Valencia and Shaffner Receive Top Departmental Awards

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Cesar Valencia, left, received the Department of Entomology Staff Meritorious Service Award from Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale. Photo by Rob Williams.

COLLEGE STATION — Congratulations to Cesar Valencia and Joe Schaffner in receiving the Department of Entomology’s top awards for the year during the February faculty meeting on February 11.

Valencia received the Department’s Staff Meritorious Service Award while Schaffner was given the Lifetime Achievement award during the meeting.

Valencia is a lab and field manager for Dr. Greg Sword’s lab and also serves as the proctor of the Entomological Research Laboratory, which houses various labs and offices for the Department.

He is responsible for several tasks in the lab, including various administrative functions, such as purchasing, procurement and obtaining USDA permits, and logistical, as well as personnel supervision and general research.

Valencia was also an Extension Assistant for the Department of Entomology in College Station for 5 years. As an Extension Assistant under Dr. Carlos Bogran, he was in charge of the statewide bark and longhorn beetle survey attacking trees in Texas. He also conducted various assays on greenhouse insecticides and testing new molecules against major pests that attack ornamental plants.

In the nomination letter, Sword praised Valencia for his help in growing the lab.

“The lab facility was completely empty and I had never conducted a cotton (or any other crop) field trial in my life,” Sword said. “Since starting, the lab has hosted over 35 postdocs, graduate students, undergrads and visiting scholars, obtained nearly $2.2 million in extramural funding, and been issued a U.S. patent. Cesar played critical roles in enabling all of these accomplishments by virtue of his organizational abilities and previous experience, particularly with agriculture in the field.”

“Cesar has been the glue that holds the lab together and keeps it running on a daily basis,” Sword said. “He never shuns the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, and equally if not important he constantly seeks new opportunities for additional training or projects to initiate in the lab.”

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Joe Schaffner, left, received a plaque in recognition for his lifetime achievements during his career with the Department. Photo by Rob Williams

The Department also recognized Joe Schaffner with the Lifetime Achievement Award

Schaffner was hired as an Assistant Professor in our department in 1963. For several years he had responsibility for deciduous fruit tree entomology in Texas. He then moved through the ranks to become Professor, and retired and was awarded a Professor Emeritus in 1997. During this time he researched the systematics and taxonomy of true bugs, focusing on the Miridae, or plant bugs.

During his career, Schaffner also served for approximately 17 years as the Graduate Advisor for our department where he tirelessly worked to identify and recruit top prospects for our graduate program, and he stayed with them through the application process and their subsequent careers.

Students, particularly international students, remembered Schaffner as someone who was always willing to help them with anything that came up, and as someone that they could trust and always turn to for advice

Schaffner’s greatest contribution to the Department, and to the field of entomology, has been a lifetime of work in collecting, preparing, and curating a huge number of specimens of extremely high quality into the Texas A&M Insect Collection.

He was also well known for his extended collecting trips to Mexico, on which he took many students and colleagues, often providing students with their first experiences in international field work. Joe’s work in the Insect Collection has continued to the present (quite literally).

In addition, the Department recognized two faculty members for service, including Dr. Robert Coulson for 45 years with the Department, and Dr. John Oswald for 20 years.

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