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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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The PA is pleased to recognize the many accomplishments of our dedicated researchers and support staff. Our researchers are key contributors to many of the foremost scientific discoveries impacting American agriculture and the nation’s food supply and their contributions are being recognized both within and outside ARS. In addition, our very capable administrative and support staff have earned recognition for their “behind the scenes” roles as well.

On this page:

Please also see our Outside Awards page, listing our many PA employees whose contributions have been recognized by organizations outside of ARS.

PA Mentors of the Year - 2007

James Throne
Dr. James Throne

Dr. Jack Morgan
Dr. Jack Morgan

Dr. James Throne and Dr. Jack Morgan have been selected as Mentors of the Year for their exceptional levels of dedication and personal attention given to their assigned protégés.  Dr. Throne was nominated by his protégé, Dr. Jamie Strange, and Dr. Morgan was nominated by his protégé, Dr. Rebecca Phillips. 

Dr. Phillips characterized Dr. Morgan as the type of high-level scientist she hopes to one day become. Dr. Phillips further noted that Dr. Morgan has been open-minded, supportive, and has helped her consider potential research directions and impacts. Dr. Jamie Strange stated that Dr. Throne’s patience, insight, and advice have been invaluable, and that Dr. Throne has given him sound advice and practical suggestions.

Pease join me in congratulating Dr. Morgan and Dr. Throne. The mentoring component of the Newly Appointed Scientists Professional Development Program is designed to help ensure that new scientists have the tools they need to establish their research agendas and generally successfully transition to ARS. 

Past winners:
2006 - PA Mentors of the Year

 Bill Kemp
Dr. Bill Kemp

 Dr. Jon Hanson
Dr. Jon Hanson

 Dr. Jim Schepers
Dr. Jim Schepers

Dr. Bill Kemp was the recipient of the 2006 PA Distinguished Mentor of the Year, and Dr. Jon Hanson and Dr. Jim Schepers were each recognized as an PA Mentor of the Year.

Detailed information on the Newly Appointed Scientists Professional Development Program can be found here: 

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2012 PA Awards of Excellence

The PA Awards of Excellence are presented biannually to recognize outstanding achievements which have contributed significantly to the mission of the PA and the Agricultural Research Service. Our most recent winners include:

Scientific Support
David Smith, Biological Science Lab Technician
Crops Research Laboratory, Fort Collins, Colorado

For outstanding leadership and expertise in developing and implementing data collection and field environmental control systems for the Rangeland Resources Research Unit.

Past winners:
2010 - Dan Lecain, Fort Collins, CO 
2008 - William Iversen, Sidney, MT
2006 - Elizabeth Bonifacio-Maghirang, Manhattan, KS
2004 – Melanie Nyquist, Fargo, ND
2002 – Debbie Edmunds, Fort Collins, CO
2001 – Terry Cassity, Manhattan, KS

Office Professional
Amber Whittaker, Secretary
Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah

For excellence in organizational achievement, skill advancement, cost-savings and consistent flow of administrative operations while displaying a positive and professional attitude.

Past winners:
2010 - Louise Dalton, Fort Collins, CO
2008 - Joan Rosch, Clay Center, NE
2006 - Jill Miller, Sidney, MT
2004 – Linda Kelly, Clay Center, NE
2002 – Alicia Meyers, Fargo, ND
2001 – Jan Preston, Lincoln, NE

Information Technology
Hank Davis, IT Specialist
Heather Gossel, IT Specialist
Nadene Grow, IT Specialist
Western Business Service Center, Fort Collins, Colorado

For exceptional IT support in the Northern Plains Area.

Past winners:
2010 - Joseph Duchene, Fort Collins, CO
2008 - Jeff Anderes, Manhattan, KS
2006 - Terry Kuntz, Grand Forks, ND
2004 – Heather Gossel, Fort Collins, CO
2002 – Bill Dailey, Fort Collins, CO
          Kevin Dahl, Sidney, MT

Administrative Management Support
Isela Losek, Program Support Assistant
Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota

For outstanding contributions for the administrative management support of the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center.

Kimberly Plummer, Financial Technician
Center for Grain and Animal Health Research, Manhattan, Kansas

For recognition of outstanding achievement as a Financial Technician at the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research.

