College names inaugural group of distinguished alumni
Rick Colbert
Bill Culp
Philip Jardine
Erica Spackman
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11:06 a.m., Nov. 21, 2008----The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources recently named the recipients of its first Distinguished Alumni Awards, recognizing Rick Colbert, Bill Culp, Philip Jardine and Erica Spackman.

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The CANR Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented at Homecoming each year to three individuals based upon the nominees' record of outstanding career accomplishments, service and leadership, and community service activities, especially as associated with the University of Delaware.

A separate Distinguished Young Alumni Award will also be presented each year to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 10 years. Both undergraduate and graduate alumni are eligible for these awards.

Rick Colbert graduated from UD with his bachelor's degree in plant science in 1978. He is currently the executive director of the Tyler Arboretum, a 650-acre property in Media, Pa., that boasts itself as “a place where history, horticulture, and natural habitats come together.”

After graduating from UD, Colbert became the horticulturalist for the City of Newark. During his time there, he instituted a number of programs for the city and provided partnerships with UD and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

“He has taken an arboretum known for a collection of old trees and rhododendrons and made it into a vibrant asset for the community with effective children's programs and upgraded collections,” says his nominator, Sue Barton, professor of landscape horticulture at UD, speaking of his accomplishments at Tyler. Colbert continues his service to UD, having served on a committee to evaluate and revise the landscape horticulture curriculum.

Bill Culp received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in animal and food science from the University of Delaware, in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Culp is a major in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

Upon competition of his education at UD, Culp worked for four years in the poultry industry working on vaccine development, etiological data and animal welfare. He then received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Mississippi State University.

Having served as a long-time member of the U.S. Army National Guard, Culp began his distinguished career as a U.S. Army veterinarian. Currently he is responsible for diagnostic veterinary care for military working dogs and other government agency animals and serves as chief of the education branch at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In the midst of overseas deployments and extraordinary community service, Culp has returned to UD to speak about veterinary medicine, the military, and his extensive community service.

Philip Jardine received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at UD in 1981 and 1983 respectively. He is now a Distinguished Scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Jardine is a nationally and internationally recognized pioneer in studying coupled physical, chemical and biological processes and reactions in the subsurface environment. He has published more than 130 papers and reviews in the most prestigious journals in soil and environmental science, geochemistry and geophysics.

In 1996, Jardine was recognized by President Bill Clinton at a ceremony at the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Fewer than 10 scientists and engineers are bestowed this award in any given year. He has provided significant service to a numerous of scientific professional societies.

Jardine has presented seminars, provided advice on graduate student research and hosted students from UD who were taking part in research projects and internships at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Erica Spackman was named as the Distinguished Young Alumni for 2008. Spackman is a microbiologist with the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SERPL) with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service.

Spackman received her Ph.D. in animal science from UD in 2001 under the direction of J.K. Rosenberger. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at SERPL and was offered a permanent position there. SERPL is the leading USDA research laboratory for the study of avian influenza (AI) in the U.S. and is also considered to be among the top labs for AI research in the world, including those studying human aspects of the disease.

Since 2002, Spackman has presented 30 invited seminars and published 50 papers in a wide range of highly regarded refereed journals, and six book chapters.

In addition to numerous other awards, Spackman received the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist award from USDA-ARS in 2008.

Spackman's nomination reads, “Dr. Spackman has become one of the leading scientists in the world in the area of AI research and diagnostics. The results of her research have changed the way diagnostics are performed for AI worldwide.”

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Awards, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources graduate Traci Hill Hulse, was named as one of six UD Presidential Citation Award Winners [].

Article by Katy O'Connell