Spring Awards

A night when we gather together to mark the end of our academic year and celebrate the accomplishments of our students, employees and supporters


It is truly a pleasure to be able to gather here with you all this evening. It isn’t often that we have an opportunity to all get together – our students, faculty, staff and supporters – to celebrate our College’s accomplishments.

Those accomplishments are representative of a lot of hard work by you all, and the passion you have for what you do, and what we are trying to do as a College. I couldn’t be more proud and want to sincerely thank you all.

I am delighted to be here with you to recognize what is really just a small portion of all that our College has accomplished over the past year. Our College is truly exemplary in delivering on the University’s tripartite mission of teaching, research and engagement, thanks to your hard work.

Tonight, we celebrate:

  • your excellence in learning and teaching in our classrooms,
  • your excellence in research in our labs, fields and Experiment Station facilities,
  • and your excellence in providing meaningful impacts in Nevada communities with Extension programming.

Thank you all for coming, and I hope you enjoy the evening and sharing in each other’s successes.

William A. Payne
Dean of the College

Schedule of Events

Welcome & Introductory Comments

Employee Awards

College Awards

  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Tricia Braxton Perry

Academics & Experiment Station Awards

  • Staff: Lisa Petrusa
  • Administrative Faculty: Tom Dilts
  • Researcher: Erin Hanan
  • Teacher: Tracy Shane

Extension Awards

  • Support Staff: Martha Barajas
  • Program Staff: Kylie Russell
  • Administrative Faculty: Jamie Roice-Gomes
  • Academic Faculty: Pamela Payne
  • Team: Living With Fire

Special Recognition

  • Outstanding Agriculturist: Bill Chounet
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Leadership: Alice & Fred Ottoboni
  • Nutrition & Dietetics Leadership: Dr. Steven Shane
  • Extension Award of Excellence: Ralph Sgamma

Student Ambassador Recognition

  • Graduating Student Ambassador: Avery Sigarroa
  • Graduating Student Ambassador: Elsie Childress

Departmental Student Awards

Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences

  • Outstanding Senior: Elsie Childress
  • Outstanding Senior: Lexi Kruljac
  • Outstanding Senior: Tatyana Bullock
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Nathan Jero
  • Excellence in Veterinary Instruction: Francine Giotto
  • Excellence in Veterinary Instruction: Isadora Batalha
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student: Francine Giotto
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student: Maria Sole Bonarota
  • Graduating Seniors: Department's Class of 2022

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Outstanding Senior: Alexander Howard
  • Outstanding Senior: Dean Trotta
  • Outstanding Senior: Deborah Brady
  • Outstanding Senior: Taylor Graham
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Sydney Tamiazzo
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Victoria Defilippi
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student: Colin Fox
  • Graduating Seniors: Department's Class of 2022

Natural Resources & Environmental Science

  • Outstanding Senior: Ashlyn Tanghal
  • Outstanding Senior: Dawson Frost
  • Outstanding Senior: Samir Gulati
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Cheyenne Acevedo
  • Outstanding Ph.D. Student: Marcus Blum
  • Graduating Seniors: Department's Class of 2022


  • Outstanding Senior: Gigi Glovac
  • Outstanding Senior: Janavi Sathappan
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Irene Richardson
  • Outstanding Master's Student: Taylor Zappe
  • Graduating Seniors: Department's Class of 2022

Closing Comments

Employee Awards

College Awards

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Tricia Braxton Perry
Clark County | Youth Horticulture Education and Domestic Violence High Risk Team Programs Coordinator

Tricia is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion within her programs, team, colleagues and community. Tricia leads her team in reaching diverse youth with equitable community-based education, securing the funding to do so and presenting at national conferences to expand their reach. She developed curricula that connect youth who would not have access with horticulture knowledge, experiential learning opportunities and an awareness of science-related garden technology careers. Additionally, she builds community partnerships, including with the Clark County School District and its Connecting Hands Offering Lifelong Learning Adventures committee, Acelero Head Start, and the Department of Juvenile Justice Services, which extend the reach of Extension's programs into diverse communities. As a result, her program's participants are as diverse as the county it serves.

