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Thomas Jackson


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Veneman Honors USDA's Top Scientists of 2002

By Don Comis
February 12, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12—Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced today that Thomas J. Jackson of Beltsville, Md., a U.S. Department of Agriculture hydrologist and international expert on hydrologic remote sensing, has been named "Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 2002" by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The award is the top scientific honor given by ARS, the internal scientific research agency of USDA.

"These awards exemplify the high-quality research conducted at USDA," Veneman said. "Throughout the year, important research is conducted on a variety of issues that is helping farmers, ranchers and consumers. Our research team is on the front line of achieving extraordinary results."

Jackson works at the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., where he selects, tests and adapts satellite soil-moisture sensors and antennas and develops methods for using them to accurately estimate soil moisture over large areas of earth.

He is improving sensors for use on satellites scheduled for future launches that would contribute to long-range weather-forecasting.

"Tom Jackson has been an important part of USDA's research for soil moisture sensing equipment on satellite systems," said Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Joseph Jen. "The entire USDA research team has made progress in many areas and we want to continue building on that success."

President Bush's FY 2004 budget for the Agricultural Research Service requests $987 million for ARS Research and Information, an increase of $29 million above the 2003 budget, which supports additional research needs. USDA is also requesting $47 million in new spending for animal disease research, vaccine development and lab security, and $200 million for the National Research Initiative.

Jackson and other ARS scientists will be recognized in an awards ceremony today at ARS' Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Each winner receives a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding.

J. Stanley Bailey


Thomas E. Cleveland

Susan Moran

Joseph Stanley Bailey, Ed Cleveland, and Susan Moran were also named as outstanding senior research scientists of 2002. Bailey is at the agency's Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Ga., Cleveland leads research at the ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in New Orleans, La., and Moran leads research at ARS' Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Bailey is being recognized for accomplishments in microbiological methods, pathogen control and technology transfer. Cleveland is being honored for his leadership in the fight to eliminate aflatoxins and other natural toxins from corn, cotton, wheat and other crops. Moran is being cited for leadership and research contributions in developing computer models and remote-sensing techniques for improved land use and water management.

Tara McHugh

ARS also presents "Early Career Scientist of the Year" awards to researchers who have been with ARS seven years or less. This year, the top award in the "Early Career Scientist" category went to food technologist Tara H. McHugh at the ARS Processed Foods Research Unit in Albany, Calif. She was named the "Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Scientist" for development of innovative approaches to enhance the marketability and healthfulness of fruit and vegetables, such as edible food wraps made from pureed fruits and vegetables.


The agency also named four Area Senior Research Scientists:

  • Floyd E. Dowell, ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, Manhattan, Kan., for leadership in the development and transfer of technology to rapidly measure attributes of grain and other products.

Michael Grusak

  • Michael A. Grusak, ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, Texas, for efforts to enhance the nutritional quality of food crops and for leadership in promoting interdisciplinary research between scientists in both plant and human nutrition.

Rich Hellmich (right) with technician Randy Ritland

  • Richard L. Hellmich, ARS Corn Insects and Crops Genetics Research Unit, Ames, Iowa, for research on effects of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn on monarch butterflies and ways to manage pest resistance to Bt.


  • Vijay K. Juneja, ARS Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, Wyndmoor, Pa., for pioneering research helping industries and regulatory agencies ensure food safety.

In addition to Tara McHugh, ARS has named seven "Area Early Career Scientists" throughout the agency. They are:

Cows looking through a fence

  • Robin C. Anderson, ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, College Station, Texas, for development of a supplement that reduces Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in poultry and livestock.

Varroa mites, parasites of honey bees

  • Jay D. Evans, ARS Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for contributions in genomics research of honey bees and their parasites, pests and pathogens.


  • Peter J.A. Kleinman, ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, Pa., for developing new ways to predict manure management's effects on water quality, and transferring this technology to farmers.


  • Marshall C. Lamb, ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory, Dawson, Ga., for outstanding research contributing to the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.

New rice that's low in phytic acid

  • Steven R. Larson, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah, for gene mapping and related research in support of range plant improvement and use.

Formosan termite

  • Juan A. Morales-Ramos, ARS Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, La., for pioneering research leading to a patented artificial diet for a wasp parasite of the boll weevil and a bait for areawide control of the Formosan subterranean termite.


  • Thomas J. Sauer, ARS Soil and Water Quality Research, Ames, Iowa, for accomplishments in soil management and watershed processes leading to improved environmental quality.