The South Dakota State University chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta, the Honor Society of Agriculture, hosted the spring Awards and Initiation Ceremony on April 20, where they welcomed new members and honored faculty who have made an exceptional impact in teaching, research, Extension and more.
2021 Poster Competition Winners
Winners of the 2021 Virtual Gamma Sigma Delta Poster Competition were announced at the awards ceremony:
Undergraduate Poster Competition Winners
- Riley Mounsdon, junior ecology and environmental science, natural resource law enforcement and wildlife and fisheries sciences triple major, Finding the Sweet Spot for Control: Age and Growth Rate Relationships of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) in Eastern South Dakota
- Madison Kovarna, senior animal science major, Effects of Virtual or In Person Supplemental Instruction on Exam Scores of Introduction to Animal Science Students
- Jessica Kading, senior wildlife and fisheries sciences major, Documenting Macrophytes and their Habitat Preference in Southeastern South Dakota
Graduate Poster Competition Winners
- Ratul Kalita, Department of Dairy and Food Science, Studying the Influence of Sampling Variability on Microbial Analysis of Milk
- Adalaide Kline, Department of Animal Science, Use of Pregnancy-Associated Glycoproteins to Determine Fetal Age Throughout Gestation in Cattle
- Talia Everding, Department of Animal Science, Quantifying Cortisol in Hair on Sows Housed in Pen and Stall Gestation
Ph.D. Poster Competition Winners
- Christian Ramirez Camba, Department of Animal Science, Gestating Sow Model for Protein and Amnio Acid Deposition
- Ruchika Kashyap, Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science, Possible Shift in Sensitivity of Phomopsis Stem Canker Fungi, Diaporthe helianthin and D. gulayae, in Sunflower Tebuconazole Fungicide
- Ajoy Saha, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Impact of Conservation Practices and Soil Physical Properties on Field Hydrology: How Sensitive is the Soil Plant Atmosphere Water (SPAW) Model to Changes in Soil Properties?
Faculty Award of Excellence in Research
Crystal Levesque, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science, was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta 2021 Faculty Excellence in Research Award.
Levesque’s research has been focused in two specific areas within swine production. She has focused on defining maternal nutrient requirements to optimize offspring pre- and post- natal development and on the impacts of alternative feeds and dietary additives on piglet growth, immune function, and gut health post-weaning.
Levesque’s research has helped improve sow nutrition to produce a heartier offspring. As a result, it has increased efficiency, reduced antibiotic use, and reduced non-renewable resource input.
Levesque has received over $4.1 million in external research funding since she began at SDSU. In the last five years alone, she has had 26 refereed publications, published 3 book chapters, 51 Extension publications and 67 conference proceedings.
When Levesque isn’t working on her research, she spends her time overseeing graduate students in the Department of Animal Science and teaching an undergraduate swine production course. She is known for developing her graduate students to their fullest potential.
“Dr. Crystal Leveque is an exceptional researcher that positively impacts her students, the university and the swine industry,” said Joseph Cassady, Animal Science Department Head.
Faculty Award of Excellence in Teaching
Douglas Prairie, Instructor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta 2021 Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.
Prairie has taken the 20 years of experience he has gained through his time in the industry and brought it into the classroom. He has helped design labs for the new Raven Precision Ag Center that will provide students with a more realistic lab experience. Prairie has also been on department curriculum committees, helping develop the courses his students take.
Prairie has introduced several courses to SDSU that have given student’s direct exposure to industry standard tools. Just this year, he introduced a course that explores Finite Element Analysis software tools used in machine design. Prairie also facilitates industry-sponsored design projects for senior agricultural engineering students. Companies and organizations such as AGCO, Bobcat, Raven, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and others bring their real design problems and SDSU senior design teams provide solutions.
“Doug’s strength is the many years of industry experience he brings into the classroom,” said Van Kelley, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department Head. “He is able to help students connect textbook theory to practical career skills they need and will use during internships and throughout their careers.”
Prairie is also the advisor for the highly successful SDSU Quarter-Scale Tractor team. In 2018, the team won the international competition, defeating 28 teams from other universities from around the world. The team also placed second in 2017 and 2019.
Faculty Award of Excellence in Extension
Sara Bauder, SDSU Extension Agronomy Field Specialist, was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta 2021 Faculty Excellence in Extension Award.
Located in the Mitchell regional Extension Center, Bauder has shown her commitment through her creative outreach activities such as Friday Farming, a weekly Facebook video series that provides updates on crop conditions throughout the growing season.
