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Sherry Flint-Garcia Named Alumnus of the Year by CAFNR Alumni Association

Sherry Flint-Garcia (PhD Genetics ’01), lead scientist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service Plant Genetics Unit, has received the CAFNR Alumni Association’s Alumnus of Year honor for 2022.

Sherry, who is also an adjunct professor in the Divisions of Plant Science and Technology, and Biological Sciences at Mizzou, is a world-leader in maize (corn) quantitative genetics and breeding. She, along with colleagues, developed the maize Nested Association Mapping (NAM) resource, a revolutionary advance in plant research, quantitative genetics and biology. Sherry has also worked to determine how maize adapts across latitude and to high elevation in Mexico and the Andes of South America. She has been part of numerous grants from the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program (NSF PGRP).

Her lab has co-published high-profile papers in the top echelon of research journals (e.g., Science, PNAS, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, etc.). Her expertise is highly sought after, and she has been invited to present her research across the U.S. and in multiple countries. She co-edited a book on the maize genome and has served as associate editor for two scientific journals. Sherry was co-recipient of the 2012 USDA Secretary’s Honor Award.

“Sherry is the epitome of success and is a role model, advisor, and mentor for current and future CAFNR students,” said nominator David Braun, professor and director of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group. “Through her local, national, and international leadership and service Sherry is giving back to society and earning praise for herself and MU. Sherry is most highly deserving of this award and is an outstanding alumnus of this great College, for which CAFNR should be very proud.”

This award recognizes significant contributions or accomplishments by an individual whose efforts and support have added to the excellence of the University of Missouri.

Doug Kueker Receives Citation of Merit from CAFNR Alumni Association

Doug Kueker (BS Ag Ed ‘03), co-CEO of Vivayic, has received the 2022 Citation of Merit award from the CAFNR Alumni Association. He has worked to champion agricultural education his entire career, from leading curriculum design and new learning initiatives at the National FFA Organization, to co-founding Vivayic, a learning strategy firm.

He has served as a member of the MU Agricultural Education Advisory Committee and has been awarded both the Honorary State and American FFA Degrees. He has provided training for the Missouri FFA officer teams and helped with curriculum development for agricultural education teachers statewide. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in CAFNR, he received his PhD from Mizzou in Information Sciences and Learning Technologies, and earned his Master’s of Science in Education from Purdue University.

“To say that Doug has had a positive impact on agricultural education would be an understatement,” said nominator Miranda Carls, a fellow CAFNR alumnus and Vivayic employee. “Doug’s career and background have given him outstanding opportunities to hone his skills and contribute to the field of agricultural education at the secondary, post-secondary, and corporate levels.

“Through his company, Vivayic, Doug has been instrumental in the development of a long list of high impact initiatives, to include: high-visibility corporate learning initiatives within some of the world’s leading agricultural companies, agricultural literacy programs for children and teens, and standard-aligned agriculture curriculum for use within high school agricultural programs. Doug has committed his career to championing effective learning design, and he has done so within the niche of the agriculture industry.”

The Citation of Merit award is for professional attainment by a person in a field related to the academic curriculum of a division of the University of Missouri.

Derek Coats Receives Honorary Membership from CAFNR Alumni Association

Derek Coats, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, has been awarded Honorary Membership in the CAFNR Alumni Association.

A graduate of Missouri Western State University with a degree in political science, Derek received the Great Griffon Award in 2021. He has also served as the district office director for U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond and as coalitions director for Friends of Roy Blunt.

“Derek has a career in public service as an indispensable team member for both Senator Bond and Senator Blunt,” said nominator Robin Wenneker, UM System Curator. “He has a long tenure with both senators and was a long-standing strategist for them both. As the Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Roy Blunt, Derek Coats has immersed himself in both the agriculture, civic and Mizzou communities.”

