MSU ag faculty, staff and students honored for excellence

Carley Morrison, Randy Little, Coleman Etheredge, Daniel Petrolia, Mark Shankle, Raja Reddy, Tongyin Li, Michael Nattress, Andrew Nuss, Brad Burgess, Te-Ming Paul Tseng, Jason Walker, Mark Woodrey, Anne Cook, and Elsie Davis

Carley Morrison, Randy Little, Coleman Etheredge, Daniel Petrolia, Mark Shankle, Raja Reddy, Tongyin Li, Michael Nattress, Andrew Nuss, Brad Burgess, Te-Ming Paul Tseng, Jason Walker, Mark Woodrey, Anne Cook, and Elsie Davis (Photo By: Submitted)

By: Vanessa Beeson

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

George Hopper, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, recently announced the award winners.

"These individuals have demonstrated unfailing commitment to the university's land-grant mission dedicated to the betterment of all, whether right here in Mississippi or across the globe," Hopper said. "MAFES scientists secured over $38 million in extramural funding during the 2019 fiscal year, continuing to position MSU as a globally relevant research engine. CALS enrollment also increased 3 percent over the 2018-2019 academic year, as our faculty continue to help prepare tomorrow's leaders of agriculture and many other industries, from fashion to landscape architecture and more. Additionally, our service-leaders are tasked with communicating with industries and individuals in Mississippi and around the world to give them the tools they need to lead better, healthier lives."

Hopper noted that while ceremonies are a time-honored tradition recognizing excellence at MSU, an award is less about the ceremony and more about the work.

"I am pleased to announce the winners of the CALS/MAFES faculty and staff awards. I wish I could have congratulated each of our winners in person, however, circumstances preclude our getting together. Thank you all for what you do to support our units during this unprecedented time," Hopper said.

This year's honorees include:

Assistant Professor Carley Morrison, School of Human Sciences, CALS Teacher of the Year and New Faculty Award. As an assistant professor in agricultural education, leadership and communications, Morrison teaches nearly 30 sections across a dozen courses within an academic year. She engages students inside and outside the classroom, tasking them with experiential learning experiences that foster community engagement and more. She seeks university and community partners to provide unique opportunities in this area.

Professor Randy Little, Department of Agricultural Economics, CALS Excellence in Teaching Award, Upper Undergraduate Level. Little has taught in MSU's agricultural economics department for 30 years, serving as undergraduate coordinator for the past 14. He teaches six classes, one of which—quantitative economics—is considered a gateway course for all agricultural economics majors. Additionally, he teaches courses such as food and fiber and advanced farm management, considered fundamental classes by the current and future Mississippi farmers and industry professionals who have passed through the halls of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson as agricultural economics students at Mississippi State. Students since the 1990s, past and present pupils, note Little's mentorship as a significant contribution to their lives.

Assistant Professor Coleman Etheredge, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, CALS Excellence in Teaching Award, Lower Undergraduate Level. Since 2016, Etheredge, who teaches horticulture classes, has designed and taught a course focused on how horticulture impacts society. He has included community engaged learning in his coursework, taught honors sections and advanced classes and serves as co-advisor to floral management students and MSU's Student American Institute of Floral Design organization. Most recently, he received a Center for Teaching and Learning grant to build a terrarium in Dorman Hall to enhance learning.

Professor Daniel Petrolia, Department of Agricultural Economics, CALS Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate Level. Petrolia has spent almost 15 years at MSU helping establish the university as a leading institution in the field of resource and environmental economics. He has been major advisor to 11 graduate students and served on the committee of an additional 16. He's been a champion of MSU's environmental and resource economics program, helping develop the undergraduate major. After transitioning to focus on graduate instruction and research, Petrolia now teaches quantitative economics and welfare and environmental economics, imparting a passion for economics using a pedagogy that stimulates curiosity and learning.

Research Professor Mark Shankle, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi Land Bank-sponsored MAFES Excellence in Research Faculty Award. A MAFES scientist at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, Shankle is a veteran researcher focused on both specialty and row crops. He has published 52 refereed journal articles, 158 other scientific publications and 59 popular articles. He has helped lead Mississippi's certified seed program for production of sweet potato clean plant material available to certified seed growers to produce pure certified foundation seed and helped establish the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station as one of six clean plant centers in the U.S. His multistate research includes finding ways to mitigate risks and improve quality, yield and profit of sweet potatoes. As a row crop agronomist, he's studied soybeans for the last decade and is currently focused on research in sustainable dryland soybean production systems.

