April 28, 2011

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Top faculty, students and staff honored

By Keith Robinson

The College of Agriculture has recognized its top faculty, students and staff for the 2010-11 academic year.

Faculty and staff honorees are:

John Dunning Jr., professor of wildlife ecology
John Dunning Jr.

* John Dunning Jr., professor of wildlife ecology, Richard L. Kohls Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher. Dunning has been a Purdue faculty member since 1994, teaching 6-7 courses per year and averaging more than 600 students each year. His courses vary in size and instructional approach from large lecture with more than 400 students to small seminar with less than 20. He developed three new courses. Dunning's scholarship in teaching includes 14 publications and two presentations at national and international meetings. He serves as the faculty adviser to the student chapter of The Wildlife Society. He has served on the Forestry and Natural Resources Curriculum Committee since 2000 and was instrumental in the FNR curriculum revision undertaken in 2006-07. Dunning also was heavily involved in the development of assessment rubrics and techniques

Ryan Cabot, associate professor of animal sciences
Ryan Cabot

for FNR and the college, including involvement in the Critical Thinking Community.

* Ryan Cabot, associate professor of animal sciences, Richard L. Kohls Early Career Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Cabot has been at Purdue since 2004, with his primary teaching responsibility in reproductive physiology. He is an adviser to Block & Bridle and serves on the department's diversity action team and on several educational programs and curriculum committees. Cabot helps students use their communication and critical thinking skills by having them investigate science-based articles and with other written assignments. He received Purdue's Teaching for Tomorrow Award for 2010.

Cale Bigelow, associate professor of agronomy
Cale Bigelow

* Cale Bigelow, associate professor of agronomy, David C. Pfendler Outstanding Counselor. Bigelow joined the Purdue faculty in 2002. He is the academic adviser for more than 40 students. He also is adviser to the Turfgrass Science Club, is the primary contact for all inquiries regarding turfgrass science studies and coordinates the summer work for most of the undergraduates. Bigelow developed a distance-learning version of an agronomy course for students at regional campuses across the state. He also co-developed and administers a turfgrass diagnostics course designed to prepare students for Collegiate Turf Quiz Bowl competitions.

* Robert Swihart, head of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Outstanding Graduate Educator. Swihart joined Purdue faculty in 1991 as an assistant

Robert Swihart
Robert Swihart

professor and has been department head since 2004, a role that includes overseeing 90 graduate students. He previously was chair of the graduate program in the department and served on the Graduate Council in Agriculture. Under Swihart's leadership, the department has ranked among the top in the nation in the National Research Council’s Ph.D. Program Rankings. He fine-tuned an annual research symposium in which students update colleagues and faculty on their research. He also supported the development of annual evaluations between committees and graduate students, increasing communication and clarifying expectations.

* Kelly Delp, communications specialist in the Department of Agronomy since 2003, Outstanding Service to Students Award. Delp develops and organizes activities in the department and across campus for the Agronomy Ambassador program, teaching students about the department, college and university;

Kelly Delp, communications specialist in the Department of Agronomy
Kelly Delp

speaking to visitors; recruiting high school students; and developing educational programs. She provides assistance to all student organizations and judging teams affiliated with the department. Delp has involved students in the development of websites for the department, for which she received a Certificate of Merit from the American Society of Agronomy, and has involved undergraduate and graduate students in various other communications and events.


Student honorees are:

* Jamie L. Steiner of Berne, Ind., Outstanding Senior. Steiner is majoring in agricultural economics. Her academic success has been recognized by scholarship committees and membership in Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. She participates in the College of Agriculture Dean's Scholars Program. Steiner has been working on research in studying school consolidation. She has had internships with Chiquita Brands International of Cincinnati and the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. Her work has included a part-time job with C-SPAN Archives at Purdue Research Park. Steiner has been involved in Purdue Student Government, including through her current position as vice president, and served on the Purdue Foundation Student Board. She also is chair of the Search and Screen Committee for Student Trustee and of the Purdue Campus Safety Task Force. She is the daughter of Kent and Shirley Steiner.

* Benjamin Daily of Hope, Ind., Outstanding Junior. Daily is majoring in agricultural economics and agricultural systems management, maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average. He is vice president of the Agricultural Systems Management Club and participates in Purdue's Agronomy Club, Block and Bridle, Agricultural Economics Club and Food Science Club. Daily has complemented his academics with work experiences, which include personnel management. He also has been active in community service through Alpha Mu, the honor society for agricultural systems management students. He is the son of Jim and Carol Daily.

* Gabriel Rangel of Indianapolis, Outstanding Sophomore. He is a biochemistry major and was the outstanding freshman last year. He achieved a 4.0 grade-point average during his first three semesters. His interest in undergraduate research took him to a Purdue laboratory to work in the area of cancer and epigenetics. He has worked two summers in a laboratory at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, examining the effect of a drug on prostate cancer cells. Rangel will be involved in research this summer through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program. He is involved in numerous service and outreach activities at Purdue. He is the son of Kimbra Rangel.

* Elaina Grott of Mount Prospect, Ill., Outstanding Freshman. Grott is an entomology major interested in a career in environmental and ecological research. She was a Student Conservation Association intern in the summer of 2010. She is in the University Honors Program and is a dean's scholar, among other academic honors. She is a member of the Thomas Say Entomological Society, Full Circle Agriculture at Purdue and Purdue Zoo Club; is social chair of Habitat for Humanity; and is co-chair of the Boiler Green Initiative's Alternative Transportation Committee. She is the daughter of Jack and Kelly Grott.

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