College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
AGNR Research

2015 AGNR Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh addresses the audience at the 2015 College of AGNR Awards Banquet.
Photo Credit: 
Edwin Remsberg

Each May, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources honors outstanding employees with the annual AGNR Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards. The 2015 awardees were recognized during the AGNR Convocation & Awards ceremony held Tuesday, May 5th at the Riggs Alumni Center.

The 2015 Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards were presented to:

Off-Campus Staff Excellence Award:

RIA MALLOY, Business Manager, Home & Garden Information Center

            Ria Malloy began her tenure at the Home & Garden Information Center in Ellicott City in 1994 as a horticulture consultant and became Business Manager for the center in 1997. Over the last two decades, Ria has worked tirelessly to promote the HGIC as well as the Master Gardener and Grow It Eat It programs. From taking care of the center’s finances to developing marketing materials to creating a social media strategy and helping redesign the center’s website, Ria never shies away from a challenge or a task that falls outside of her job description. Despite her numerous duties, Ria also keeps her plant taxonomy skills sharp and is the go-to person at the HGIC to tackle some of the most difficult plant identification requests.

LINDA SMITH, Administrative Assistant II, UME Frederick County

            Over the 30 years Linda Smith has served as an administrative assistant in the Frederick County Extension Office, she has adapted to many changes within the university, the College of AGNR, Extension and technology – going from typewriters and mimeograph machines to computers and copiers that copy, scan and fax all in one. As the administrative support for the Area Extension Director and Family and Consumer Sciences office, Linda fills the roles of assistant, coordinator, problem solver, repairman, courier, delivery person and leader whenever the need arises. Co-workers praise Linda for her work ethic and describe her as professional, thorough, honest and the point-person whom everyone in the office turns to for guidance.

On-Campus Staff Excellence Award:

LIBBY DUFOUR, Assistant Director, Animal & Avian Sciences Undergraduate Program

            In her role within the Animal & Avian Sciences Department, Libby Dufour is responsible for advising students, supporting faculty in their work as advisors, recruiting prospective students and collaborating on curriculum review and revision. Faculty and staff members within her department tout Libby’s ability to carry out these critical tasks with the highest possible standards. She is called upon regularly for advice by faculty, staff and students alike and represents the department at various community events such as AG Day and the AGNR Open House in Clarksville. Libby never misses an opportunity to talk with prospective students and their families about what ANSC has to offer and inspires others to further their outreach efforts on behalf of the department as well.

JENNIFER REYNOLDS, Coordinator, UME Equine & Poultry Activities

Jennifer Reynolds assists Extension faculty all over the state with the planning and execution of equine and poultry educational programming. This includes a four-day University Seminar Series at the Horse World Expo, a two-day Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Conference, Introductory to Farriery and Nutrition Clinics, Maryland 4-H Poultry Bowl, multiple statewide Poultry Expos, and multiple pasture management trainings each year. Jennifer is involved in the planning and marketing of the events, securing speakers, negotiating contracts, equipment rental, food coordination, registration, moderating the events, and event impact evaluation. She also is the person inside the cow, chicken, or horse costumes dancing around and taking pictures with people at Ag Day, the AGNR Open House, and at the Horse World Expo. Colleagues describe Jennifer as a dedicated staff member who works tirelessly for the good of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Award:

PAUL GOERINGER, Research Associate & Extension Legal Specialist, Agricultural & Resource Economics

            Paul Goeringer has established himself as a leader of the Agricultural Law Education Initiative, a partnership between the College of AGNR, the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and University of Maryland Eastern Shore established in January of 2013. Since that time, Paul has helped to fill a major void of legal outreach that previously existed in Maryland by traveling to countless meetings to make presentations or provide legal counsel and advice to producers at events across the state. Paul has authored more than 100 educational articles covering a host of legal issues important to Maryland’s agricultural community. He also played a major role in carrying on the substantial and well-received risk management outreach program left short-handed by a faculty member’s retirement. Paul provided continuity for the program and was able to adapt it to address new issues raised by the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

TRISH STEINHILBER, Extension Associate & Program Coordinator, Agricultural Nutrient Management Program

            As an Extension Associate and Program Coordinator for the Agricultural Nutrient Management Program, Dr. Trish Steinhilber’s insight and expertise is regularly sought by the Governor’s office, the heads of state agencies, federal agencies, important agricultural and citizen constituent groups, as well as a great number of farmer’s across Maryland. Dr. Steinhilber has developed, imposed and maintained the highest standards for program delivery during her long‐standing leadership of the externally-funded nutrient management program. A true believer in rigorous training and pro‐active preparation, Dr. Steinhilber has infused the concept of continuous life‐long learning into her expectations for the two dozen nutrient management advisors who deliver technical program content across the Maryland agricultural community. Dr. Steinhilber has a true passion for teaching both in the university classroom setting and in professional continuing education sessions and is described as a fair and demanding supervisor who inspires and requires excellence from those surrounding her.