Past winners:
2010 - Lisa Baete, Fort Collins, CO
          Linda Parnell, Clay Center, NE
          Kimberly Swanson, Fargo, ND
          Connie Wooten, Fargo, ND
2008 - Kathie Peterson, Cheyenne and Laramie, WY
2006 - Lisa Mullenax, Lincoln, NE
2004 - Sue Sorum, Grand Forks, ND
2002 – Melanie Nyquist, Fargo, ND
2001 – Phil Dailey, Miles City, MT

Safety, Health, and Environmental
Larry Renner, Electronics Technician
Becky Wald, Biological Science Lab Technician
Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, Mandan, North Dakota

For outstanding sustained effort to foster and protect employee health through implementation of safe and conservation-oriented practices at the Northern Great Plains Research laboratory.

Past winners:
2010 - James Adrianos, Manhattan, KS
2008 - JoAnne Gresens, Manhattan, KS
2006 - Patricia Bartling, Fort Collins, CO
2004 – Eugene Life, Miles City, MT
2002 – David Allard, Grand Forks, ND
2001 – Jackie Couture, Sidney, MT


Past winners:
2010 - NPA Diversity Taskforce
          Diona Austill, Miles City, MT 
          Dana Blumenthal, Fort Collins, CO
          Francisco Calderon, Akron, CO
          Eduardo Casas, Clay Center, NE
          Carol Chitko-McKown, Clay Center, NE 
          Kevin Dahl, Sidney, MT
          Dave Dierig, Fort Collins, CO
          John Gaskin, Sidney, MT
          Heather Gossel, Fort Collins, CO
          JoAnne Gresens, Manhattan, KS
          Holly Johnson, Mandan, ND
          Bill Kemp, Fargo, ND
          Barbara King, Fort Collins, CO
          Kristine Nichols, Mandan
          Mark Petersen, Miles City, MT
          Theresa Pitts-Singer, Logan, UT
          Beth Redlin, Sidney, MT
          Kurt Rosentrater, Brookings, SD
          Gautam Sarath, Lincoln, NE 
          Dave Schneider, Brookings, SD
          Sue Sorum, Grand Forks, ND
          Kathi White, Fort Collins, CO
2006 - Larry Charlet, Fargo, ND
2002 – James Penland, Grand Forks, ND

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PA Senior Research Scientist of the Year

PA Senior Research Scientist - 2012
Dr. Tommy Wheeler, Research Leader and Food Technologist - Clay Center, Nebraska

For outstanding research contributions enabling the livestock and red meat industries to improve the quality and safety of meat.

Dr. Wheeler joined the US Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska, in 1989 and has established a world-renowned research program investigating meat quality and food safety. His work is widely cited and has been published in top-ranked journals. Dr. Wheeler has concentrated his research on high priority industry needs related to the development of genetic and postmortem strategies to optimize carcass yield and meat quality and to the elimination of pathogen contamination in beef. He and colleagues developed a new meat tenderness prediction system called slice shear force and used it to develop the first accurate beef tenderness classification system. He has worked with industry partners to develop an image analysis system and further refine it into an on-line objective system for measuring beef carcass yield grade and marbling score. This technology is being utilized by virtually all of the major beef processing plants. The contribution his problem solving research has made was recognized by the American Meat Science Association with the 2012 Signal Service Award.

Past Winners:
2011 - Kevin Jensen, Logan, UT
2010 - Robert Graybosch, Lincoln, NE
2009 – Jack Morgan, Cheyenne, WY
2008 – Timothy Smith, Clay Center, NE
2007 – Richard Beeman, Manhattan, KS
2006 – Jeff Peterson, Lincoln, NE
2005 – Ronald Follett, Fort Collins, CO
2004 – James Schepers, Lincoln, NE
2003 – Lajpat Ahuja, Fort Collins, CO

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PA Early Career Research Scientist of the Year

PA Early Career Research Scientist - 2012
Dr. Kevin Welch, Research Toxicologist - Logan, Utah

For novel scientific investigations into the toxicology of mixtures of multiple plant toxins, and teamwork with other members of the research unit and with collaborators.

Dr. Kevin Welch joined the Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah, in 2005 and he has established an exceptionally productive and creative research program. His work has clarified the role of several specific alkaloids in the poisonous plant Larkspur, a plant that causes livestock producers millions of dollars annually. Also, in response to a request from the cattle industry, he investigated and demonstrated that western juniper needles, bark and berries can produce abortions in cattle similar to the effect of Ponderosa pine needles. His work is published in top-ranked journals and is widely cited.

