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Scientist holding flask discussing chemical reaction with colleagues. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

USDA Excellence in Research Awards Presented at Recent APLU Meeting

The Experiment Station Section (ESS), a unit of The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) Commission on Food, Environment, and Renewable Resources, Board on Agriculture Assembly, recently recognized individuals and teams for excellence in diversity and inclusion, leadership and multi-state research.

This release first appeared on 

Following a national solicitation for nominations and rigorous evaluation, these national awards were presented at ESS’ annual meeting in Baltimore. 

National Excellence in Multistate Research Award 

This award recognizes Experiment Station scientists who conduct exemplary research and outreach efforts across multiple states.  The award winner is Research and Extension for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Applications in U.S. Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Over the past five years, this project has evaluated and identified reliable, cost-effective and user-friendly drone platforms and sensors for monitoring and managing stressors in agriculture and natural resources. To maximize the accuracy of the data collected, project members have developed hardware, software and detailed protocols for calibrating and using drones. New drone-based strategies are helping address many different issues in agriculture. 

The project is supported in part by the Hatch Multistate Research Fund administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by grants to participating institutions. Since 2016, this project has leveraged an estimated $35 million in competitive funding for research and Extension. In 2021, NIFA renewed funding for this multi-state project through 2026. 

Administrative Advisor: Randy Raper, Oklahoma State University 

Technical Committee Chair: Lav Khot, Washington State University 

Participating institutions: Auburn University, University of Arkansas, Arkansas Cooperative Extension, Clemson University, Cornell University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Montana State University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, North Dakota Cooperative Extension, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Washington State University

Learn more about this project. 

Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion Awards 

The ESS has undertaken efforts to increase diversity across its constituencies and foster inclusive environments.  These awards annually recognize the activities of one individual and one team at the local, state, regional or national level that empower groups and effectively enhance inclusion within organizations. The award recognizes efforts that aspire to achieve consistent, holistic, inclusive excellence. The award winners are: 

Individual Award 

Anna Katherine Mansfield, Associate Director, Cornell AgriTech 

Team Award 

The Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center led by Dr. Elizabeth Myles, Associate Director, Alcorn State University 

Experiment Station Section Excellence in Leadership Awards 

These awards are bestowed upon those who have personified the highest level of excellence by enhancing the cause and performance of the Regional Associations and ESS in achieving their missions and the Land-grant ideal. Each ESS region selected a winner for the 2022 national award.  The award winners are: 

  • Moses Kairo, Dean and Director of Land Grant Programs, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore 

  • David Benfield, Retired Associate Vice President of Agricultural Administration and Director of the Wooster Campus, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate Director, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University 

  • Jody Jellison, Director, Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, Massachusetts Extension Service, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, University of Massachusetts 

  • Jean-Francois “JF” Meullenet, Senior Associate Vice President for Agriculture-Research, Director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and Interim Dean of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, University of Arkansas 

  • Milan Shipka, Retired Director, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Extension, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Top image: Scientist holding flask discussing chemical reaction with colleagues. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

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