2015 AGNR Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards

May 7, 2015

Each May, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources honors outstanding employees with the annual AGNR Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards. The 2015 awardees were recognized during the AGNR Convocation & Awards ceremony held Tuesday, May 5th at the Riggs Alumni Center.

The 2015 Faculty & Staff Excellence Awards for the Department of Environmental Science & Technology were presented to:

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Award:

TRISH STEINHILBER, Extension Associate & Program Coordinator, Agricultural Nutrient Management Program

As an Extension Associate and Program Coordinator for the Agricultural Nutrient Management Program, Dr. Trish Steinhilber’s insight and expertise is regularly sought by the Governor’s office, the heads of state agencies, federal agencies, important agricultural and citizen constituent groups, as well as a great number of farmer’s across Maryland. Dr. Steinhilber has developed, imposed and maintained the highest standards for program delivery during her long‐standing leadership of the externally-funded nutrient management program. A true believer in rigorous training and pro‐active preparation, Dr. Steinhilber has infused the concept of continuous life‐long learning into her expectations for the two dozen nutrient management advisors who deliver technical program content across the Maryland agricultural community. Dr. Steinhilber has a true passion for teaching both in the university classroom setting and in professional continuing education sessions and is described as a fair and demanding supervisor who inspires and requires excellence from those surrounding her.    

On-Campus Junior Faculty Award:

STEPHANIE LANSING, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science & Technology

Dr. Stephanie Lansing serves the university and the College of AGNR as a competitive research force while dedicating just as much energy to teaching and leadership of students enrolled in her courses or busily working in her lab. Dr. Lansing’s research focus is agricultural and municipal waste treatment, anaerobic digestion design, microbial fuel cells and sustainable technologies for developing countries. Her work often takes her to those developing countries where she conducts research while also providing service to the communities. In one example, she and her team train locals in Haiti to use digesters to convert waste to energy and water. Dr. Lansing has received more than $1.5 million in research grants in the past five years from agencies ranging from USAID to NSF. She’s published 15 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals from this funded work, leading to more than 300 citations.

Paul R. Poffenberger Excellence in Teaching & Advising Award:

BRUCE JAMES, Professor & Director, Environmental Science & Policy Program

A tenured professor in the Department of Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Bruce James is also the first and so far only Director of the Environmental Science & Policy Program which launched in 1997. To date, the program has graduated more than 1,000 students and Dr. James has taught or mentored every one of them. Despite being a faculty member at the University of Maryland since 1986, Dr. James is known for carefully considering evaluations each semester, reviewing materials and reinventing teaching strategies as if he were instructing a course for the very first time. He is creative in his use of slides and images to explain difficult concepts and engages students in thoughtful conversation and debate in the classroom. With great care and personal attention, Dr. James has mentored, guided, inspired and motivated countless students through his efforts in ENSP, ENST, the Scholars program, the Honors College and the Student Government Association. Dr. James is retiring in June.

Extension Excellence Award: 

GARY FELTON, Associate Professor & Extension Water Quality Specialist

Dr. Gary Felton is active in Extension programs throughout the state focusing primarily on nutrient fate and transport. This includes improving agricultural practices for the protection of human health, water quality and the environment. Dr. Felton has worked at the university since 1996 and has maintained Extension and research programs as a Water Quality Specialist with responsibilities in composting, non-point source pollution, water quality and ground water hydrology. He has been instrumental in bringing in $7.5 million in grants, $4 million of which was directed solely to Extension activities. Additionally, Dr. Felton has provided exemplary leadership for Extension, serving on the UME Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee where he helped develop a number of important studies, reports and recommendations. Citizens and lawmakers across the state and around the nation count on Dr. Felton’s advice and expertise on matters of critical importance.

Dean Gordon Cairns Award for Distinguished Creative Work and Teaching in Agriculture:

FRANK COALE, Professor, Environmental Science & Technology

Dr. Frank Coale joined the College of AGNR in 1993 as Associate Professor and Extension Specialist for agricultural nutrient management. He immediately launched an innovative research and Extension program through which he would become an internationally recognized leader in his field. To date, Dr. Coale has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and more than 150 Extension publications. He has delivered nearly 200 scientific presentations and more than 500 Extension educational talks. Dr. Coale has mentored 31 graduate students and has supported his programs with more than $15 million in external grant funding. In 2006, Dr. Coale became the inaugural chair of the newly-formed Department of Environmental Science and Technology, a role he filled for six years during which time he added nine tenure-track faculty members to the department’s ranks. He now serves as Director of the Gemstone Program for the university’s Honors College – a unique and prestigious multidisciplinary four-year research experience for selected undergraduate students of all majors.