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Annual award ceremony honors MSU ag faculty, staff and students

by: Vanessa Beeson

Annual award ceremony honors MSU ag faculty, staff and students

Nearly two dozen Mississippi State faculty, staff and students are being honored with major awards in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

During a recent campus ceremony, George Hopper, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, discussed how awardees dedicate themselves to the university's land-grant mission to make a difference in the lives of not only Mississippians, but others around the globe.

"MAFES scientists secured more than $30 million in extramural funding this year, helping to further the leading-edge research that impacts Mississippi producers as well as producers around the globe," Hopper said. "Additionally, as our faculty train future leaders, CALS enrollment continues to climb, positioning us as one of the university’s fastest growing colleges with new majors being added. Our service-leaders work hand-in-hand with Mississippians to improve overall quality of life from the farm to the family table."

This year's honorees include:

  • Associate Professor Taze Fulford, Department of Landscape Architecture, CALS Teacher of the Year and Excellence in Teaching Award, Lower Undergraduate Level. Fulford teaches freshman presentation methods and landscape studio courses, and often uses novel service-learning methods in his courses. Colleagues and students alike note how Fulford pushes students to approach landscape architecture in a creative, comprehensive manner.
  • Associate Professor Julie Parker, School of Human Sciences, CALS Excellence in Teaching Award, Upper Undergraduate Level. Parker is an expert on regulations of the Mississippi departments of Health and Education regarding early childhood teaching and licensure, and as a certified Child Life Specialist, she is the only faculty member who may teach certain courses to students in the Child Life concentration.
  • Assistant Professor Xiaofei Li, Department of Agricultural Economics, CALS Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate Level. Li has brought a new dimension to MSU’s agricultural economics coursework through his expertise in precision agriculture concepts and data analytics. Colleagues note how well Li’s instruction prepares students with a higher level of understanding of important theoretical economic concepts and their applications, which in turn helps them excel in other classes.
  • Assistant Professor Carla Jagger, School of Human Sciences, New Faculty Award. In three years, Jagger has taught five different courses in agricultural education, leadership and communications over multiple semesters. Jagger demonstrates teaching methodologies and is known to colleagues as being ever cognizant of how her teaching style reflects the material being delivered and the model she sets as a teacher herself.
  • Caleb Lemley, MAFES researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Mississippi Land Bank-sponsored MAFES Excellence in Research Faculty Award. In six years, Lemley has published 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, two book chapters, eight conference proceedings, and 103 other scientific publications. He has mentored nine doctoral students, 13 master's students and 15 undergraduate research scholars. Lemley has been awarded more than $4.4 million in extramural grants and was recognized as the 2017 Southern Section of the American Society of Animal Sciences, Young Research Scientist of the Year.
  • Thu Dinh, MAFES researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, the MAFES Outstanding Publication Award. His article, "Effects of USDA quality grade and cooking on water-soluble precursors of beef flavor," was published in Meat Science.
  • Wes Schilling, MAFES researcher and professor in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, the MAFES Most Impactful Publication Award. His article, "Meat quality traits and proteome profile of woody broiler breast (pectoralis major) meat," was published in Poultry Science.
  • Bhupinder Singh of Leland, doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the MAFES Excellence in Research Award, Graduate Category. Singh played a leading role in developing and implementing screening tools for cold and heat tolerance in cotton and rice, which could allow producers to optimize variety selection and identify the cultivars best suited to spring temperatures. He authored or co-authored six publications in peer-reviewed international journals, two book chapters, and 16 other scientific publications.
  • Senior biochemistry and microbiology double major Austin Drury of Mooreville, the MAFES Excellence in Research Award, Undergraduate Category. Drury is in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program under the direction of Jonas King. His research has focused on the transcriptomics of the Asian Tiger mosquito and the bedbug. Drury has presented his findings at three regional, one national, and one international professional conference and has published one scientific journal article.
  • Research Associate Ryan Whitehouse, MAFES Outstanding Research Staff Award in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. He curates the Mississippi Entomological Museum, oversees the Digital Biodiversity Collections project, and supports field research projects. He has published three peer-reviewed journal articles and 24 other publications.
  • Darrell Sparks, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Faculty Service Award. As his department's undergraduate coordinator, Sparks manages faculty advisement for more than 440 undergraduates. He’s involved in several departmental, university, and professional association committees including the department's Scholarship Committee, MSU Academic Review Board, University Committee on Courses and Curricula, and several committees within the American Oil Chemists Society. He is faculty adviser of both the Vietnamese Student Association and the MSU Chapter of Volunteers Around the World.
  • The Community Health Internship Inaugural Leadership Team and Participants, CALS/MAFES Diversity Award. The team includes David Buys, assistant professor; Ann Sansing, extension instructor; Jasmine Harris-Speight, extension associate; all in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion along with biochemistry senior Reagan Moak of Brandon and senior human development and family sciences senior Je'Kylynn Steen of Memphis. The team developed the MSU Community Health Internship, a ground-breaking mechanism for engaging students in work related to the development and promotion of health education outreach programs that seek to improve the lives of youth and adults in traditionally underserved communities and schools. Since launching their Junior Master Wellness Volunteer program, they have trained 462 students, primarily in rural underserved communities.
  • Garrett Street, MAFES and Forest and Wildlife Research Center scientist and assistant professor in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture, MAFES Grantsmanship Award, which recognizes the scientist who garners the most in competitive extramural grant funds. Street earned a single extramural award of $500,000 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a project entitled, "'Thinking Like a Mountain' to Improve Animal Production Systems: Ecology, Energy Budgets and Mechanistic Models."
  • Kenner Patton, communications coordinator for the Delta Research and Extension Center, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Professional Staff Award.
  • Kimberly Young, business coordinator for the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Support Staff Award.

Dated: 5/1/2019