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USDA's Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientists of the Year

By Sharon Durham
September 9, 2014

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Joyce Loper has been named the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year for 2014 for her work to develop biological control of plant diseases.

Loper, a plant pathologist in the ARS Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, Oregon, and other ARS researchers will be honored at an awards ceremony today in Beltsville, Maryland. She was also cited for her scientific contributions to plant pathology and for mentoring young scientists.

Loper is a world leader in developing biological controls for plant diseases and has helped shape the direction of the field for the past three decades. She was among the first scientists to employ molecular techniques to solve problems in plant pathology and is known for her research of the complex molecular mechanisms underpinning biological control.

ARS also named seven 2014 Area Senior Research Scientists of the Year. They are:

ARS is also honoring scientists who are in the early phases of their careers. The early-career awards recognize the achievements of ARS researchers who have been with the agency seven years or less.

This year, the top award in this category, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of 2014, will go to Michelle Cilia, a molecular biologist at the agency's Biological Integrated Pest Management Research Unit in Ithaca, New York. She is being honored for outstanding research efforts in discovering protein biomarkers that may help determine if aphids and other insect vectors can spread plant diseases.

Seven other Area Early Career Research Scientists are being honored by ARS. They are:

Joseph G. Alfieri, with the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, for significant contributions to understanding energy and trace gas exchange between the biosphere and atmosphere.

Sophie M. Uchimiya, with the ARS Commodity Utilization Research Unit in New Orleans, Louisiana, for her outstanding scientific contribution in the field of predicting the ability of biochars to stabilize heavy metals in contaminated soils.

Matthew N. Rouse, with the ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota, for significant contributions in combating wheat stem rust, a major threat to global agriculture and food security.

Marty R. Schmer, with the ARS Agroecosystem Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Nebraska, for innovative research in developing perennial and crop residue feedstock systems.

Matthew D. Madsen, with the ARS Range and Meadow Forage Management Research Unit in Burns, Oregon, for transforming the field of arid land reseeding and restoration, with technologies that will contribute greatly to food and fiber production and biodiversity on U.S. arid lands.

Renee S. Arias, with the ARS Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Georgia, for outstanding research contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge and U.S. agriculture.

Benjamin H. Beck with the ARS Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, for transformative research in vertebrate physiology, and integration of aquaculture, immunology, and cancer research elucidating profound and novel insights into global food production.

The agency also announced the 2014 ARS Technology Transfer Award for outstanding work in transferring technology to the marketplace.

The Ovine Progressive Pneumonia Virus (OPPV) Industry Adoption Team at the ARS Genetics, Breeding and Animal Health Research Unit in Clay Center, Nebraska, was honored for transferring genetic and management technologies to the sheep industry. The team includes ARS researchers Kreg A. Leymaster and Michael P. Heaton.

ARS is USDA'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.