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Faculty, students honored at joint society meetings

Two College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members were among award winners while three CALS students were scholarship winners at the joint annual meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America.

Dr. Charles Stuber, professor emeritus of genetics and crop science emeritus and director, Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics, was honored by the Crop Science Society of America with its Presidential Award.

Stuber was recognized for his pioneering research in the development of DNA marker-based selection technology used in all major plant breeding programs. He is a past president of both the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.

Stuber has been at North Carolina State University since 1962, when he was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service as a research geneticist, with a joint appointment as a professor of genetics. He taught genetics until his retirement in 1998, and he has continued to serve on the faculty as an emeritus professor of genetics since then.

In 2006, Stuber was asked to develop the Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics, and he became the center’s first director, a position he still holds. In 2010, he was named a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumnus. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders. He also received the 2012-13 CALS Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Joshua Heitman, associate professor of soil science, was honored by the Soil Science Society of America with the Early Career Professional Award. The award recognizes professionals who have made an outstanding contribution in soil science within seven years of completing their final degree. The award consists of a certificate and $1,000 honorarium.

Heitman’s research focuses on understanding the impact of water, heat and chemical flows on soil through laboratory and field experiments, development of new measurement techniques and numerical modeling.

In addition, three CALS students were recognized during the meetings.

David Eickholt, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Crop Science, received a United Soybean Board Fellowship. The fellowship promotes graduate education in the plant sciences, emphasizing the development of improved soybean varieties, understanding soybean genetics and developing improved ways to grow and use soybeans.

Funds for the fellowship are made available through gifts from the United Soybean Board to the American Society of Agronomy. The fellowship provides a $25,000 annual stipend for up to four years. The recipient also receives a membership in the American Society of Agronomy and a subscription to Agronomy Journal for the duration of the fellowship.

Keith Merrill, a Ph.D. student studying plant breeding and genetics, received a Gerald O. Mott Scholarship for Meritorious Graduate Students in Crop Science. The scholarship is supported by gifts from the Gerald O. Mott family to the Agronomic Science Foundation and administered by the Crop Science Society of America. Merrill received one of four $2,500 scholarships awarded.

Mott Scholarships are awarded to students who show outstanding potential for leadership.

Ansilta De Luca-Westrate, a Park Scholar who is majoring in sustainable agriculture, was a Golden Opportunity Scholar during the meeting. De Luca-Westrate is a senior who plans to pursue studies in sustainable development and natural resource conservation after graduation in May 2014.

The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of American Golden Opportunity Scholars Institute matches undergraduates with society professionals during the joint annual meetings. This professional development program is aimed at strengthening the agronomy, crops, soils and environmental science professions by encouraging students to enroll in related programs.

The program is supported by the Golden Opportunity Fund through the Agronomic Science Foundation. Scholars receive financial support for travel, lodging, registration and other costs related to attending the annual meetings.

The joint annual meetings of the three societies were Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Florida. The meetings were attended by more than 4,000 scientists, professionals, educators and students.