Distinguished agriculture and natural resources alumni

Steven Leath stands at the UD podium in the AudionAt the 50th edition of the George M. Worrilow and Distinguished Alumni Awards, the college honored 2019 cohort of distinguished alumni. The Distinguished Alumni Award criteria include a demonstration of outstanding career accomplishments, evidence of service and leadership to their profession and active involvement in community service activities. The Distinguished Young Alumni honors the professional and personal accomplishments of graduates from the past decade decades.

Distinguished Young Alumni

Shawn Dash in the woods in winterShawn T. Dash, Ph.D., Class of ‘02, Entomology and Wildlife Conservation (B.S.)

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Entomology & Wildlife Conservation from the college in 2002, Dr. Dash attended Louisiana University for his M.S. in Entomology, and later the University of Texas El Paso for a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. Dr. Dash is an active researcher and is completing a project about ants of the Delmarva Peninsula that he started while attending UD. He is currently an assistant professor at Hampton University in Virginia.

Grace Chapman Elton headshotGrace Chapman Elton, Class of ’08, Public Horticulture (M.S.)

Ms. Elton earned a Master of Science in Public Horticulture with a certificate in Museum Studies from the Longwood Graduate Program in 2008. She is currently CEO of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, one of the nation’s premier gardens in Boylston, Mass. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Public Gardens Association, Prior to that, she served as Director of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA, which was recognized as a top 10 botanical garden by USA Today under her watch. Ms. Elton received the prestigious Martin McLaren Horticulture Scholar Award and was twice honored as a “Top 40 Under 40” in both Virginia and Massachusetts.

Michele Maughn professional headshotMichele Maughan, Ph.D., Class of ’03 (H.B.S.), ’07 (M.S.), ’12 (Ph.D.) Animal Science

Dr. Maughan holds three degrees from the college, all in Animal Science, receiving the BS in 2003, the MS in 2007, and the Ph.D. in 2012.  She currently provides subject matter expertise to the department of defense on military working dogs. She works with her bomb-sniffing dog “Usher” on research, development, test and evaluation projects. Dr. Maughan work with Military Working Dogs led to the invention of the patented canine Training Aid Delivery Device, a containment and odor delivery system that ensures the safety of dog handlers as they are training with hazardous materials.

Distinguished  Alumni

Mark Collins professional headshotMark Collins, Class of ’80, Agricultural Engineering (B.S.)

Mark Collins received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering from the college in 1980. Upon graduation, Mr. Collins bought his first farm, which was approximately 118 acres, and now this third-generation farmer tills approximately 1300 acres in the family business known as DMC farms. He has been honored many times, including the Master Farmer Award presented by the Pennsylvania Farmer Magazine and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Perdue Outstanding Producer Award, and first place in the Delaware Soybean Yield contest in 2017 & 2018. Mark also serves on several agricultural organizations, most notably the National Watermelon Board and Executive Council.

Mike Graham headshotMichael J. Graham, Ph.D., Class of ’90, Plant Breeding (M.S.)

Dr. Graham earned an MS from the college in 1990, after obtaining a B.S. in Agronomy at Minnesota. Continuing in plant breeding for a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Dr. Graham began working as a plant scientist at Monsanto, one of the major innovators in crop breeding. Michael is a third-generation plant scientist who discovers new ways to increase agricultural productivity through plant breeding innovation. He joined Bayer Crop Science in 2018 where he serves as Head of Plant Breeding.

Wayne Lord professional headshotWayne D. Lord, Ph.D., Class of ’78, Entomology and Applied Ecology (M.S.)

Dr. Wayne Lord earned an M.S. in Entomology in the college in 1978. He is currently a Professor of Biology and Forensic Science in the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute and Dept. of Biology at the University of Central Oklahoma, but spent most of his career working for the US Air Force and the FBI. Dr. Lord is internationally renowned for his expertise in forensic entomology, remains detection and recovery, and crime scene analysis, and has served as an FBI field division relief supervisor, SWAT team member, and FBI pilot-in-command.

Bob Thompson  professional headshotRobert M. Thompson, Jr. VMD, Class of ’81, Agriculture (B.S.)

Dr. Thompson is a native Delawarean and received his Bachelor of Science from the college in 1981. Like many of our pre-vet graduates, Dr. Thompson attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, receiving his VMD degree in 1985. After working as Assistant Track Veterinarian at Delaware Park, Dr. Thompson opened Lums Pond Animal Hospital which has since become one of Delaware’s leading veterinary practices. He was named veterinarian of the year by the Delaware Veterinary Medical Association in 2010 and was nominated as a board member of the Delaware Institute of Veterinary Medical Education in 2018.

George M. Worrilow Award

Steven Leath  professional headshotSteven Leath, Ph.D., Class of ’81 M.S., Plant Pathology

Dr. Steven Leath became Auburn University’s 19th president on June 19, 2017. Supporting Auburn’s vision to inspire, innovate and transform, Dr. Leath is focused on strengthening the institution’s reputation as a partnership university and empowering students, faculty and entrepreneurs to develop transformative ideas and inventions that improve lives. Since arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath has advanced key initiatives, including a plan to recruit 500 research- and scholarship-focused faculty, the advancement of multidisciplinary research through a $5 million presidential award program and new fellowships to attract top-tier Ph.D. scholars. Under his leadership, Auburn achieved Carnegie R1 classification, placing the university among the country’s elite research institutions. Auburn is renowned for its exceptional student experience and Dr. Leath champions programs that position Auburn students to become leaders in their professions and engage in their communities.Prior to arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath served as president of Iowa State University and vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina System, and he held several prominent positions at North Carolina State University. Dr. Leath holds a B.S. in Plant Science from Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Delaware and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Illinois.

While at UD, Dr. Leath studied under Dr. Bob Carroll and Dr. Jim Hawk; both attended Dr. Leath’s presidential inauguration. Then working as a research associate, Dr. Leath took advantage of many opportunities at UD, including accompanying Dr. Hawk to national plant breeding discussions, conducting international research with plant pathologists in Panama, and taking extra classes in statistics and Spanish to further his research. Dr. Carroll proudly recalls Dr. Leath earning the top graduate student paper presentation award at the American Phytopathological Society regional conference; his master’s research spawned three publications.

In 2018, Dr. Leath was appointed by President Donald J. Trump to serve a six-year term on the National Science Board. He also serves as Secretary of the Council of Presidents for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.