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UW celebrates inaugural awards

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The University of Wyoming’s (UW) Research and Economic Development Division recently 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 UW’s College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources (CALSNR).

“The inaugural Celebration of Research and Innovation Excellence marks a pivotal moment for UW. 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

The UW Distinguished Innovator Award is given to 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 technoldogies. 

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

The UW Exemplary Research Culture Award is awarded to the department with the 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

The UW Distinguished Research Service Award is 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.

Additional honorees 

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 UW CALSNR, 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 which thrives at UW,” Seidel adds. “Each awardee and honoree embodies our commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation to benefit the state and people of Wyoming.”

This article was originally published by UW Ag News on Jan. 31. For more information, visit

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