“He has always demonstrated keen insight, either from a policy or practical perspective,” said Richard Fordyce, former director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and USDA Farm Service Agency administrator. “During my time as Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, our conversations were always two-way with him making sure the department was informed of critical issues affecting Missouri’s farmers and ranchers. His ability and timing to share thoughts were always perfect and greatly appreciated.”

“He is an outstanding supporter of both CAFNR and the Missouri agricultural industry,” Wenneker said. “While not a graduate of the University of Missouri, he has embraced his engagement with the college and the university.”

An honorary member shall be a person who is not a former student, but who, because of an exemplary interest in the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is designated by action of the board of directors to be so recognized and honored.

Marc Linit Named Honorary Member of the CAFNR Alumni Association

Marc Linit, professor emeritus of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), has been named an Honorary Member of the CAFNR Alumni Association.

Linit joined Mizzou in 1980 as an assistant professor of entomology and is a decorated researcher and teacher. At the time of his retirement in 2018, he was the senior associate dean in CAFNR’s Office of Research and Extension and director of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station. Over the years he served as department coordinator for entomology and as unit leader and, later, division director for plant sciences – as well as interim vice chancellor and dean of CAFNR in 2016-17.

“CAFNR was extremely fortunate to have Marc in many capacities over the years – probably more fortunate than we realize,” said nominator Tom Payne, vice chancellor and dean emeritus of CAFNR. “Our programs have great stability and are respected not only in the state, but throughout the country and on an international level. Marc has played a key role in all of that.”

“Leading change is challenging and Marc was called upon several more times during his career to lead faculty and stakeholders through tough decisions,” said Bryan Garton, senior associate dean and director of academic programs for CAFNR. “He has a calm, caring demeanor that helps reassure individuals that they are making the right decision for the betterment of students, the citizens of Missouri, and the organization.

“For 24 years Marc has been a colleague and mentor. Although not an alum of Mizzou, during those years I witnessed first-hand Marc’s passion for the success of Tigers of all stripes. During his 37-plus years with our university he was and continues to be a true advocate of our college and Mizzou.”

An honorary member shall be a person who is not a former student, but who, because of an exemplary interest in the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is designated by action of the board of directors to be so recognized and honored.

Jenna Fusinatto Receives Distinguished Service Award from CAFNR Alumni Association

Jenna Fusinatto (BS Parks, Rec & Tourism ’12), senior academic advisor in the School of Natural Resources, has received the 2022 Dana Brown Haynes Distinguished Service Award from the CAFNR Alumni Association.

Jenna advises 400+ students in four different emphasis areas, helps with recruitment events, schedules courses, supervises student ambassadors, and advises the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She also has instructed two different courses over her nine years as an advisor.

Jenna has served as president of the Missouri Academic Advising Association. She helps organize SNR’s Trivia in the Wild fundraiser, has been a long-time member and chair of CAFNR Staff Advisory Council, and has served as president of the Natural Resources Alumni Association. She received a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from Mizzou in 2018.

“She is available quite literally 24/7 and is a tremendous resource for students even if they are needing help outside of our School,” said Pat Market, director of the School of Natural Resources. “Jenna never says it’s not her job – she just finds out what students (or co-workers) need and then also follows-up to make sure they were taken care of. In our Academic Programs Office, we have hired two new staff and without a second thought, Jenna jumps in to mentor them. Jenna is constantly seeking out new resources to be helpful to her students and colleagues and also participates in university-level events so she is up-to-date with local and university issues.”

This award recognizes an outstanding University of Missouri and CAFNR faculty or staff member, alumni or student who has demonstrated a long-term commitment of service to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Greg Rotert Honored with True Tiger Volunteer Award from CAFNR Alumni Association

Greg Rotert (BS Ag ’00), support systems administrator in the School of Natural Resources and MU Division of IT, has received the 2022 True Tiger Volunteer Award from the CAFNR Alumni Association. In addition to the incredible IT support and customer service he has provided to the School of Natural Resources faculty, staff and students for the last nine years, he also gives of his time to participate in and help with SNR, CAFNR and Mizzou events whether over lunch or over the weekend.

