Texas A&M AgriLife

Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Awards

2012 Award Recipients

Dr. Jennifer R. WilliamsDr. Jennifer R. Williams-Early Career Teaching
As an assistant professor at Texas A&M University for the last two years, Dr. Jen (as she is known to her students) contributes to the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications through her extraordinary commitment to promoting personal growth and career success in her students.   She uses a multitude of innovative teaching methods in her classes such as incorporating popular culture.   She is also a recognized scholar with 13 peer-reviewed articles on teaching methods in leadership development.

Dr. Calvin B. ParnellDr. Calvin B. Parnell-Teaching
One nominator noted that Dr. Parnell developed a reputation early in his career as being an engaging and demanding instructor with high expectations for his students.  As a teacher in the biological and agricultural engineering department, he has the ability to motivate and inspire burdened college students.  Dr. Parnell imparts a desire to excel and truly learn the art and science of engineering.    He has been an advisor to more than 50 masters and doctoral students, spreading his trademark enthusiasm for agricultural engineering.


Dr. Kevin Heinz and Dr. Rebecca HapesREU-EXCITE TEAM—Educational Enrichment and Innovation
This award recognizes excellence and dedication to high impact student experiences and exceptional innovation in student learning, in or out of the classroom.      The Department of Entomology’s REU-EXCITE Team is the 2012 winner.   Dr. Kevin Heinz and Mrs. Rebecca Hapes envisioned, created, and implemented a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates.  The Expanding Scientific Investigation Through Entomology (EXCITE) program brings students to campus for a 10-week summer entomology program.  EXCITE increases diversity, recruits students and gives them a complete scientific experience…with 13% of participants actually publishing findings in scientific journals.


Dr. William B. FaulknerDr. William B. Faulkner- Early Career Research
Although early in his career, Dr. Faulkner has already developed a national reputation for quality research and service as well as an outstanding teaching record. As author or co-author of 24 peer-reviewed articles, his research is already having an impact.   He developed a decision tool for cotton producers to compare harvesting methods.  Another of his research projects led to revisions of the particulate emission factor for almond harvesting operations in California.   He serves on two federal advisory committees and provides leadership in national societies, winning the Young Engineer of the Year award in 2009.


Dr. David BriskeDr. David D. Briske-Research
With 34 years of experience, Dr. Briske is a faculty member in the department of ecosystem science and management.  He has an impressive record of scholarship including 61 refereed papers and thousands of citations.   With at least 14 major federal grants, he has effectively integrated his research accomplishments, national and international scientific network, and experience as an academic journal editor.  His research discoveries include novel insights into the ecology of grasses, resilience-based ecosystem management and global change biology.

Dr. John Mullet, Dr. Patricia Klein, and Dr. William RooneySorghum Bioenergy Breeding and Genomics-Interdisciplinary Research Team
The ability to address complex research questions across disciplines is exemplified by the Sorghum Bioenergy Breeding and Genomics Team.  From three departments, Dr. William Rooney, Dr. Patricia Klein, and Dr. John Mullet’s work has ensured that sorghum is one of the first US commercialized bioenergy crops and a primary genomic model.   Termed as the “dream team” of research, their long history of interdisciplinary collaboration has resulted in enormous impacts, both scientific and practical. An industry leader noted that their approach is “necessary in today’s world for rapid and significant progress in crop improvement.”    As a nominator noted, the team is a powerful assembly of researchers with vision, tenacity and responsibility.


Ms. Michelle BedenbaughMichelle Bedenbaugh-Undergraduate Research
Michelle Bedenbaugh, a spring 2012 summa cum laude animal science graduate, completed the honors undergraduate research fellows program with a thesis in the physiology of reproduction section.  She pursued a sophisticated line of research and balanced her bench time with leadership in student organizations.   Her mentor noted that “the quality of her research was comparable to that of advanced graduate students in our group.”  Ms. Bedenbaugh is currently a graduate student in animal science.


Mr. Edinalvo CamargoMr. Edinalvo Camargo-Graduate Research
Affectionately referred to as “Edge,” Mr. Camargo, a PhD student in agronomy, has demonstrated exceptional prowess and potential as a researcher.   His work with herbicides, rice tolerance and weed control has been awarded with several first place poster prizes.  His nomination noted that “He has combined dedication to scholarship with strong, practical scientific accomplishments …that will be an agent of positive change in his home country of Brazil for years to come.”

Ms. Kelly WinscoMs. Kelly N. Winsco-Graduate Teaching
Kelly Winsco is a PhD candidate in the department of animal science.  She has taught more than 900 students in just five years as a graduate student and has won both departmental and university teaching awards.  She is unable to join us today, but Ms. Josie Coverdale will accept on her behalf.