Academics & Experiment Station Outstanding Awards

Staff: Lisa Petrusa
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology | Staff Research Associate

Lisa manages laboratory and greenhouse activities, such as biological and chemical safety training and equipment resources, for the College’s Cushman Lab. She coordinates 15-18 laboratory personnel and conducts her own line of research. Lisa has great technical expertise and is an exceptional mentor. She provides training to undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral research scholars, as well as critical reviews of lab peer-reviewed manuscripts and grant proposals. She's innovative in problem-solving and finding new tools, equipment and reagents to improve the efficiency of research and the reliability of experimental procedures. She’s friendly, helpful and cares not only about the research, but also about the people conducting it. Lisa's hard work in an increasingly complex regulatory environment helped the lab earn the University's “Excellence in Laboratory Safety Award” in 2021.

Administrative Faculty: Tom Dilts
Natural Resources & Environmental Science | Spatial Analyst and Research Scientist

A leader in our University's geospatial science and technology community, Tom extends expertise in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, statistics, advanced instrumentation, plant identification and more to laboratories and departments both within and beyond our College. Imperative to research success, his skills are in constant demand. His cutting-edge research has led to an outstanding publication record featuring numerous award-winning and first-author publications in top journals. Tom's methods have proven invaluable to studies on a myriad of topics, from butterflies, squirrels and tortoises, to arid plants, fires on public lands and climate change. He has the habit of developing new GIS tools and making them available to the global GIS community. He's fun, full of exciting research ideas and makes everyone with whom he works better scientists.

Researcher: Erin Hanan
Natural Resouces & Environmental Science | Assistant Professor

Erin links tools to explore ecosystem and watershed-scale responses to environmental change and management. She’s a leading researcher in wildfire effects on ecohydrological systems. She figured out how to use models to determine how much wildfire activity is caused by human land use and fire suppression verses climate change. She found that climate change and fuel management effects vary locally and identified critical reasons why. She’s been awarded grants, including from NASA, totaling over $5.5 million, with nearly $2 million coming directly to her lab. This is a rare level of support for an early career researcher in her field. Erin’s provided knowledge to organizations, such as the USDA and National Science Foundation, and wildfire-affected communities in multiple states. Her robust, collaborative research program applies novel approaches and yields high-quality science and publications.

Teacher: Tracy Shane
Natural Resources & Environmental Science | Lecturer

Tracy brings hard work, creativity, joy and 15 years of experience to the classroom. She served as an advisor for our Young Farmers & Ranchers Club, designed her Department's first NevadaFIT camp, and has advised and mentored hundreds of students who now hold agriculture-related jobs in Nevada. Tracy learned how to teach the ultrasonic pregnancy determination exam in sheep. This saves our College over $1,500 per year in technician guest lecturer expenses and allows us to use the equipment for other sheep research and management projects. Tracy recently served as one of two laparoscopic AI technicians breeding 300 ewes at the College's Great Basin Research & Extension Center. She is bringing the technique back to our Veterinary Science Program for the first time in over 20 years.

Extension Awards of Excellence

Support Staff: Martha Barajas
Extension, Clark County | Administrative Assistant

Martha is an outstanding staff member whose colleagues sing praises about how well she helps new Extension employees feel welcome and learn about Extension programs, policies and procedures. She is professional and positive with other employees and the public whom Extension serves. Martha is extremely efficient and productive, completing tasks willingly and quickly. She goes above and beyond, often offering to help in unexpected ways, such as opening the facility on weekends for Extension program classes and periodically checking in during the classes to see if assistance is needed. She is so appreciated!

Program Staff: Kylie Russell
Extension, Clark County | Healthy Food Systems Program Instructor

From her start in Extension, Washoe County SNAP-Ed to her more recent role in Extension, Clark County Healthy Food Systems, Kylie delivers high-quality community education and support, peer mentorship, and work across various Extension departments and disciplines. She provides outstanding support to the organization's educational mission. Her tremendous energy and exemplary project management abilities helped faculty to author innovative early childhood nutrition garden-based curriculum. She collaborated with Extension's Clark County health and nutrition team leads to create memorandums of understanding with program-partnered sites. The documents were instrumental to program success. Her meticulous logistical support empowers the Southern Nevada Food Council to meet goals and objectives and stay up to date on local food system-related issues. Additionally, her leadership and talent recently earned her a well-deserved promotion.

