The Alumni Awards program celebrates more than 40 years of excellence by honoring alumni and others who have brought extraordinary recognition to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
2022 Overall Outstanding Undergraduate: Nina Jeffries
This award honors graduating students, in a 4 year program, who have provided outstanding service and leadership to AGNR, while maintaining high academic and personal standards.
Environmental Science & Policy Program- Nina Jeffries
Not only is Nina a strong student within the ENSP program, she is an engaged and effective leader in the College of AGNR and on campus. For the past few years, Nina has served the College of AGNR as a Peer Mentor. Nina is the Director of Sustainability for the UMD SGA, a Delegate for the MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition, the Undergraduate Representative and Chair of the Fund Review Committee for the Sustainability Council, and the Secretary of MANRRS, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences and is a member of the ENSP Student Advisory Board. She has also interned at the U.S. Department of Justice, raises puppies for the Guide Dog Foundation, and volunteers at the UMD Community Learning Garden. Nina has proven herself to be THE definition of a well-rounded student. Her experiences on and off campus, intertwined with her strong desire to help our environment has enabled her to shine as a student in our program, and on campus. Congratulations Nina!
Department of Animal & Avian Science-Caitlin Ryan
Caitlin stands out as the only applicant in pursuit of developing a career in research. Caitlin has been accepted to our doctoral program and intends to continue studying liver metabolism during metabolic diseases at ANSC towards her PhD. Caitlin has worked hard to maintain an exemplary resume, and to be a strong advocate for AGNR as a student ambassador. Caitlin, just last week presented a first author poster at a national meeting (Experimental biology 2022) in Philadelphia, the only undergraduate student from our University at this meeting to do so. Congratulations Caitlin!
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics- Brandon Canterberry
As a student who is keenly interested in all things agriculture, Brandon regularly attends guest lectures trying to utilize all of the great connections that the college has with government and the private sector. Brendan has worked as AREC's Academic Peer Mentor in the Academic Programs Office this past year. He has helped countless prospective and current AREC students with their schedules and concerns, sharing his great experiences that he has had in the major and in the college and maintaining a high scholastic record. He is also helping plan and organize this summer's Ag Discovery program! Congratulations Brandon!
Department of Environmental Science & Technology- Isabelle van Benschoten
Isabelle has served as an AGNR Peer Mentor for two academic years. She not only assists students develop and improve their academic plan to encourage their success but she also represents ENST and AGNR at recruiting functions. She is very approachable and gets along so well with all the students who reach out to her for help. From her nomination, “Students always provide me with such positive comments following their time with her. Our department wouldn't have so many successful and enthusiastic students without her.” Congratulations Isabelle
Department of Nutrition & Food Science- Samantha Lieberman
Samantha is graduating with a B.S. in Food Science. She was a member of the CIVICUS program, served as Co-President of the Food Science Club, a student representative for the Maryland section of the Institute of Food Technologists, a research assistant in UMD’s food microbiology lab, and representing UMD in the 2022 Ocean Spray Product Development Competition. She has also leveraged her business acumen to work internationally at the intersection of food and business. Samantha aspires to build on her diverse background to make nutritious food more equitable, accessible, and delectable by working with large CPG companies, the government, and business development teams. On campus and off campus, inside the classroom and leading clubs, Samantha has achieved academic and leadership success. Congratulations Samantha!
Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture – Teddy Ziolkowski
Teddy is a fourth year BLA student and has done a fantastic job in terms of leadership with the Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (SASLA). Among the many activities that he has led, they have included the PARK(ing) day exhibit on campus that advocated for better use of our urban spaces to address urban heat island issue; leading a design program between Landscape Architecture and Architecture students and leading funding efforts for students to attend two national conferences. Teddy represented the SASLA on the AGNR Student Council. Teddy has also served the department by being an administrative assistant. Teddy is very positive, and his positivity has really motivated his fellow students. Congratulations Teddy!
2022 Outstanding Institute of Applied Agriculture student: Brett Wilcom
This award honors graduating students, in a 2 year program, who have provided outstanding service and leadership to AGNR, while maintaining high academic and personal standards.
Brett Wilcom is the living definition that if one is determined enough, they are resilient enough. Brett began at the Institute of Applied Agriculture in 2018. In 2019, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that would severely affect his coursework. Brett held strong while battling chemotherapy and virtual learning simultaneously. A lesser person would have simply thrown in the towel, but not Brett. Brett's exemplified the purest form of grit to get him to this point. He is an active member of Alpha Gamma Rho and is extremely deserving of this honor. Congratulations Brett!
2022 Overall Outstanding Graduate Student: Shannon P. Browne & Shraddha Karanth
This award honors graduate students who have demonstrated excellence in conducting research in pursuit of an advanced degree, excellence in teaching, or leadership and/or service to the department, college, and/or university.
