CASNR faculty bring home major university awards, honors
By: Norman Martin
As the spring semester winds down, officials with Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are taking a moment this month to highlight several of its faculty members for their achievements and contributions to the university in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship, and engaged outreach and service.
“These faculty members represent a remarkable record of achievement,” said Cindy Akers, associate dean for academic and student programs in Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “They make the college better by their presence.”
Among those CASNR faculty who have been recently recognized are:
Noureddine Abidi – President's Excellence in Commercialization Award. Abidi, is the Leidigh Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science and Director of the Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute. He is a polymer chemist whose research focuses on the physical and chemical characteristics of biopolymers and their functionalization and transformation, which leads to practical, advanced applications. One of those applications involves chemical functionalization to impart potential antimicrobial properties. Abidi holds a doctorate in theoretical, physical and analytical chemistry from the University of Montpellier II in France.
Heidi Brady – President's Excellence in Teaching Award (CASNR). Brady is a professor of Equine Behavior, Reproductive Physiology and Therapeutic Riding in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. Brady, who joined the Texas Tech faculty in 1995, is a Diplomate with the American College of Animal Physiology in the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists; and is a certified therapeutic riding instructor within the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International organization. She received a NARRU Distinguished Educator Award in 2018.
Whitney Crossland – Texas Tech Alumni Association New Faculty Award (CASNR). Crossland is an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. An expert in animal health and nutritional systems, she joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2018. The Denton native's research broadly focuses on investigating nutritional management strategies which optimize the use of current feed technology as well as characterize alternative feed additives to identify practical implementation in beef cattle diets at different stages of production.
Kerry Griffis-Kyle & Vikram Baliga – Teaching Academy & TLPDC Diamond Award (Teaching). Griffis-Kyle is an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management, and Baliga, a lecturer with Department of Plant and Soil Science. Program officials noted that their innovative teaching provided a transformational learning experience for their students during a pandemic, and made a huge difference by showing compassion and dedication to students, while sharing her expertise and being a positive example. Their teaching eased the stress on students as shown by their attitude of ‘going the extra mile' as they helped students learn in new ways.
Jerrad Legako – Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award. Jerrad Legako is an associate professor of meat science in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. His research and teaching specialization is in the area of meat science, and his research program primarily focuses upon pre- and post-harvest factors which influence beef quality. Legako's program is differentiated from others based on his usage of analytical chemistry to explore beef flavor character and beef flavor development. He received the AMSA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2019.
Courtney Meyers – President's Academic Achievement Award. Meyers is a professor and graduate studies coordinator with the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. Meyers, who joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2008, has co-authored award-winning research papers and posters including outstanding research article in the Journal of Applied Communications. She received a Fulbright Scholar Award (2020); Texas Tech's Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award (2018); and was recognized as an American Association for Agricultural Education Fellow (2020).
John Rayfield – Texas Tech 2021 Integrated Scholar. Rayfield is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. His teaching and research interests are in the field of experiential learning where he teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on experiential learning practice and theory. He has authored or co-authored 32 refereed journal articles in lead journals in career and technical education and agricultural education. He received the Outstanding Journal Article (2019) from the American Association for Agricultural Education's Journal of Agricultural Education.
Benildo De los Reyes – Texas Tech Outstanding Researcher Award. Reyes is a professor of plant genomics, Bayer CropScience Chair and associate chair of graduate programs in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. His research focuses on investigating the mechanisms built upon the power of regulon restructuring, regulatory RNAs, and DNA methylation to understand the intricate processes by which novel gene expression patterns mediate transgression from parental phenotypes. Reyes' research on rice is being translated to other major crops of economic importance including cotton and sorghum.
Courtney Gibson, Erica Irlbeck, Courtney Meyers & Lindsay Kennedy – President's Exemplary Program Award. Courtney Meyers, professor; Erica Irlbeck, professor; Courtney Gibson, assistant professor; and Lindsay Kennedy, assistant professor of practice; with the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications won the honor for their project, "The ACOM Block: An Innovative Course Structure to Engage Students with Industry." The innovative block format combined two existing courses dedicated to publication production and campaign development with two new courses that focused on advanced design and media convergence to replicate a real-world communications work environment.
Courtney Meyers & Moriah Beyers, (2020) President's Excellence in Academic Advising Awards. Meyers, a professor and graduate studies coordinator with Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, said her advising philosophy is simple but encompassing: Respect individual students' plans and struggles, while providing advice that will help them reach their goals and succeed in school and life. Beyers, a competition field advisor and co-advisor for student organizations within Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, noted that her passion is to bring the best students to Texas Tech, while providing them with a positive educational experience and equipping each to be successful in whatever career they pursue following graduation.
Separately, an Emeritus Faculty Certificate was presented to three outstanding CASNR leaders. After more than three decades as an internationally-recognized leader in improving farm level decision-making, Professor Eduardo Segarra retired in December 2020. Segarra, who joined the Tech faculty in 1987, served as chairman of the department from 2005 to 2013. Mark Wallace, a leader in wildlife/habitat management and administrator in the Department of Natural Resources Management, retired in December after nearly two and a half decades at Tech. Wallace served as chair of the department from 2011 to 2019. Chuck West, who retired in December as the Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Science and director of the CASNR Water Center. He joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2012.
CASNR also has two current Paul Whitfield Horn Professors, Eric Hequet (2016), an internationally-recognized leader in cotton fiber research and a professor in the university's Department of Plant and Soil Science, and Texas Tech Provost Michael Galyean (2006), who formerly served as CASNR Dean. 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.
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
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Editor: Norman Martin
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