WASHINGTON, Sept. 13Advances in remote sensing used to manage crops, technologies to preserve livestock semen and develop transgenic animals, and development of innovative grass varieties for use as forage and turf are among the accomplishments that have led to the naming of three Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists to the agency's Science Hall of Fame. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.
The inductees are physicist Ray D. Jackson, animal physiologist Vernon G. Pursel and plant geneticist Wayne W. Hanna. They are scheduled to receive plaques commemorating their achievements during a ceremony tonight at the U.S. National Arboretum here.
"Each one of these scientists has made significant contributions to scientific research. Their accomplishments also have improved the efficiency of agricultural production," said Gale A. Buchanan, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "Clearly, they have earned their places in the ARS Science Hall of Fame.
Since 1986, the Science Hall of Fame program has recognized outstanding ARS researchers for their career achievements. Those inducted are nominated by their peers for making major contributions to agricultural research. The scientists must be retired, or eligible to retire, to receive the award.
Jackson, who joined ARS in 1957 and retired in 1993, focused on monitoring vegetation and soil conditions quickly and inexpensively, and on improving methods for managing irrigation. That work fueled a revolution in agricultural science based on remote sensing technologies.
Jackson's many awards include the William T. Pecora Award in 1993 for remote sensing research, given jointly by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of the Interior; the USDA-ARS Outstanding Scientist of the Year Award in 1992; and the USDA Distinguished Service Award in 1986.
Pursel retired from ARS in 2002, but continues to collaborate with scientists at the agency's Biotechnology and Germplasm Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. During his 38 years of service, Pursel has focused on developing new reproductive biotechnologies to accelerate the rate of genetic progress in farm animals. These new technologies have improved the efficiency of producing animal protein for food.
Pursel's awards include being named a Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) in 2004 and receiving the ASAS Award in Animal Physiology and Endocrinology in 1995, USDA Unit Award for Distinguished Service in 1989, and USDA Superior Service Award in 1977. His research has had a major impact on methodologies used by other scientists.
Hanna, during 35 years of service, developed a series of environmentally friendly grass varieties that have been celebrated by the recreational turf grass industry in the United States and around the world. Now considered industry standards, these varieties flourish in heavy-use environments such as stadiums, athletic fields, yards and golf courses. Hanna also led a team in developing a series of forage grasses that have become the leading varieties used in summer pastures in the United States for more than 25 years.
Hanna's honors include the University of Georgia (Athens) Research Foundation's Inventor of the Year Award in 2003, the USDA-ARS Outstanding Technology Transfer Award in 2002, and the USDA-ARS Outstanding Scientist of the Year Award in 1990.
Copies of the plaques presented to the scientists will be on permanent display at the ARS National Visitor Center in Beltsville.