Department of Nutrition & Food Science- Shraddha Karanth
Shraddha has served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for nine semesters for a variety of subjects in the Food Safety and Quality domain. She has been the recipient of the University of Maryland Outstanding Teaching Assistant award twice (2018 and 2020). Outside the classroom she is active in the Food Science Club and President of the Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Student Organization. Shraddha’s dissertation employed a unique approach to quantify the food safety risk of microbial exposure to humans from a genetic perspective. The methods developed by Shraddha in her dissertation will have a deep impact on ensuring the safety and security of our food supply, by helping to revise and reinvent food safety risk management decisions in the government and industry level. From her nomination, “As her advisor and Director of our Graduate Program, I can attest to Shraddha being a dedicated, conscientious student, a patient, knowledgeable teacher, and a driven professional. She embodies all the principles of a successful researcher, and will undoubtedly do well in her professional life.”
Department of Environmental Science & Technology- Shannon P. Browne
Shannon has taught full-time through most of her PhD. She has gone out of her way to advise any student interested in her particular career path, including ENSP - Wildlife students, students in the UMD TWS chapter, and students interested in becoming certified Associate/Professional Wildlife Biologists. She served on numerous committees, pushed our DEIR initiatives, and directly helped numerous students in distress. Every year, she routinely held BatFest, an educational event she held here at UMD to teach kids and families in the local community about bats and bat ecology. Shannon studied cave-dwelling bat ecology across the urban-rural gradient from D.C. to the Chesapeake Bay. This is highly impactful work in terms of public and wildlife health, as well as creating a better understanding of ecosystem functioning in urban and suburban environments. In the face of major adversity, Shannon has been a resilient, determined student. She deserves to be recognized for all she has accomplished.
Department of Animal & Avian Sciences- Zoie McMillian
Zoie has a Graduate Assistantship in the department of Animal and Avian Sciences and has assisted with two courses. Zoie is a naturally affable and gregarious person that the students respected and enjoyed in both courses. The objective of Zoie's MS project was to evaluate the effect of industrial circulation fans on house litter moisture, temperature, relative humidity, noise volume, and broiler body weight, FPD prevalence and severity, hock burn prevalence, feather cleanliness, and behavior from 2 organic commercial flocks. The results of this study indicate that industrial circulation fans in commercial broiler houses could positively impact footpad dermatitis prevalence, footpad dermatitis severity, and overall broiler flock welfare and uniformity. Congratulations Zoie!
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics- Tianqi Gan
Tianqi demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and leadership during her time with AREC.
Department of Veterinary Medicine- Ashley Strickland
Ashley is an outstanding graduate with exceptional creativity. She received either A or A+ for all classes she has attended during her graduate study. She works very hard in my laboratory. Since she joined my lab, she has made breakthrough in the field. In particular, she found that cytokines IL-10 and IL-27 play key roles in regulating immune responses in the brain during infection with Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungal pathogen accounting for 181,000 deaths in the world per year. Her work significantly advanced our understanding mechanisms involved in immune regulations during brain infection with C. neoformans and provided scientific basis for treatment of cryptococcal meningitis.
2022 Service to the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Student Awards
This award is offered to three graduating undergraduate students who have gone above and beyond to contribute to the College in one of the three areas of Academics, Community/Extension and Research.
2022 Service to AGNR through Academics - Shannen Auffarth
The recipient of this award has made significant contributions to the College through their service to academics, academic programs, and/or their fellow peers
Shannen has served the Academic Programs team as a student worker for the last three and a half years. Over the years, our office has seen many changes but Shannen was always a constant. When the management of our student workers/peer mentors suddenly shifted hands, she gladly worked with the new manager to improve the student worker program and increase the potential for peer mentors. No matter what the situation was, she was there ready and willing to help us serve our students as best as possible. There was never a concern about her getting her work done and she could always be trusted to handle our day-to-day carefully and professionally. Furthermore, not only has Shannen been dependable as an employee, she has also been a compassionate coworker to both her peers and the professional staff in our office.
2022 Service to AGNR through Community- Avital Slytski
The recipient of this award has made significant contributions and represented the College through their service to the campus community, greater College Park community, and/or beyond.
Meghan has provided extensive service and leadership to the College directly through her work with the strategic initiative team- Advance Agriculture Production Systems. For nearly two years she has worked to collect and analyze national and statewide data related to agriculture production and to design & build the AGNR- Agricultural Careers and Entrepreneurship Center. She was instrumental in planning ten webinars and assisted the ACE team with an extensive literature review for a funded NIFA Workforce Development grant. She has made significant contributions to the ACE Center, the ENST department, and through outreach to communities.
Avital has been a dedicated member of the AGNR student council for the last two years. Her leadership, passion and dedication to the College is evident in her extracurricular activities. As president of the Maryland Equestrian Club, the club raised thousands of dollars to purchase new horses, tack and gear as well as to build the lesson program on the farm. Through AGNR student council she created the Cross-talks program in an effort to build collaboration and connections across departments and majors. Topics covered include Horse Racing, Intersection of Food production and sales and dairy farming with an ice cream flavor competition this fall. This past year she served as president of the AGNR Student Council, leading clubs as we navigated our first full year on campus and the bringing back of AG Day and AGNR Student Council Year End Fiesta. She completed her undergraduate degree in 3 years and is headed to Veterinary School. There is no doubt she will be a leader in service to her community at vet school and in life.