Off-Campus Junior Faculty Award:

AMANDA ROCKLER, UME Agent & Regional Watershed Restoration Specialist

During her three years as a tenure-track Extension educator, Amanda Rockler has achieved an impressive scholarly, Extension program and service record. She has authored or co-authored multiple articles and publications, assisted in securing grants totaling more than $4 million and been invited to make dozens of regional and national presentations. Amanda has provided leadership for several major programs including the Watershed Stewards Academy, Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) and Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Training. She also works with the other four regional watershed specialists on the Stormwater Management and Restoration Tracker (SMART) tool, a web-based tool for private homeowners to report their stormwater practices to assist counties in meeting their EPA Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). Amanda has also taught or coordinated programs for more than 13,000 people including more than 1,000 secondary school students.          

On-Campus Junior Faculty Award:

STEPHANIE LANSING, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science & Technology

Dr. Stephanie Lansing serves the university and the College of AGNR as a competitive research force while dedicating just as much energy to teaching and leadership of students enrolled in her courses or busily working in her lab. Dr. Lansing’s research focus is agricultural and municipal waste treatment, anaerobic digestion design, microbial fuel cells and sustainable technologies for developing countries. Her work often takes her to those developing countries where she conducts research while also providing service to the communities. In one example, she and her team train locals in Haiti to use digesters to convert waste to energy and water. Dr. Lansing has received more than $1.5 million in research grants in the past five years from agencies ranging from USAID to NSF. She’s published 15 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals from this funded work, leading to more than 300 citations.

Faculty Research Award:

UTPAL PAL, Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine

            Dr. Utpal Pal is considered a leading expert in the biology of Borrelia – the bacteria that causes Lyme disease – and scientists all over the world seek his advice on research of this organism. Dr. Pal has helped to identify antigens of the bacteria for development of vaccines and diagnostics. Since joining the faculty in the Department of Veterinary Medicine in 2006, Dr. Pal has authored two book chapters and 45 papers that have appeared in prestigious and high-impact journals. As a principal investigator, he has received two intramural and 11 extramural grants, including four concurrent NIH grants, totaling more than $7.1 million. On top of his research, Dr. Pal serves as major advisor for five Ph.D. students, supervises six postdoctoral fellows and leads a graduate level course on infectious disease.

Paul R. Poffenberger Excellence in Teaching & Advising Award:

BRUCE JAMES, Professor & Director, Environmental Science & Policy Program

            A tenured professor in the Department of Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Bruce James is also the first and so far only Director of the Environmental Science & Policy Program which launched in 1997. To date, the program has graduated more than 1,000 students and Dr. James has taught or mentored every one of them. Despite being a faculty member at the University of Maryland since 1986, Dr. James is known for carefully considering evaluations each semester, reviewing materials and reinventing teaching strategies as if he were instructing a course for the very first time. He is creative in his use of slides and images to explain difficult concepts and engages students in thoughtful conversation and debate in the classroom. With great care and personal attention, Dr. James has mentored, guided, inspired and motivated countless students through his efforts in ENSP, ENST, the Scholars program, the Honors College and the Student Government Association. Dr. James is retiring in June.

Extension Excellence Award:

GARY FELTON, Associate Professor & Extension Water Quality Specialist

            Dr. Gary Felton is active in Extension programs throughout the state focusing primarily on nutrient fate and transport. This includes improving agricultural practices for the protection of human health, water quality and the environment. Dr. Felton has worked at the university since 1996 and has maintained Extension and research programs as a Water Quality Specialist with responsibilities in composting, non-point source pollution, water quality and ground water hydrology. He has been instrumental in bringing in $7.5 million in grants, $4 million of which was directed solely to Extension activities. Additionally, Dr. Felton has provided exemplary leadership for Extension, serving on the UME Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee where he helped develop a number of important studies, reports and recommendations. Citizens and lawmakers across the state and around the nation count on Dr. Felton’s advice and expertise on matters of critical importance.

Dean Gordon Cairns Award for Distinguished Creative Work and Teaching in Agriculture:

FRANK COALE, Professor, Environmental Science & Technology

Dr. Frank Coale joined the College of AGNR in 1993 as Associate Professor and Extension Specialist for agricultural nutrient management. He immediately launched an innovative research and Extension program through which he would become an internationally recognized leader in his field. To date, Dr. Coale has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and more than 150 Extension publications. He has delivered nearly 200 scientific presentations and more than 500 Extension educational talks. Dr. Coale has mentored 31 graduate students and has supported his programs with more than $15 million in external grant funding. In 2006, Dr. Coale became the inaugural chair of the newly-formed Department of Environmental Science and Technology, a role he filled for six years during which time he added nine tenure-track faculty members to the department’s ranks. He now serves as Director of the Gemstone Program for the university’s Honors College – a unique and prestigious multidisciplinary four-year research experience for selected undergraduate students of all majors.

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