UW Celebrates Inaugural Research and Innovation Excellence Awards

The University of Wyoming’s Research and Economic Development Division last week recognized the achievements of UW’s outstanding faculty and departments with its inaugural Celebration of Research and Innovation Excellence.

In the 2022-23 fiscal year, UW reported $150 million in research expenditures, the highest level of research activities ever reported for the university. To celebrate this achievement and the culture of research and innovation at UW, outstanding researchers identified by colleges and schools were recognized. Additionally, four university-wide awards were given for outstanding research contributions, further highlighting the university’s vibrant research ecosystem. Three of these awards honored members or former members of the college of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources.

“The inaugural Celebration of Research and Innovation Excellence marks a pivotal moment for the University of Wyoming. It’s a reflection of our collective endeavor to foster an environment where innovation flourishes and research translates into meaningful impact,” says Parag Chitnis, vice president for research and economic development. “The dedication of our faculty and departments to excellence in research and innovation is what positions UW as a leader in addressing current challenges and future opportunities for Wyoming.”

UW Distinguished Innovator Award—for a researcher with the most prolific innovation portfolio

UW graduate Nate Storey, visionary chief science officer at the controlled environment agriculture company Plenty, received this award for his transformative work in agricultural technologies. Storey’s pioneering efforts in developing sustainable, scalable vertical farming systems represent a quantum leap in food production methodologies. His work, characterized by a blend of innovation and practical application, has led to numerous patents and the launch of successful startups, showcasing the university’s commitment to addressing global challenges through innovation.

UW Exemplary Research Culture Award—for a department with highest per-faculty research expenditures and innovation portfolio

The Department of Molecular Biology, under the stewardship of Department Head Jay Gatlin, was recognized for outstanding achievements in fostering a research-intensive environment where collaboration, innovation, and academic excellence thrive. The department’s impressive per-faculty research expenditures and its vibrant innovation portfolio underscore its pivotal role in advancing molecular biology research and education.

UW Distinguished Research Service Award—for a faculty or staff member who has made major contributions to UW’s research services and infrastructure

In a tribute to a lifetime of dedication, Professor Greg Brown, formerly of the Department of Botany, was recognized for an illustrious career marked by his impact on botanical research and his unwavering commitment to enhancing the university’s research infrastructure. His contributions, spanning decades, have not only enriched the academic community, but also have laid a strong foundation for future research endeavors at the university, Chitnis says.

An older white man wearing wire rim glasses and a checkered wine-colored button up shirt and a gray tie. He has short gray hair and is clean-shaven and balding.
Dan Wall, one of the faculty members honored by the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources.

In addition to these awards, the university honored faculty members recognized by their respective colleges for their contributions to UW’s research and innovation landscape. In the college of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources, Cody Gifford from the Department of Animal Science and Dan Wall from the Department of Molecular Biology were honored.

This annual celebration underscores UW’s dedication to advancing knowledge, fostering innovation, and making significant contributions to society through research. The achievements of this year’s awardees and honorees reflect the university’s commitment to excellence and its role as a leader in academic and research pursuits, says UW President Ed Seidel.

“Tonight’s celebration is a testament to the spirit of discovery that thrives at the University of Wyoming,” Seidel said during the award ceremony. “Each awardee and honoree embodies our commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation to benefit the state and people of Wyoming.”

For a complete list of all awardees, see the original version of this article published on UW News.

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