Outstanding Alumni Awards Archive


Dr. Ali Sadeghi (PhD’84) was born in 1948 in Isfahan, Iran, which at the time was a city of less than 100,000 people. Today, Isfahan is a city of nearly 4 million people. Ali considers himself to be a city boy at heart, but became interested, at an early age, in hydrology and how water and the environment work. He was fascinated by water cycle and how water infiltrates and moves within the soil environment. In fact, Dr. Sadeghi says, “during the first couple of years of my undergraduate years in Iran, I was studying physics but later I changed my major to Irrigation & Drainage.” a branch of suty related to hydrology within the Agricultural Engineering department. Ali received his BS in 1972 and went on to work as an irrigation expert with Soil & Water Consulting Engineers on groundwater investigations and improvement of irrigation systems in Northwest Iran before coming to the United States in 1976 to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Dr. Sadeghi earned both of his graduate degrees from the University of Arkansas. He received the MS in Soil & Water Conservation from the Agricultural Engineering Department in 1979, under Dr. Richard Ferguson, followed by his PhD in Soil Physics in 1984 with the late Dr. Don Scott as his major advisor. According to Dr. Sadeghi, “Don would have been very proud to know that one of his former graduate students has been selected for this prestigious award.” After almost nine years of exciting and memorable life in Fayetteville, Dr. Sadeghi, along with his wife Janet, moved to Kansas where he accepted a Research Associate position with Kansas State University. The Sadeghi family stayed in Kansas until 1988, when Dr. Sadeghi joined the USDA-ARS at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. Ali has now been with ARS at this location for nearly 20 years and is currently a senior scientist in the Hydrology & Remote Sensing Laboratory, where the mission of his laboratory is to conduct national orientated basic and applied research on water resources and remote sensing concerns related to the production of food and fiber and the conservation of natural resources.

Dr. Sadeghi’s research has led to significant contributions to soil and water quality sciences, including the fate of urea/ammonia volatilization, nitrate and phosphorous movement in agricultural ecosystems, the environmental fate of pesticides and pathogens in soils, surface runoff, and groundwater under different agronomic environments. He has authored or coauthored 82 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals (65), book chapters, national and international proceedings, and popular publications. In addition, he has presented over 70 abstracts of papers at national and international meetings. His work and involvement in the areas of water quality and modeling research has been recognized both nationally and internationally. Dr. Sadeghi has recently developed a new process-based pathogen fate and transport model that has been incorporated, for the first time, into a much larger watershed model called “SWAT”, Soil & Water Assessment Tool, a well-known and widely used ARS watershed model, designed for water quality and other environmental evaluation scenarios. The model has currently been recommended by U.S. EPA for use in the States Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water quality assessment.

During his 20 year career with ARS, he has frequently been asked by his agency to serve as short-term details with many other states and federal institutions such as the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis (ORACBA) of the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, the ARS National Programs in Beltsville, Maryland, the US EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) in Annapolis, MA. According to Dr. Sadeghi, in almost all of his meetings in Washington and elsewhere with these agencies, most of the participants are the graduates from some of the most well-known universities such as Purdue, Michigan, UC Davis, Berkley, etc., but he affirms, he has never felt inferior and has always had the confidence to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the folks because of the knowledge and expertise that the fine institution of the University of Arkansas has bestowed upon him.

Sadeghi received numerous USDA-ARS Merit and Outstanding Performance awards including the USDA Secretary of Agriculture Team Honor Award for developing new technologies and a greater understanding of the fundamental principles supporting sustainable agricultural systems in 2000. He currently serves as the ARS liaison to the CBPO in Annapolis and has recently been nominated to be a member of Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) of the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay. Dr. Sadeghi is Associate Editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality (JEQ) of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). He also serves as a reviewer for numerous other publications and proposals for several other scientific societies.

