AFRE People and Awards December 2016

AFRE People and Awards for December 2016

December 1, 2016

Faculty and Staff News


Debbie Conway retired as the department’s graduate secretary Nov. 1. Debbie served MSU for 26 years -- 15 years with AFRE and 11 years with the Engineering Department. Many current and former students and faculty members have benefitted greatly from her warm and dedicated assistance. AFRE has been very fortunate to have had Debbie as the graduate secretary, and she will be missed!


New Hires

Dr. Thomas S. Lyons has joined AFRE as professor (with tenure) and director of the Product Center. As a well-recognized national expert in entrepreneurship, he is an excellent addition to our department and is poised to make notable contributions to the Product Center and AFRE’s agribusiness management and food industry management areas.


Estrella Starn has joined AFRE as academic program coordinator for the graduate program. Estrella has been at MSU since 2000, and she has had experience as a graduate secretary since 2005, most recently with the Department of Art, Art History and Design. We are very excited to have her join us!



Changed Responsibilities and Faculty Achievements

Thomas Jayne has been appointed co-director of the MSU Alliance for African Partnership.

David Tschirley has assumed the new role of co-director of AFRE’s Food Security Group (FSG).


Ruthi Bloomfield was promoted to the rank of senior academic specialist, effective

May 1, 2016.


Nicky Mason has been elected secretary-general for the AAEA Africa Section.


Titus Awokuse is now serving as chair-elect for the AAEA National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators (NAAEA). He has also become a member of C-FARE, the AAEA Priorities and Solutions Steering Committee.


Faculty and Staff Awards

David Ortega (professor) and Maolong Chen (Ph.D. student) won the AAEA Quality of Communication Award for a series of articles published in Choices ( The theme of this collection -- “China as the Leading U.S. Agricultural Export Market”, -- was based on a grant that David received from the USDA and also based, in part, in the M.S. thesis research of Maolong Chen, his graduate student. This award emphasizes the potential for obtaining quality output from collaborations with our graduate students in AFRE.


Roy Black (professor) was awarded the Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program Award at the 2016 AAEA Annual Meeting, Aug. 1, 2016, for his part of a group effort in the Farm Policy Decision Aid.


Eric Scorsone, associate professor in AFRE and founding director of the Michigan State University Extension Center for State and Local Government Policy, and several of his extension colleagues were recognized with a USDA Abraham Lincoln Honor Award for their MSU Extension team's response to the crisis in Flint. Scorsone and the Center for State and Local Government Policy have been working with the city government to assist local officials’ financial decision making in the face of the crisis. This USDA award, the most prestigious departmental award presented by the U.S. secretary of agriculture,  recognizes exceptional leadership, contributions or public service by groups who support the mission and goals of USDA.  Please see the article above for more.


Student Awards

Awa Sanou (M.S./Ph.D. student) was awarded an honorable mention for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award at the 2016 AAEA annual meeting, Aug. 1.


Stephen Morgan (AFRE Ph.D. student) and Christine Sauer (AFRE M.S. student) were invited to attend the Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security at Purdue University. Every summer, 40 graduate students are selected to participate in the institute and have a chance to hear from security experts.




AFRE Alumni News



Dr. Kandeh Yumkella (faculty member 1992-96) is competing to be the SLPP candidate for the presidency of Sierra Leone (the election will be in 2017). See: Kandeh joined the MSU Department of Agricultural Economics as an assistant professor for agribusiness. From 1992 to 1994, Kandeh took a leave of absence from MSU to serve as Sierra Leone's minister of trade, industry and state enterprises. After returning to MSU in 1995, in 1996 he resigned to accept a high-level position at UNIDO, where he has held several senior positions in the UN system, including director general of UNIDO.



Ashesh Prasann (Ph.D., 2016) has begun work as a young professional in the agriculture global practice at the World Bank.


Tim Hodge (Ph.D., 2013) has begun a new job as assistant professor of economics in the School of Business Administration at Oakland University.


Elena Dulys (M.S., 2016) has taken a position as energy data analyst for Simple Energy in Boulder, Colorado.

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