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Ray Massey Receives 2020 C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award

Ray Massey, Extension professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Division of Applied Social Sciences, received the 2020 C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award as part of the UM System President’s Awards. The C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award recognizes a University of Missouri faculty member who demonstrates commitment, dedication and effectiveness in advancing the land-grant mission through Extension, international education and agricultural economics programs.

In these respects, Massey has performed at the highest levels throughout his career, according to the UM System. His work in agricultural economics has improved lives worldwide, and he is recognized for his contributions to Missouri producers and MU students. Since beginning work at the University of Missouri in 1995, he has provided farmers and agribusinesses with timely and relevant risk management information, won numerous awards for his work, and developed relationships with the Republic of Korea, the Czech Republic, Scotland, China and Argentina.

Notably, his efforts with the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Argentina built an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship with the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange and facilitated important study abroad experiences for 20 MU students. Massey has also distinguished himself by working at the forefront of creative thought for agricultural risk management and bringing Midwest farmers insight into behavioral economics to enhance their own decision-making. Enthusiastic recommendations from university leaders, major Missouri agribusiness stakeholders, USDA partners and international colleagues speak to Massey’s considerable impact. As an educator and researcher who has shared knowledge widely and effectively, Massey is undoubtedly the measure of a Ratchford Fellow, according to the UM System.

In 2003, Massey received the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ J.W. Burch State Specialist Agricultural Extension Award. This honor recognizes state specialists for their effectiveness of program leadership with field staff, quality of Extension publications, presentations and other educational materials, and recognition by state and national peers for their program quality.

Sofia Ortega Named Zamorano AGEAP USA Alumni of the Month

Sofia Ortega, assistant professor of reproductive physiology in Animal Sciences, has recently been recognized as the AGEAP USA Alumni of the Month. Ortega’s interest in reproductive physiology began at Zamorano (Class of 2003), through her work in Honduras. She received her MS in Animal Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and she completed her PhD at the University of Florida in 2016 in Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Her CAFNR team utilizes a systems biology approach to optimize cattle fertility, using CRISPR knockouts to study preimplantation bovine embryo development. Ortega has published more than 17 peer-reviewed articles in top-tier journals in reproductive biology. She also contributes to the advancement of animal and reproductive sciences, serving as an Associate Editor of the CABI Agriculture and Bioscience Journal, as well as a reviewer for eight scientific journals and through numerous national and international speaking engagements.

Charles Nilon Named the Newest Holder of the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife

Charles Nilon, professor of urban wildlife management in the School of Natural Resources, was recently named the newest holder of the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife. From its inception in 1944, the William J. Rucker Professorship in Fisheries and Wildlife’s purpose has been for the “instruction of youth upon the subject of the value and preservation of wild life.” Funds are used primarily to support graduate research assistant stipends.

“I have known Dr. Nilon almost since the start of my MU career, when I arrived in 1999,” said Pat Market, interim director of the School of Natural Resources. “He has always been a thoughtful colleague, who has the School’s and our students’ best interests at heart. Dr. Nilon is a widely respected scholar with more than 5,000 citations. His expertise makes him a clear choice for this distinction.”

Nilon has been a faculty member in SNR since June 1989. His research focuses on urban wildlife conservation and urban ecology, human dimensions of wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. Since 1997, Nilon has been a co-principal investigator on the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), one of two urban ecosystems included in the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program. He and his students study how ecological and socioeconomic factors influence wildlife species composition and abundance. Because urban areas are homes to people as well as wildlife, Nilon’s research also considers the role of nature as part of an individual’s day-to-day environment, and environmental justice issues associated with access to nature.

Since 2010, Nilon has been a principal investigator on three different synthesis projects that are compiling data from more than 150 of the world’s cities. The projects seek to understand global patterns of biodiversity in cities, the filters that shape species composition in cities, and the social and ecological factors that shape patterns of abundance in cities, and apply that information to management, conservation and planning programs. He teaches courses on urban wildlife conservation, human dimensions of natural resources and environmental justice, and is a co-investigator on MU’s THRIVE Project which seeks to develop a culture of inclusive excellence in the natural sciences.

