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Winners of outstanding faculty and staff awards.

SPES honors outstanding faculty and staff

The School of Plant and Environmental Sciences handed out several awards during its spring picnic in April. Awards were given to faculty members in the areas of research, teaching, and Extension, and research and administrative staff.

The research awards are given to those who have demonstrated: an excellent publication record, grant and fellowship record, national and international awards or recognition, citations, and student training.

Shawn Askew (at right) with Michael Evans.


Shawn Askew
Outstanding Applied Research

Shawn Askew has published more than 500 scientific abstracts, 100 peer-reviewed publications, and more than 300 Extension articles. During the past five years he has received more than $1.4 million in research support. Askew has served as president of the Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS) and was named Fellow of the NEWSS in 2023. His nominator said, “It is his commitment to his students and his colleagues that he is most noted for as a mentor, peer, and friend.”



David Haak (at right) with Michael Evans.


David Haak
Outstanding Basic Research Faculty

David Haak has published 28 peer-reviewed papers since 2017 and has been cited more than 6,900 times. He has been invited to present his research more than a dozen times. He has graduated five Ph.D. students and one M.S. student, and trained two post-doctoral associates. Haak was recently awarded the Stebbins Award for outstanding publication in Phylogenomics. His nominator said, “His publication record, funding history, and impactful training of future scientists are commendable, particularly in light of his generosity, humility, and inclusiveness as a colleague.”



Rory Maguire headshot.


Rory Maguire
Outstanding Extension Faculty

Rory Maguire’s research and Extension program has produced a host of best management practices in water quality protection and nutrient use efficiency that have been implemented by both Virginia and Mid-Atlantic farmers. He also serves as supervisor of the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Lab which handles more than 50,000 samples annually.

Since 2018, he has generated more than $1.3 million of research support, published 14 peer-reviewed articles, and five peer-reviewed Extension articles.

The Outstanding Extension Faculty Award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates a commitment to exemplary engagement with stakeholders, productivity and outputs, and evidence of impact demonstrating positive personal and societal change.




Josh Kardos (at right) with Michael Evans.


Josh Kardos
Outstanding Teaching Faculty

Josh Kardos teaches six horticulture courses, examining a wide-range of subjects. His classes are noted as cutting-edge opportunities for students that offer tremendous value and potential for growers both economically and increasing food sources to address the needs of urban population centers.

Kardos’ experiences in plant breeding, plant grafting, program management, and as the manager of the Virginia Tech Specialty Crops Research Program provide him a unique perspective and expertise in training the next generation of students for green-industry careers.

The Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award is given to those who demonstrate: a commitment to enhancing the educational environment, highest standards of instruction, implementation of new forms and technologies of teaching, and continual evaluation of effectiveness.


Sabrina Allen (at right) with Michael Evans.


Sabrina Allen
Outstanding Administrative Staff

Sabrina Allen serves at the Fiscal Specialist and has been with the school since it launched in 2018. Over her 30-year career at the university, she has served in most fiscal roles including reconciling, purchasing, payroll, and several HR roles. Her nominator says, “Sabrina has always distinguished herself as a team player, both with her peers on the SPES fiscal administrative team, but also on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students.”

The Outstanding Administrative Staff Award is given to those who demonstrate professionalism and enthusiasm, a willingness to help others, commitment to professional development, and willingness to accept new job responsibilities.


Kevin Bamber (at right) with Michael Evans.


Kevin Bamber
Outstanding Research Staff

Kevin Bamber routinely volunteers to help others. He manages several administrative tasks that aid the school, such as Glade Road fuel accounting and departmental vehicles. Graduate students he encounters describe him as one of the best aspects of their lab, saying, "Working with him is a true joy.” Bamber is known for providing birthday cakes for those he works with at the Glade Road facility, claiming, “everyone should have a cake on their birthday.” Over the past decade, he has purchased more than 100 cakes.

The Outstanding Research Staff Award is given to a research staff member who has demonstrated outstanding contribution, professionalism, and enthusiasm, boosts morale of colleagues, is committed to helping others, and professional development.