Purdue College of Agriculture selects top students, faculty, staff

April 18, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's College of Agriculture has honored its top students, faculty and staff for the 2011-12 academic year.

Student honorees are:

* Betheny Moore of Richmond, Ind., Outstanding Senior. Moore is majoring in biochemistry. She was in the inaugural Dean’s Scholars Learning Community in 2008 and will graduate with honors in May. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, she worked at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, based at Purdue, where she assisted in the investigation of porcine respiratory and reproduction syndrome. Her work included measuring the immune response in pigs to different strains of the virus and extracting RNA from tissues from a collaborating lab. Her campus activities have included serving as a volunteer in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

* Gabriel Rangel of Indianapolis, Outstanding Junior. Rangel is majoring in biochemistry and is in the Dean’s Scholars program. During the summer of 2011, Rangel worked as a laboratory assistant at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he tested the effects of a novel malaria vaccine on parasites; was a member of the Johns Hopkins University summer internship program; and traveled to Mali, Africa, for two weeks for field work in tropical disease research examining the diversity of the malaria parasite in mosquitos. Rangel in 2009 and 2010 was a lab assistant in the Indiana University Cancer Center's summer research program, testing a drug, DMAPT, on human prostate and pancreatic cancer cells. He is currently a lab assistant in Purdue's Department of Biochemistry. 

* Travis Martin of Logansport, Ind., Outstanding Sophomore. Martin is majoring in agricultural economics. Martin in the summer of 2011 was a development intern with the Indiana FFA Foundation, where was on a team that managed the planning and execution of the state convention programming. He also trained newly elected state FFA officers in facilitation and leadership development strategies and advised the planning and setup of educational exhibits at the FFA pavilion at the Indiana State Fair. Martin worked in animal and food security during a service learning study-abroad experience in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, during winter breaks in 2011 and 2012.

* Emily Erickson of Clarks Hill, Ind., Outstanding Freshman. Erickson is majoring in biochemistry and is the Dean’s Scholars program. Erickson was an undergraduate research assistant at Purdue in the summer of 2011, carrying out research to identify genes undergoing adaptive evolution. She was nuclear engineering intern at Purdue from May 2009 to March 2010; she received a grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate less expensive, simpler and more efficient modes of detecting radiation. She also has worked for Erickson Farms and for Erickson Communications and Consulting. In 2010, she was selected for the Blue Lake International Youth Symphony Orchestra that toured France and Germany for four weeks.

Faculty and staff honorees are:

* Craig Dobbins, professor of agricultural economics, David C. Pfendler Outstanding Counselor. A faculty member since 1977, Dobbins has counseled and taught hundreds of undergraduate students and served as a mentor to many as they have pursued their studies and careers. He also has provided guidance on the activities of the Farm Management Club and Sigma Alpha Sorority. Dobbins also is the undergraduate program director, involving the oversight of curriculum and counseling for more than 500 undergraduate students, as well as coordinating the teaching and mentoring of junior staff.

* W. Scott Downey, assistant professor of agricultural economics, Richard L. Kohls Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher.  Downey has been at Purdue since 2000. His Principles of Selling in Agribusiness course has attracted students from more than 20 majors across campus, with undergraduates from programs as diverse as engineering, education and pharmacy choosing the course as an elective. In the past five years, more than 2,500 professionals have participated as coaches for a project called "Ready Set Sell" in the course.

* Sherry Pogranichniy, undergraduate program coordinator for the Department of Biochemistry, Outstanding Service to Students Award. Pogranichniy has served in this role since 2007. Her duties include corresponding with prospective students, arranging departmental visits, meeting with prospective students and families, orienting new students, coordinating advising, overseeing scholarships, assisting with career planning, managing data and information related to undergraduate students, auditing student records for graduation, and tracking alumni job placement.

* Gerald E. Shively, professor of agricultural economics, associate department head and graduate program chair, Outstanding Graduate Educator. Shively has been at Purdue since 1996. As director of the department's graduate programs, he oversees a combined masters and doctoral program with 130 students, including 40 in a joint program with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Shively has served as an adviser to 25 graduate students and as an advisory committee member for 12 others.

* David Umulis, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Richard L. Kohls Outstanding Early Career Award. Umulis has been a member of the ABE department since 2008. He works to modernize classical subjects such as thermodynamics for an evolving biological engineering curriculum. Umulis not only supports his students academically, but his empathy and personality have led to student retention at the university. He and his wife have hosted more than 85 events at their home in the past three years to give students education and support. 
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu

Source: Tim Kerr, Purdue Agriculture Academic Programs, 765-494-8470, kerrtp@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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