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ARS Personnel Earn High USDA Honor Awards

By Jan Suszkiw
July 8, 2002

An eco-friendly pest control, a soil testing kit, and a Spanish-language news service are among the many achievements for which Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and other personnel were recognized today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual honor awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman presented the awards at 12:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington. The ARS honorees and the categories in which they won their awards are:

For "Expanding Economic and Trade Opportunities for U.S. Agricultural Products:"

Director/Group Leader Donald E. Koeltzow, chemist Okkyung K. Chung, and agricultural engineer Floyd E. Dowell, all at the agency's Grain Marketing and Production Research Center (GMPRC) in Manhattan, Kan., are the ARS members of the Hard White Wheat Commercialization team. They assisted Kansas State University cooperators in devising a plan for releasing new wheat cultivars with increased bran and fiber. They also participated in quality evaluations for those wheats, which, in turn, have generated greater sales and acceptance by domestic and international millers.

For "Maintaining and Enhancing the Nation's Natural Resources and Environment:"

Entomologist/Group Leader Richard L. Hellmich, Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, Ames, Iowa, and Adrianna D. Hewings, ARS Midwest Area Director, Peoria, Ill. As ARS members on the Monarch Consortium Team, they are being honored for their work helping facilitate and carry out research addressing Bt corn's impact on monarch butterflies. This work provided a scientific basis for regulatory decisions made concerning Bt corn. Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil bacterium that makes proteins with insecticide-like properties. Bt corn is genetically modified to produce one of these proteins, which makes it selective against certain caterpillar pests.

Director Laurence D. Chandler, Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N. D. Chandler has been a driving force behind areawide pest management programs in South Dakota and other Corn Belt states to control corn rootworms. Chandler also is being honored for his success in expanding the Fargo center's research capabilities.

Soil scientist John W. Doran, Soil and Water Conservation Research Unit, Lincoln, Neb. In addition to visionary research, Doran's award-winning achievements include developing a practical test kit and resource materials that farmers and other agricultural professionals can use to monitor soil health. The kit and interpretive guides also serve as tools by which they can gauge how sustainable their land management practices are.

Research leader, Dale F. Heermann, Water Management Research Unit, Fort Collins, Colo. Heermann's water conservation and management research culminated in the formation of a multi-disciplinary team to integrate precision farming systems with center-pivot and linear-move irrigation technologies. The aim is to conserve limited water sources as well as prevent degradation of the nation's water quality.

For "Operating an Efficient, Effective, and Discrimination-Free Organization:"

Director/Group Leader, Sandy Miller Hays, Information Staff, Beltsville, Md., and El Servicio Noticiero team members Sean T. Adams, Guadalupe Chavez Jr. (formerly ARS), James F. De Quattro, Marcos A. Ocadiz Sr., Flor de Maria Schroder, and Nancy M. Vanatta. The team created a daily news service and other materials to deliver information in Spanish about ARS findings to the nation's growing Hispanic population.

For "Promoting Health by Providing Access to Safe, Affordable, and Nutritious Food:"

Chemist George E. Inglett, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill. Inglett's achievements include developing and patenting nutraceutical ingredients, notably Oatrim, Nutrim, Z-Trim, and Soytrim. He also successfully transferred these inventions to the food industry for development into viable commercial products benefitting consumers.

Soil scientist D. Michael Glenn and entomologist Gary J. Puterka, both at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, W.Va. They invented, developed, tested and transferred technology for "Surround Crop Protectant," a non-toxic alternative to conventional pesticides that is now sold by Engelhard Corporation. Their invention, made of processed kaolin particle film, can be sprayed directly onto plants and protects their leaves and fruit from environmental stresses such as extreme heat and ultraviolet radiation.

Research leader, Philipp W. Simon, Vegetable Crops Research Unit, Madison, Wis. Simon's leadership in carrot genetics research has given rise to new germplasm packed with high carotene, improved flavor, and other agronomic traits important to the baby or cut and peel markets.

Research leader, Donald W. Thayer, Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pa. Thayer's contributions to food safety include researching the use of ionizing radiation to control food-borne pathogens in poultry and red meats such as hamburger.

The following ARS employees are being honored based on award nominations by other USDA agencies:

Biotechnology Coordinator, Michael G. Schechtman, Office of Pest Management Policy, Washington, D.C. Along with other members of the Economic Research Service's (ERS) Food and Agricultural Policy Report Team, Schechtman is being recognized for contributions in helping shape agricultural policy as well as budget and legislative proposals.

Vern D. Damsteegt, Tim R. Gottwald, Ralph Scorza and Jerry K. Uyemoto are ARS members on the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service's (CSREES) Multi-state Project Northeastern-501. They're being honored for collaborating with other federal, state, university and agricultural industry personnel to contain the plum pox virus and prevent its spread to U.S. stone fruits.

Horticulturist Ralph Scorza, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, W.Va. The ARS member on the CSREES' Grapevine Biotechnology Research Group, Scorza and others researched biotechnological approaches to protecting grapes from Pierce's Disease, of particular menace to the fruit and wine industries of California and Florida.

Veterinary medical officers David L. Suarez (Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, Ga.), Lynda C. Kelley (Office of Director, Athens, Ga.), and James E. Keen (Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb.) are the ARS members on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom (UK) Team. Its members are being honored for their contributions to making sure foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in U.K. livestock don't reach the United States.

Martin L. Clark, Ruth L. Coy, James F. De Quattro, Sandy Miller Hays, Marcos A. Ocadiz Sr. and Amy R. Spillman. All are ARS Information Staff employees who participated on USDA's Homeland Security Emergency Support Team. Its members are being recognized for outstanding performance of duty in support of national security emergency measures at USDA arising from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Amy A. Barringer, James A. Higgins, Christina A. Hohn, Jeff S. Karns, Mike P. Kiley and Michael L. Perdue. All are in Beltsville, Md., and served as ARS members on USDA's Terrorism Response Group. They're being recognized for their participation on communication initiatives, employee security measures, and emergency response activities arising from September 11 and subsequent anthrax threats.

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