Faculty, staff honored with annual College of Agriculture and Life Sciences awards
The college announced its 2022 award winners at the 27th annual Celebration of Faculty and Staff picnic.
At the 27th 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 went to Mike Goatley, a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, for his work with the Virginia Tech Turfgrass Team.
The success of the Turfgrass Team is evident because of the important roles that all members serve, and the concept of truly being a team is something in which all members take great pride. Goatley leads the Turfgrass Team’s outreach programs and partners with stakeholder associations, such as the Virginia Turfgrass Council, Virginia Sports Turf Managers Association, the Virginia Sod Growers Association, and the Virginia Rec and Park Society, in the development and delivery of educational and outreach activities, which includes field days and conferences.
Chad Joines, the director of beef cattle operations, was named the 2022 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Employee of the Year.
In his role as director of beef cattle operations, Joines directly manages the teaching herd of 100 purebred cows as well as the research herd of 200 Angus-based commercial cows. Overall, Joines cares for more than 600 cattle that form the basis of beef cattle teaching, research, and Extension in the college.
Joines’ work and expertise have been recognized by major breeding services as several bulls he has raised are now used to distribute Virginia Tech genetics worldwide. This success in performance testing, in the show ring, and commercially helps showcase the beef production program at Virginia Tech.
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 Jonathan Auguste, an assistant professor of entomology; Karrin Cordova, a Family Nutrition Program area coordinator; and Kathy Duncan, a program support specialist in the School of Animal Sciences.
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.
Alan Ealy, a professor in the School of Animal Sciences, is the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Basic Research Award.
Ealy’s research revolves around the developmental, cellular, and molecular regulation of early pregnancy in cattle and other ruminants. Ealy’s group has devoted substantial effort toward examining why oocyte and embryo development is so poor in lactating cows. Discoveries in this area include uncovering uterine factors that contribute to early embryo development, deciphering novel features of bovine embryonic stem cell biology, exploring how cytokines mediate oocyte maturation and health, optimizing in vitro bovine embryo production and post-transfer survival, and informing dairy and beef producers about the merits of using embryo-based reproductive technologies.
Mike Zhang, the Turner Faculty Fellow in Biological Systems Engineering, was the recipient of the 2022 applied research award.
Zhang researches developing vaccines against drugs of addiction. His research group has developed a vaccine against nicotine, which was shown to be effective in animal models and a multinational patent has been filed.
Currently, his research group is involved to develop vaccines against opioid addiction. Zhang was the first researcher to propose a hybrid nanoparticle system, which is composed of a nanoparticle core surrounded by a lipid bilayer. Internationally, his research group is the leading research group in developing hybrid nanoparticle-based vaccines against psychoactive compounds.
The 2022 CALS Service Awards were given to Tony Wolf, Carol Wilkinson, and Chris Bergh for their tremendous service to the university and the college.
Last year, the college unveiled a new award, the CALS Team Award, which recognizes the achievements and impacts of interdisciplinary teams in the college. This year, the selection committee gave the award to two teams.
The first winning team is the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation. The team includes Kim Niewolny, Eric Bendfeldt, Conaway Haskins, Joyce Latimer, Katie Trozzo, Garland Mason, Justice Madden, Kasey Owen, Nicole Nunoo, and French Price.
The other winning team is the Virginia Tech Invasive Species Working Group. The members of the team include Kang Xia, Jacob Barney, Bryan Brown, David Haak, Emily Reed, Scott Salom, and Todd Schenk.