WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Discoveries to advance the expanding field of biobased products and biodiesel research have earned Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Thomas A. Foglia the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year award for 2006.

ARS is the chief in-house scientific research agency of the USDA.

Foglia and other award-winning ARS scientists were recognized by ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling at an awards ceremony today at USDA headquarters here. Each scientist received a plaque, cash award and additional funding for research.

At the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., Foglia has helped expand knowledge of how fats and oils can be converted to biobased products and biodiesel fuel. During his 38 years with ARS, he has authored or co-authored 228 publications, 175 technical abstracts and 17 patents.

"Dr. Foglia's career has been distinguished not only by his spirit of scientific discovery, but also by the dedication, integrity and leadership that have won him the respect of his peers both in the United States and abroad," Knipling said.

ARS also recognized seven other outstanding Senior Research Scientists for 2006. The awardees are:

  • Carlos V. Alonso (Mid-South Area), research leader, ARS Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, Oxford, Miss., for promoting the development of integrated watershed and stream channel assessment tools and other innovations for watershed management and conservation.

  • Franklin E. Barton, II (South Atlantic Area), research leader, ARS Quality Assessment Research Unit, Athens, Ga., for helping to advance the field of biomass conversion research. Many of his discoveries have proved critical for researchers trying to improve the process of converting biomass into ethanol.

  • Leslie C. Lewis (Midwest Area), research leader, ARS Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, Ames, Iowa, for improving the nation's pest-control strategies for corn. He helped develop mass-rearing techniques that increased opportunities to study the European corn borer and contributed to the development of Bt corn, which has strengthened the national corn industry.

  • Fredrick J. Muehlbauer (Pacific West Area), research leader, ARS Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Pullman, Wash., for developing and releasing several cultivars of dry peas, lentils and chickpeas during his career, including the nation's first winter-hardy lentil cultivar.

  • Jeff Pedersen (Northern Plains Area), geneticist, ARS Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit, Lincoln, Neb., for developing and releasing numerous forage and grain sorghum lines and genetic stocks that are benefiting both industry and science.

  • Debra C. Peters (Southern Plains Area), ecologist, ARS Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, N.M., for shedding light on how plant processes influence rangeland plant communities. In addition, she developed the first individual plant-based model to simulate shrub encroachment into grasslands.

  • Walter J. Rawls (Beltsville Area), research leader, ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for developing methods to estimate soil water properties that are used today in models by many government agencies.

  • ARS also recognized eight Early Career Research Scientists who have been with the agency for seven years or less. The highest honor, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of the Year Award, went to biologist Douglas D. Bannerman, ARS Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory, Beltsville, Md. Bannerman is being recognized for his contributions to scientific understanding of the bacterial disease mastitis and of the bovine immune system. His research focuses on developing strategies to reduce mastitis, leading to increased milk quality and production.

    The seven other Early Career Research Scientists honored for outstanding work in 2006 were:

  • Justin D. Derner (Northern Plains Area), rangeland scientist, ARS High Plains Grasslands Research Station, Cheyenne, Wyo., for recognizing the importance of shifts in plant communities and precipitation thresholds for carbon sequestration on rangelands. His research has explored the impact of grazing on rangeland carbon storage.