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ARS Employees Receive 1999 Honor Awards

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
June 9, 1999

WASHINGTON, June 9--Thirty-seven Agricultural Research Service employees will receive individual or team awards here today from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman at USDA's 53rd annual Honor Awards ceremony.

Glickman is scheduled to present plaques to the ARS and other awardees at a 1 p.m. ceremony on the West Lawn of the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. ARS is the USDA's chief scientific arm.

Said ARS administrator Floyd P. Horn: "We're proud of and grateful to the people being honored today. Through their scientific research and other hard work, they have helped to stop outbreaks of animal and human disease, to strengthen our farm economy and our farmer's ability to feed people, to tackle trade barriers, to beautify and protect the environment, and to guard U.S. agriculture from foreign pests."

Contact ARS News Service (phone 510-559-6069, for fax or electronic mail copies of news releases about specific awards given to the ARS scientists and others in the award categories below.

Emergency Response

· For outstanding accomplishments in response to leptospirosis outbreaks in Nicaragua, Ecuador and the United States, to Carole A. Bolin, veterinary medical officer and research leader, Zoonotic Diseases Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Ames, Iowa. Bolin helped isolate the causal organism, diagnose the disease and develop control strategies in three epidemics since 1995. Leptospirosis is an animal disease that can infect humans.

Environmental Protection

· For pioneering research on the cultivation of crop plant species on marginal soils and in the use of plants to remediate soils contaminated with heavy metals, to Leon V. Kochian, plant physiologist and research leader, U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Laboratory, Ithaca, N.Y. Kochian has made key discoveries about the basic plant mechanisms governing toxicity and tolerance to aluminum in acid soils and uptake of metals and radioisotopes in contaminated soils.

Personal and Professional Excellence

  • For research and technology transfer contributions leading to major improvements in efficiency of the U.S. beef cattle industry, to Larry V. Cundiff, geneticist and research leader, Genetics and Breeding Research Unit, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb. Cundiff has helped characterize economically important traits in 33 cattle breeds, allowing producers to take advantage of crossbreeding for the best combinations of traits.
  • For major impact on world agriculture through pioneering research contributions in plant biology, to Autar K. Mattoo, plant physiologist and research leader, Vegetable Laboratory, Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center. Mattoo deciphered relationships between plant growth regulators and hormones that lead to leaf decay and fruit ripening.
  • For exceptional research and leadership resulting in major advances in controlling livestock diseases, particularly bovine mastitis, that are important nationwide, to Max J. Paape, physiologist, Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Paape developed the now-standard procedure for diagnosing mastitis in dairy cattle. The procedure is also used worldwide as an index of milk quality.
  • For successful long-term research leading to development of two disease-tolerant American elms and thirteen other elm and red maple shade tree cultivars, to Alden M. Townsend, geneticist, U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C. Townsend released the first true American elms that are highly tolerant to Dutch elm disease and developed fundamental genetic information essential to further improvements.
  • For exceptional performance, creativity and perseverance in successfully challenging--before the World Trade Organization--Japan's long-standing varietal testing trade restriction, to the "Japan Varietal Testing World Trade Organization Group." The group provided scientific data confirming that ARS-developed procedures to prevent codling moths from hitchhiking to Japan on American apples, cherries, nectarines and walnuts are effective regardless of the specific variety tested. Kenneth W. Vick, ARS National Program Leader for Post-Harvest Entomology, based in Beltsville, led the 19- member group. It included seven other ARS workers; employees of other USDA agencies, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; and private industry.
  • For outstanding research on and identification of insects, mites, fungi and nematodes to protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests, to the "Urgent Response Group for Emergency Needs in Taxonomy." Each year, the team provides more than 4,000 immediate and thousands of other identifications of insects and pests discovered by U.S. port-of-entry and other domestic quarantine officers. The team includes 25 scientists, including two with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, who work at three ARS laboratories at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center: the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Nematology Laboratory and Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory.

Also recognized at the ceremony were four research agency employees who recently received Presidential Rank Awards. These annual awards honor members of the Senior Executive Service for exceptional achievements over an extended time period.

The 1998 Distinguished Executive rank was awarded to Roger Breeze, director of ARS’ South Atlantic Area, in recognition of his “visionary leadership” of the Area and of Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Greenport, N.Y.. The South Atlantic Area encompasses research laboratories in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Meritorious Executive ranks were awarded to:

  • Antoinette Betschart, director of ARS’ Pacific West Area, for creative leadership and outstanding management of the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. The Pacific West Area comprises research laboratories in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Washington.
  • Richard Dunkle, for previous leadership of ARS’ Midwest Area, which includes research laboratories in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Dunkle now serves as a Deputy Administrator for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in Washington, D.C.
  • Edward Knipling, ARS Associate Administrator, for exemplary leadership of ARS’ National Program Staff and outstanding management as Acting Administrator for ARS from October 1996 to November 1997. Knipling is a two-time winner of this rank award, also winning in 1988.

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