Agricultural experiment station honors exceptional staff, researchers

For the Telegram
Posted 5/29/24

Laramie – The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) recently commended faculty, staff and students for exemplary research accomplishments at an annual awards banquet in Laramie.  

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Agricultural experiment station honors exceptional staff, researchers


Laramie – The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) recently commended faculty, staff and students for exemplary research accomplishments at an annual awards banquet in Laramie.  

WAES is the research arm of the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture, Life Sciences, and Natural Resources. Honorees included staff members of research and extension centers across the state as well as campus-based faculty and students within the college. 

Outstanding accountant goes above and beyond

Amy Newman achieved the Kathleen Bertoncelj WAES Staff Award, named for a former WAES administrative assistant. The award honors a staff member who excels in their position. 

Newman is an accountant at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC). She is superb at planning ahead for a variety of research, extension and education programs. While managing accounts for the Department of Animal Science, she also provides support to UW faculty and LREC administration. 

“Not only is her role in the AES system crucial, but her performance and personal conduct in this role is impressive,” says Cody Gifford, assistant professor in meat sciences. “She has a very positive attitude, has a tremendous work ethic and embodies the positive qualities that make our land grant institution successful.”

Molecular biologist acknowledged for significant early achievements

Thomas Boothby, assistant professor in the department of molecular biology, is this year’s recipient of the Early Career Research Award, which recognizes someone with less than six years of experience directing independent research. Boothby studies how tardigrades survive in extreme conditions. This research could help create alternatives to storing biomedical materials in cold temperatures. 

Boothby’s lab was established in 2019 and currently includes over 30 trainees. In four and a half years, his lab has won several large grants and published ten papers.

“The sheer volume and quality of his work, especially in such a short period, are testament to his prodigious research capabilities,” says the chair of the Department of Molecular Biology Jay Gatlin. “His work is not only admired but is also on its way to becoming seminal in the fields of disordered proteins and protein condensation.”

Diligent scientist wins research support award

Beth Fowers, an assistant research scientist at the Sheridan Research and Extension Center (ShREC), received the research support award.

Nominators commented on Fowers’ willingness to lend a hand and ability to catch details others miss. She conducts independent research, trains and supports students, manages the greenhouse facilities at ShREC and participates in outreach. 

“Dr. Fowers is one of the most committed professionals I have ever worked with, and many people do not realize it because of her humble and reserved interaction style,” says Brian Mealor, Director of ShREC. “If I absolutely need something done right, I go to Beth first.”

Senior faculty member lauded for applied research

Jeff Beck, professor of ecosystem science and management, achieved the WAES Outstanding Research Award, given to an established scientist within the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences, and Natural Resources. 

Beck focuses on sagebrush ecosystems and animals that use those ecosystems. “Dr. Beck’s research forges connections between academia and many different state and federal agencies, the energy and mining industries, and other important stakeholders through productive and meaningful collaborations,” says Tim Collier, head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. 

Beck has published more than 100 journal articles, supported many students and received extensive grant funding. He is an active member of the Society for Range Management (SRM) and has served as an associate editor of two prestigious scientific journals. 

Student, faculty authors commemorated for contributions to Reflections magazine

A student and three faculty members of the Department of Zoology and Physiology were acknowledged for exceptional research published in the 2024 edition of Reflections magazine, WAE’s annual research report. 

Faculty members Anna Chalfoun, Matt Kauffman and Annika Walters won the Faculty Author Award for an article about the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Former WAES director Colin Kaltenbach established this award to recognize impactful research published in the annual magazine.

The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is a U.S. Geological Survey program that functions as part of the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology. Many students conduct research under this umbrella within the labs of Chalfoun, Kauffman and Walters. Chalfoun’s lab focuses on songbirds and other non-game species. Kauffman’s lab studies migration, particularly large ungulate migrations. Walters conducts research on native fish conservation. 

“This group provides invaluable research and outreach programs around the state of Wyoming and the region,” says Eric Webster, WAES Director. “The work with the Wyoming Migration Initiative has spawned similar work globally.”

Ph.D. student Sabrina White was awarded the Lynn Feltner Student Author Award. The top student research project featured in Reflections is chosen by a panel of judges. This award was created by former faculty member Cub Feltner to honor his late wife. 

White’s research examines the impact of changing climate conditions on bumble bees. “The exciting part of this research is the collaborative efforts of the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences, and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences,” says Webster.

White is tracking the movement of bumble bees using tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) “backpacks” glued to a random subset of worker bees. Faculty in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences helped her get these RFID backpacks working. The backpacks allow her to investigate whether simulated heat waves decrease bees’ pollen and nectar foraging. 

Past editions of Reflections are available at

About the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) supports fundamental and applied research on agricultural, natural and community resource issues related to the current and future needs of the state, region and beyond. Its mission is to lead research at the University of Wyoming that stimulates the profitability, diversification and sustainability of the agricultural economy. For more information, visit or contact or (307) 766-3667.