SFR Faculty and Student Awards

The School of Forest Resources annual spring picnic, organized by Xi Sigma Pi and hosted at the Tau Phi Delta fraternity house, was held on Tuesday evening, April 18.  The recipients of the long-standing Outstanding Faculty Award and Outstanding Senior  Award were announced at the picnic, as were two newer awards—Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistant and Outstanding Adviser Award. 

The 2010 SFR Outstanding Faculty Award was presented to Mr. Mike Powell.  Powell assists in several courses including Forest Mensuration and Chainsaw Safety each spring, and Anatomical Properties of Wood in the fall.  This past spring he was also a teaching assistant in Forest Biometrics.  Powell advises the SAF Student Chapter and also the Penn State Woodsmen Team.  He spends many hours, including evenings and weekends, attending practices and club meetings, and driving students to events as far away as Canada.

Students appreciate Powell’s involvement.  Writes one nominee, “Mike Powell deserves this award because he always shows concern for the students, and he is a role model for students. . . .  If it wasn’t for Mike being in some of the classes that I have taken, I don’t think that I would have done as well as I did.”

Powell is director of the Conservation Leadership School, a one-week residential program for high school students offered for several weeks each summer.  He also assists in coordinating other outreach efforts such as short courses in kiln drying and lumber grading.

This annual award recognizes a faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions to the School of Forest Resources community through teaching, advising, and research.  Students nominate faculty and a final selection is made by a panel of representatives from the School’s student organizations.  Also nominated for the award this year were Dr. Margaret Brittingham, Dr. Beth Boyer, Dr. Jackie Grant, Dr. Wally Tzilkowski, and Dr. Eric Zenner.

Forest Science student Tiffany Roddy was recognized as the 2010 SFR Outstanding Senior.  Roddy was active in the SAF Student Chapter, having served as vice president and treasurer, and in the Eta Chapter of Xi Sigma Pi, first as treasurer and then as president in her senior year.  Roddy initiated the chapter’s participation in a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Walk this spring and served as team captain to raise money to help fight that disease.  She also took the lead on organizing the SFR Spring Picnic. 

Roddy was recognized for academic achievement while pursuing the associate degree in Forest Technology, and at Penn State Mont Alto she was also was awarded an undergraduate research grant and conducted a forest inventory project.  Her academic success continued in the baccalaureate degree program at University Park.  In addition to Xi Sigma Pi, she is a member of the Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.  Roddy worked for two summers as a forestry intern for Weyerhaeuser in her home state of Louisiana, and a third summer as a member of Penn State’s oak regeneration crew.  She had a job lined up before she graduated:  she is now working with Weyerhaeuser in Eugene, Oregon.

A committee of SFR faculty and Xi Sigma Pi members select the recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award each spring from nominations submitted by faculty, staff, and students.  Nominees must be seniors expected to graduate in May, August, or December.  Also nominated this year was Forest Science senior Derek Larsen.

The 2010 SFR Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award went to Mr. Shawn Rummel, Ph.D. candidate in Ecology.  Rummel served as graduate student teaching assistant for FOR 475, Forest Soils, taught by Dr. Bill Sharpe in spring 2009.  In spring 2010 Rummel was the sole instructor for the course. 

“He knows how to take hard academic concepts and make them easy to understand with simple diagrams or visual representation. .  .  . He has done an excellent job walking the difficult line between maintaining high academic standards and making students happy to learn,” writes one student.

Rummel completed his M.S. degree in 2006 on the short-term effects of forest liming on soil chemistry and terrestrial macroinvertebrates.  His current research involves the dispersal and residency of three species of domestic trout in two Pennsylvania streams.

Students nominate candidates for the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, and the recipient is selected by leaders of SFR student organizations.  Also nominated this year were Kristen Brubaker (Ph.D. candidate in FOR R), Kacey Dananay (M.S. candidate in W F S), Sarah Pabian (Ph.D. candidate in W F S), and Tom Ruffing (M.S. candidate in FOR R - wood products).

Dr. Margot Kaye was honored as the 2010 SFR Outstanding Adviser.  Kaye teaches Field Dendrology and Forest Fire Management at the undergraduate level, and a graduate-level introduction to tree-ring methods.  She advises undergraduate students in Forest Science as well as graduate students in Forest Resources and in the interdepartmental graduate degree program in Ecology.  Both undergraduate and graduate students work in Kaye’s Forest Ecology and Dendroecology Lab.

“Margot excels at helping students set and meet personal goals, and makes sure that every step of the process is within your ability, then sets a reasonable deadline based on your schedule and holds you to it,” writes one undergraduate student.

A graduate student adds, “Margot has gone out of her way to mentor any student who works in her lab, whether they are her official advisees or not.  She has shown a level of commitment—that exceeds expectations— to help these students develop academically, professionally, and personally.”

The Outstanding Adviser Award is based on the overall excellence of the adviser in three areas:  academic advising, individual student goal-setting and career planning, and personal counseling.  Also nominated this year were Mr. Joe Harding, Dr. Gary San Julian, Dr. Allyson Muth, and Mr. Lysle Sherwin.