USDA Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientist of the Year: USDA ARS
USDA Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientists of the Year
Contact Person: Jessica Ryan
Email: [email protected]
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2022 – For his outstanding contributions to veterinary virology and the discovery and development of African Swine Fever (ASF) vaccines, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Manuel Borca is the agency’s Distinguished Senior Research Scientist for 2022. Borca, research microbiologist for the ARS Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit at Plum Island Animal Disease Control in Orient Point, New York, is one of many ARS researchers honored for their scientific achievements .
Borca’s research has contributed to the development of vaccines against diseases that threaten the American swine industries: classical swine fever and African swine fever. He has conducted research focused on understanding host-virus interactions to inform the development of vaccines specifically designed to control outbreaks.
Principal Investigator Emeritus Manuel Borca. (Photo by Kathy Apicelli, USDA Plum Island Animal Disease Center, D4906-1)
His research has led to successful technology transfers of African Swine Fever Virus vaccine candidates patented by the ARS to manufacturing companies in the United States and abroad that produce vaccines to control and eradicate the pandemic. outbreak of African swine fever in Europe, Asia and the Americas (Island of Hispaniola).
ARS has also named four Principal Research Scientists of the Year 2022. They are:
ARS also honors scientists who are in the early stages of their careers. Early Career Awards recognize the achievements of ARS researchers with the agency for seven years or less.
This year, the top award in this category, Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist Herbert L. Rothbart, is awarded to Sheri Spiegal, Rangeland Management Research Specialist in the Rangeland Management Research Unit of the ARS in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Spiegal is recognized for collaborative systems-level research on nutrient management and holistic agricultural indicator systems.
Herbert L. Rothbart Early Career Researcher Sheri Spiegal. (Photo by USDA/ARS, D4911-1)
Spiegal’s research develops and evaluates strategies to increase the sustainability of beef and dairy production systems across supply chains. His work applies the concept of “telecoupling”, or relationships between systems over long distances, to solve supply chain problems in beef and dairy production systems.
Spiegal co-leads the Manure Initiative within the USDA’s Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network, bringing together multidisciplinary collaborators in the United States and Canada. Manure uses its telecoupling concepts to recycle excess nutrients associated with animal production, minimizing the transport distance of manure from barn to cropland while maximizing environmental and socio-economic outcomes.
ARS honors four other early career researchers in the region. They are:
The agency also announced its 2022 ARS Technology Transfer Award winner. This award recognizes individuals or groups who have done outstanding work in transferring technology to market.
This year’s winner is the research team at ARS Pennycress. The team included researchers from the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, the ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, Minnesota, and the ARS Plant Introduction Research Unit in Ames, Iowa.
The team led the advancement of pennycress, an annual winter oilseed crop of the Brassicaceae family, as a cash crop in the United States. Researchers are looking to use its oil for the development of renewable fuels (aviation fuels). Due to the crop’s winter hardiness and shorter life cycle, it has advantages over other oilseeds for off-season production during the Midwestern winter months.
Pennycress is domesticated to fit into the conventional farming system of the Midwest. ARS scientists worked with farmers and growers to show them that pennycress can be added to their crop rotation without harming other crops.
With the use of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) and Material Transfer Research Agreement (MTRA), ARS researchers have developed methods and conditions to obtain no only high yield oil from the seeds, but also protein co-products with desirable functional properties.
The researchers also used the US National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) system to publicly release two new pennycress germplasm lines. This release allows parties interested in the advancement of apricot to obtain seed for seed production or to use material in their own apricot breeding programs.
The Agricultural Research Service is the principal internal scientific research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Every dollar invested in agricultural research translates into $17 of economic impact.