Ali and his wife Janet currently reside in Columbia, MA, and have two daughters, Ninoosh, a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland, and Gila, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Dr. Sadeghi contributes much of the success he has experienced throughout his career solely to his lovely wife, Janet. Ali says, “When Janet learned that I had been selected for the CSES Outstanding Graduate for 2007, she arranged a lovely dinner for both of us to celebrate this prestigious award. She has always been extremely supportive and proud of me.” Ali also says, “I am still a diehard Razorback fan, and watch as many of the games as I can. I am deeply proud to be a Razorback.” Most importantly, Ali would like to sincerely thank the members of the CSES Outstanding Graduate committee and the support from faculty and staff of the CSES Department for this honor.

The Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences are honored and proud to name Dr. Ali Sadeghi as our 2007 Outstanding Graduate.

The backing our CSES Department receives from agricultural and industrial alumni and friends as well as from other academic colleagues helps us grow and become stronger. Each year we try to show our appreciation for the assistance we receive by honoring two of our faithful supporters at the CSES Annual Spring Banquet as “Friend of the Department.” This year Josh Allen and Steve Brown, both with Allen’s, Inc. were chosen.

Josh Allen was born and raised in Siloam Springs. He is a fourth generation canned food processor and a first generating frozen food processor. Mr. Allen attended Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. At the age of 14, Josh joined the family business, Allen Canning, part-time and began learning the business from the ground up. After purchasing frozen food plants in new York, Wisconsin, and Georgia, Allen Canning Company changed its name to Allen’s Inc.

Mr. Allen has served on the Board of Directors of Northwest Arkansas Radiation Institute and the University of Executive Forum. In 2004 he was recognized by the Arkansas Business Journal as a Top 40 under 40 Executive in the State of Arkansas. In 2005, Mr. Allen was appointed a four-year term on the first State of Arkansas Agriculture Department Advisory Board. Josh Allen, in conjunction with Allen’s Inc, has been a true ‘Friend’ to the CSES Department. Any request we have made has been willingly met, whether it be in recruitment, financial support, etc. Since its inception, his support of our Delta Classic Golf Tournament, which raises money for scholarships to be given to CSES majors, has been a vital link to its success.

Josh, his wife Stacy along with their two sons live in Springdale. We are proud to name Josh Allen “Friend of the Department.”

Steve Brown is a native of Lowell, AR, where he grew up on a dairy farm. The family also raised green beans. He attended Rogers schools and received a BSA in Dairy Science in 1974 from the U of A. In the spring of 1974, he started to work for Pioneer Foods (Steele Canning Company) of Springdale, AR, as a fieldman. In 1978 Allen’s Inc., purchased Steele Canning Company and he has been with Allen’s ever since. Steve is currently the Director of Raw Products for Allen’s Inc.

Mr. Brown has been a valuable ‘Friend’ to the Department for many years. His support of the Delta Classic Golf Tournament, from its beginning, has been vital. Without the support from people like Steve, we could not have raised $154,000 over the last seven years for scholarships to be awarded to students in the CSES Department. Steve has also given strong support to our Weed Science program over the years, first as an Allen’s fieldman and more recently as the Director of Field Operations in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Steve lives on the farm where he grew up in Lowell with his wife, Martha. Mrs. Brown was formerly the mayor of Lowell. They have two grown children, Allen and Sarah. It is with pride and gratitude that we call Steve Brown a “Friend.”

Dr. Jim Bidlack (MS’86), notorious for his animated and enthusiastic teaching style, has been named CSES Outstanding Graduate for 2006. We are pleased with Jim’s accomplishments over the years, and noted his many teaching, research, and service awards that make us proud of our graduates. Dr. Bidlack presented what might be considered one of the most entertaining seminars of the 1980s, complete with magic tricks, the infamous “Star Wars” light saber he used as a pointer, and a pretty straightforward research project in soybean physiology. Such unique teaching techniques continue to engage students in learning at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), where Jim has been teaching for 16 years. He is currently a Professor of Biology at UCO teaching General Biology, Plant Biology, Plant Physiology, Plant Anatomy, and Molecular Cell Physiology. Dr. Bidlack also has an active research program funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation and USDA. He has published a dozen research articles and advised a half-dozen MS students. Two of his graduate students, Greg Buck (PhD’99) and Casey Meek (PhD’03), went on to successfully complete doctoral degrees, under the direction of Chuck West and Derrick Oosterhuis, respectively, in our Department. One of Dr. Bidlack’s greatest joys is in directing both graduate and undergraduate research, where he has the opportunity to see young minds develop their own obsession with experiments and scientific inquiry. Jim is content in saying, “One of the greatest rewards, from a teacher’s perspective, is seeing students get excited when they make their own discoveries. That, in itself, is refreshing enough to keep professors motivated and ready for a lifetime of mutual learning.”

