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March 25, 2010

MSU Distinguished Service to Agriculture and Natural Resources Awards presented to industry leaders

Two veterinarians and a Michigan State University trustee were recipients of the Distinguished Service to Agriculture and Natural Resources awards during the 95th annual Agriculture and Natural Resources Week luncheon held at the Kellogg Center.

Tara Myers Harrison, D.V.M.; Don Howard, D.V.M.; and Donald W. Nugent were recognized for their commitment to agriculture and natural resources in Michigan and their leadership at the community, state and national levels.

Harrison has mentored many students, faculty and professionals at MSU and beyond. Working as the veterinarian and curator of Potter Park Zoo, she has worked both with graduate and undergraduate students in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.         

Howard has a long association with MSU and has given back to his university and the CANR through hundreds of hours of volunteer support and advocacy. He has served as a faculty member at three universities – MSU, Texas A&M and North Carolina State University – and published 65 articles in scientific peer-reviewed journals and books.

He also served as an assistant dean in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1977 to 1979 and as an associate dean in the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1980 until his retirement. He remained a Spartan throughout – serving as the president of the MSU Alumni Club of North Carolina while on faculty at North Carolina State University. He earned both a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate of veterinary medicine from MSU.

After graduating from MSU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, Nugent purchased Elberta Packing Co. in 1973 and formed Graceland Fruit Cooperative Inc. As orchardist and CEO of Graceland, Nugent has been an industry leader, developing new products and innovative processes for processing fruits and vegetables.

Nugent and his wife, Gail, have been lifelong supporters of MSU. He has served as an elected member of the MSU Board of Trustees since 1994, currently serving his second eight-year term. He has supported the CANR in many capacities, and has been a major donor to AutumnFest. He was a member of the second Kellogg Young Farmer’s Study Program sponsored by the CANR and credits this experience with the development of his leadership skills.

Muraleedharan Nair, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, was recognized by the CANR Alumni Association with its 2010 Distinguished Faculty Award.

Nair is an internationally recognized pioneer in bioactive natural products chemistry, as well as an author, teacher, mentor and advocate for international development. His lab, the Bioactive Natural Products and Phytoceuticals laboratory, solves real-world problems using compounds found in natural products.

“His work provided the first scientific proof of the health benefits of Michigan cherries and blueberries and has led to discoveries that have been licensed and marketed for both human and animal health,” CANR Dean JeffreyArmstrong said.

Nair’s lab focuses on the discovery of antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, nematicidal and mosquitocidal compounds from natural and synthetic sources. He has generated more than 180 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 134 published scientific abstracts.

Other CANR Alumni Association awards went to:

• Patricia Orlowitz, USAID Regional Command-East Program Development advisor in Afghanistan;

• Kurt Fausch, professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology in the Colorado State University Warner College of Natural Resources;

• Angelo Oricchio, CEO of Paramount Coffee;

• Larry Morton, retiree of Patio Enclosures Inc.;and

• Shelley Crawford, process engineer at the Kellogg Co.

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