He has helped set up lunch and learns in SNR, attends alumni fundraising events, and takes photos at off-campus events to help SNR promote activities and initiatives. In addition, he assists staff retirees and faculty emeriti with technology support to keep them connected, and provides programming and troubleshooting support for media relations at the Missouri State FFA convention.

“He always has put the School first,” the SNR support staff shared in his nomination packet. “He follows up after he does something to make sure that he got it right. He is professional, efficient, superb at explaining tech in layman’s terms, patient and an all-around bright light for everyone he encounters.

“He is the School’s best role model, champion and ultimately volunteer as he is totally present.”

“Greg Rotert has an exceptional talent for providing sustained high-level support to a complex clientele while maintaining enthusiasm for what on certain days seem like routine tasks,” said Jack Jones, Curators’ Professor Emeritus, and nominator. “He is a terrific team member. Greg holds particularly tight bonds with his fellow staff but enjoys universal respect throughout the School and College. His dedication is steadfast.”

The True Tiger award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources through volunteer efforts and a sincere dedication to the University.

Dustin Johansen Honored as Past President of CAFNR Alumni Association

Dustin Johansen (’99 Ag Econ) has been honored as the Past President of the CAFNR Alumni Association. Johansen served as president of the organization from May 2021-May 2022.

He is the director of business development for Farm Journal and also the chairman of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. Johansen chaired CAFNR Unlimited in 2019, and during his time on the CAFNR Alumni Association board was a great advocate for change and moving the association forward toward strategic goals.

“Dustin is truly a Tiger for Life,” said incoming president Nancy Barcus. “He brings the enthusiasm he had for Mizzou as Truman when a student to the CAFNR Alumni Board. I have truly appreciated working alongside him and learning from him the last few years on this Board to benefit our colleges alumni and students.”

“I would like to recognize Dustin for the calm, collected demeanor he exhibits,” said Bryan Setzer, 1st vice president. “Regardless of what is going on around, you can count on Dustin to be even keeled and bring an air of calm to the situation. This leadership is exactly what was needed over the last couple of years.”

“I have known Dustin since our first day of freshman year at Mizzou,” said Kristie Bray Larson, alumni board member. “From serving as Truman the Tiger as an undergraduate to the CAFNR Alumni Board President, there is nothing he won’t do to support our University and our College. I am proud to serve on the Board under his leadership and applaud him for his constant dedication to the advancement of students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, and natural resources.”

“Dustin is a devout CAFNR alum, taking every opportunity to support our great college and institution,” said Stacey Follis, former president. “His service as President and time on the Executive team and Board is no exception to this. He is extremely thoughtful of the constituents’ perception and wishes for the chapter. Dustin has dedicated nearly a decade of service to CAFNR Alumni and his impact in the formation of a virtual and more inclusive Board of Directors will be felt for years to come. We appreciate all that you have contributed to Mizzou and CAFNR, Dustin!”

CAFNR Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (C-DRIG) Winners Announced

The CAFNR Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (C-DRIG) are offered through the CAFNR Office of Research. The C-DRIG grant supports up to $2,000 or partially support dissertation research projects proposed by doctoral students in the College. Eligible students will have completed their coursework and have advanced to candidacy or will advance to candidacy within six months of the C-DRIG awards.

The 2022 C-DRIG recipients are as follows:

Colby Redifer, advised by Allison Meyer, How does nutrient restriction during late pregnancy affect circulating amino acids in beef cows? 

Tayaton Pongspikul, advised by Laura McCann, Transaction Costs of Establishing a Desalination Plant 

Jose Costa Netto, advised by Felix Fritschi, Soybean Genetic Gain: How did breeding for higher yields change plant hydraulic pathway characteristics? 

Jessica Wilson, advised by Alba Argerich, Impacts of legacy mining on stream functional processes in an urban stream

Katy Stoecklein, advised by Sofia Ortega and Randy Prather, Cytokine supplementation to improve developmental competence of bovine embryos following slow-rate freezing