College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni, friends to be honored with 2022 awards

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni, Friends Award Honorees
Six College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni and friends are being honored with awards from the college and the ISU Alumni Association.

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Iowa State University Alumni Association will present awards to several CALS alumni and friends at the 91st annual Honors & Awards Ceremony on Nov. 4.

The public ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium, immediately followed by a dessert reception. Registration is not required to attend.

CALS Awards

Floyd Andre Award

Robert E. Rust, friend of Iowa State University and professor emeritus of animal science, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Floyd Andre Award. This award honors an alumnus or friend of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who has made outstanding contributions to production agriculture, agricultural business or has had a significant impact on Iowa agriculture.

While serving as a faculty member at Iowa State, Rust developed a series of meat science short courses – making Iowa State the first university to offer such classes. Some of these courses are still offered today, including the popular Sausage and Processed Meats short course, first offered in 1979.

Rust has co-authored more than 55 scientific articles, 35 extension publications, more than 200 technical publications, nine chapters in reference books, one textbook on meat processing and was co-editor of a book on thermal processing.

He was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2010 and was the first person to receive both the extension award and the meat processing award from the American Meat Science Association.

Following retirement from Iowa State in 1994, Rust and his wife, Dorothy, established an undergraduate and graduate scholarship for meat science students.

George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

Christopher E. Nelson, friend of Iowa State University, is the recipient of the George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni and/or friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership in making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society.

Nelson has served for 29 years as president and CEO of Kemin Industries, a global ingredient manufacturer for human and animal health and nutrition, pet food, aquaculture, nutraceuticals, food technologies, crop technologies, textiles, biofuel and animal vaccines. Under Nelson’s leadership, Kemin generates over $1.2 billion in revenue per year and employs more than 3,500 people in more than 90 countries.

Nelson holds 10 patents and has authored numerous published research studies. He was named one of the top 100 CEO Leaders in STEM by STEMConnector and Entrepreneur of the Year for Life Sciences in the Central Midwest by Ernst & Young.

His affinity toward Iowa State is evident through Kemin’s support of professorships, scholarships, and building projects. These include the Dr. John Patience Professorship in Applied Animal Nutrition, the Paul and Candace Flakoll Scholarship, and the renovation of the ISU Food Microbiology Laboratory.

Henry A. Wallace Award

Bill Northey (’81 agricultural business) has been chosen to receive the Henry A. Wallace Award. This award honors a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumnus or friend who has achieved notable professional achievements nationally or internationally and brought distinction to themselves, the college, and the university through their significant contributions.

A fourth-generation farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa, and current CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Northey has made a tremendous impact on agriculture at the state, national, and international levels.

After serving as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture from 2007-2018, Northey was named Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation for the USDA by the Trump Administration. While in this position, Northey oversaw the division’s 21,000 employees and traveled throughout the United States as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He also worked on the 2018 Farm Bill and set up payments for farmers impacted by the pandemic and trade disputes.

He was named a Friend of Agriculture by the Iowa Farm Bureau, an Iowa 4-H Outstanding Alumni, and received the Distinguished Achievement in Agriculture Award from Gamma Sigma Delta. He also received the ISU Alumni Merit Award and ISU Agricultural Business Club Outstanding Alumni Award.

Outstanding Young Professional Award

Amanda (Taylor) De Jong (’02 agricultural business), head of government affairs and policy engagement at Pivot Bio, has been named the Outstanding Young Professional Award recipient. This award recognizes College of Agriculture and Life Sciences early- or mid-career alumni who have distinguished themselves through significant advancement and achievement in their discipline, field or area of expertise.

In 2017, she became the first woman to be appointed as state executive director for the USDA Iowa Farm Service Agency (FSA). Under her leadership, the Iowa FSA delivered more than $2.09 billion annually in federal programs and loans to farmers, livestock producers and foresters. De Jong worked to ensure all Iowa producers had access to FSA’s programs by meeting with farmers, farm organizations and underrepresented groups.

A founding member of the Young Professionals in Agriculture organization in the Des Moines area, De Jong strives to connect and empower fellow leaders in agriculture.

She received the ISU Agricultural Business Club Outstanding Alumni Award in 2021. As a member of the Marshall County Farm Bureau Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, De Jong is active in shaping polices that affect her local farming community.

ISU Alumni Association Awards

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Martin Gross (’11 biology, ’13 MS food science and technology, ’15 agricultural and biosystems engineering & food science and technology) is one of two recipients of this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. The Iowa State University Alumni Association established this award in 1968 to recognize Iowa State alumni, age 40 and under, who have excelled in their professions and provided service to their communities.

Gross is the president of Gross-Wen Technologies, a start-up company that has commercialized the Revolving Algal Biofilm wastewater treatment technology to combat the financial burden of implementing expensive municipal water treatment systems. What began as an idea in graduate school has grown into a business with $5 million in revenue, $10 million in equity investments, and $3 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy.

He is chairman of the board at the Algae Biomass Organization and a board director at the Iowa Biotechnology Association. In 2020, Gross was recognized as the top entrepreneur in Iowa by the Small Business Administration, and in 2022, was named CEO of the Year as Iowa's top startup CEO by Clay and Milk.

Alumni Medal

Mick Guttau (’69 farm operations) and his wife, Judy, are the recipients of this year’s Alumni Medal award. The Iowa State University Alumni Association established this award in 1948 to recognize Iowa State alumni for long loyal service to the university through alumni-related activities. It is the premier award given to alumni by the ISU Alumni Association.

After graduation and serving as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, Mick worked as a loan officer at his Treynor, Iowa, hometown bank for six years. In 1978, Mick and Judy were approached with the opportunity to buy the bank. With the support of Mick’s family, Mick and Judy were able to use the family farm as collateral and came to own what is now known as TS Bank. They’ve worked side-by-side for over 40 years, and together, they have fostered a do-good culture.

Their passion for family, work and community goes beyond their bank and is evident in their dedication to Iowa State. They both serve as governors for the ISU Foundation, have served on the Forever True Campaign Committee, ISU Parents Committee, and are Order of the Knoll members. Mick is also on the ISU Alumni Board and was on the ISU Athletics Council.