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Soheila J. Maleki
Soheila J. Maleki

USDA's Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientists of the Year

September 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2017—For her groundbreaking work with food allergies, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Soheila J. Maleki is the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year for 2017. Maleki, a research chemist at ARS' Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit in New Orleans, Louisiana, is one of many ARS researchers being honored for their scientific achievements.

Maleki demonstrated outstanding leadership and research accomplishments in the field of food allergy, particularly to peanuts and tree nuts. Her accomplishments include defining the biochemical effects of processing on the immunogenicity and allergenicity of food as well as determining the molecular mechanisms involved. For example, Maleki and colleagues showed that raw peanut proteins undergo specific molecular changes during roasting that alters their allergenic properties, which created a new avenue of research in the field of food allergy.

ARS also named four 2017 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 with the agency for seven years or less.

This year, the top award in this category, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of 2017, goes to Sara J. Lupton, a research chemist at the ARS Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit in Fargo, North Dakota (Plains Area). Lupton is internationally recognized for her research about the fate of chemical contaminants in cattle, swine and poultry as well as their waste systems and feed sources. Her contributions have informed decision-making by regulatory agencies and promoted consumer confidence in domestic milk and meat production practices.

ARS is honoring four other Area Early Career Research Scientists. They are:




The agency also announced its 2017 ARS Technology Transfer Award winner. This Award recognizes individuals or groups who have done outstanding work in transferring technology to the marketplace.

This year's winner is the Soil Health Test Team at ARS' Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas. The team was recognized for uncommon creativity and initiative in modernizing outdated soil testing methods and ensuring they more accurately represent biogeochemical processes that govern how plants interact with the soil and atmosphere. The new method—adopted by 15 commercial soil-testing labs worldwide—is estimated to save farmers and ranchers $20 per acre annually in nitrogen inputs alone. The team includes engineering technician Otis L. Faulkenberry, research soil scientist Richard L. Haney, and agricultural engineer Michael J. White—all with ARS, and cartographic technician Chris Holle, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information contact Jan Suszkiw, ARS Office of Communications.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.