CASNR faculty honored for excellence in teaching, research at Convocation
By: Norman Martin
Six standout faculty members from Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources received awards for their quality teaching and research during the university's annual Faculty Honors Convocation on Tuesday (Apr. 18) in the Red Raider Ballroom of Tech's Student Union Building.
Convocation is a way to recognize faculty members who have demonstrated distinction in teaching, research and service, said Steven Fraze, interim dean of Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Among the CASNR award winners this year are:
• President's Excellence in Teaching Award (CASNR). Robert Cox is an associate professor in Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management. Cox
has centered his efforts on community and restoration ecology, distribution and conservation
of rare and endemic plant species, and ecology of invasive species. His research has
focused on large-scale restoration experiments with practical applications, as well
as landscape-scale factors contributing to the decline and loss of native plant communities
and rare, endemic species. A native of Utah, he received his bachelor's degree in
conservation biology and his master's degree in botany from Brigham Young University.
His doctorate in ecology and conservation biology is from the University of California-Riverside.
• Texas Tech Alumni Association New Faculty Award (CASNR). Venugopal Mendu, a research scientist who specializes in plant physiology and biochemistry, is an assistant professor in Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. He is particularly interested in plant cell wall biology. One of his goals has been to identify and characterize the genes involved in the plant cell wall biosynthesis using model plant Arabidopsis and apply for the cotton fiber improvement. Mendu received his bachelor's degree in agriculture and master's degree in genetics and plant breeding from ANGR Agricultural University-India. His doctorate in plant physiology/biochemistry/molecular biology is from the University of Kentucky.
• Texas Tech Parents Association Barnie E. Rushing Jr. Faculty Outstanding Researcher Award (CASNR). Jyotsna Sharma, a plant ecologist and conservationist, is an associate professor in Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. She is interested in understanding the ecological factors influencing the growth, distribution, and diversity of plants and how these factors are influenced by, or in turn influence, mycorrhizal fungi. Sharma received her bachelor's degree in horticulture and business from the University of Arkansas- Fayetteville. She conducted graduate research in the field of plant ecology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and continued her research training at Iowa State University as a postdoctoral research associate.
During the ceremony an Emeritus Faculty Certificate was presented to longtime Department of Landscape Architecture leader Alon Kvashny. Emeritus appointments are honorary and are given at retirement and are intended to recognize long and faithful service, or distinguished service to the university. Kvashny, who joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2000, served as department chairman for 13 years.
Separately, Michael Farmer, an associate professor in both the Department of Natural Resources Management and Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; Cynthia McKenney, the university's Rockwell Professor in Horticulture in the Department of Plant and Soil Science; and Michael Ballou, an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and CASNR's Associate Dean for Research, were honored during the afternoon ceremony. Farmer, a natural resource economist who works on issues of long run land use change, was presented a Texas Tech Parents Association Faculty Distinguished Leadership Award. McKenney, who received a Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award (CASNR), is a nationally-recognized professor of ornamental horticulture. Ballou, who received a Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award (CASNR), is an expert in nutrition and immunology.
Tech convocation officials also recognized the university's Paul Whitfield Horn Professors, which include Michael Galyean, former CASNR Dean and Texas Tech provost and senior vice president, and Eric Hequet, an internationally-recognized leader in cotton fiber research and the current chairman of the university's Department of Plant and Soil Science. Horn professorships are the highest honor a faculty member can receive from the university. The award is named for Texas Tech's first president, Paul Whitfield Horn. Of the 86 members recognized as Horn Professors, 32 are still on the faculty.
CONTACT: Steven Fraze, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com