Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Presents 2022 RoPE Awards

Fred Miller

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station presented Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence Awards to, from left, Brad Austin, Spring Sneed and Sam Rochell. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photos)

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station recognized three research faculty and staff for sustained outstanding performance during a staff appreciation event May 31.

The Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence Awards recognize full-time employees who have completed at least two years and no more than seven years of service to the experiment station. This year’s awards were presented by Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research and director of the experiment station, and by each recipient’s supervisor or department head.

Brad Austinresearch scientist and Arkansas Water Resources Center lab manager, received the RoPE Award for non-classified research support.

Austin started in the AWRC with responsibilities split between teaching, field services and producing written materials. At that time, he focused a lot of his energies on publishing research papers and developing fact sheets for the AWRC’s water quality lab. He published five peer-reviewed research papers and several fact sheets for the center.

With changes in AWRC personnel, Austin’s responsibilities now include field and lab services and management.

“Dr. Austin keeps the lab moving forward and helps train new personnel, including a lab technician and several graduate students,” Brian Haggard, professor of biological and agricultural engineering and AWRC director, said in his letter nominating Austin for the award.

“The AWRC would not be able to make the impact it has for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station without Dr. Austin’s continued and unwavering dedication to this job and service to the AWRC duties,” Haggard said.

Spring Sneedaccountant for the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center, the Arkansas State University Research Unit and the Lon Mann Cotton Research Station, received the RoPE Award for non-classified business and administrative support.

Tim Burcham, director of the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center, said in his nomination letter that he hired Sneed as a fiscal support analyst in 2019 while he was dean of the College of Agriculture at Arkansas State University and unit head for the U of A System Division of Agriculture’s ASU Research Unit. He brought Sneed with him after he was appointed NERREC director that year.

“Let me say emphatically that Spring Sneed is a ‘powerhouse’ when it comes to work productivity,” Burcham said. “Her education and extensive work experience have provided her with outstanding tools to be extremely productive.”

In addition to her duties for the Division of Agriculture, Sneed serves on the Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference steering committee. Burcham said she is instrumental in financial reporting, meeting logistics and any other task needed to make the conference a success.

“Mrs. Sneed is a ‘bright star’ in the division’s host of great employees,” Burcham said.

Sam Rochellassistant professor of poultry science, received the RoPE Award for research faculty.

Rochell conducts research on poultry nutrition with a primary focus on amino acid, mineral and energy utilization in broilers. He also emphasizes nutritional evaluation of feed ingredients and the interaction between nutrition and relevant diseases affecting the poultry industry.

He also serves as faculty director of the Central Analytical Lab. The lab provides nutrition and water quality analysis services for the department of poultry science and other educational institutions.

“Dr. Rochell’s research initiatives and collaborations have been brilliant,” Dave Caldwell, head of the Department of Poultry Science and director of the Division of Agriculture’s Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, said in his nomination letter.

“The industry needs scientists to evaluate and provide nutritional recommendations for their ever-improving broiler strains, as well as for sustainable production methods, and Dr. Rochell has risen to the challenge,” Caldwell said.

“It is our opinion that within five years, Dr. Rochell will be one of the most sought-out academic poultry nutritionists for industry-relevant research and service both nationally and internationally,” Caldwell said. “Taken as a whole, and in our collaborations and assessments of animal and poultry science departments, globally, we can attest that early career performance exhibited by Dr. Rochell has been stellar.”

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch, To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk,

About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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