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Davis College recognizes outstanding faculty

The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design at West Virginia University has named recipients for its 2019-2020 Outstanding Teaching, Research and Service awards.

“Our faculty as a whole are outstanding,” said Interim Dean Ken Blemings. "The recipients chosen show the care, intellect, drive and passion that fills this college from the ground up. Their constant and consistent work is preparing our students and developing a future for our community.”

Outstanding Teaching Award

Elizabeth ByrdThis year’s Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Elizabeth Byrd, teaching assistant professor of resource economics and management.

Byrd’s areas of expertise are agricultural economics, microeconomics and agricultural law. She received her Juris Doctorate from WVU College of Law and has been teaching at WVU since November 2016.

She not only spent 2019 teaching a total of seven different courses while working with students in the undergraduate research apprenticeship program, but she developed material for two new courses. She teaches courses in agricultural and natural resources law, agribusiness management, enterprise operation law, agricultural sales and management skills and environmental regulation.

The quantity of her work has not diminished the quality as evidenced by her students’ high Student Evaluation of Instruction scores and their unmitigated praise of her. Her thought-provoking assignments and questions and use of real-world examples to pique her students’ interest are testament to her development as an educator.

“I integrate a lot of current events into class, so my favorite thing is when students send me news articles or ask me if I have seen news related to what we are talking about in class. It shows me that they really see how what we are learning in class relates to what is going on in the real world,” Byrd said.

One student said of her teaching, “[She provides] an interesting lecture that makes me want to attend class. And her personality and light heartedness go a long way in everyone's (sic) enjoyment of class.”

Byrd also enjoys helping students reach their goals.

“My classes often have a variety of majors from the Davis College, so I’m able to help students make the connection between course material and their chosen discipline,” she said.

Outstanding Research Award

Jason HubbartThis year’s Outstanding Research Award recipient is Jason Hubbart.

Hubbart is the professor of hydrology and water quality and director of the WVU Institute of Water Security and Science.

His prolific and impressive research is focused on sustainability in water quality and quantity, watershed management and how humans manage those resources.

As an internationally recognized leader in water sciences, he made 19 presentations in the last year in regional, national and international engagements. Hubbart authored or co-authored eight peer-reviewed manuscript journals while his work in water sciences was highlighted in the West Virginia Farm Bureau and National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research newsletters.

Twelve of his projects were funded for research in STEM education, Chesapeake Bay initiatives, wetland development, mixed-use watersheds, shared research facilities and equipment, and big data solutions.

The project he’s most excited about is the West Run Watershed program. Currently funded by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, Hubbart is working to save taxpayer dollars while improving human health, water quality and natural resource commodities in complex mixed-land use watersheds.

“My work is really all about how humans become better stewards of our state and the planet. It’s something bigger than myself, and I feel it’s a meaningful way to devote my life to the healthy future lives of people I will never meet,” Hubbart said.
Outstanding Service Award

Eugenia PenaThis year’s Davis College Outstanding Service Award recipient is Eugenia Pena-Yewtukhiw, associate professor of soil science.

Her most demanding and well-performed service activity is her work as director of the WVU Soil Testing Laboratory. Through her lab, Pena-Yewtukhiw provides valuable information to growers and private citizens who rely on the results and recommendations to make important decisions on managing fertility in their fields or plots.

“I always considered myself first a researcher, but I discovered how rewarding sharing your research knowledge with peers and students is,” Pena-Yewtukhiv said.

Moreover, while teaching and directing the Soil Testing Laboratory, she served as a member of the Southern Extension and Research Activity Information Exchange Group 6, the Mid-Atlantic Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Working Group, and the Northeast Coordinating Committee on Soil Testing.

“Researchers’ work is very individual, and our research tends to benefit the public. Many times we do not see how our research benefits them in the short term. I did not realize how important it is to help the public directly. The WVU Soil Testing Lab has given me the opportunity to help residents in West Virginia with their soil testing needs,” she said.

At the University level, she worked with the Sport Diplomacy Program for Social Change. In her profession, Pena-Yewtukhiw served as an action team member of the Soil Health Institute and as a member of the WV-NRCS Soil Health Technical Subcommittee - all while teaching.

“It is the energy and the fulfillment of students' curiosity that creates that enjoyment in the classroom and inspires you to do more for your students,” she added.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey
Director of Marketing and Communications
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design