Dr. David BaltenspergerDr. David Baltensperger-Administration
Dr. Baltensperger serves as the department head of Soil & Crop Sciences, with more than 80 faculty members statewide.  He is also the interim head of ecosystem science and management.   A respected administrator, he has gained the support of faculty and staff in the department by implementing his “can-do attitude”.   His letters of support note that his sense of humor and positivity have been greatly appreciated, especially during tough budget times.  Dr. Baltensperger’s understanding of all functions of the land-grant system and emphasis on recruiting diverse faculty makes him an excellent ambassador.


Dr. Deb DunsfordDr. Deb Dunsford-Advising and Student Relations
Dr. Deb, as her students affectionately call her, is the embodiment of an excellent teacher and advisor.  As one student said, “Dr. Deb’s ability to take such a personal interest in every student is remarkable…Her dedication, interest, respect and care for her students goes above and beyond her job description.”     In addition to teaching and advising duties for agricultural communications and journalism students, Dr. Dunsford also serves an advisor to the departmental student group and is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo internship coordinator.


Dr. Nancy IngDr. Nancy Ing-Faculty Mentoring
Dr. Ing, a nineteen year veteran of the Animal Science department, is the organizer of the Agriculture Women Excited to Share Opinions, Mentoring and Experience (also known as AWESOME).   The group is funded by a mini-grant that Dr. Ing obtained with her co-PI from the ADVANCE program.  She has a demonstrated passion for bringing together and developing faculty in our college and across campus.  As one nominator wrote, “this is a faculty member who deserves recognition for years of dedication mentoring women faculty members.”


International Impact AwardAGTEC Team-International Impact
The AGTEC Team of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture is recognized for their exceptional international outreach in Guatemala.  The team includes five members, Johanna Roman, Yanet Rodriguez, Carolina Oleas, Dale Rodgers, and Dana Lewis.   Since 2008, this team has provided training and assistance to 10,000 Guatemalan farmers, delivered Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Junior Master Gardener curricula to 600 children, and provided hands-on learning opportunities to 40 Texas A&M University students. This outstanding team has changed thousands of lives in Guatemala, provided rich learning opportunities for Aggies, and facilitated teaching and extension opportunities for faculty of Texas A&M University.   For their impact on improving agricultural systems, training and marketing and improving food production and processing in Guatemala, the 2012 International Impact Award is given to the AGTEC team.


Ms. Tina VegaMrs. Faustina “Tina” Vega-Staff
Mrs. Tina Vega is a business coordinator for the department of recreation, park and tourism science, widely recognized for the depth of her knowledge of all things A&M and budgets.  She routinely adds extra hours to her work day to ensure outstanding customer service.  Her willingness to contribute whatever time is required to anticipate the needs of others and complete projects is truly extraordinary, commented one nominator.  Mrs. Vega is a noted mentor and committed to developing a strong team to support the department.  Her knowledge and skills have benefited eight different department heads since she began working in the department in 1978.

Mr. Roger HornMr. Roger Horn-Staff
Mr. Horn serves as a research associate for the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology.    As the plant growth facilities manager, he seamlessly operates more than 35,000 square feet of research greenhouses and growth chambers.   His strong leadership abilities, outstanding communication, and cooperation make him the go-to resource for public tours (including a Saudi prince), and student and faculty assistance.  One nominator wrote, “I have worked at several universities and used greenhouse facilities.  Roger’s shop is clearly the most organized, user friendly and efficient…they are also the cleanest, with the prep/potting soil room usually cleaner than my house!”


Ms. Carol J. RhodesMrs. Carol Jean Rhodes-Staff
Mrs. Rhodes is the administrative services officer for the department of soil and crop sciences.   She is the “go to” person in the department and is a great problem solver.  One nominator wrote that she possesses a “willingness and ability to return sage advice, maintain confidentiality, and has a real concern for people.”   Her service to four department heads is marked by her intelligence, honesty and optimism that make staff, faculty and students alike consult her.   Mrs. Rhodes is lauded for her ability to solve problems, address issues and still have everyone feel that they were treated with respect and fairness.


Dr. Ronald KaiserDr. Ronald Kaiser-Service
Dr. Ron Kaiser has demonstrated excellence in service through outreach and engagement, particularly in the arena of water management.   At multiple levels, he has had significant impact on water issues in Texas.  Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock wrote that “his work helped inform and improve the laws governing water management in Texas.”   Beyond the scholarly arena, Dr. Kaiser’s service touches the university, professional organizations and the community at large.   He has served as the deputy speaker of the faculty senate and a member of the Vision 2020 committee.  He has been a leader in the state bar association, offered countless educational seminars on groundwater, and is a noted resource to organizations from the Farm Bureau to the Sierra Club.  In the community, he has served on the planning and zoning committee and on the central appraisal district.  In short, Dr. Kaiser exemplifies service to his profession, peers and community.


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