Faculty, Staff Accomplishments Recognized by U of A System Division of Agriculture, Bumpers College

ROGERS, Ark. – World-renowned work in soybean breeding and genetics as well as the development of nitrogen soil testing for rice are among the accomplishments by faculty and staff who were honored Friday, Jan. 9, by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in partnership with the UA Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Ceremonies were held during a luncheon at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Rogers.

The award recipients represent some 1,500 faculty and staff members on five university campuses, at research and extension centers and stations throughout Arkansas and in Cooperative Extension Service offices in all 75 counties.

The Division of Agriculture includes the Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition to conducting research and delivering information and educational services on agriculture and forestry, it also promotes public health and nutrition; opportunities for youth, families and communities; safe and secure food systems; and environmental sustainability.

The Robert G.F. and Hazel Taylor Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence was presented to Pengyin Chen, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences. Chen’s work in soybean breeding and genetics has combined traditional plant breeding with cutting edge molecular methods. This has shortened the time required to release new varieties.

Don Edgar, associate professor of agricultural education, communications and technology, received the Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award. He works with students to decide with them not only a sequence of courses to fulfill degree requirements but also how best to get them where they want to be in life.

John W. White Awards

John W. White Awards for outstanding teaching, research and extension service are named for the U of A System's first vice president for agriculture when the Division of Agriculture was made a statewide unit of the U of A System in 1959.

The John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award, jointly awarded by the Division of Agriculture and Bumpers College, was presented to Jennie Popp, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness. Popp integrates research topics into teaching wherever possible. She works with students in class, on independent projects, special problems and activities.

The John W. White Outstanding Research Award went to Gisela Erf, the Tyson Professor in Avian Immunology in the Department of Poultry Science. She has built a strong research program addressing both basic and applied aspects of innate and adaptive immune system development and function in poultry. Erf’s research has addressed a great need for development of vaccines and other effective preventative and therapeutic approaches to poultry diseases.

Shane Gadberry, associate professor of animal science, received the John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award. He has developed one of the nation’s most progressive and respected ruminate nutrition educational programs. His program includes working with youth and county agents for in-service trainings, research, publications, grants and electronic communications.

The John W. White Outstanding County Extension Educator Award winner was Robert Goodson, a Phillips County extension agent. He has been active in row crop verification and began publishing results of demonstrations he oversaw. His demonstration book has become a much sought publication for area producers that also includes yearly crop reports, weather records, each crop’s economic aspects and Phillips County’s state rankings.

The John W. White Outstanding Team Award was presented to a group of faculty who comprise the N-STaR (Nitrogen Soil Test for Rice) Research and Extension Team. N-STaR is a scientific method that allows the measurement of the soil’s ability to apply nitrogen to plants. The method has been refined and tested and consistently proven to enable the calculation of the proper fertilization rate. Team members, all in the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, are Trent Roberts, assistant professor; Jeremy Ross, associate professor; Rick Norman, professor; Nathan Slaton, professor; Charles Wilson, professor and Rice Research and Extension Center director; Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist, and Ralph Mazzanti, rice verification coordinator.

The Division of Agriculture Non-Classified Support Personnel Award went to Alan Beach, a program technician at the Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser. Beach has been the primary contact person for all cotton research at the center since 2008. He has also helped to coordinate much of the cotton research at the Judd Hill Cooperative Research Station and has assisted with cotton research at the Lon Mann Cotton Research Station.

The Agricultural Experiment Station Classified Support Personnel Award was presented to Melinda Dunlap, an administrative specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Her primary responsibility is to support the department’s undergraduate program by maintaining its records in addition to supporting the Agribusiness Club. She also coordinates freshman summer orientation during which she advises more than 40 students.

The Cooperative Extension Service Classified Support Personnel Award went to Burnita Hearne, an administrative specialist in the Crittenden County extension office. She began her career in the office in 1976 as a temporary clerical assistant and worked her way to administrative support specialist before retiring in 2005. She returned in 2011 to serve in her present position.

Patents recognized

The Division also recognized several faculty for patents that were issued on their projects. The faculty and their patented projects are:

  • Compositions and methods of enhancing immune responses: Walter Gay Bottje, Kimberly Cole, Mandy Cox, Billy Hargis, Young Min Kwon and Sherryll Layton, Poultry Science Department
  • Versatile multichannel capillary biosensor system: Yanbin Li, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department
  • Lactic acid bacteria and their use in swine direct-fed microbials: Charles Maxwell, Animal Science Department
  • Bioactive pentapeptides from rice bran and use thereof: Navam Hettiarachchy, Food Science Department
  • Blackberry plant named ‘APF-77’: John R. Clark, Horticulture Department
  • Cotton cultivars UA-48 and UA-103: Fred Bourland, Northeast Research and Extension Center



David Edmark, interim coordinator
Division of Agriculture Communications
479-575-6940, dedmark@uark.edu


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