Raja Reddy, MAFES researcher and professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the MAFES Outstanding Publication Award. His article, "Soybean seed physiology, quality and chemical composition under soil moisture stress," was published in Food Chemistry.

Tongyin Li, MAFES researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the MAFES Most Impactful Publication Award. Her article, "Container production of southern highbush blueberries using high tunnels," was published in HortScience.

Michael Nattress of Ocean Springs, doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the MAFES Excellence in Research Award, Graduate Category. His research, under the direction of Professor Brian Baldwin, focuses on the strategic use of constructed wetlands to improve the quality of selenium-impacted runoff. This research addresses environmental regulations regarding discharge requirements of detained runoff to promote environmental stewardship.

Senior agronomy major concentrating in integrated crop management, Andrew Nuss, of Hartselle, Alabama, the MAFES Excellence in Research Award, Undergraduate Category. Nuss, under the direction of Assistant Professor Te-Ming Paul Tseng, is researching the allelopathic, or natural, properties in different sweet potato cultivars for weed suppressant traits with the goal of finding high yield sweet potato varieties that are biologically resistant to palmer amaranth. Nuss plans to continue after graduation in the same program working toward a master's degree.

Brad Burgess, director of research support and variety testing in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, MAFES Outstanding Research Staff Award. Burgess conducts the MAFES Official Variety Trials and MAFES Foundation Seed Stocks.

Te-Ming Paul Tseng, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Faculty Service Award. Tseng is heavily involved in service endeavors in the university as well as the broader scientific and general communities. At MSU, he serves as faculty coordinator for Day One Leadership Community; on the Radiation, Chemical and Laboratory Safety Committee; Honor Code Committee; and as the program coordinator for the environment and sustainability minor. In the scientific community, he is actively involved in several organizations including Weed Science Society of America, Mississippi Academy of Sciences, Southern Weed Science Society, Gamma Sigma Delta and the American Society of Agronomy. Additionally, he serves on the editorial boards for seven associations, and reviews grants for six external organizations including Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. At the community level, Tseng serves the MSU Child Development and Family Studies as a task force chair as well working with the Future Farmers of America in a leadership capacity.

Associate Professor Jason Walker, Department of Landscape Architecture, CALS/MAFES Diversity Award. As undergraduate coordinator for his department and an alderman for the city of Starkville, he champions diversity at the university level and for the larger community. In his role, he has helped increase the number of women and minorities choosing to study landscape architecture at MSU. In the community, he has worked to protect civil rights.

Mark Woodrey, MAFES scientist at the Coastal Research and Extension Center and professor in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture, MAFES Grantsmanship Award, which recognizes the scientist who garners the most in competitive extramural grant funds. Woodrey helped spearhead a massive four-year initiative to create the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network, or GoMAMN, to better understand the more than 500 bird species that frequent the Gulf Coast. He and collaborators also won a $3.9 million grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase understanding of how birds use the Gulf of Mexico, helping resource managers improve habitat for coastal species.

Anne Cook, assistant director, financial services, MAFES Administration, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Professional Staff Award. For more than 24 years, Cook has served as the assistant director of financial services in the Office of the Director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. In this role, she manages the fiscal operations of a large and diverse organization with more than 1,000 employees and annual expenditures exceeding $60 million.

Elsie Davis, business coordinator for the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station, CALS/MAFES Outstanding Support Staff Award.

The awards also include recognition of MAFES personnel for leadership in promoting outstanding facilities and grounds maintenance and overall image achievements at the 16 MAFES branch experiment stations throughout the state.

The MAFES Face and Image Awards include the following facilities:

Black Belt Branch Experiment Station, Brooksville; Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station, Newton; and Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, Pontotoc. Each earned Outstanding Facility and Grounds Maintenance and Overall Image.

Prairie Research Unit, Prairie earned the Most Improved Outstanding Facility and Grounds Maintenance and Overall Image.

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