Randall Miles Receives 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award

Randall Miles, associate professor emeritus of soil science in the School of Natural Resources, received the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award as part of the UM System President’s Awards. The Thomas Jefferson Award is reserved for faculty who rise above excellence and demonstrate clear distinction, not only in their career, but also in service to the University of Missouri and humankind.

Over his career as a beloved instructor at MU, Miles has made a major impact on student education. Beyond that, his profound passions for soil science, human health and community well­being have led him to make fundamental contributions to the development of small rural towns. He has leveraged his expertise in wastewater treatment to help smaller municipalities to recycle water back into the local watershed while recycling nutrients for onsite crop utilization and generate income through the installation of low-cost irrigation systems that promote biofuel production. He has also elevated the reputation of the university by establishing the Missouri Onsite Wastewater Training and Research Center, which has served as a major educational resource for regulators, soil scientists, installers, engineers, designers, land-use planners, home inspectors, and homeowners.

Miles has earned numerous awards from CAFNR, including the Dana Brown Haynes Distinguished Service Award in 2018 and the Outstanding Teaching Award in 1993. He served as the director of Sanborn Field for several years as well.

As an expert in both teaching difficult concepts and putting them into action, Miles is a rarity. The fact that he has applied his considerable talent to elevate the quality of life in small-town America make him exceptional, and worthy of the Thomas Jefferson Award, according to the UM System.

Chung-Ho Lin Receives 2020 President’s Award for Economic Development

Chung-Ho Lin, associate research professor in the School of Natural Resources, received the 2020 President’s Award for Economic Development from the UM System. This award recognizes faculty for distinguished activity in meeting the University of Missouri’s goal of serving as an economic engine for the state and its citizens. Awardees demonstrate entrepreneurial innovation in using the classroom, outreach programs or the laboratory as vehicles for increasing or developing new economic activity in the state.

Lin’s primary research involves the use of plants, microbes and engineered enzymes for bioremediation, ecological restoration and development of bioeconomy. He is the lead scientist in the bioremediation program at the MU Center for Agroforestry, one of CAFNR’s Programs of Distinction.

Lin has spent the past seven years working to transfer research inventions to industrial applications. His collaborative efforts have successfully launched startups based on research in agricultural production, chemical remediation, biofuels and much more, according to the UM System. One example, Elemental Enzymes, is now a self-sustaining company active in six countries, holding more than 114 patents and employing 37 workers in offices in Missouri and Florida. In 2019, Elemental Enzyme’s products were applied to more than 7 million acres of crops in the U.S. alone, producing more than a billion additional pounds of corn.

Lin is also co-founder and lead scientist of Tiger Enzyme Solutions at the MU Life Science Incubator. Among other projects, the company is developing bioreactor technology to convert blood types to produce the universal donor type O. In addition to 17 patent applications that have generated revenue for MU, Lin collaborates with and strengthens the economic impact of regional biotechnology companies, including SCD Probiotics, Proviera Biotech, Kelly Foods Corporation, and AgriGro.

Thomas Spencer Receives 2020 President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence

Thomas Spencer, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences, received the 2020 President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence from the UM System. This award recognizes faculty for distinguished career-long, sustained excellence in scholarship, research or creativity, for a period of 15 or more years.

Spencer, who is also associate vice chancellor for research (emphasis in STEM disciplines), joined the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) in 2015, and was a signature hire as part of the Mizzou Advantage program. He is an internationally recognized and respected leader in the fields of reproductive and developmental biology. The long-term goal of his work is to improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes in domestic animals and women. Spencer has a joint appointment in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health in the MU School of Medicine and is a faculty research leader in the Precision Health Initiative. He is also the program director of the Interdisciplinary Reproduction and Health Group (IRHG), one of CAFNR’s Programs of Distinction.

According to UM System, in his 23-year career, Spencer has originated widely accepted concepts and paradigm shifts, presented over 120 invited talks, and authored or coauthored over 330 scientific publications with a h-index of 100. In recognition of his significant contributions, he was inducted as a member of the highly prestigious National Academy of Sciences, selected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received a Curators’ Professorship from the University of Missouri System. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have funded Dr. Spencer without interruption since 1996, and his current active funding is more than $14 million. In 2018 he received the CAFNR Distinguished Research Award.

