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Three Scientists Named to ARS Science Hall of Fame

By Ann Perry
December 7, 2011

WASHINGTON—Three U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have been named to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Science Hall of Fame for their discoveries that streamlined and maximized irrigation management, identified and characterized key parasites infecting the water and food supply, and enhanced the environmental sustainability of agricultural production in the face of global climate change. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Zoologist Ronald Fayer, soil scientist Ronald F. Follett and agricultural engineer Allen R. Dedrick will be honored tonight at a ceremony in Greenbelt, Md. ARS established its Science Hall of Fame in 1986 to recognize agency researchers for lifelong achievements in agricultural sciences and technology. Recipients must be retired or eligible to retire to receive the award.

"The breadth and complexity of work conducted by this year's Hall of Fame honorees demonstrates once again that ARS scientists are global leaders in agricultural research and innovation," said ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "Their efforts and results exemplify the skill, knowledge, persistence and insight we depend on to improve our daily lives."

Fayer works in the ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and is being recognized for scientific research leadership on parasites that infect animals and humans, particularly pathogens affecting food animals and food safety. He has led a range of work on parasite identification and host-parasite relationships and his work has resulted in significant innovations on parasite controls that have helped secure food safety and food supplies around the world. Results from his findings have been widely adopted by pharmaceutical researchers, epidemiologists, veterinarians and other health professionals who track and control parasite infestations and foodborne illness.

Follett, who is being recognized for outstanding research contributions in the enhancement of soil, water and air quality, works at the ARS Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo. Follett advanced the use of soil organic carbon to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2005, he has led GRACEnet (Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network), an effort that now includes more than 70 scientists from 32 locations around the United States. Follett was also instrumental in the development of the Soil Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator computer model, and developed management practices that help agricultural producers use nitrogen fertilizers more effectively and decrease nitrate leaching into groundwater drinking supplies.

Dedrick, who died in 2009, is being recognized for national and international impact and leadership in the development and application of technology for efficient use of scarce water resources worldwide. He also was the Deputy Administrator of the ARS Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems programs, and retired in 2005. During his career, he advanced the use of laser controls for land grading, a practice now widely followed in most surface-irrigated fields in the western United States and parts of the lower Mississippi River valley. Dedrick also developed a range of other innovations that significantly improved the cost-effectiveness of irrigation-system installation and operation, and his work is now used in arid agricultural systems around the world.

As USDA's s chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to help answer agricultural questions that impact Americans every day. ARS work helps to:

  • ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products;

  • assess the nutritional needs of Americans;

  • sustain a competitive agricultural economy;

  • enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and

  • provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.