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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Zoologist Wins Top Research Award / December 4, 1996 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Parasitologist Ronald Fayer.

Zoologist Wins Top Research Award

By Sandy Miller Hays
December 4, 1996

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4--Ronald Fayer of Ellicott City, Md., a U.S. Department of Agriculture zoologist and internationally recognized expert on parasites, has been named "Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 1996" by USDA's Agricultural Research Service. It is the top scientific honor given by the research agency.

Fayer is being honored for exceptional research and leadership in major advances in control of nationally important livestock diseases, particularly cryptosporidiosis, the disease caused by C. parvum, considered the most serious pathogen in drinking water in North America. Approximately 400,000 people in Milwaukee, Wis., became ill in early 1993 after the Milwaukee water supply was contaminated with C. parvum.

Fayer and other ARS scientists will be recognized in an awards ceremony Dec. 11 at the ARS Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center. Each winner will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding. Fayer works at the ARS Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory at Beltsville.

"Ron Fayer has achieved several firsts in parasitology that stand as landmark contributions," said Edward B. Knipling, acting ARS administrator. "For example, he was the first to test drugs in cell culture against coccidiosis, a parasitic disease in poultry that costs poultry producers approximately $600 million annually in lost production and medical expenses. As a result of in vitro techniques he developed, pharmaceutical companies worldwide now screen anticoccidial drugs using in vitro procedures.

"Dr. Fayer also has developed a collaborative research team that identified a natural compound called interleukin-12 as capable of inhibiting development of cryptosporidium in otherwise highly susceptible newborn mice. This groundbreaking discovery holds enormous potential for treatment of cryptosporidiosis, perhaps the most widespread parasitic infection of livestock and humans worldwide."

A native of New Jersey, Fayer has a bachelor's degree in biological science from the University of Alaska, and master's and doctoral degrees in zoology and parasitology from Utah State University. He joined ARS in 1968 and now works in the agency's Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory at Beltsville. In addition to his research activities, Fayer has made an instructive video on cryptosporidiosis that has been distributed to water authorities, universities, extension agents, public health officials and environmental groups worldwide.

Fayer is past president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, past president of the Helminthological Society of Washington, and a member of the American Society of Parasitologists. He also is a member of the Society of Protozoologists and is associate editor of that organization's journal. Fayer has written or co-written more than 200 scientific publications.

ARS also has named William S. Anthony, Carroll P. Vance and Martinus Th. Van Genuchten "Outstanding Senior Research Scientists of 1996." Anthony is at the agency's Cotton Ginning Research unit at Stoneville, Miss., Vance is at the Plant Science Research unit at St. Paul, Minn., and Van Genuchten works at the ARS-U.S. Salinity Laboratory's Soil Physics and Pesticide Research unit at Riverside, Calif.

Anthony is being honored for developing and transferring to the cotton industry new technology to standardize and control the cotton ginning process. Anthony's work has been credited with improving overall U.S. cotton quality as well as increasing cotton growers' profits. The award recognizes Anthony as the top senior scientist of the Mid-South Area, which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana Mississippi and Tennessee.

Vance is being cited for his outstanding research and leadership activities in better understanding of how plants interact with microbes in the soil, as well as plants' ability to "fix" nitrogen--transforming nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form they can use for growth--and nitrogen assimilation. Vance is being recognized as the top senior scientist in ARS' Midwest Area, which includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Van Genuchten is being honored for his research and leadership in description, mathematical simulation and experimental analysis of processes and properties that affect water flow and chemical transport in soils and groundwater. The award marks Van Genuchten as the top senior scientist in the agency's Pacific West Area encompassing Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Pina M. Fratamico has been named the ARS "Outstanding Early Career Scientist of 1996." The early career award is given to scientists who have been with the research agency less than 7 years and completed their highest academic degree within the past 10 years. Fratamico works in Microbial Food Safety Research at the agency's Eastern Regional Research Center at Wyndmoor, Penn. The award cites Fratamico's contributions to understanding the mode of action of the microbial food pathogen E. coli 0157:H7 and development of rapid tests to isolate and detect the pathogen.

The agency also named four "Area Senior Research Scientists of 1996." They are:

  • Harry B. Pionke of the ARS Pasture Systems-Watershed Management Research unit at University Park, Pa. Pionke is being honored for developing methods to identify sensitive areas in agricultural watershed where nitrogen and phosphorus applied as manure or fertilizer would seriously degrade groundwater quality. Pionke is the senior winner in the agency's North Atlantic Area, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode island, Vermont and West Virginia.
  • Dale F. Heermann at the Water Management Research unit at Fort Collins, Co. Heermann's award is for pioneering research in agricultural center-pivot irrigation design, evaluation and management to conserve water, reduce labor, improve agricultural production, reduce energy consumption and protect the environment. Heerman is the top senior scientist for the agency's Northern Plains Area, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
  • Prem S. Chourey, based at ARS' Crop Genetics and Environmental Research unit in Gainesville, Fla. Chourey is being honored for developing fundamental new insights into how photosynthesized sucrose is metabolized in plants. These findings provide opportunities for specific cellular and molecular manipulations in the plants to increase crop productivity. Chourey is the top senior scientist for the agency's South Atlantic Area, which includes Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the Virgin Islands.
  • John J. Burke of the ARS Cropping Systems Research Lab, Lubbock, Texas. Burke's award is for his research accomplishments in crop stress physiology. The Southern Plains Area includes Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

Seven "Area Early Career Scientists" also are being honored by ARS. They are:

  • Hamed K. Abbas, Mid South Area, Weed Science Research, Southern Weed Science Laboratory, Stoneville, Miss. Abbas' award is for outstanding research on microbes and microbial toxins with potential for improved and safer weed management.
  • Brian J. Wienhold, Northern Plains Area, Natural Resource Management Research, Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, Mandan, N.D. Wienhold's award is for achievements pertaining to the effect of agricultural management practices on plants' utilization of fertilizer and the environmental fate of agricultural chemicals.
  • Rodrick D. Lentz, Pacific West Area, Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research, Kimberly, Idaho. Lentz is being honored for excellence in planning and conducting research that has led to a solution for soil erosion on furrow-irrigated agriculture and assured its acceptance by growers.
  • David E. Swayne, South Atlantic Area, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, Ga. Swayne is being honored for basic and applied research that has significantly advanced the understanding of the pathobiology and pathogenesis of avian influenza, positively influencing the ability to implement controls against the poultry disease.
  • Krista C. Shellie, Southern Plains Area, Crop Quality and Fruit Insects Research, Subtropical Agricultural Research Laboratory, Weslaco, Texas. Shellie is being recognized for outstanding individual and team research in developing methods to evaluate quality of tropical and subtropical fruits that have been subjected to quarantine treatment. She also is being recognized for developing basic research programs in melon ripening and postharvest quality.

Contact: Edward B. Knipling, Acting ARS Administrator, Washington, DC., phone (202) 720-3656.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014