Administrative Faculty: Jamie Roice-Gomes
Extension, Washoe County | Living With Fire Program Manager

Jamie's exceptional drive makes Extension's Living With Fire Program the best wildfire preparedness resource. Her work supports the University and wildfire professional communities, increases Extension and University visibility, and strengthens our connection to Nevada communities. She continually meets with and fosters collaboration among stakeholders, bringing agencies together and engaging elected officials during Extension's annual Nevada Wildfire Awareness Campaign. Jamie's helping to create a wildfire public information officers' group to improve wildfire-related outreach in northern Nevada. She helped lead virtual Extension programming during the pandemic and is now leading an in-person, statewide fire-education tour. She is the lead author of a new wildfire smoke fact sheet with a colleague from the Washoe County Health District, and she recently co-authored a fact sheet about the importance of signing up for local emergency alerts.

Academic Faculty: Pamela Payne<
Extension and Human Development & Family Studies | State Specialist and Assistant Professor

Pamela is dedicated to strengthening Nevada communities. She helps fund, craft and deliver, as well as develop interdisciplinary collaborations to support quality community-based youth development programs statewide. She recently acquired over a million dollars in federal funding for Extension’s first Domestic Violence High Risk Team Project. The project serves Elko and Clark Counties to address the need for domestic violence homicide intervention, which is important because Nevada ranks fifth in the nation for domestic violence homicides. Pamela has an extensive publication, presentation and service record. Her work ethic is inspiring, her passion for developing positive community engagement is contagious, and her knowledgeable guidance and support for community improvement is an asset to Extension, our College and University, and Nevada communities.

Team: Living With Fire Program
Christina Restaino, Director | Jamie Roice-Gomes, Program Manager | Megan Kay, Outreach Coordinator | Spencer Eusden, Special Projects Manager | Christine Nazrechuk, Administrative Assistant | Tessa Putz, Associate

The Living With Fire Program team provides science-based wildfire preparedness recommendations to communities and stakeholders. In the past three years, the team has expanded its wildfire awareness month to a six-month campaign; updated, made accessible and translated resources; created a podcast and high school wildfire science curriculum; secured over $2 million in grants; and doubled its size. Additionally, the team conducted a statewide needs assessment to better meet Nevadans' needs, as well as a program evaluation, the results of which showcase the program's impact. The team has focused on increasing efficiency and collaboration through intentional work planning, project management, frequent team meetings and camaraderie. The team is highly functioning, productive and collaborative with internal and external partners. They effectively educate and effect societal change in Nevada communities.

Special Recognition

College Outstanding Awards

Agriculturalist: Bill Chounet

Bill was the sole proprietor of a suite of businesses in Yerington, Nevada, which included Silverado Ranch Supply, Silverado Mercantile and Advanced Applications. He started these firms in 1992 and sold them to Stanislaus Farm Supply in 2012, after which he joined Stanislaus as a sales representative.

Bill remains the managing owner of ProAg, LLC, an agronomics consulting practice that he started in 1997. He has been a licensed Certified Crop Advisor since 1982 and was a Licensed Pesticide Control Advisor from 1978 to 2004.

Bill was born and raised on a ranch in the Dos Palos area of central California, in the heart of the nation’s irrigated agricultural industry. Growing up with agriculture in his family, he later completed a bachelor's degree in plant science from Fresno State University.

Bill has over 50 years of professional experience working with agricultural producers and companies to grow a variety of crops, including fresh market onions and other vegetables, forages, and alternative crops such as hemp.

Between 1997 and 2008, Bill consulted abroad in South and Central America, working closely with growers to improve their production of fresh market onions. He has also remained an active member of the National and International Allium Associations since 1998, participating in field research alongside some of the world’s leading specialists in allium production.

Department Leadership Awards

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: Alice & Fred Ottoboni

We offer our heartfelt gratitude for Alice and Fred Ottoboni's friendship and support by posthumously honoring them with this leadership award. Alice and Fred had long, successful careers as public health scientists investigating disease prevention in various populations.

Alice earned a Ph.D. in comparative biochemistry from U.C. Davis, and her professional career focused on nutritional biochemistry and toxicity associated with food additives and contaminants. Fred earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from U.C. Berkeley, after which he worked on the identification, evaluation and control of diseases caused by toxic materials and harmful physical agents in the work environment.

