CFAES Award Recipients from Research and Graduate Education

CFAES Award Recipients from Research and Graduate Education

Distinguished Junior Faculty Research Award

Christopher Simons

Christopher is an associate professor of sensory science in the Department of Food Science and Technology. His research utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to develop fundamental insights related to the mechanisms underpinning food perception, reward, and choice. He leverages knowledge gained from these investigations to develop new methodologies for the food and beverage industry that can be utilized to create healthier foods and/or improve the product development cycle. Dr. Simons has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, and his research has been featured on National Public Radio’s Science Friday and NBC Nightly News. He is the recipient of multiple national and international awards for his research and teaching. Prior to his start at Ohio State, Dr. Simons spent nearly 10 years in the food industry where he led the sensory research function for a large, multinational flavor company. Dr. Simons has a B.S. in biology from the University of Oregon, a M.S. in physiology from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. in food science (sensory science emphasis) from the University of California, Davis.

Distinguished Senior Faculty Research Award

Mary Gardiner

Mary is a professor in the Department of Entomology and co-director of the Ohio State Environmental Sciences Graduate Program. Her research in insect ecology and conservation focuses on greening urban landscapes including vacant land, parks, and residential backyards. Mary conducts community-engaged research aimed at improving the quality of urban greenspace for both people and insects. The Gardiner Lab has published 72 peer-reviewed publications and been awarded $8.1M in grant support, with current funding from the NSF, USDA, and the MITRE Foundation. Mary is also a state specialist in Extension and is active in the Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer program. She has advised 23 graduate students and postdocs, and she teaches graduate courses in presentation skills and grant writing.

Distinguished Research Technical Staff Award

Nuris Acosta

Nuris has a M.S. in entomology from Purdue University, with more than 25 years of experience. Nuris is a very enthusiastic and driven person, always ready to help others. She has an exceptional ability to grow plants and insects needed for experiments. It is like her super power. During her career at Ohio State, she has managed ecologically based research projects of major insect pests of specialty crops grown in controlled environments. Nuris supports her department with the identification of pests impacting specialty crops in controlled environments, as well as providing assistance with outreach events. Additionally, Nuris supports graduate students, staff, and faculty in the preparation of educational materials and research projects.

William E. Krauss Director’s Award for Outstanding Publication by a Graduate Student

Maria (Nelly) Arguello-Blanco

Nelly, originally from Colombia, works with Dr. Clay Sneller's wheat breeding team in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at CFAES Wooster. Her passion lies in using science to uplift farmers' livelihoods. With an undergraduate degree in agronomy from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and graduate studies in plant breeding from the University of Arkansas (M.S.) and The Ohio State University (Ph.D.), Nelly is deeply committed to advancing agricultural practices. Wheat, a vital crop providing ~20% of global calories, captivates Nelly's interest. She focuses on employing DNA technology and prediction modeling to enhance wheat productivity. Grateful for Dr. Sneller's mentorship, she completed her Ph.D. research on the effects of genomic selection on the wheat genome. Outside of work, Nelly enjoys biking, running, and indulging in her hobby of amateur miniature collecting. She also dedicates time to mentoring young women to pursue education in STEM fields and hopes for the increased participation of women in the agricultural sciences.

Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award

Gireesh Rajashekara

Gireesh’s research team is focused on studying animal health and zoonotic disease problems in food-producing animals using “One Health” approaches. Specifically, the emphasis is on the discovery of novel antimicrobials/probiotics and antimicrobial peptides to control foodborne and animal pathogens. Dr. Rajashekara is a highly productive researcher and more than 140 peer-reviewed publications and with multiple patents. As an advisor, he has mentored 12 Ph.D., 7 M.S., 10 postdoctoral associates, many undergraduate students and visiting scholars. He promotes interdisciplinary collaborative research, with the group working under his direction having a rich diversity being from more than 20 countries. He is highly committed to his trainees developing a foundation while working with him for their future professional success.