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Georgia's Cox top USDA scientist

Based at the USDA-ARS Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Cox is being honored for poultry research accomplishments including development of technology to reduce foodborne pathogens in broiler chickens. His research findings are documented in more than 600 scientific publications, including more than 230 in the past seven years alone.

Many of Cox's accomplishments have contributed significantly to increasing the microbiological safety of poultry.

"During his 32-year career with ARS, Dr. Cox's innovative research has helped to improve the safety of poultry that has benefited both consumers and the poultry industry," Veneman said.

Cox and his colleagues have developed several broiler carcass sampling techniques and Salmonella/Listeria detection methods now used in regulatory and research laboratories of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Cox and other ARS scientists were recognized at an awards ceremony today in New Orleans. The scientists received plaques, cash awards and additional research funding.

George F. Fanta, Hyun S. Lillehoj and Ross M. Welch were honored as the ARS Outstanding Senior Scientists of 2003. Fanta is a research chemist at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. Lillehoj is a molecular biologist in the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Welch is a plant physiologist at the U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory in Ithaca, N.Y.

Fanta is being recognized not only for his chemical discoveries, but for his ability to successfully transfer new research technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Lillehoj is being cited for her outstanding contributions to poultry science and biotechnology, her major impact on the poultry industry in the area of disease control and her international activities in providing leadership to young scientists.

Welch is being honored for his pioneering research and global outreach programs directed at developing sustainable agricultural systems that support adequate human nutrition, healthier foods and better lives for all.

ARS also presents "Early Career Scientist of the Year" awards to outstanding scientists who have been with the agency for seven years or less. The highest of these honors is the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of the Year.

The Rothbart Award winner for 2003 is Curtis P. Van Tassell, a geneticist at the agency's Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. He is being honored for conducting outstanding research to improve national genetic evaluation systems for dairy cattle and to identify genome regions affecting important health and productivity traits of cattle.

The agency also named four Area Senior Research Scientists of 2003. They are:

  • Lajpat R. Ahuja, ARS Great Plains Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo., for his research and leadership in development of simulations of integrated agricultural systems.
  • Kris M. Havstad, ARS Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, N.M., for research and collaboration that has led to a new understanding of rangeland sustainability.
  • James M. Spiers, ARS Small Fruit Research Station, Poplarville, Miss., for research and transfer of technology leading to establishment of a thriving blueberry industry in the southern United States.
  • David W. Ow, ARS Plant Gene Expression Center, Albany, Calif., for pioneering development of new methods for controlled DNA insertion and expression in plants.
Seven other Area Early Career Scientists are being honored by ARS. They are:
  • James Allen Byrd II, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, College Station, Texas, for outstanding research leading to the development of a preharvest feed or water supplement that reduces Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry.
  • Eduardo Casas, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb., for identifying genomic regions responsible for the expression of economically important cattle traits that could have an impact on the beef industry.
  • Donald C. Lay, Jr., Livestock Behavior Research Unit, West Lafayette, Ind., for exemplary research productivity and development of a new research unit into a multi-disciplined, nationally recognized center for animal well-being research.
  • Saheila J. Maleki, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, La., for genetic research toward developing hypoallergenic peanuts, determining the effect of roasting on sensitization and reaction to peanuts, and describing the mechanisms involved.
  • Christopher H. Sommers, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pa., for pioneering research in the area of food irradiation to enhance food safety and assist regulatory agencies and the food industry.
  • Camille M. Steber, Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology and Disease Research Unit, Pullman, Wash., for exceptional research on the genes controlling the growth and development of plants.
  • Matias B. Vanotti, Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center, Florence, SC, for innovative and effective research on water quality and animal waste treatment.
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