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NIFA Celebrates Hall of Fame and Partnership Awards Recipients

Nifa Authors
Margaret Lawrence, Writer-Editor

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently hosted a celebration honoring the recipients of its NIFA Partnership Awards and Hall of Fame inductees. The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted agency operations for several years, so the celebration honored winners for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The NIFA Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NIFA and the Land-grant University System who have supported USDA’s Strategic Goals and Priorities and demonstrated a continuing commitment to advancing the nation’s food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences enterprises.

NIFA Hall of Fame inductees have worked throughout their careers – engaged in activities that exemplify NIFA’s synergy of excellence in any combination of research, education and Extension approaches locally, regionally, nationally or internationally. 

Most importantly, they have demonstrated a measurable and positive impact on the lives of citizens and on NIFA – forwarding our mission to “invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and Extension to solve societal challenges.”

Dr. Charles Magee, Florida A&M University.
Dr. Charles Magee, Florida A&M University.

Hall of Fame Inductees

2020—Dr. Charles Magee, Florida A&M University

Dr. Magee’s induction recognized his dedication to the values and mission of both USDA and NIFA. While his impact on the food and agriculture system is evident in many ways, his greatest impact has been to address the challenges of underrepresented populations in STEM careers.

Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran, NIFA.
Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran, NIFA.

2021—Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran, NIFA

Dr. Sureshwaran joined NIFA in 2001 and has made many measurable impacts on NIFA and those the agency serves. His efforts have significantly advanced rural development, education, and workforce development in the food and agricultural sciences in the United States, especially among underserved communities.

Dr. John Liu, Syracuse University.
Dr. John Liu, Syracuse University.

2022—Dr. John Liu, Syracuse University

Dr. Liu’s work at Auburn and Syracuse universities earned him induction into the NIFA Hall of Fame. The core of his leadership has focused on enhancing people’s quality of life. For almost 20 years, Dr. Liu made major contributions to NIFA’s mission through his service as the Aquaculture Coordinator for the National Research Support Project. In that role, he coordinated aquaculture genome research involving over 400 scientists around the world.

In 2007 NIFA created the Partnership Awards Program to recognizes outstanding contributions from our Land-grant University partners, which support both NIFA and USDA’s missions.

The awards recognize excellence in:

  • Mission Integration of Research, Education, and Extension
  • Multistate Efforts
  • Innovative Programs and Projects
  • Effective and Efficient Use of Resources
  • Program Improvement through Global Engagement

2020 Partnership Awards

For Excellence in Mission of Integration of Research, Education and Extension the Partnership Award goes to the Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions Center of Excellence at the University of Arizona for working collaboratively to build a sustainable bioeconomy for arid regions and to improve the quality of life in rural communities and Native Nations. 

The 2020 Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts goes to the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agriculture Project Leadership Team for its work to optimize groundwater use and sustain communities in the Ogallala Aquifer Region through interdisciplinary, multi-state research and outreach. The project boasted a 70-member interdisciplinary team from 10 universities in six states addressing the challenges facing the Ogallala aquifer and those who depend on it.

The Preventing Opioid Misuse in the Southeast Initiative or PROMISE Initiative based at Mississippi State University earned the 2020 Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects. The PROMISE Initiative seeks to fight the growing opioid epidemic using a multi-phased approach to prevent prescription opioid misuse in rural Mississippi.

The 2020 Partnership Award for Effective and Efficient Use of Resources goes to the Montana State University Integrated Pest Management team. In a physically large and diverse state, Montana State Integrated Pest Management is an innovative team that works to reduce health and environmental risks from pest management efforts, improve practices and increase adoption.

The Partnership Award for Program Improvement Through Global Engagement goes to the University of Texas at El Paso for their program: Sustainable Water Resources for Irrigated Agriculture in the Middle Rio Grande Basin.

2021 Partnership Awards

The Partnership Award for Mission Integration of Research, Education and Extension went to the Multi-state Project Initiative for Food Safety and Quality. This team developed and delivered an online graduate course on advances in food engineering for 132 students at 12 universities.

The Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety earned the Partnership Award for Multi-State Efforts for working collaboratively to provide continued food safety education, training, outreach and technical assistance to the food industry.

Penn State University’s AvoColor Project earned the Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects. Thet team is recognized for its work across disciplines to reduce food waste by transferring USDA-funded research from Penn State University to Persea Naturals, LLC, via the NIFA Small Business Innovative Research program.

The Partnership Award in the Effective and Efficient Use of Resources goes to the University of Tennessee’s Master Beef Producer Program Team. The team recognized the need to revise the Master Beef Producer Program to better serve the state’s beef producers. Specifically, the team tackled objectives that improved the overall efficiency of the program, and its efforts are reaping rewards for Tennessee beef producers.

2022 Partners Awards

In the Mission Integration category, the Tribal Livestock and Horse Extension Team at the University of Arizona earned the Partnership Award. The team is recognized for its work in creating and delivering research-based, culturally appropriate Extension programming to Arizona Tribal Communities to improve health, safety and stewardship of livestock, horses and people.

The National Connections Team for Forest and Rangeland Resources based at the University of Hawaii-Manoa earned the Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts. This team developed a webinar series to strengthen Extension and outreach professionals’ capacity to provide scientific and technologically relevant content.

The Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects went to the Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs at Auburn University. Its collaborative efforts focused on decreasing college student food insecurity on campuses throughout Alabama.

Kansas State University’s Program Evaluation and Reporting System earned the Partnership Award recipient in the Effective and Efficient Use of Resources category. K-State Research & Extension and the Kansas SNAP-Ed program recognized that they needed revisions to their evaluation and reporting practices, as well as improve staff capacity to conduct reliable and valid program evaluations.

The Partnership Award for Program Improvement and Global Engagement goes to Virginia Tech for its Boxwood Blight Insight Group. The Boxwood Blight Insight Group is an international research and education consortium fighting against the emerging destructive disease. They focused their work through innovation, economic analysis and education.

Top image: Aerial view of tractor spraying crop field. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

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Agriculture systems and technology
Animal health and production and animal products
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
Agriculture economics and rural communities
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