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.