At the 26th annual Celebration of Faculty and Staff picnic, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recognized numerous faculty and staff for their contributions and dedication to the college.

The Andy Swiger Land Grant Award recognizes faculty members whose accomplishments help to fulfill the land grant mission of addressing state and national needs through teaching, research, or Virginia Cooperative Extension. The Andy Swiger Land Grant Award is made possible by an endowment established in honor of retired Dean Andy Swiger.

This year, the award recipient is Richard Helm, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry for establishing the Virginia Tech-Mass Spectrometry Incubator in 2007 and his continued work as its director. Additionally, Helm worked to transform the Steger Hall facilities into the first COVID-19 testing site at Virginia Tech.

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. Helm single-handedly started the efforts to acquire the instrumentation and physically established the infrastructure and personnel that became VT-MSI.

Karen Barnhart, a human resources coordinator in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was named the 2021 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Employee of the Year.

Her nominators praised her excellent customer service and how she approaches her job with professionalism and positivity each and every day. They also said that she embodies Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in her service to her unit, the departments, and the college.

Each year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of its students and faculty in the core area of diversity and inclusion.

The Diversity and Inclusion Service Award was established in 2006 as the Diversity Enhancement Award, and in 2013, separate categories for faculty, staff, and students were created. The service award for graduate students is named the Randolph L. Grayson Outstanding CALS Diversity Scholar Award.

The three faculty and staff winners of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Service Award were Chloé Lahondère, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry; Sarah Misyak, a research assistant professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise; and Tiffany Drape, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education.

For the third year, the college’s Faculty Association presented the Ut Prosim Excellence in Service Award to a faculty member who demonstrated excellence in service to their unit, the college, and Virginia Tech. This year’s honor was bestowed upon Eric Kaufman in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education.

The college presents two annual awards for Research Excellence to faculty members who have reached a level of research achievement judged to be the most significant within their discipline. One award recognizes excellence in conducting basic research and the other rewards excellence in applied research.

Mark Hanigan, the David R. and Margaret Lincicome Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Dairy Science, received the Excellence in Basic Research Award for his work on how animal nutrition scientists view amino acid requirements. Initial estimates indicate full adoption of the group’s system could result in $600 million 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, a professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, received the Excellence in Applied Research Award for his work on understanding how policies and agricultural technologies affect the well-being of the rural poor, including in developing countries.

This year, the college unveiled a new award, the CALS Team Award, which recognizes the achievements and impacts of interdisciplinary teams in the college. Typically, one team will receive the award, but the selection committee decided to award two teams since it was the first year of the award.

The Virginia Tech School of Turfgrass Ecology and Management/Certified Turfgrass Professional Program, which includes 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, is one recipient.

The Edamame Advancement Team, which includes Susan Duncan, Steve Rideout, Tom Kuhar, Haibo Huang, Song Li, Mark Reiter, Yun Yin, and Bo Zhang, is the other.

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