After graduating from Purdue University in 1984, Dr. Bidlack worked with Dr. Charles A. Stutte in our Department on a project to better understand metabolic events involved with nutrient ion uptake in soybean. At the same time he participated as part of Dr. Stutte’s research team, including fellow graduates, Mick Urwiler (PhD’85) and Scott Jourdan (PhD’88). “Those were some of the best times of my life,” says Bidlack, “traveling with Mick and Scott around the state to work on crops such as corn, cotton, rice, and soybeans, because I had never really worked on field crops before. I learned more from those experiences and even today, tell stories to my students about field complete a PhD under the direction of Drs. Dwayne Buxton and Richard Shibles in Plant Physiology with the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University. After graduating in the summer of 1990, he took a teaching job as an Assistant Professor of Biology at UCO. The actual position was 50% teaching, 30% scholarly activities, and 20% service. Assuming that teaching was a pretty important part of the job, Bidlack maintained high teaching evaluations, a handful of teaching recognitions, and received the university’s prestigious “Presidential Partner’s Excellence in Teaching Award.” Jim had become and continues to be renowned as one of the most unique teachers at UCO. His inclusion of chants, songs, demonstrations, magic, stories, and even music videos from time to time are among a few reasons his classes fill quickly.

While Bidlack was establishing a unique teaching reputation, he also successfully obtained two NSF equipment grants and UCO’s first USDA grant. Publishing five refereed journal articles in as many years and successfully mentoring four MS students seem overwhelming to many, but Jim persevered in his quest for tenure at UCO. Interestingly, he served (twice) as President for the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a risky position for a non-tenured faculty member, but he was nonetheless effective. Bidlack adds, “We worked with (then) UCO President George Nigh to remove a 26-year censure placed on the university by the National AAUP, increased faculty salaries, obtained equity funding from the State Legislature, and even won a battle with some legislators to preserve tenure in the State of Oklahoma.” This occurred during a time of change for UCO, where a traditional teacher’s college was evolving into a premiere undergraduate research institute. Dr. Bidlack joined others in leading UCO in that direction and, with the endorsement of the former Governor and UCO President George Nigh, became an Associate Professor and joined the ranks of tenured faculty in the late 1990s. He was promoted to Full Professor of Biology in 2002.

Things have not slowed down for Jim at UCO, although he has had a change of lifestyle at home. On 29 June 2001, he married wife Amy and on 29 March 2002 they had their one and only child, Hanna Lindley. While finally settling down, Jim inherited part of a small farm in Nebraska from his parents, which he helps to manage with his three older brothers. At the same time, Dr. Bidlack was invited by McGraw-Hill publishers and Kingsley Stern, a famous author of Introductory Plant Biology, to join a team of authors for future editions of the book. He has already contributed to or co-authored two editions of the book and hopes to use proceeds from both the farm and book royalties to send Hanna through college. His wife states, “If Jim isn’t home fixing things or playing games with our daughter, he’s working on the book or doing something crazy with his students. Life is never boring in the Bidlack household and we can be sure that something new and exciting is going to happen every day.” His daughter Hanna adds, “Hurray for Daddy!” We proudly name Jim Bidlack our CSES Outstanding Graduate for 2006.

The support our CSES Department receives from agricultural and industrial alumni and friends as well as from other academic colleagues helps us grow and become stronger. Each year we try to show our appreciation for the support we receive by honoring two of our faithful supporters at the CSES Annual Spring Banquet as “Friend of the Department.” This year Glen Laurent (B.S.’66) and Ed Pat Wright were chosen to receive this recognition.

