Seven Texas A&M AgriLife Research faculty and employees from across the state are being recognized virtually for their above-and-beyond efforts and research in the past year.
Four individuals are being named as Texas A&M AgriLife Research Director’s Award winners. These awards were established in 2018 and recognize and reward the achievements of individuals and teams with outstanding work to support our research mission.
Two individuals are receiving Texas A&M Research Faculty Fellow honors. Faculty Fellow awards are presented to senior-level research or service-delivery professionals with at least five years of service demonstrating exceptional leadership in programs or projects with significant statewide impact.
One individual has been awarded The Dugas Early Career Award for Research Excellence, also created in 2018, which recognizes an early career AgriLife Research faculty member who has made an exceptional contribution to the agency and research in the prior year.
Due to the previous COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the award winners for 2020 are being honored and recognized in a virtual presentation, where more details about their careers can be found.
Research Director’s Awards
Research Scientist of the Year
Robert Chapkin, Ph.D., Texas A&M Department of Nutrition distinguished professor, Allen Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention and National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award recipient, was recognized as the Research Scientist of the Year for his outstanding research in precision nutrition and chronic disease prevention.
Chapkin’s laboratory has used the most current molecular techniques to address mechanisms by which diet modulates the incidence of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. His in-depth understanding of this process has enabled him to become a leading expert in the field.
Chapkin has secured funding from the National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute, serving as co-director of a grant to conduct training on nutrition, biostatistics and bioinformatics. He is recognized for elucidating the complex relationships between nutrients, cellular physiology, chronic inflammation, colorectal cancer and the subsequent translation of this information into clinical applications.
He is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, a University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor and University Faculty Fellow in the Program in Integrative Nutrition and Complex Diseases. He is also a Texas A&M AgriLife Senior Faculty Fellow.
Administrative Staff Support Award
Kathy Stone, administrative assistant at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, was recognized for her dedicated, outstanding and high-quality service to the faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and stakeholders in a wide range of areas.
Stone joined AgriLife Research as an office assistant at the Lubbock center in 2007 and has
been promoted to administrative associate III. Her nomination states she plays a key role in supporting numerous activities and “is certainly a key person in the success of the projects at the AgriLife center at Lubbock.”
Infrastructure and IT Staff
“Lupe” Garcia, maintenance foreman at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo, was selected as the recipient of the Infrastructure and IT Staff award.
For the last 19 years, Garcia has provided the maintenance services to keep the center at Amarillo, along with the Bushland satellite station and Bush Farms facilities, in good repair and operating efficiently.
This is one of the largest complexes in the AgriLife Research system, officing almost 70 full-time faculty and staff among six different building complexes, 10 laboratories, six storage barns and 12 greenhouses.
“His talents are many, he is a fast and thorough worker, and he maintains a positive attitude through it all,” his nomination stated.
Technical Staff Support
Carla Naylor, senior research associate, was selected the winner of the Technical Staff Support award, in recognition of her contributions to the agronomy program at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo.
Naylor designs experimental layouts for trials, oversees planting and field operations, plans all data collection and management, and ensures that promised results are delivered on time to grant agencies. In 2019, she coordinated 38 unique experimental or demonstration trials involving over 20 agriculture industry participants with eight crops and field sites spanning the entire Texas Panhandle across 21 counties.
Her nomination stated: “This is an enormous workload for any research associate. It cannot be overstated just how special it is that Carla not only is able to keep so many unique projects organized, but she can complete them all with a high level of commitment to quality control.”
AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow Honors
Zach Adelman, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Entomology, is the newest Faculty Fellow Award winner. He is a world expert in developing, using and overseeing genetic technologies to combat vector-borne pathogen transmission. He has been working in the field of arbovirology/vector biology for almost 25 years.
Adelman’s early work as a doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher involved generating pathogen-resistant phenotypes in mosquitoes. His collaborations have made contributions to the understanding of how mosquitoes regulate the replication of arthropod-borne viruses.
Adelman was named a Texas A&M University Presidential Impact Fellow in 2018. His research program has been funded by the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health since 2007, with additional support from the State of Texas, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Senior Faculty Fellow
Stephen Smith, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Animal Science, has been recognized for his continuing excellence with the Senior Faculty Fellow due to his profound impact on the field of animal science. His highly productive research program is respected as one of the elite programs in animal agriculture, and he is highly sought nationally and internationally as a speaker, according to his nomination.
Established as one of the top 1% of active researchers in animal science, Smith is nationally and internationally known for his research on the growth, development and fatty acid composition of beef and the impact of beef on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
With worldwide collaborations, Smith has been an invited speaker at 60 conferences in Australia, Asia, Germany and South America, as well as more than 100 U.S.-invited presentations at national conferences, universities and beef cattle producer groups.
Dugas Early Career Award for Research Excellence
Ky Pohler, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science and chair of the Pregnancy and Developmental Programming Area of Excellence, was recognized with the Dugas Early Career Award for his significant contributions to beef reproduction physiology.
Joining the Texas A&M AgriLife faculty in 2018, Pohler has developed an impressive and internationally recognized program that specifically focuses on mechanisms and management strategies of pregnancy loss. His lab led the development of a reproductive management tool to measure estrus and estrus intensity to aid producers in increasing pregnancy establishment and decreasing pregnancy loss.
Pohler’s research has identified biomarkers and management strategies for pregnancy success in cattle, which could result in predicting, identifying and preventing pregnancy loss in 20-30% of cattle.