The award honors accomplishments by scientists who have earned their highest academic degree within the past 10 years and have been a full-time ARS employee for seven years or less. Papiernik received a plaque and cash award at U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters here today, and will be given additional research funding. ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.
Papiernik, based at the North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, Morris, Minn., joined ARS in 1997. She conducted pesticide research for six years at the George E. Brown Jr. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, Calif. She transferred to the Morris laboratory in 2003.
"Dr. Papiernik is being honored today for outstanding originality and insight in developing new methods and advanced knowledge of the fate and transport of pesticides in the environment," ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling said. "She is a recognized authority on the actions of organic pesticides in soil and water."
Abdullah Jaradat, research leader at the Morris lab, said Papiernik will continue her research on pesticides, while taking on additional research on soil erosion and the effects of tillage on soil and water quality.
Papiernik has developed innovative techniques to investigate pesticides in soil and water. Among other things, this had led to the first detailed information on the fate and transport of low concentrations of herbicides in groundwater. Her research also produced one of the first assessments of the effects of soil fumigation on soil microbes. Papiernik has since provided important information on the fate and transport of propargyl bromide, which is a possible substitute for methyl bromide, a widely used fumigant that is being phased out.
"Dr. Papiernik's research has been critical for maintaining soil fumigations as a viable option in American agriculture," Jaradat said.
Papiernik has been one of the principal investigators on competitive research grants totaling $500,000 and on a $30,000 interagency agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Papiernik earned her B.A. in 1991 from the University of Minnesota-Morris and a Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She earned a USDA certificate of merit for outstanding research in 2001.