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2021 Award Winners

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Richard Helm

Rich established the Virginia Tech-Mass Spectrometry Incubator in 2007 and continues to be its director. The operation of this facility serves as a critically important resource not only for the faculty in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences but also for the whole university. Rich single-handedly started the efforts to acquire the instrumentation and physically established the infrastructure and personnel that became VT-MSI.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Rich worked with Carla Finkielstein to transform the Steger facilities into the first COVID testing site at Virginia Tech. He then helped Carla to transition the program to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke in the fall of last year and continued to work with her group on this effort, recently establishing sequencing protocols and procedures to track SARS-CoV-2 variants in the region. Rich’s ability to scale up sample processing anddata analytics, while implementing a high level of quality control, have in both cases been critical to success.

Virginia Tech’s ability to mount a rapid and effective response to the need for testing, and now also variant tracking, is in no small measure due to Rich’s expertise, insight, and ability to foster collaboration in an extremely challenging and largely unexplored environment.

Image of Chloe

Chloé Lahondère

In her time in biochemistry, Chloé established a departmental Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2018.

“She promised that the group would plan and implement impactful activities,” her nominator said. “She has done extremely well with this promise and her leadership of this group has transformed how we function as an academic unit, and as a community.”

Sarah Misyak

Sarah has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, ensuring that the Family Nutrition program meets its mission of serving all Virginians.

She challenges her students to think about these topics in her Community Nutrition class, and works to ensure that the topics of diversity and inclusion are always included in the Family Nutrition Program’s decisions.

“Sarah has worked tirelessly to push through changes so that the program’s evaluation methods meet the needs of Family Nutrition Program’s diverse statewide participants,” her nominator said.

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Tiffany Drape

Tiffany’s long-term work in this area has been an important component for outreach during the last 18 months. She has provided workshops, curriculum content, and mentorship for faculty and graduate students at Virginia Tech.

“I don’t know that any faculty member has had as broad of an impact on campus and in national organizations during the last 18 months as Dr. Tiffany Drape,” her nominator said.

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Mark Hanigan

Basic Research Award

Mark is the David R. and Margaret Lincicome Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Dairy Science. Mark has had a unique career – he spent seven years operating a dairy farm before furthering his education. Following his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training, he spent 12 years as a research scientist at Purina Mills before returning to academia in 2005.

Mark and his group have altered the way that animal nutrition scientists view amino acid requirements through the long-term efforts of his group. The community has operated from an 80-year-old concept of the relationship between amino acid supply and protein synthesis. Almost all amino acid research in production animals has been conducted assuming this concept is the equivalent of biological law. Starting in the late 1990s, Dr. Hanigan and his collaborators completed a body of work that conclusively demonstrated that the concept was wrong at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and animal levels.

Initial estimates indicate full adoption of the system could result in 600 million dollars of annual economic gain for the industry and a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen excretion. His group is currently working with collaborators in Dairy Science, Animal Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science to utilize the updated requirement system to guide individual animal feeding on dairies with auto feeders.

Jeffery Alwang

Applied Research Award

Jeff's empirical focus is to understand how policies and agricultural technologies affect the well-being of the rural poor including in developing countries. He develops and tests new methods seeking cost-effective approaches to agricultural technology dissemination.

Until recently, little was known about the diffusion of these improved varieties and their impact on the wellbeing of the rural poor. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Alwang co-led teams of researchers from academia, international agricultural research centers, and developing country agricultural research institutions to conduct research to fill this gap. Their work quantified the impact of improved varieties of major African food crops on the poor by evaluating the diffusion, adoption, and its effects on yield, poverty, and food security.

Their research was published as a book, co-edited by Jeffery, which has shaped technology development and impact assessment research of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a global consortium dedicated to research aimed at reducing poverty and malnutrition. It includes 15 centers worldwide and over 3,000 partners from national governments, academic institutions, global policy bodies, private companies, and non-governmental organizations.

Image of Karen Barnhart

Karen Barnhart

Karen’s nominators praised her excellent customer service and how she approaches her job with professionalism and positivity each and every day.

When we shifted to telework status in 2020, Karen assisted CALS Finance with 30-minute training sessions. Without hesitation, Karen happily volunteered to lead or partner with Finance to offer HR-related training.

Karen’s nominators also said that she embodies Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in her service to her unit, the departments, and the college.

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Eric Kaufman

Eric is highly regarded by his colleagues as demonstrated by the numerous leadership roles he has held in service organizations. Most recently, Eric has served as the President of Virginia Tech’s Faculty Senate, which is a significant leadership and service commitment within the University. During his career, he has served as the President of the Association of Leadership Educators, departmental program review committee member, and many more. Each of these service roles has provided the opportunity to advance the research and the academic reputation of agricultural leadership as a discipline.

Eric is a servant leader in his everyday interactions. Within the department, he is recognized as a mentor, a sounding board, a collaborator, and a role model. He is a senior member of the faculty who consistently looks to elevate the work of those around him. His work has generated favor among the college and university administrators, which in turn advances the goals of the department and his colleagues.

Virginia Tech School of Turfgrass Ecology and Management/Certified Turfgrass Professional Program

  • Whitnee Askew
  • Shawn Askew
  • Abigail Baxter
  • Jordan Booth,
  • Alejandro Del-Pozo
  • Jeffrey Derr
  • Jon Dickerson
  • Sam Doak
  • Mike Goatley
  • Tom Kuhar
  • David McCall
  • Traci McCoy
  • Adam Nichols
  • Dan Sandor
  • Mark Sumner
  • Marc Zaldivar

Edamame Advancement Team

  • Susan Duncan
  • Steve Rideout
  • Tom Kuhar
  • Haibo Huang
  • Song Li
  • Mark Reiter
  • Yun Yin
  • Bo Zhang