2022 Service to AGNR through Research - Zoe Gurskin
The recipient of this award has made significant contributions to the College through their own research and/or service to one of our research programs.
Zoe Gruskin has contributed outstanding service and leadership to the College of AGNR through her research in Dr. Jin's Gastrointestinal Health and Physiology Lab in the Animal Science Department.
Zoe started an independent project in Fall 2021 focusing on the injury and regeneration of 2D/3D colonoids. Ms. Gruskin’s hard work resulted in the development of a wound healing model that will be used in a future publication and continued by other lab members for other applications after her graduation. The research Zoe has contributed to has clinical applications to help those with IBD, IBS, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. Zoe is a natural leader and has trained other undergraduate students in cell culture and bench work techniques that she has mastered while working in our lab. She is an excellent teacher and mentor to other undergraduate students and is eager to learn in order to advance in her academic and professional career.
Distinguished Terrapin Award
This award honors an alumnus who has attained extraordinary distinction and success in his/her field of endeavor and whose achievements have brought credit to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and benefit to his/her fellow citizens.
Gilbert "Buddy" Bowling, Jr.
Major& Graduation Year: Agriculture (Agronomy) 1981
What does AGNR Mean to you: I valued my experience in AGNR because as a student I was held to a high stand of performance, and now as an alumni along with now a business individual I hold myself to the same set of standards. Honesty, excellence customer service, lead by example, and committed to serving the agriculture community in MD.
One of your favorite memories, classes or professors: Dr. Strickland and Dr. Axley. Both were strict with high expectations and wanted us to live up to their standards of learning.
What are you doing now? He works for the United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service as State Outreach Coordinator for Programs and Services. Buddy provides customer service to all farmers, landowners, producers and growers along with the urban, suburban and rural citizens across all sectors and regions in MD. His goal is to enhance Maryland's number one industry, Agriculture for the current and next generations of stewards of our natural resources.
His proudest accomplishment is being Maryland's State Coordinator for USDA'S Beginning Farmers/Rancher Program. Buddy's passion is for the next generation of Maryland agriculturalists no matter what sector of farming they represent or their race, ethnicity or gender. All farmers are critical and their continued success as stewards of the land and keeping the farming business sustainable and profitable is essential to Maryland's economic growth as well as the nation and globally.
Buddy's future plans are to continue farming with his sons, granddaughters and grandson as the next generation of farmers, landowners, growers and producers in Southern Maryland to carry on the Bowling Legacy.
Major& Graduation Year: B. S. Animal Science, 1996
What does AGNR Mean to you: AGNR is the foundation for Maryland's public land grant institution. Its importance in the history and development of Maryland's University System of higher education is monumental. The tripartite mission of education, research, and extension is an extremely valuable model that directly connects the College and the University with its constituents.
One of your favorite memories, classes or professors: I used to love coming earlier in the mornings to help out at the barn feeding the horses before classes. I was so grateful that there is a farm on campus. I also was taken aback a bit when I first put my fist and arm through the cow's side via the fistula! Finally, I actually came back to work for the College after graduation - representing AGNR before local, state, and federal governments. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with what I considered a family at the College. We all worked hard together for the benefit of AGNR's students and for their agricultural and natural resources professionals - the farmers and producers of Maryland.
What are you doing now? I work for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assisting on a redevelopment project at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County that will allow it to host world-class equestrian and other competitions, as well as coordinating DNR's business before the Maryland Board of Public Works - the highest administrative body in the State. I also help to manage my family's farms - Obligation and Etowah Farms - in Harwood. This is a ~65-horse boarding and training operation on ~310 acres between the two farms. I am also a graduate and now President of LEAD Maryland Foundation, Inc. - a non-profit agricultural and natural resources leadership development program that is a partner with the College and its Extension arm. I am very proud to be leading this organization that has been very successful over the last 20+ years in surfacing and developing eloquent leaders on behalf of Maryland's diverse agricultural and natural resources communities. I am proud to be part of a team of both public and private partners to have secured a bid for Maryland's Fair Hill to host a prestigious CCI5* Three-Day Event. This is the highest level of competition in this equestrian sport, and Fair Hill will be only the seventh site word-wide and the second in the nation to host a competition at this international level. Finally, I am very proud to be working and helping to manage my family's farm. We have implemented some exciting soil conservation practices and are making improvements to the farm every day. My future plans include moving back to the farm this Spring and to take over management of the operation full-time. I also plan to stay actively involved in Maryland's agriculture and natural resources communities in promoting these vital industries and supporting those involved in our rural communities, including LEAD Maryland and AGNR's mission of education, research, and extension.
Outstanding Alumnus Early Career Award
This award honors alumnus making significant contributions to their field of endeavor. The candidate will have developed imaginative methods and programs, displayed leadership and development of leadership in others, and will have established harmonius professional relationships.
This award honors individuals who are not alumni of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and may or may not be alumni of the University of Maryland., yet have rendered outstanding service to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.