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WSU Ag and Home Ec Faculty and Staff Honored

PULLMAN, Wash. — Faculty and staff of Washington State University’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics were honored for their achievements Saturday (April 13) at the 43rd annual college awards banquet.

Paulette Mills, associate professor of human development, received the R. M. Wade Excellence in Teaching Award.

In a letter of nomination, students said, “Dr. Mills provides an enriching learning environment and exhibits enthusiasm for helping her students become ready and excited for their future professions. Her creative teaching style and approach to teaching are captivating. She stimulates her students to formulate their own perspectives about their presented class material.”

Mills, a member of the faculty since 1994, teaches five upper level courses with enrollments totaling more than 50 students. Mills consistently receives high student teaching evaluations, with most close to 5.00, the top mark.

Beyond formal teaching, Mills advises the Human Development Student Association/Family Consumer Sciences Club and the Agriculture and Home Economics Student Senate.

Steve Ullrich, professor of agronomy, received the college’s Alumni Association Undergraduate Advising Award.

Ullrich, a member of the faculty since 1978, coordinates advising in crop science in addition to teaching and research responsibilities. He personally advises more than 20 undergraduate students each year. He also serves as major professor for two graduate students and serves on several graduate student committees.

“Dr. Ullrich was a very interested and caring advisor,” one former advisee wrote in support of his nomination. “He always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.”

Another former advisee wrote, “Steve always took the time to make sure our class schedules complimented our degree goals and gently encouraged us to make the most of the often-times challenging courses required in agricultural science program. He was never too busy or tired to take a few moments to visit. We always left thinking we had a friend we could count on and a guide when academic choices seemed overwhelming.”

The annual Faculty Excellence in Research Award went to Juming Tang, associate professor of biological systems engineering.

Tang has established WSU as a leader in the use of microwave and radio frequency energy for thermal processing of food and post-harvest treatment of fruits and nuts, according to his nominators.

Thanks to his efforts, WSU is the only university in the world with microwave frequency and radio frequency sterilization equipment and the necessary technical and scientific means to conduct research in all three FC-approved frequencies for thermal food processing.

Scientific principles and systematic methodology developed by Tang in the course of establishing thermal treatment protocols are now used by several major laboratories across the country.

He has developed techniques that are important to U.S. Army-Natick laboratories and food processors for use in the sterilization and of improved military rations.

Tang has been a member of the WSU faculty for six years.

The college’s Excellence in Extension Award went to Roger Veseth, extension conservation tillage specialist and a member of the faculty for 15 years.

Veseth, who holds joint appointments on both the WSU and University of Idaho faculties, conducts educational programs promoting conservation tillage.

“He has ushered one of the nation’s largest movements for direct seed cropping systems in the Pacific Northwest,” his nominator wrote.

An annual direct seed conference that he organizes attracts an average of 750 people to hear panels of participants from all over the world. He also makes information available through conference reports, a regular newsletter, a Web site and various publications on conservation agriculture.

Vic DeMacon, a senior scientific assistant in the spring wheat breeding genetics program in the crop and soil sciences department, received the Administrative Professional Excellence Award. Five years ago, DeMacon took sole responsibility for integrating early generation end-use quality selection strategies into the breeding program to enhance market demand for spring wheat grain.

Since, he has personally evaluated thousands of experimental breeding lines for gluten strength, starch quality, enzymatic browning activity and milling and banking efficience prior to field evaluation.

DeMacon has been at WSU for 13 years.

David M. deAvila, a research technical advisor in the animal sciences department, received the Classified Staff – Technical Excellence Award. He works for two faculty and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the research in the Endocrinology Laboratory. In this capacity he works with faculty, graduate students, technicians and herdsmen at WSU as well as livestock producers. He has improved or developed many new laboratory techniques.

DeAvila has been with WSU for more than 17 years.

Sharon Taff, administrative assistant to the director of the WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, was awarded the Classified Staff – Clerical Excellence Award.

Taff, a WSU employee for 28 years, administers grants, contracts, and gifts and compiles annual research reports into professional documents. She recently assumed responsibility for providing travel support for faculty and staff at the center.

She represents the center on the Prosser Economic Development Board. Outside of work, she was director of the annual harvest festival for five years, has served in a number of volunteer capacities in connection with the annual Prosser Wine and Food Fair and is active in her church: teaching Sunday school to four- and five-year-olds for 49 years.

The college Team Excellence Award was presented to the farm services division of the animal sciences department. This group of seven employees maintains 2,400 acres of land spread over 20 miles and does maintenance at numerous facilities, including the Feed Preparation Laboratory, the Ensminger Beef Cattle Facility and the J. C. Knott Dairy Center. The farm services division also manages the university’s compost facility, which serves the entire campus.

The compost facility saves the university more than $200,000 annually in reduced tipping fees and transportation costs associated with waste disposal.

The team is responsible for producing sufficient quantities of grain for cattle and swine feeding trials. The team also works collaboratively with other units on campus, including the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Team members are Jerry Weber, maintenance mechanic lead; Darral Manthey and Ted Scharnhorst, maintenance mechanics; Gary Fuller and Wayne Olesen, truck drivers; Rich Finch, heavy equipment operator and compost facility operator; and Dan Caldwell, manager of the agricultural and maintenance and compost operations.

Mills and Ullrich each received a plaque and check for $1,000. Tang, Veseth, DeMacon, deAvila, and Taff each received a plaque and $1,000 for professional development. The farm services team received $1,000 for professional development and each member received a plaque.

At the same banquet, outstanding students were recognized, the names of 62 students were added to the Dean’s Honor Roll and scholarships worth more than $440,000 were awarded to 414 students.

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