from the Farm Bureau to the Sierra Club. In the community, he has served on the planning and zoning committee and on the central appraisal district. In short, Dr. Kaiser exemplifies service to his profession, peers and community.