UACES Facebook Division of Agriculture honors accomplishments in research, extension
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Division of Agriculture honors accomplishments in research, extension

By Fred Miller
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Jan. 12, 2018

Fast Facts:

  • Division of Agriculture awards honor achievements in research and extension
  • Event also recognizes 11 patents issued 

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(See our full album of photos of the event at and ) 
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — High achievements in research, education, support and other efforts were recognized Friday during the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and Bumpers College Agriculture Awards Luncheon.

The Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Science

The annual event, held this year at the Division of Agriculture’s new Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences in Fayetteville, honors outstanding work of division faculty and staff toward supporting and improving agricultural industries and life in Arkansas and beyond.

“There’s no better way to begin a new year than to recognize the hard work and dedication of our research, extension and academic faculty and staff,” said Dr. Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture. “It’s wonderful to take a moment to appreciate the scope of work accomplished not only in the past year, but also over sometimes long careers of dedicated folks.”

“This event also helps to fuel a drive into another year devoted to making a positive impact on the industries, communities and lives of Arkansas and its citizens,” Cochran said.

Recipients of the professional support awards included Janeal Yancey, a program technician in the department of animal science who focuses on red meat research; Julian Abram, lab manager in the department of biological and agricultural engineering responsible for improving and maintaining laboratories at multiple sites; Todd Coles, farm foreman of the Livestock and Forestry Research Station near Batesville, on the job for more than 30 years; and Cecilia Harberson, administrative support secretary and “go-to” everything for the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service.

Three awards were presented within Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Kristofer Brye, professor of applied soil physics and pedology in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences received the Bumpers College Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award, recognizing his diligent, often extra-curricular work with students. Lawton Lanier Nalley, associate professor in the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness, was recognized for his innovative teaching and course design with the Jack G. Justus Award for Teaching Excellence.

Larry Purcell, Distinguished Professor and holder of the Altheimer Chair for Soybean Research in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences, received the Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence. Purcell is an expert on the response of soybean to drought and he has been among the first to identify germplasm and molecular markers associated with prolonged nitrogen fixation, a key action related to drought tolerance.

The Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence recognizes meritorious and comprehensive scholarly performance in the areas of academic responsibility unique to the Land Grant mission: teaching and advising, research and publication, extension and public service, and participation in professional associations and faculty governance. Tenured faculty members with at least 10 years of continuous service with the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences or the Division of Agriculture are eligible for consideration.

The John W. White Awards, the centerpieces of the awards program, were presented to three individuals and one team.

Paul Beck, professor of animal science, received the John W. White Outstanding Research Award for his work on forage and pastures. He joined the Division of Agriculture in 1997 as a herdsman while working on his Ph.D. He holds both research and extension appointments to the division and is now serving as interim director of the Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope.

K. Jill Rucker, assistant professor in the department of agricultural education, communications and technology, received the John W. White Outstanding Teaching Award. She created a new agricultural leadership minor/concentration. Among her other achievements since joining the faculty in 2013, she has created three new courses and redesigned the curriculum for three others.

Tom Barber, professor and extension weed scientist, received the John W. White Outstanding Extension State Faculty Award. Barber’s on-farm research on the control of PPO-resistant pigweed has helped more than 600 county agents, consultants, producers and industry personnel cope with the weed pest. He is frequently called on to provide expertise to the Arkansas State Plant Board and the media.

The Discovery Farm Team received the John W. White Outstanding Team Award. The team is led by Mike Daniels and Andrew Sharpley, both professors in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences. Other members of the team include Barber, Brye, cotton agronomist Bill Robertson, agricultural engineers Chris Henry and Karl VanDevender, and agricultural economist Jennie Popp.

The mission of the Arkansas Discovery Farm Program is to assess the effectiveness of conservation practices, document nutrient and sediment loss reductions in runoff water, deliver educational programs and assist farmers in achieving production and stewardship goals. To accomplish these objectives, the team employs state-of-the-art water quality collection and monitoring systems.

Division of Agriculture researchers were also recognized for 11 patents issued over the preceding year. These included patents for four new blackberry cultivars, a peach cultivar, three new soybean cultivars, and new compositions or processes for improving human diets and protecting the health of broiler chickens.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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