“I am so pleased that Sara has been recognized by Gamma Sigma Delta,” said Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension Director. “Sara is dedicated to serving the South Dakota Agricultural Community, her discipline and SDSU Extension. This recognition is a testament to the exceptional work that Sara provides in her professional role to stakeholders and the land grant mission that is the foundation of SDSU Extension.”
Bauder has spearheaded several other outreach efforts such as coordinating the Crop Hour Webinar, a virtual winter crop production clinic that is hosted on the SDSU Extension YouTube Channel. Bauder also shares weekly summaries of the Agronomy Weekly newsletter on the SDSU Extension Agronomy Facebook page.
Honorary Service Award
Mary Christensen, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication and Agricultural Science (ALECS) Coordinator – Advising and Student Retention, was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta 2021 Honorary Service Award.
In her role as ALECS Coordinator, Christensen oversees the over 350 students enrolled in the program and teaches the ALECS first-year seminar classes.
In addition to her duties as ALECS Coordinator, Christensen coordinates advising for the over 1,600 students enrolled in CAFES. She personally advises approximately 150 of the students enrolled in the ALECS program. Christensen also leads the advising team for New Student Orientation.
“The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science is very fortunate to have Dr. Mary Christensen as an advisor to students, and colleague to faculty and staff,” said Vikram Mistry, Interim Associate Dean of CAFES Academic Programs. “Her work with students is highly impactful. She is totally dedicated to helping them succeed and navigate through challenges in a compassionate manner. She is also a “go-to” person for CAFES advisors and faculty on academic matters. On top of these activities, she is an outstanding advisor to the Prexy Council. Mary performs at a high level and gently inspires other to excel.”
In addition to her academic advising duties, Christensen serves as advisor to the CAFES Prexy Council, the college’s student council of club leadership. She also provides mentorship to students through the LeadState program.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Dan Gee, professor emeritus in the Department of Animal Science, received the Gamma Sigma Delta 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.
During his time at SDSU, Gee taught two key classes in the Department of Animal Science, Introduction to Animal Science and Livestock Evaluation and Marketing. He served as an academic advisor to hundreds of students during his time with SDSU. Gee also coached a nationally competitive Livestock Judging Team every year.
“While at SDSU, Dan was the gold standard of what makes an exceptional educator,” said Robert Thaler, Professor and SDSU Extension Swine Specialist.
Gee was awarded the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Teacher of the Year in 1970, 1989, 1993 and 1998. He also received the Gamma Sigma Delta Excellence in Teaching Award in 1984.
After retiring from SDSU, Gee went on to establish the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program (SDARL). After developing the leadership skills of more than 150 South Dakota agriculturalists over 5 classes, he retired from his role with SDARL.
Following his time with SDARL, Gee helped lead the completion of the $1 million Kohler-Gee Endowment for the SDSU Livestock Judging Team. He also helped raise funds for the new SDSU Swine Education and Research Facility and the SDSU Cow-Calf Education and Research Facility.
Gee was recognized in 2004 as an SDSU Distinguished Alumni. In 2011, he was awarded the inaugural South Dakota Agriculture Ambassador Award.
Gamma Sigma Delta initiated 23 new members during their 2021 Spring Awards and Initiation Ceremony. To be invited join to Gamma Sigma Delta, initiates must show exceptional academic or professional performance and show promise of leadership.
- Clay Carlson, junior animal science major
- Jessica Kading, senior wildlife and fisheries sciences major
- Shailey Marczak, junior animal science major
- Lydia Meredith, senior dairy manufacturing major
- Mary Nold, senior horticulture major
- Murray Perkins, junior animal science major from
- Sadie Vander Wal, junior agricultural communication and animal science double major
- Joy Amajoioyi, Department of Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science
- Taylor Andrews, Department of Animal Science
- Shannon Dierking, Department of Animal Science
- Mohamed Elfaruk, Department of Dairy and Food Science
- Johanna Jorgensen, Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science
- Ruchika Kashyap, Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science
- Alexandria Kelly, Department of Animal Science
- Adalaide Kline, Department of Animal Science
- Shayanti Minj, Department of Dairy and Food Science
- Emily Mioberg, Department of Natural Resource Management
- Kaayva Rathnakumar, Department of Dairy and Food Science
- Anthony Bly, Extension Soils Field Specialist
- Jiyul Chang, Lecturer in the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science
- Jimmy Gu, Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering
- Ryan Samuel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Science
- Lin Wie, Associate Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering