MSU forest resources honors top faculty


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Posted: 12/18/2013


Mississippi State University faculty in the College of Forest Resources and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center were recently recognized for exceptional teaching, service and research accomplishments.

The following were honored during a ceremony at the college's annual advisory banquet.

Extension/Outreach—James Henderson received the Extension/Outreach Award. Henderson is an associate Extension professor in forestry. Among his many accomplishments, Henderson was praised for his publications addressing the impact of forestry and forest products on each of Mississippi's timber-producing counties. He has also earned extramural grants for his program and serves as the forest economist in the MSU Extension Service.

Henderson holds a bachelor's degree from Louisiana Tech University, a Master of Business Administration and master's degree from MSU, and a doctorate from Louisiana State University.

Early Career—Forestry assistant professor Morgan Varner is the recipient of the Early Career Achievement Award. Varner works in the area of fire ecology. A relative newcomer, Varner began his career at MSU in 2012 and is the major professor to four graduate students. He has garnered nearly $2 million in extramural grants.

Varner holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Idaho, a master's degree from Auburn University and a doctorate from the University of Florida.

Teaching—Wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture assistant professor Robbie Kroger received the Teaching Award. Kroger teaches two sections of Applied Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology, one of which is an honors course.

Kroger began his tenure at Mississippi State in 2009 and has had 12 graduate students complete their degree programs. He teaches nontraditional students through the Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat Initiative, a network of cooperative farms that demonstrate the success of conservation practices on landscape stewardship while encouraging profitable and sustainable production systems.

Kroger earned two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi.

Service—Robert Grala was recognized with the annual Service Award. Grala is a forestry associate professor and serves as the advisor to the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. Under his leadership, the student group has been recognized as one of the top three chapters in the country for the past five years. He is noted for his service to the community, university and professional organizations.

Grala is actively involved at the national and state levels in the Southern Forest Economics Workers and the Society of American Foresters. He earned master's degrees from Warsaw Agricultural University and from Central European University, as well as a doctorate from Iowa State University.

Research—Wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture associate professor Jerrold Belant received the Research Award.

Belant's research focuses on large mammal ecology and management, with a specialty in large carnivores. In the last three years, he has collected more than $6.6 million in extramural research funding with projects spanning the globe. He is equally productive in publishing his research findings, producing more than 64 journal articles in the last three years.

Belant supervises 11 graduate students at Mississippi State and is the director of the university's Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts and Carnivore Ecology Laboratory. Belant earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a doctorate from University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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