2015 NSFA Faculty Award Winners
Outstanding Public Service Award
Seanna Annis is a mycologist whose work provides important service in support of Maine’s agricultural industries and protects human health. Seanna’s research and service are strongly aligned as she seeks ways to improve the control of several fungal diseases affecting wild blueberry production. She reaches out to growers at Extension’s Wild Blueberry Schools and Blueberry Hill Farm field days. She now reaches more growers than ever through her mummy berry disease forecasts, which are distributed twice weekly via a blog, e-mail lists, and recorded messages on the Blueberry Hotline. Seanna also serves as a leading mycological resource for the state of Maine, identifying plant diseases and consulting on fungal contamination of buildings and food. Many people in the state rely on Seanna to provide important research and service that affects the lives of individuals and the sustainability of iconic Maine industries. The college is pleased to award Seanna Annis this year’s Outstanding Public Service Award.
Outstanding Research Award
Emmanuel Boss, Professor of Oceanography, School of Marine Sciences
Emmanuel Boss is a powerhouse of energy, enthusiasm, and research productivity. His research focuses on aquatic physics, from fluid dynamics to optics and acoustics. Since coming to UMaine in 2002, Emmanuel has established himself as one of the best-funded researchers at UMaine (more than $6 million in research grants) and has authored or coauthored more than 90 publications. Because of this productivity, Emmanuel’s name is now frequently on the top of the list when national and international committees in ocean sciences are created. Emmanuel also brings his research to the undergraduate classroom. Through Emmanuel’s mentorship, one of his students created an iPhone App that turns a cell phone picture of a lake, river, or bay into data and information. The App has been adopted by Globe.gov to be used by schools in the U.S. and all over the world. The University of Maine is indeed fortunate to have such a scientist, and the college is pleased to award Emmanuel Boss this year’s Outstanding Research Award.
Outstanding Teaching Award
Brian Olsen, Associate Professor, School of Biology & Ecology
While Brian Olsen finds his research program deeply enriching and professionally satisfying, he came to academia because of his love for teaching. His high teaching evaluations from students and peers are all the more noteworthy given that much of his instruction has been in introductory biology courses—often the first college science courses for many students. Brian not only equips these students with the knowledge they need to succeed in upper-level classes, but also inspires them with the drive to ask questions, a willingness take chances, and a contagious enthusiasm for our natural world and the scientific process. Brian serves as advisor to numerous undergraduate honors and capstone projects. In the words of one of his advisees, “He challenges me to think more in depth and critically than I ever have before, and always manages to push me a little further intellectually than I believe I am capable.” To recognize Brian Olsen’s enthusiasm for teaching, the college is delighted to award him this year’s Outstanding Teaching Award.
Gregory Porter, Professor, School of Food and Agriculture
Greg Porter’s service to Maine agriculture encompasses the tripartite mission of the University of Maine: research, teaching, and service. His research on crop rotation, soil management, and supplemental irrigation in potatoes has helped Maine farmers to optimize their use of inputs and achieve maximum yield. In addition, Greg maintains an impressive potato-breeding program, which has recently released three new potato varieties. He further advances Maine agriculture through his teaching—a graduate-level course on experimental design and core sustainable agriculture class—and graduate student mentoring. Greg’s research is used every day by UMaine Cooperative Extension in its outreach to the Maine potato industry, while Greg himself responds to numerous requests for information from the public, speaks at industry conferences, and participates in agricultural trade shows and committees. Greg Porter’s efforts to increase the sustainability of Maine agriculture are impressive, and the college is pleased to award him this year’s Agriculture Award.
Peirce and Florence Pitts-Webber Award for Outstanding Research in Forest Resources
Jessica Leahy’s research program is focused on people’s attitudes and behaviors surrounding the issues of natural resources and the environment. Over the last five years, she has published an average of more than 4 publications per year. She has been a major advisor for several graduate students in the School of Forest Resources. Jessica’s students appreciate the level of mentoring that they receive. Jessica seeks opportunities for extramural funding ranging from small grants to large, interdisciplinary projects such as UMaine’s Sustainable Solutions Initiative. She works with Maine forest resources stakeholders to ensure that her research is informed by their needs and is shared with them in a useful way. Jessica’s outstanding level of commitment to research on Maine’s natural resources makes her an ideal candidate for the G. Peirce and Florence Pitts-Webber Award for Outstanding Research in Forest Resources.
Peirce and Florence Pitts-Webber Award for Outstanding Forestry Teaching
Although Sandra de Urioste-Stone has only been at UMaine a short time, she has already made her mark as a teacher in the School of Forest Resources. She has been an important partner in the development of a new, popular nature-based tourism concentration in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Program. Sandra also worked with other department s and the Maine Business School to create a 4+1 program that allows PRT students to obtain an MBA in one year. Sandra devotes a great deal of energy to her classes and works hard to engage the students. As is the case with all good teachers, her students say it best: “You are one of the most helpful people I have ever encountered, and your hard work is very much appreciated.” Because of Sandra’s commitment to teaching, I am pleased to present this year’s G. Peirce and Florence Pitts-Webber Outstanding Forestry Teaching Award to Sandra de Urioste-Stone.