Thursday, July 14, 2011

Agriscience Awards Honor Innovators

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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2011 – The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, a federal government-supported foundation, and the American Farm Bureau Federation partnered today to present eight monetary awards and research funding to the 2011 Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Agriscience Awards winners. The awards honor distinguished scientists, educators and high-school students for exemplary innovation in the field of agricultural science.
“The winning candidates honored here today are innovators in the field of agricultural science and technology,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “They are the individuals we will rely on well into the future to develop and promote innovative ways to secure American agriculture and its role as a world producer.”
Randall Prather, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and Andrew Paterson, Ph.D., a research professor at the University of Georgia in Athens, each received the CCFF Agricultural Science Distinguished Scientist Award of $25,000 and up to $25,000 in research funding.
Prather is a distinguished professor of reproductive biotechnology in the Division of Animal Science at the University of Missouri. His research focuses on genetic improvement of swine and cattle to reduce pregnancy loss. He also studies the use of animal cloning for biomedical research related to diseases and reproduction.
Paterson is a distinguished research professor at the University of Georgia, jointly appointed in three departments: crop and soil science, plant biology and genetics. His research uses genomic tools and approaches to study crop improvement, plant biodiversity and molecular evolution. He is also researching biofuel production efficiency.
CCFF Agricultural Science Educator Awards are presented to three educators who emphasize concepts, principles and application in their curriculum to promote the study of agricultural science to students.
The following recipients of the CCFF Agricultural Science Educator Award were honored with $10,000 awards to support their research and education efforts:
  • Michele Sutton is an agricultural educator at the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES New Visions in Life Sciences program at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. As an agricultural educator, Sutton has worked to update agricultural curriculum in secondary schools, while encouraging students to explore plant, animal, environmental and mechanical sciences. Her program at Cornell further facilitates agricultural education by matching high school seniors with some of the top minds in agricultural science research.
  • Melissa Braun is recognized for her work as an agriscience educator at Gillett Secondary School in Gillett, Wis., where she taught an array of courses in food science, horticulture and greenhouse management. Braun was recognized as the 2007 Wisconsin Agriscience Teacher of the Year, the 2007 National Agriscience Teacher of the Year and received a Kohl Fellowship in 2008.
  • Paul Heasley is with the State College Area School District in State College, Pa., and has taught agricultural sciences at the 9-12 grade levels for 30 years. He was a finalist in the National FFA Organization’s “Agricultural Science Teacher of the Year” competition in 2009 and has been honored with several national instructional innovation awards by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
CCFF Agricultural Science Student Awards honor high-school students who have made a significant and positive contribution to the field of agricultural science.
The following students each received $5,000 awards:
  • Laura Lane, a 2011 high-school graduate from Flora Vista, N.M., will be attending New Mexico Tech in the fall. Lane’s love for science inspired her research project on indicators of soil ecosystem health for oil and gas reclamation. Her research was recognized for excellence at the International Science and Engineering Fair.
  • Bhiravi Rathinasabapathi, a 2011 graduate of Eastside High School in Gainesville, Fla., was a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search for her research on biofortification of crops with iron. Her research, which has won several awards on regional and state levels, may eventually lead to an iron-biofortified crop that would combat anemia.
  • Stephen Bethel, a recent graduate of Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., has won awards at state, national and international levels for his research in plant genetics. His research explores alternatives to replace viral DNA currently used in genetically modified produce. Bethel plans to attend the University of Florida Honors Program where he will study aerospace engineering.

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