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ARS Announces Scientist of the Year, Other Staff Awards

ARS Announces Scientist of the Year, Other Staff Awards

Posted: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 8:01 pm

Laboratory Director Donald L. Suarez of Riverside, Calif., has been named “Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 2009” by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for his scientific leadership and discoveries in effective water resource management. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Suarez heads the U.S. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside. He and other ARS researchers and support staff were honored today at the agency’s awards ceremony in Beltsville, Md.

“Water scarcity will be a defining issue in 21st century agriculture–and in society in general,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator.  “Dr. Suarez’s outstanding research on helping farmers efficiently utilize scarce water resources benefits not only the farmers themselves, but also consumers, communities and businesses. The research under way at our Riverside lab under Dr. Suarez’s leadership will help sustain agricultural production in arid regions of the West and inform our approach to water management across the United States and abroad.”

Suarez’s research on water resources has yielded key information about how the strawberry, grape and turf industries can reuse water for irrigation while maintaining favorable soil chemical and physical properties for sustained production. His work has greatly advanced the understanding of the relationship between water chemistry and soil hydraulic properties. In addition, he has assessed how different irrigation regimes can enhance soil productivity and helped develop computer models that can be used by water districts and irrigation consultants to make informed decisions about salinity management.

ARS also will recognize the following "Area Senior Research Scientists" today:

•    William P. Kustas, ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for pioneering research in the theory and application of remote sensing and soil-plant-atmosphere modeling related to hydrological and agricultural problems.

•    Anna Myers McClung, ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Unit, Stuttgart, Ark., for outstanding research and leadership accomplishments in genetic improvement and protection of rice through innovative development, adaptation, and implementation of molecular marker-assisted breeding technologies.

•    Jack A. Morgan, ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit, Fort Collins, Colo., for scientific contributions to global change research and dedication to the development of a unit research team where everyone can participate and succeed.

•    Agnes M. Rimando, ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, University, Miss., for research on stilbenes that positively impacted the blueberry industry and provided the basis for using these compounds to benefit human health.

•    Randy C. Shoemaker, ARS Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, Ames, Iowa, for outstanding research in soybean genetics and genomics.

•    Michael Wisniewski, ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, W. Va., for sustained research productivity, leadership and impact in the management of biotic and abiotic stress in fruit crops.

•    Bruce W. Wood, ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory, Byron, Ga., for excellence in pecan production and protection research and advancing mineral nutrition management of crops.

ARS also is recognizing exceptional "early career" scientists who have been with the agency for seven years or less.        

The top prize, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist Award, will be presented to Michael L. Looper, ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, Ark., for the development of pioneering research that improves production efficiency, product quality and food safety for the American cattle industry.

Other "Area Early Career Research Scientist Award" winners for 2009 are:

•    Elizabeth A. Ainsworth, ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, Urbana, Ill., for significant contributions to understanding the impact of global change on crop physiology and production.

•    Dana M. Blumenthal, ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit (RRRU), Fort Collins, Colo., for outstanding scientific contributions to invasion ecology and for teamwork with the RRRU and collaborators.

•    David H. Gent, ARS Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit, Corvallis, Ore., for creativity and outstanding accomplishments in developing integrated pest management approaches to reduce the impact of diseases on crop productivity.

•    Mary J. Pantin-Jackwood, ARS Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit, Athens, Ga., for demonstrating the critical role of domestic ducks in the control of avian influenza viruses and for the characterization and improved diagnostics of novel enteric viruses of poultry.

•    Kerry F. Pedley, ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Research Unit, Fort Detrick, Md., for research contributions in molecular diagnostics and genetic characterization of foreign plant pathogens, and demonstration of early career success in developing extramurally funded research programs.

•    Timothy A. Rinehart, ARS Southern Horticultural Laboratory, Poplarville, Miss., for research and technology transfer related to the application of molecular markers and DNA fingerprinting biotechnology to breeding woody landscape plants.

•    Manan Sharma, ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for developing innovative methods for detecting internalization of pathogens into leafy greens.

