CABNR's Best 2015

Passionate Personnel: The heart of the University

For more than 140 years, the University’s faculty have been the architects of the Nevada experience. They are not only engaged and accomplished educators, they are mentors who inspire and lead our students as they turn their dreams into reality. To honor and acknowledge Nevada’s top faculty, the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University and local, national and international organizations present prestigious honors each year. This year’s slate of CABNR award winners shares a commitment to the academic excellence that is the hallmark of a University of Nevada, Reno education.

Wildlife Geneticist and Professor Marjorie Matocq with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science has focused her research on a number of ecological and evolutionary questions at the interface of intra- and interspecific processes. Her research program is heavily collections-based and integrates traditional field and morphological data with molecular and genomic methods to elucidate pattern and process at several spatial and temporal scales. Projects in Matocq’s lab focus on studying patterns of geographic population genetic structure and the processes underlying such patterns. She was honored with the American Society of Mammalogist Award in 2001, the Joseph Mailliard Fellowship in 2000 and the Robert I. Larus the G.K. Lindsay Award for Excellence in the Natural Sciences from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994. This year Matocq was awarded UNR’s Distinguished Outreach Faculty Award.

Professor Marjorie Matocq, Ph.D., wildlife geneticist

Originally from England, Patricia Ellison, associate professor with the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, completed her graduate and post-graduate work at the University of Sheffield, followed by postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany and at Washington State University. She came to the University in 2000 as part of Professor Christine Cremo’s smooth muscle research group. Since 2005, Ellison has been director of the undergraduate program in biochemistry and molecular biology and teaches undergraduate laboratory classes and a graduate course in enzymology. Ellison served two years on the Faculty Senate Executive Board, and is currently chair of the Academic Standards Committee. This year Ellison was awarded UNR’s Faculty Senate Award for Outstanding Service.

Trish EllisonAssociate Professor, Trish Ellison, Ph.D., biochemistry

Also originally from England, Marie-Louise Ricketts, assistant professor with the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Sciences, has focused her research on molecular nutrition and endocrinology. Arriving at UNR in 2010, Ricketts has mentored several honors program students and has accumulated numerous accolades from both peers and students. “We find in the honors program that faculty, like Ricketts, who are engaged in research, prove to be excellent instructors and teachers, as well as great mentors for our students,” states Tamara Valentine, Director of the Honors Program. Taylor Yancey, a nutritional science major, who graduated in May 2015, said “Dr. Ricketts always puts the student first, realizing the significance of her position as a mentor. Not only does she help the student understand what it is like to conduct research, but also how to think and write in a scientific manner.” This year Ricketts was awarded UNR’s Honors Program Award for Distinguished Faculty.

Marie-Louise RickettsAssistant Professor, Marie-Louise Ricketts Ph.D., molecular nutritionist

Mae Gustin, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science was chosen to receive the CABNR's Outstanding Researcher Award for her research contributions to understanding the fate of mercury in the environment. Gustin’s research has brought national and international recognition to the college and has gained her a worldwide reputation related to the origin and fate of mercury in the environment. “Her work is consistently rooted in conceptual models that she develops when planning projects, and is characterized by creative approaches to conducting experiments, and consistently results in high profile publications,” Robert Nowak, Professor of Plant Physiology Ecology, said. Along with teaching and mentoring her students, Gustin has published 17 peer-reviewed journal articles this over the past year, served as a panel member for the National Science Foundation, and was an associate editor for Science of the Total Environment, among many other accomplishments.

Mae GustinProfessor, Mae Gustin, Ph.D., environmental scientist, CABNR's Outstanding Researcher Award

Karon Felten, an exceptional instructor and advisor for the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Sciences who has been with CABNR since 2005, received CABNR's Outstanding Teacher Award. This past year Felten taught seven courses at the university, while serving as the Director for the Dietetic Internship Program. “Karon is the literal definition of amazing,” Student Nutrition Association Social Chair, Sue Ann Dawson said. “She demonstrates such a passion for her field that is so unlike any other professor I’ve encountered; the amount of time and energy she puts into making sure that we are succeeding in our classes or even having a good day is above and beyond the call of duty.” Among Felten’s most popular classes is Nutrition 121, Human Nutrition, which meets the University of Nevada, Reno’s natural science core requirement and hosts over 320 students per semester. Felten is an inspiration to her students and always feels at home in the classroom.

Karon FeltenKaron Felten, Dietetic Internship Program Director, CABNR's Outstanding Teacher Award

Elizabeth Brown, who has been a positive influence working in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 2009, received CABNR's Outstanding Classified Employee of the Year Award. For the past five years, Brown has done a wonderful job managing both undergrad and graduate students, conducting fundamental research, and managing the day-to-day operations in Dr. Harper’s lab, a professor in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department. “She has a cheerful attitude and has a calming effect on everyone. She never seems stressed and she helps people focus. Liz is a role model to everyone who has the privilege to work with her and inspires others to help each other for the smooth running of the entire department.” Brown, an alumnus of UNR’s BS/MS Biotechnology program, is known for being exceptional and always strives for the highest quality in her work, especially when serving as the safety officer training new UNR personnel on departmental lab equipment.

Elizabeth BrownElizabeth Brown, CABNR's Outstanding Classified Employee of the Year

Rebecca Heidker, a Ph.D. student in the Cell & Molecular Biology program, presented her research entitled "Co-administration of a grape seed extract and bile acid results in beneficial metabolic alterations, including decreased triglyceride levels" in Boston, MA. A student in Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts lab, housed in the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Sciences, was recognized for her accomplishments at this year’s annual meeting by receiving the Dietary Bioactive Components Research Interest Section First Place Poster Competition Award, in the pre-doctoral category. Her research was also selected as an oral presentation in the meeting’s Dietary Bioactive Components mini-symposium entitled "Dietary Bioactive Components: Effects of Dietary Bioactive Components in Animal Models of Chronic Disease Risk." Congratulations to Rebecca for these honors!

Rebecca HeidkerRebecca Heidker, a Ph.D. student in UNR's Cell & Molecular Biology Program