Past Winners:
2011 - Daniel Cook, Logan, Utah
2010 - Jonathan Lundgren, Brookings, SD
2009 – Dana Blumenthal, Cheyenne, WY
2008 – Scott Bean, Manhattan, KS
2007 – Mark Liebig, Mandan, ND
2006 – Justin Derner, Cheyenne, WY
2005 – Justin Faris, Fargo, ND
2004 – James Campbell, Manhattan, KS
2003 – Eduardo Casas, Clay Center, NE

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PA Technology Transfer Awards

2012 PA Technology Transfer Awards

2012 ARS Outstanding Sustained Effort Technology Transfer Award
“Soil water sensing and measurement technology and tools for environmental and water management.”

  • Dr. Robert C. Schwartz
  • Dr. Lee K. Heng
  • Dr. Minh-Long Nguyen
  • Dr. Joaquin J. Casanova
  • Dr. Robert J. Lascano
  • Dr. Timothy R. Green
  • Dr. Mark S. Seyfried
  • Dr. Sally D. Logsdon
  • Dr. Mathew G. Pelletier

2012 ARS Superior Technology Transfer Award
“Advanced in tools to manage nitrogen.”
Jorge Delgado

Past Winners:

2007 - Outstanding Efforts - Post-Harvest Food Safety Group (Terry Arthur, Joseph Bosilevac, Mohammad Koohmaraie, Steven Shackelford, & Tommy Wheeler)

2006 - Superior Efforts - RZWQM2 Team (Lajpat Ahuja, Liwang Ma, Robert Malone, Ken Rojas, Saseendran Anapalli, James Ascough, and Tim Green- Fort Collins, CO)

2005 - Superior Efforts - NIR Spectroscopy Automated Sorting Team (Floyd Dowell, Tom Pearson, Daniel Brabec, Elizabeth Mahgirang, Robert Rousser & Duane Walter –Manhattan, KS)

2004 – Administrator’s Award (Will Laegreid, Mike Heaton & Mike Clawson - Clay Center, NE)

2004 - Superior Efforts - Beef Classification Group (Steven Shackelford, Tommy Wheeler, Mohammad Koohmaraie - Clay Center, NE)

2003 - Superior Efforts - Jerry Miller, Fargo, ND

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OSQR Project Plan No Revision Awards

No Revision AwardCongratulations to the following recipients of the PA “No Revision” Award for the peer review of their project plans.

Water Management Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO
December 30, 2011  - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Management Strategies to Sustain Irrigated Agriculture with Limited Water Supplies.

  • Dale Shaner
  • Tom Trout
  • Walter Bausch
  • Louise Comas
  • Kendall DeJonge
  • Mary Brodahl

Past Winners:

7/13/2011 - Weed Biology Research Unit, Fargo, ND - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Novel Weed Management Solutions: A Basis in Understanding Bud and Seed Dormancy (Michael E. Foley, James V. Anderson, Wun S. Chao, David P. Horvath).

1/14/2011 - Grand Forks Human Nutrition Center, Grand Forks, ND - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance (Leah Whigham, Lisa Jahns, Susan Raatz).

11/19/2007 - Poisonous Plant Research Unit, Logan, UT - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Toxicity of Pyrrolizide Alkaloid-Containing Plants and Other Hepatotoxic and Neurotoxic Plants (Kip Panter, Bryan Stegelmeier, Lynn James, Thomas Davis, Dale Gardner, Stephen Lee, Kevin Welch, Terrie Wierenga, Chris Spall, Pat Bradfield).

3/4/2008 - Sunflower Research Unit, Fargo, ND - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Sunflower Germplasm Diversification and Characterization Utilizing Wild Sunflower Species, Cytogenetics, and Applied Genomics (Brady Vick, Jinguo Hu, Chao-Chien Jan, Gerald Seiler, Brenda Fradet).

3/4/2008 - Sunflower Research Unit, Fargo, ND - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan: Sunflower Germplasm Development for Improved Insect and Disease Resistance (Brady Vick, Thomas Gulya, Laurence Charlet)

2/7/2008 - Plant & Animal Genetic Resources Preservation Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO - For the “No Revision” score on their Project Plan:  Research to Develop Strategies and Technologies for Preserving Plant Genetic Diversity in ex situ Genebanks (Christina Walters, Gayle Volk, Chris Richards)

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AFM Support Awards for Excellence

Jim Bradley, Deputy Administrator, Administrative and Financial Management, announces the winners of the AFM Support Awards for Excellence. Recipients are recognized at the ARS Annual Recognition Program in Washington, DC. Congratulations to our winners from the NPA!

