ST. LOUIS -- The United Soybean Board announced the winners of the USB Outstanding Achievement Award and the USB Excellence Award last week at Commodity Classic in Grapevine, Texas.

These awards recognize individuals, organizations or companies whose remarkable achievements make positive impacts on the soybean industry or the soybean checkoff.

This year's USB Outstanding Achievement Award went to Bhima Vijayendran, Ph.D., a researcher of soy-based industrial products at the Battelle Memorial Institute. The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council won the USB Excellence in Communications Award for its See for Yourself program.

Vijayendran has been honored with USB's highest award because of his dedication to and vision for replacing petroleum-based products with renewable and more environmentally friendly soy-based ones. His portfolio of work could potentially be responsible for utilizing tens of millions of bushels of soybeans each year.

Vijayendran, who has been granted over 50 patents, also won the USB Outstanding Achievement Award in 2003. He won the Presidential Green Chemistry Award for soy toner in 2008 and has received four R&D 100 Awards for soy-based technology, including soy plasticizer for PVC resin in 2002, soy toner in 2003, soy polyols in 2007 and soy powder coatings in 2008.

Three of Vijayendran's projects -- soy toner, soy plasticizer for PVC and soy powder coatings -- are currently licensed for commercial development. He also has led research into soy-based wood adhesives, lubricants and several other products.

"The expertise that Dr. Vijayendran brings to his work at Battelle with soy-based products is unmatched," said Ohio Soybean Council Chairman Keith Kemp. "The technologies that have been developed at Battelle under his leadership are a testament to the cutting-edge research that is being done as a result of our great partnership."

Since its inception, the MSR&PC See for Yourself (SFY) program has given over 90 Minnesota soybean producers the opportunity to see the results of their soybean checkoff investment up close.

"The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council is proud and flattered to have been chosen for the USB Excellence Award," said MSR&PC Chairman Jim Willers. "For the past four years, our See for Yourself program has given farmers a firsthand look at checkoff programs."

Past itineraries have included tours of the Grays Harbor, Washington, containerized shipping program, the USDA research laboratories that conduct checkoff-funded research on pest and disease management, and the National Biodiesel Board Convention. The SFY program has proven to increase farmers' knowledge and understanding of the checkoff and its projects as well as relay the checkoff's messages to the media and other farmers.

The Minnesota SFY program has spawned similar programs in Illinois and at the national level with USB, which is currently planning its second annual SFY program for July.

The USB Excellence Award rotates among five categories: domestic marketing, international marketing, new uses, production research and this year's award, communications.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.