Fred and Alice retired to northern Nevada, where they developed a close relationship with our College. Even in retirement, the Ottoboni's made astute observations and generated creative ideas about our health care system and disease prevention strategies.

The pair were humble and dedicated to giving back. Following years of dedicated investing, in times of success and worry, Fred and Alice built a portfolio that allowed them to establish the Fred and Alice Ottoboni Recovable Trust and the Ronald S. Pardini Lectureship, endow two named professorships, one in diet and disease prevention and another in meat science, and support various other initiatives in our College. Through their selfless giving, the Ottoboni's have impacted the lives of countless students.

Marsha Read Nutrition & Dietetics: Dr. Steven Shane

Dr. Shane is an accomplished medical practitioner, scholar, community leader and role model for University students. He's a clinical assistant professor with our University's Medical School, a member of the medical team at Community Health Alliance Nevada and the obesity prevention chair for the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He advocates for and leads efforts to reduce children's risk for obesity. He developed the Healthy Living Program, a multidisciplinary approach to encourage healthy habits, such as food and beverage choices, screen time and physical activity. The six-month offering includes activities and field trips that involve the entire family. Hundreds of children have benefited from this program since it began.

Because of Dr. Shane's advocacy efforts, the 5210 Healthy Washoe initiative works to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles among children and adults in settings such as schools, health care organizations, the workplace and other organizations that involve young children. Initiative tools and resources emphasize eating five or more fruits and vegetables each day, reducing recreational screen time to two hours or less (with no screen time for children under the age of 2), being physically active for one hour or more, and drinking zero sugary drinks.

Nevada's children are more healthy today thanks to Dr. Shane, who encourages students to, "Think big and holistically – we are far overdue in this country for making public health and prevention a priority."

Extension Award of Excellence

Supporter: Ralph Sgamma

In early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ralph sprang into action, innovating ways he could help Extension, its horticulture team in Clark County and the local community, even though Master Gardener volunteers could not get to their project sites. He took University and College trainings for employees on conducting Zoom meetings; following College brand guidelines; publishing photos, newsletters, blog posts and peer-reviewed Extension factsheets on College websites; and updating and making accessible College program webpages. He sought mentorship from the College's marketing and communications team in these efforts. Then, he taught his newly developed skills to his fellow volunteers.

He started the Master Gardener publications committee and began producing the Master Gardener newsletter, which is distributed by the committee monthly via email and online to over 4,000 subscribers. The committee also helps add Extension publications to our website.

Ralph helped reimagine the Master Gardener help desk, modernizing data collection there and beta testing, documenting and teaching others about the changes. This helps Extension to capture and address the public's needs for research-based horticulture information.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ralph had been very active with events committees, and he has resumed those efforts, serving as chairperson for the 2022 Clark County Fair.

For his hard work, Extension's Southern Area Master Gardeners recognized Ralph in 2021 with the Liefried-Fabbi Excellence in Leadership Award.

Graduate Degrees

Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences

  • Erin Smith: M.S. in Animal & Rangeland Science
  • Nathan Jero: M.S. in Animal & Rangeland Science

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Chrystle Weigand: Ph.D. in Biochemistry
  • Jeremiah Reyes: Ph.D. in Biochemistry
  • Mitiku Mengistu: Ph.D. in Biochemistry
  • Roxana Sandoval Garcia: M.S. in Biochemistry
  • Abigail Emperado: B.S/M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Connor Klempa: M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Darreann Carmela: M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Kathleen Zayac: M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Nikhil Renukuntla: M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Savanah Bloomquist: M.S. in Biotechnology
  • Sydney Tamaizzo: M.S. in Biotechnology

Natural Resources & Environmental Science

  • Emily Gibson: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science
  • Jason Gundlach: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science
  • Laura Wade: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science
  • Matthew Breuer: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science
  • Meredith Brehob: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science
  • Mia Goldman: M.S. in Natural Resources & Environmental Science