AFM Support Awards for Excellence – 2011

ABADRU Relocation Team
Gold Award for Excellence

  • James Adrianos - Manhattan, KS
  • Lisa Baete - Fort Collins, CO
  • Marcie Currie-Gross - Fort Collins, CO
  • Bonnie King - Fort Collins, CO
  • Kimberly Plummer - Manhattan, KS
  • Jim Quaratino - Fort Collins, CO
  • Kathi White - Fort Collins, CO
  • Mike Wiggett - Fort Collins, CO
  • Jim Wiltse - Fort Collins, CO
  • Elisa Dawdy - Fort Collins, CO
  • JoAnne Gresens - Manhattan, KS

Past PA Winners:

2008 - Silver Award - Jan Jones, Fort Collins, CO
2006 - Bronze Award - Jackie Couture, Sidney, MT
2005 - Bronze Award - Benny Wong, Fort Collins, CO

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ARS Science Hall of Fame Program Winners - PA

Visit the ARS Science Hall of Fame site to view video clips
from interviews with ARS Science Hall of Fame recipients. 


2011 - Ronald F. Follett - Fort Collins, CO
Ronald FollettRonald Follett is recognized for research leading to vast improvements in agricultural practices that enhance the quality of soil, water and air. Widely recognized for his work on managing nitrogen for groundwater quality, Follett organized a team responding to then president George h. w. bush's water quality imitative. He also published an internationally used computer model on nitrogen leaching. He pioneered recognition of "soil organic carbon" (SOC) as an offset to greenhouse gas emissions and is widely recognized for his work on nitrogen. Since 2005, follett has led the ARS GRACEnet (Greenhouse gas reduction through agriculture carbon enhancement network) research effort, working with over 70 scientists from 32 ARS locations around the United states. The group has published 160 scientific papers so far. Along with other research, the network is developing a nationwide database of information from field studies for development of models that address the role of U.S. agriculture on greenhouse emissions and global climate change, as well as the potential of improved soil and crop management systems to affect these factors. Follett received the No-Till Innovator Award at the No-Till Farmer's 2007 Annual Meeting, the Soil Science Society of America's Soil Science Research Award and the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society. He is a fellow of th Soil Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. USDA has recognized Follett with the Distinguished Service Award and Superior Service Award, as well as ARS' Senior Research Scientist of the Year Award. In addition, he was honored with the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional.

2010 - Dr. Dale Van Vleck (retired) - Clay Center, NE
Dr. Dale Van VleckDr. Dale Van Vleck, retired Research Geneticist with the Genetics & Breeding Research Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (US MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, was inducted into the ARS Science Hall of Fame in September 2010. Van Vleck is being honored for "developing science-based theory and techniques for worldwide genetic improvement of farm animals, including beef and dairy cattle, pigs, and sheep," said Knipling. "The easy-to-use software that Van Vleck and colleagues created for evaluating inheritance of economically valuable traits in livestock benefits producers and consumers around the globe. The software allows faster, more complex statistical analyses of more genetic data--from more animals--than was previously possible."

Van Vleck joined ARS in 1988 after retiring from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.  He retired from the ARS Roman J. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., in 2007.

2004 - Dr. Keith E. Gregory (retired) - Clay Center, NE
For recognition of outstanding research contributions in genetics and breeding of beef cattle and for leadership of research programs with the Agricultural Research Service.

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Excellence in Information Award

2012 ARS Excellence in Information Award

The Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM) Team
Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)

  • Gary Rich, OCIO
  • David James, Pacific West Area
  • Janet “Kim” Kaplan, Information Staff
  • Jody Shuart, Information Staff
  • Bruce Vandenburg, Northern Plains Area

“For exemplary service and creativity in developing and delivering the innovative
2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to a highly diverse clientele through digital GIS technology.”

Past PA Winners:
2010 - Andrew Meerdo - Logan, UT
2007 - Bethany Redlin - Sidney, MT
2004 - Bethany Redlin - Sidney, MT

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T.W. Edminster Research Associate Award

T.W. Edminster Research Associate Award – 2005

Justin Faris - Fargo, ND
For the outstanding proposal “Function of the Wheat Agronomic SuperGene Q.”

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USDA Secretary’s Honor Awards

USDA Secretary’s Honor Award – 2004

Team Leafy Spurge - Sidney, MT (Gerry Anderson, Beth Redlin, Jill Miller, Lloyd Wendell, Bob Richard & Chad Prosser)
For the development and implementation of biologically-based, integrated leafy spurge management systems across the United States and Canada that preserve natural resources, control noxious weeds, and protect our environment.

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Last Modified: 5/18/2015