MU Faculty Part of Gene Editing Task Force

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) recently announced an 11-person Gene Editing Task Force, which includes two individuals from the University of Missouri: Bhanu Telugu (associate professor) and Londa Nwadike (food safety state specialist, MU Extension). The 11-person task force is comprised of scientists and industry leaders who will map out recommendations for regulating this emerging genomic technology in animal agriculture with appropriate safeguards and procedures.

Matthew Lucy Receives ADSA Award of Honor

The American Dairy Science Association® (ADSA®), the international organization of educators, scientists and industry representatives who are committed to advancing the dairy industry, recently announced the winners of professional and student awards for 2020. Matthew Lucy, professor in the Division of Animal Sciences, received the ADSA Award of Honor. The award recognizes unusually outstanding and consistent contributions to the welfare of the Association or distinguished service to the Association. The award is primarily for services to the American Dairy Science Association.

Harvey James Receives Richard P. Haynes Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award in Agriculture, Food, and Human Values

Harvey James, professor of agricultural and applied economics, and associate director in the Division of Applied Social Sciences, was recently honored with the 2020 Richard P. Haynes Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award in Agriculture, Food, and Human Values from the Agriculture, Food & Human Values Society (AFHVS). The award honors persons, who in their careers, have made outstanding contributions towards realizing the goals of the AFHVS through research, teaching, extension, public service or public policy.

Nominations highlighted the impact of James’ research about fairness, trust, conflict, democratic governance and morality and his courses that focus on the ethical dimensions of agriculture and food systems. Additionally, nominations stressed James’ work from 2007 to 2019 as editor-in-chief of the Agriculture and Human Values journal.

From James’ award letter:

The AFHVS Awards Committee was impressed with your record of accomplishments in research, teaching, and service throughout your career at the University of Missouri as well as your exceptional service to our Society.

Your nominators spoke highly of your approach to economics as deeply connected with the moral questions of our time. In your research you have explored the “ethical dimensions of markets such as fairness, trust, conflict, democratic governance, and morality,” edited new books on the ethics of agricultural biotechnologies and competition in the agrifood system, as well as authored or coauthored over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous other publications. They noted that in your teaching, your courses address critical ethical dimensions of agriculture and food systems and that you strive to help your students gain the confidence to perform well in formal academic settings as well as become life-long learners.

Above and beyond all of your many accomplishments as a researcher and teacher, nominators were appreciative of your steady leadership and service as the Editor-in-Chief of the Agriculture and Human Values journal from 2007 to 2019, beginning at a rather tumultuous time. They wrote that your editorship “has been a model for any journal” and that “the selection of papers published in the journal has, from the beginning, spanned all of the social science disciplines and included frequent contributions by philosophers and historians, with the occasional submission by scholars of literature or cultural studies.” They note that “your judgment and your selection of reviewers not only cut across disciplines, but reflected high standards of scholarship, so much so that despite its comparatively narrow range of application to studies of the food system, this is actually one of the highest rated outlets for scholarship in social studies of science and technology, continually outpacing interdisciplinary studies journals with a medical, engineering, or information technology focus.” Another wrote that “it is hard to calculate the importance of this journal by standard measures since it is so rare to find journals that will publish this kind of groundbreaking work.”

IPG PhD Students and Postdocs Selected for Webinar Series

Six University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG) PhD students and postdocs have been selected for “Summer CROPS Talks,” a webinar series for plant science researchers. This new series extends from a developing cooperation between the Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State and the IPG. The series provides a great opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to engage with their peers at the other institutions.

The platform provides an opportunity to share graduate student and postdoc research with the plant science community. The format will be a 20-minute Zoom presentation with 10-minute question and answer session.

The Mizzou students who will participate:

Vivek Shrestha

June 23, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Division of Biological Sciences

Advisor: Ruthie Angelovici

Jian Kang

June 30, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Division of Plant Sciences

Advisor: Bob Sharp

Alani Antoine-Mitchell

July 7, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Department of Biochemistry

Advisor: Antje Heese

Kelly Mason

July 14, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Department of Biochemistry

Advisor: Antje Heese

Sidharth Sen

July 21, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

MU Institute for Data Science and Informatics (MUIDSI)

Advisor: Trupti Joshi

Shannon King

July 28, 2020 (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Department of Biochemistry

Advisors: Scott Peck, Bob Sharp, Felix Fritschi