The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announced Dr. S. Elizabeth George and H. Connor Kennett Jr. as its 2011-2012 Distinguished Alumni at the College’s annual Alumni Awards Reception Sept. 30. Dr. Johnny Wynne, College dean, presided at the reception held at the N.C. State University Club, where the College’s Outstanding Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni for 2011 were also honored.
George and Kennett were recognized for their outstanding career achievements, which have brought honor to the College, and for their commitment to the land-grant principle of service to community, state and nation.
George, who resides in Fairfax Station, Va., is widely considered one the nation’s leading authorities on chemical and biological warfare. She serves as the director of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Directorate for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. George previously served as deputy division head of the Chemical and Biological Countermeasures Division in the Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security. A native of Austin, Texas, she received her 1979 master’s degree and 1984 Ph.D. in microbiology from N.C. State, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Tech.
Her significant accomplishments include the design and deployment of BioWatch, the nation’s first civilian biological threat agent monitoring system, and PROTECT, the first civilian operational chemical detection and response capability deployed in the Washington subway system. She spent 16 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in the Office of Research and Development, National Health and Ecological Effects Research Laboratory, Environmental Carcinogenesis division, where she was chief of the Molecular and Cellular Toxicology branch. She also is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M University.
George has received the DHS Undersecretary’s Award for Science and Technology, the U.S. EPA Bronze Medal and Scientific and Technological Achievement awards, and the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award. She is an ex officio member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and provides leadership for several interagency working groups, most recently in the areas of national biomonitoring and biological restoration.
In 2007, George was named a CALS Outstanding Alumnus, representing the Department of Microbiology.
Kennett, who lives in Sanford, served as director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s poultry division from 1973 to his retirement in 1988, the longest tenure of any poultry division director. A native of Durham, he earned his N.C. State bachelor’s degree in poultry science in 1954. Following his graduation, he served two years in the U.S. Army before joining the USDA.
Widely considered a major contributor to the development of the U.S. egg products industry, Kennett worked to implement and administer three major pieces of legislation impacting the poultry industry: the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act and the Egg Research and Consumer Information Act.
His career honors include USDA certificates of Merit in eight different years, USDA Superior Service awards in 1960 and 1977 and the Presidential Award as a “Meritorious Executive” in 1982. In 1987, the United Egg Producers presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, and in 1988 he was given the Outstanding Service Award by the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association.
In 1992 he was the first North Carolinian to be inducted into the National Poultry Hall of Fame, and in 1997 he was inducted into the N.C. Poultry Hall of Fame.
Along with the presentations to George and Kennett at the reception, the College honored the following alumni (listed with the CALS department from which they graduated):
2011-2012 Outstanding Alumni
Roger Black, Crop Science
Michael Waldvogel, Entomology
Anne Fratzke Coan, Soil Science
Henry E. Schaffer, Genetics
Karl F. Hehl Jr., Agricultural Institute
Ronald W. Shearon, Agricultural and Extension Education
Anita P. Flick, Biology
James W. Jones, Biological and Agricultural Engineering
W. Steven Otwell, Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
Mary K. Muth, Agricultural and Resource Economics
Jack H. Britt, Animal Science
Danny R McConnell, Horticultural Science
2011-2012 Outstanding Young Alumni
Jennifer Roney Gwyn, Agricultural and Extension Education
Paul Hampton Zigas, Biochemistry
— Terri Leith