Glen Laurent is a native of Pike County, AR. He grew up on a farm and was the next to the youngest of six boys. After graduating from Murfreesboro High School, he attended Southern State College at Magnolia, AR, before transferring to the UofA, Fayetteville, where he received a BS in Agronomy with a major in Soil in 1966.

Laurent works with schools and colleges in soil education. He is active in FFA and 4-H Land Judging where he gives training and conducts contests. The assistance he has provided our Department with the State FFA Land Contest for the last 22 years is immeasurable. He has also taken the time to be a guest speaker at a CSES Undergraduate Club meeting.

Glen has been married for 40 years to his high school sweetheart, Jan. They reside in Lowell, AR. They have two daughters and two grandsons. We are proud to name Glen “Friend of the Department.”

Ed Pat Wright was born in Little Rock, AR. He moved with his family to Helena when he was just two or three years old and has lived there ever since. He attended three years at the UofA, Fayetteville, then graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the UofA for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy. He is the owner and chief pharmacist of Hickory Hills Pharmacy in Helena/West Helena. Because of his commitment and dedication to his profession, he was honored as the Distinguished Young Pharmacist of the Year in 1998.

Wright has been a great supporter of the CSES Delta Scholarship Classic Golf Tournament since its inception. He has been a participant as well as a “Hole Sponsor” for all seven years of the event. It is with the support of sponsors like Ed Pat’s Hickory Hills Pharmacy that the Delta Classic has raised over $154,000, which is used to award scholarships to students in the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences.

Ed Pat and his wife Betsy reside in Helena. They have two daughters, Katherine, who is seven and Rachel who is three. It is with pride that we name him “Friend of the Department.”

Dr. Surapong Sarkarung retired in July 2002 from the International Rice Research Institute where he was Plant Breeder for the Rainfed Lowland Program in the Philippines. He received his Ph.D. in 1978 at the U of A in Plant Breeding and Genetics under the direction of Dr. Fred Collins. He is praised by friends and colleagues for his scientific and practical contributions, as well as his humanitarian contributions.

Dr. Sarkarung has made major contributions to breeding rice for difficult production environments on three contents. As a post-doctoral fellow in Ibadan, Nigeria, he collected and adapted land races of rice and crossed them into lines with higher yield potential. He then moved to South America where he further improved these materials by again crossing with African materials from Madagascar and locally adapted materials, seeking greater yield potential, disease resistance, and tolerance to highly aluminum-saturated acid soils common throughout the region. After a decade of work in South America, Surapong moved to Asia, taking the improved acid soil-tolerant and disease-resistant lines with him. Some products of his breeding efforts in Asia have been released in Laos and eastern India.

Scientists, farmers, and many others have long admired Surapong’s commitment to national agricultural research in developing countries. For weeks at a time over his career, he worked literally from dawn to dusk evaluating lines, not only in experimentation plots, but also in very remote farmers’ fields.

Dr. Sarkarung now resides in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife, Pratummas. They have one son, Nathaporn Patrick, who was born while they were living here in Fayetteville.

Academic Career: Joyce Hardin

Hardin graduated with a Ph.D. from CSES in 1981. Her career has been a well-balanced combination of research, teaching and service. Hardin has held teaching positions at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma and Hendrix College. She is currently serving as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs at Hendrix. Hardin is also involved with the Arkansas Academy of Science and projects such as the Arkansas Flora Project that is producing a new atlas of the flora of Arkansas.

Industry Career: Otis Howe

Howe earned a bachelor's degree in agribusiness and then a master's in weed science in 1985. He began his career as a sales representative in the Agricultural Products Department of E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company and changed to District Sales manager for Pioneer, A DuPont Company, when those companies combined. Howe has also contributed much to Arkansas agriculture though his board position with the Arkansas Crop Protection Association (ACPA) and has recently completed his tenth year serving as Secretary with the Arkansas State Plant Board.

