ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Faculty and Staff Awards

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has honored faculty and staff with awards for teaching, advising, research and extension. The award winners include:

Scott Smalley, an assistant professor in agricultural education and studies, received the Early Achievement in Teaching Award. Smalley is an outstanding educator whose courses focus on agricultural teacher preparation. He has mentored more than 120 students who are now high school agriculture teachers. 

Tom Brumm, who has been an associate professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering for 18 years, received the Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award. He is a leader in student-centered teaching and curriculum assessment. Brumm has played a major role in the success of students and student-centered programs. 

Karri Haen Whitmer, a senior lecturer in genetics, development and cell biology, received the Excellence in Teaching by Lecturers and Adjunct Faculty Award. Whitmer teaches large foundational courses in anatomy and physiology and has taught more than 8,000 students since 2001. 

Nancy Grudens-Schuck, an associate professor in agricultural education and studies, received the Distance Education Teaching Award. Grudens-Schuck has taught undergraduate and graduate students through distance education since 2001. Her courses reflect her commitment to accessibility, learner interaction, diversity and positive learning experiences.

Jennifer Bundy, an assistant professor in animal science, received the Early Advisor Award. Bundy has advised more than 100 students during the past three years. She also serves as the transfer student coordinator, the learning community coordinatorand advises various student club activities. 

Jodi Sterle, an academic advisor and the Eldred and Donna Harman Professor for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the Department of Animal Science, received the Outstanding Advisor Award.Sterle helps students identify opportunities that match their interests. Since 2012, she has advised close to 100 students each year. 

Stephanie Zumbach, a student services specialist in the agronomy, received the Outstanding Service in Student Recruitment and Retention Award. During the past six years her efforts have helped increase enrollment by 20 percent and helped recruit more women into the program. She manages student orientation, student visits and the Experience Iowa State program for the agronomy department. 

Maggie Sprecher, an academic advisor in global resource systems, received the Learning Community Coordinator Award. Sprecher coordinates the Global Resource Systems community-learning program. She works to ensure each student’s success and is an advocate for personal, academic and professional growth. 

Nicholas Gabler, an associate professor in animal science, received the Mid-Career Achievement in Research Award. During his 10 years as a faculty member, Gabler has built an impressive list of research accomplishments in swine nutrition physiology. To advance his research he’s secured more than $14 million in funding.

Thomas Lubberstedt, a professor and K.J. Frey Chair in agronomy and the director of the Iowa State R.F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding, received the Outstanding Achievement in Research Award. He is a pioneer in implementing two novel concepts in plant breeding – the functional marker and in vitro nursery. He established the only public maize doubled haploid facility in the United States, which significantly enhanced maize genetics research and breeding.

Lois Benning, an administrative specialist in career services, received the Professional and Scientific Excellence Award. For 17 years Lois has played a key role in the success of the college’s career services office, which hosts the largest career fair in the nation and has a 99 percent placement rate for the college’s graduates. She is often the first contact for industry representatives seeking to hire students and graduates. 

Awoke Dollisso, a senior lecturer in agricultural education and studies, received the Faculty Award for Diversity Enhancement. As co-chair of the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee he’s developed a collaborative mentoring program for underrepresented students. 

Susan DeBlieck, who coordinates the Iowa Master Gardener Program, received the Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award. DeBlieck organizes educational materials and training for more than 300 master gardeners. With her leadership, Master Gardener volunteers have made the Growing Together Iowa program a success. Last year the project donated 90,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to Iowa’s food pantries.

Sue Lamont, a C.F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Animal Science, received theOutstanding Achievement in International Agriculture Award.She has engaged in international research, development and education for three decades. She has been a leader in international scientific societies, co-organized several international scientific conferences and chaired grant review panels for international funding agencies. Lamont and collaborators have secured more than $11 million in funding for international projects.

The Early Achievement in Extension and Outreach Award was presented to Mark Licht, an assistant professor in agronomy and an ISU Extension cropping systems specialist. He regularly presents and publishes on cropping systems to farmers, crop consultants, industry representatives, agriculture-based businesses and the general public in an understandable manner.

Anna Johnson, a professor in animal science, received the Outstanding Achievement in Extension and Outreach Award. She works with researchers, producers and industry representatives to find multidisciplinary animal welfare solutions.

Jeff Erb, a farm equipment mechanic with ISU Research and Demonstration Farms, received the Merit Award for Achievement and Service. For more than 30 years Erb has led the ISU Ag Engineering and Agronomy Research Farms machine shop. He helped design an addition to the machine shop, which doubled its size and allowed access for large-scale machinery. Erb maintains, retrofits and fabricates machinery for field research.

The Team Award goes to the Plant Breeding Education in Africa team. The team was formed to address a critical need to educate the next generation of plant breeders at the master’s of science level in Africa. The project received support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation totaling $2.3 million, which was distributed between the agronomy and agricultural education and studies departments. 

The team recruited 91 master’s students during the last four years. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve Africa’s educational infrastructure to increase the number of plant breeders who will be capable of developing new resistant cultivars for Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Iowa State team was led by Walter Suza, an adjunct assistant professor in agronomy, and Mike Retallick, a professor and chair of the agricultural education and studies department. Members in agricultural education and studies include Judy Levings and Greg Miller. Members in agronomy include Thomas Lubberstedt, Assibi Mahama, Gretchen Anderson, Jessica Barb. One team member, Shuizhang Fei, represents horticulture. Former members from agronomy include Andy Rohrback, Siddique Aboobucker, Patrick Golus, Kendall Lamkey, Arti Singh, William Beavis, Asheesh Singh, and Laura Merrick. Lizhi Wang is a former industry member. 

Maria Salas-Fernandez, associate professor in agronomy, received the Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award. Salas-Fernandez joined the department 10 years ago and has developed a successful sorghum-breeding program and made significant contributions in genomics, physiology and phenotyping bringing enhanced knowledge about the genetic mechanisms that affect crop production. 

The college’s award ceremony was moved to September due to weather-related cancellations.