July 10, 2013
Two Tifton scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been honored for scientific achievements in fields focused on ways to improve crops and protect the environment.
Karen R. Harris-Shultz and R. Richard Lowrance with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service were recognized for their research to improve plant breeding and to help farmers improve production while protecting the environment.
ARS, USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, honored Lowrance and Harris-Schultz as part of the agency’s annual Scientist of the Year award program. The scientists were selected from among hundreds of ARS researchers working on a variety of projects around the country and overseas.
Lowrance and Harris-Shultz were the only two ARS scientists in the Southeastern United States to be honored this year. Lowrance was cited as a senior research scientist. Harris-Shultz, whose research was conducted in her first seven years with the agency, was honored as an early career scientist.
Lowrance is an expert on riparian ecology and management with the ARS Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory in Tifton. He was honored for pivotal research into the role of riparian forests, wetlands and buffers in agricultural watersheds and for finding ways to control runoff using them.
Lowrance has served as an adviser to federal regulatory agencies and to numerous foreign countries on ways to restore riparian ecosystems. He was cited for those contributions, and for developing a computer model for assessing forest buffers used by researchers throughout the United States and in Canada, Poland, Denmark, Italy and elsewhere in the European Union.
Harris-Shultz is an expert on developing molecular tools for plant breeders at the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit in Tifton. She was honored for using DNA technology to improve disease resistance in watermelons, to ensure the quality of Bermuda grass used on many of the nation’s golf courses, and for contributions toward developing future biofuels. She also has developed genetic markers now being used to improve the quality of sorghum, and her recent research has been cited by more than 90 scientists.