Ransom grew up in Pleasant Plains, Ark. He received a B.S.A. in Agronomy in 1974 and an M.S. in Soil Science in 1976 from the University of Arkansas. He completed the Ph.D. in Soil Genesis, Classification and Mineralogy at Ohio State University in 1984 and since that time has served with the agronomy faculty at Kansas State University where he is Professor and Assistant Head for Teaching. Ransom's work in soil genesis, soil survey and soil micromorphology is well known, not only in Kansas but nationally and internationally. His research program remains up-to-date with procedures he and his colleagues have developed in remote sensing, GIS and digitized soil survey information. He is currently Chair of Division S-5 of the Soil Science Society of America. He has served on numerous soil science, student contest and planning committees at the national level; as associate editor for the Soil Science Society of America Journal; and as reviewer for numerous other publications and proposals.

Cash was born and grew up in Lonoke, Ark. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology from the University of Central Arkansas. His leadership along with his inquisitive, explorative nature yielded an outstanding scientist and teacher. His extensive publication list reveals work with a wide array of vegetables and fruit from squash to apples, with a concentration at times on grapes and potatoes. His disciplinary expertise ranges from basic plant physiology to food safety and applied process development. His interests have extended from production with plant nutrition and pest management to quality of the final consumer product after processing and storage.Dr. Cash retired from his position as Professor of Food Science and Project Leader for all food Science Extension Specialists at Michigan State University in 2003.

Caviness was born and reared on a small farm near Hazen, Ark. He served in the navy during WWII in the South Pacific and then enrolled at Arkansas A&M at Monticello for one year before coming to the University, where he graduated with a B.S. in agriculture in 1949. After graduation, Chuck began his career as a research assistant at the Cotton Branch Station and then served about four years as an agronomist with the Arkansas Agricultural Mission in Panama. He returned to the U of A to complete his M.S. degree in Crops in 1956. He then became an instructor in the newly established agronomy department. He took leave from this faculty to complete a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics at the University of Missouri in 1963, and for the next 30 years he conducted soybean research, taught plant breeding and production courses and advised graduate students.Dr. Caviness has had numerous accomplishments during his long career. He introduced new rice varieties and improved production practices that increased rice yields in Panama, and he developed a synthetic corn variety. His major research accomplishments were in his development of nine high-yielding, disease-and nematode-resistant soybean varieties.

Johnie Jenkins grew up on a small family farm in Phillips County, near Barton, Ark. He still runs that farm today along with all his other professional activities. He graduated with a B.S. degree from CSES in 1956. From here he went on to Purdue for an M.S. degree in 1958 and a Ph.D. in 1960. After a post-doc at University of Illinois, Jenkins began work as a research geneticist with USDA, ARS at Mississippi State. He is currently the Director and Research Leader at the Crop Science Research Laboratory with the USDA, ARS at Mississippi State University, and he is the Research Leader of the Genetics and Precision Agriculture Research Unit, as well as Location Coordinator for the Mississippi State Location of ARS. Dr. Jenkins is recognized world wide as an authority on plant host resistance, especially in cotton. He is responsible for genetics and breeding investigations with emphasis on cotton genomics and cotton resistance to Heliothis, boll weevil and root-knot nematode. He designed the protocol for the world's first field test of Bt-transgenic cotton, and his method for pollen containment has become standard procedure in such tests. He has developed and released germplasms with resistance to boll weevil, Heliothis, plant bug and root-knot nematode, as well as those with other genetic traits.

Gramlich grew up on a small farm near Charleston, Ark. He received a B.S. degree in Crop Science and an M.S. in Weed Science from CSES before going on to Auburn for a Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology. Dr. Gramlich was at the forefront in making correct decisions for Eli Lilly and American Cynamid where he spent most of his career. He was with Lilly for 16 years making decisions about research and development of products in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Then, he spent 15 years with American Cyanamid at Princeton, N.J., where he became President of the Agricultural Research Division. The success of these two industry giants rests with leaders who can make the right decision at the right time. Strategic discovery and development is the name of the game, and Gramlich was ever alert to what was good for the company and good for agriculture. His own research led to two new herbicides and four patents, but the focus of his career has been in management and leadership for global organizations with responsibility for discovery and development of new products.Since his retirement in 1995, he continues to serve in this capacity as current President of Technology Leadership Associates, a consulting firm that assists companies with issues in agricultural and biotechnological research and development.