Other 2009 ARS award winners include the following:

•    The ARS H1N1 Flu Virus Research Team, which includes Amy Vincent, Kelly Lager, Kay Faabert and Marcus Kehrli, ARS Virus and Prion Research Unit, Ames, Iowa; Erica Spackman and David Suarez, ARS Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit, Athens, Ga.; and Cyril Gay and Steven Kappes, ARS Office of National Programs, Beltsville, Md., will receive the "Special Administrator’s Award" for outstanding, rapid research support and technology development to assist USDA, cooperating agencies and the U.S. pork industry respond to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu threat.

•    Brian Scheffler, ARS Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Unit, Stoneville, Miss., has received the ARS T.W. Edminster Award for his outstanding research proposal "Genetics and genomics of sweet potato and other specialty crops for improved quality and resistance to biotic and abiotic factors." The T.W. Edminster Award is given annually to the researcher who submits the highest-rated research proposal in the ARS Postdoctoral Research Associate Program.

•    Zarnaz Nina Ahmad, National Agricultural Library (NAL), Beltsville, Md., will receive the Office Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements and creative efforts of ARS office professionals. Ahmad received the award for outstanding performance and significant contributions to improve and streamline the operations at NAL’s Collection Services Branch.

•    The 2009 Excellence in Information Award is being presented to Joseph R. Makuch, NAL, Beltsville, Md.; Stuart Gagnon, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.; Cassandra Harper, formerly with Library Associates Companies, Inc., Rockville, Md.; Diane Doyle, Library Associates Companies., Inc., Rockville, Md.; and Charles Rewa, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Beltsville, Md. The team will receive this award for outstanding contributions in leading NAL’s efforts in meeting the scientific information needs of USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project.

Several 2009 Administrator’s Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Awards also will be presented to ARS staff. These awards identify and recognize ARS employees for exemplary achievements in promoting equal employment opportunity and civil rights and in fostering an awareness of and commitment to workforce diversity through actions that clearly exceed the responsibilities of their positions or assignments in ARS.

•    Gwyn Watson, ARS Western Regional Research Center (WRRC), Albany, Calif., will receive the Supervisory/Managerial Category award for consistent and exemplary contributions realizing the objectives of outreach, diversity, and equal opportunity for the Pacific West Area at WRRC.

•    The Beltsville Area Diversity Taskforce, Beltsville, Md., will receive the Non-Supervisory/Non-Managerial Category award for the establishment of a Best Hiring Practices document that will promote the hiring of a diverse workforce in the Beltsville Area. Taskforce members include Jenny Allen, David Baer, Edith Blackwell, Julia Cabrera-Woscek, Eton Codling, Erin Connor, Eilyn Fabregas, Verneta Gaskins, Mary Ann Guaragna, Kathleen Haynes, Theresa Henderson, Swati Mookherji, Savi Natarajan, Xiangwu Nou, Janet Novotny, Alvin Nowverl, Eunhee Park, Talo Pastor-Corrales, Ali Sadeghi, Tom Sexton, Manan Sharma, Martha Tomecek, and Aijun Zhang.

•    The agency’s Administrative and Financial Management (AFM) Support Awards for Excellence recognize the outstanding achievements of employees who have increased efficiency in the AFM support activities of USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics agencies.

•    The 2009 AFM Gold Award for Excellence will be presented to Myles H. Taniguchi, U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Hilo, Hawaii, for outstanding achievements as administrative officer at the Hilo location in coordinating the center’s construction, research unit consolidation, and implementation of overall improvements to the location’s administrative office.

•    The 2009 AFM Silver Award for Excellence will be presented to Patrick G. Barry, AFM, Beltsville, Md., for outstanding leadership and vision throughout implementation of the design and construction program supporting the ARS portion of the American Recovery and Revitalization Act.

•    The 2009 AFM Bronze Award for Excellence will be presented to the ARS Information Technology Wiki Development Team for outstanding support to ARS in the conception and development of a web-based information repository (Wiki) to be utilized by the ARS information technology community. Team members include Paula Snell, Peoria, Ill.; Daniel Stieneke, Kimberly, Idaho; Joy McDaniel, Beltsville, Md.; Scott Finke, Beltsville, Md.; Andrea Miller, Peoria, Ill.; Stephanie Jobes, Riverside, Calif.; and C. Gwen Pentecost, Pullman, Wash.

•    Michelyn Boyd, AFM, Beltsville, Md., will receive an AFM Support Award for Excellence for outstanding contributions to the successful implementation of WebTA and commitment to provide excellent customer service.

Posted 6.9.10

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