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Ag station recognizes 4 faculty, staff for early career performance

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The Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence (RoPE) awards were established to recognize full-time Agricultural Experiment Station employees at the University of Arkansas who have sustained outstanding performance during their early careers.
Four UA faculty and staff receive outstanding performance RoPE Awards.

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station has named four faculty and staff the inaugural recipients of the Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence (RoPE) Awards.

The recipients are:

  • Faculty Award: Jiangchao Zhao, associate professor, animal science
  • Classified Research Support: Chad Hayes, research technician, department of poultry science
  • Non-Classified Research Support: Liliana Florez-Palacios, program associate, department of crop, soil and environmental sciences
  • Non-Classified Business & Administrative Support: Daniela Kidd, departmental administration manager, department of crop, soil and environmental sciences

The award was created to recognize full-time Agricultural Experiment Station employees who have sustained outstanding performance during their early careers, said Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research and director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


Jiangchao Zhao, Chad Hayes, and Daniela Kidd have been honored as the first recipients of the Early Career Recognition of Professional Excellence (RoPE) award. (University of Arkansas)

“Our faculty and staff are singularly committed to the Land Grant missions of research, extension and education,” Meullenet said. “Jiangchao, Chad, Liliana and Daniela embraced that calling immediately when they joined the experiment station.

“In this early chapter of their careers, they went to work and are contributing every day to our charge to achieve scientific discoveries that benefit Arkansas citizens, expand agricultural sustainability and profitability, promote environmental stewardship, strengthen local and state economies and ensure safe and nutritious food supply.,” Meullenet said.

Meullenet said full-time employees in good standing who possess a majority appointment to the Agricultural Experiment Station, and who have completed two to seven years of continuous service are eligible for the RoPE Award. Recipients will receive a $2,500 award and will be recognized at the experiment station’s annual faculty and staff spring reception.

Jiangchao Zhao joined the department of animal science as an associate professor in 2015 and was promoted to associate professor in 2019. His research focuses on human and animal microbiome, the collection of all the microorganisms in a specific niche, like the gut microbiome. These microbiomes play an important role in the health of people and animals.

He has published more than 40 papers, including several high-impact papers on the human gut microbiome related to healthy aging and on the swine gut microbiome related to animal production.

Liliana Florez-Palacio joined the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences as a post-doctoral research associate for the soybean breeding program with breeder Pengyin Chen. She continues to work in that capacity with soybean breeder Leandro Mozzoni.

Florez is responsible for the design and execution of research, including grant preparation and reporting, personnel management and budget review. Mozzoni said she is “a devoted researcher with high integrity, strong scientific rigor and attention to detail.

Chad Hayes is the poultry science department’s on-site facility manager for the Applied Broiler Research Unit at Savoy. Department head Dave Caldwell said Hayes’ primary responsibility is to manage commercial rearing for the Agricultural Experiment Station’s contract to produce broilers for Simmons Foods.

Hayes also oversees the coordination of an on-farm research program that requires the maintenance and care of all commercial flocks and the research, teaching and extension projects at Savoy.

Daniela Kidd is office manager for the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences. She manages the office’s daily tasks, anticipates the department head’s needs, serves on committees, organizes social events, helped implement Workday, and kept the office and the department head running smoothly, said Robert Bacon, recently retired department head.

Nathan Slaton, associate vice president for agriculture-research and assistant director of the experiment station, has discovered Kidd’s value since assuming the role of interim department head.

“I cannot imagine taking on the interim department chair task without her expertise and awesome organization skills guiding the daily activities!” Slaton said. “During my first week on the job as interim chair, she had me signed up for several trainings required of department chairs, coordinated our calendars and had documents ready for me to review for decisions that needed immediate attention.”

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch.

Source: University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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