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USDA, Research Partners Announce Winners of Awards For Excellence in Agricultural Research, Leadership and Diversity

October 25, 2018

Washington – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the recipients of awards recognizing excellence in agricultural research. The awards will be presented at the 131st Annual Meeting of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) on Nov. 11 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The awards honor research excellence in three categories -- National Excellence in Multistate Research, Excellence in Research Leadership, and National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion. Awardees are recognized annually by NIFA, APLU, and the Experiment Station Section of APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly.

“Research efforts of our nation's Land Grant Universities develop and harness 21st century science-based knowledge and solutions required to improve crop yield and quality, nutritional value, food safety, the environment and other advancements that will drive rural prosperity and economic development,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “NIFA is proud to be a contributor to this success thorough the capacity and competitive research funding that we provide, and congratulates this year’s award recipients.”

The National Excellence in Multistate Research Award recognizes experiment station scientists who are conducting exemplary research and outreach efforts across multiple states. The 2018 award goes to Drainage Design and Management Practices to Improve Water Quality (NCERA-217), a project involving researchers and extension specialists from 13 states with support from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Project participants have developed new technologies and strategies that improve drainage, enhance crop production and protect water quality. Practices such as living mulch, winter cover crops, perennial grasses, nutrient management decisions and various structures – bioreactors, saturated buffers, wetlands and vegetated ditches, have been designed and implemented highlight new and improved innovations and impact.

The Excellence in Research Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have served with exemplary distinction; thereby enhancing regional and national research missions and the Land-grant ideal. Individuals must have multiple-level service activities that are special and extraordinary, contribute to systematic efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion and a record of significant accomplishments in the agricultural sciences.

The 2018 Leadership recipients are:

  • Douglas D. Buhler (Director of AgBioResearch and Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Michigan State University) for his tireless advocacy for agriculture and natural resources;
  • H. Michael Harrington (Executive Director, Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors) through his advocacy and implementation of integrated multistate projects;
  • Shirley Hymon-Parker (Associate Dean for Research, North Carolina A&T) for activities to bring visibility to and seeking solutions for issues and challenges faceting the food and agricultural system;
  • Ian L. Maw (Vice President Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, APLU) as an advocate and mentor for Land-grant deans, directors and administrators; and
  • John S. Russin (Director LSU AgCenter’s Global Network and Former Vice Chancellor and Director Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana State University) known for enhancing public/private partnerships and long-term research productivity.

The inaugural National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion Award recognizes the activities of individuals or teams at the local, state, regional, or national level, that empower groups and effectively enhances inclusion within organizations. The award recognizes efforts that aspire to achieve consistent, holistic, and inclusive excellence. The 2018 award goes to the Mentoring@Purdue team, led by Drs. Neil Knobloch and Levon Esters. While the program has led to the recruitment of women and underrepresented minorities at Purdue, it extends far beyond the Purdue campus by employing an innovative 1862–1890 Land Grant University model. The Mentoring@Purdue team now includes 15 future leaders of diversity and inclusion and has impacted over 2,500 student, staff, and faculty participants from Purdue and 7 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

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