  • Kelly Eiler: M.S. in Nutrition
  • Rocksana Shirin: M.S. in Nutrition

Baccalaureate Degrees

Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences

  • Abigail Barney
  • Chloe Sinko
  • Danna Brito
  • Erin Moya
  • Haley Quintanilla
  • Hannah Guenza
  • Jacqueline Martin
  • Janelle Edward
  • John Bergeron
  • Josie Merritt
  • Katelyn Messersmith
  • Katelyn Leonard-Peterson
  • Kathleen Jimenez Johnson
  • Kayla Miller
  • Kayla Trickel
  • Kelli Bangert
  • Lauren Parola
  • Macy Rockwell
  • Magalli Flores Almaraz
  • Malaya Franden
  • Michael Armstrong
  • Morgan Gutierrez-Sanders
  • Raven Green
  • Samuel Oberto
  • Sarah Fee
  • Sarah Cassano
  • Shawn Florence
  • Shelby Oviatt
  • Tatyana Bullock
  • Tyler Gersbach
  • Vanessa Covarrubias
  • Winter Kidd
  • Xianna Leon

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

  • Alek Dales
  • Alexis Palma
  • Alma Chinchilla
  • Angela Faith Herrera
  • Anthony Qian
  • Bonnie Lee
  • Chayse Baker
  • Colyn Riley
  • Diana Giron Carpio
  • Dylan Jones
  • Dylan Wrye
  • Emily Teglia
  • Gabriella Ben-Haim
  • Isabelle Berdoulay
  • Jake Stringer
  • Jared Lewis
  • Joann Liu
  • Jonathan Bacalso
  • Josiah Mouritsen
  • Judith Cruz Amaya
  • Kathleen Borg
  • Kayla Andrada
  • Kendall Warnock
  • Laiba Arshad
  • Lester Chau
  • Mariah Ha
  • Matthew Nugent
  • Nabeel Mir
  • Nanthicha Krueger
  • Nathan King
  • Nicholas Hoberg
  • Raquel Moultrie
  • Rogelio Martinez Aguilar
  • Rosalyn Robello
  • Samantha Difulvio
  • Sarah Gu
  • Shane Jung
  • Taylor Graham
  • Trevor Lewis
  • William James-Chappell

Natural Resources & Environmental Science

  • Adam Zimmerman
  • Allison Hinkle
  • Anna Scudder
  • Ashlyn Tanghal
  • Austin Johnson
  • Avery Sigarroa
  • Bethany Devault
  • Brandy Rangel Murillo
  • Brianna Jones
  • Caitlyn McHugh
  • Cameron Barnes
  • Chloe Brickwedel
  • Christina Chong
  • Christopher Draeger
  • Ciara Scalia-Hirschman
  • Colby McAdams
  • David Camberos
  • Dawson Frost
  • Duncan Kennedy
  • Edward Polkenhorn
  • Elizabeth Macphail
  • Esther Guo
  • Eyalee Lopez
  • Gabriel Bierwas
  • Giovanni Calderoni
  • Hannah Hoyos
  • Helena Garrett-Paullada
  • Hunter Bartone
  • Jackson Fitzsimmons
  • Jacy Marymee
  • Jasmin Gaines
  • Jonathon Jacobson
  • Joshua Foster
  • Julia Bergmann
  • Kacey Nidever
  • Kate Miller
  • Kyle Panno
  • Laura Arbutina
  • Lauren Pavilionis
  • Lauren Alexander
  • Luisa Ortega
  • Madison Hutchinson
  • Marc Moore
  • Michael Sprinkle
  • Morgan Lake
  • Nadia Ruiz
  • Nicholas Nelson
  • Noelle Tegano
  • Paxton Spence
  • Rachael Young
  • Robin Doolin
  • Ryan Sangster
  • Ryan Muller
  • Ryan Harer
  • Samir Gulati
  • Steven Applewhite
  • Tamryn Zahradka
  • Tricia Reimer
  • Ty Silver
  • Victoria Goldstone

Nevada Teach

  • Anna Scudder
  • Josie Merritt
  • Nicholas Nelson


  • Alexis Frumenti
  • Angelina Liguori
  • Bryce Hunt
  • Carleigh Bates
  • Chase Brady
  • Emma Kirk
  • Emma Goss
  • Hannah Souza
  • Hollie Garrett
  • Issys Martinez
  • James Perry
  • Janavi Sathappan
  • Janine Gonzalez
  • Kavin Sivakumar
  • Lourdes Nicole Ebalo
  • Luke Moreno
  • Mary Slater
  • Meredith Hoppe
  • Molly Kalsman
  • Nichole Raymond
  • Omid Paknezhad Panahi
  • Shauna Tavcar
  • Valeria Shevtsova
  • Yuvasri Santhakumaran