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K-State Today

March 30, 2022

Agronomy professors receive the highest distinction from professional societies

Submitted by Kathy Gehl

The American Society of Agronomy, or ASA, and the Soil Science Society of America, or SSSA, named three faculty members in the agronomy department as fellows, the highest recognition bestowed by both societies. Members of each society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service. Up to 0.3 percent of each society’s active and emeritus members may be elected fellow. The awards were presented at the society’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City in late 2021.

New agronomy fellows

Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, professor of agronomy, was named a fellow by the American Society of Agronomy. His program focuses on soil fertility and nutrient management research and extension.

Ruiz Diaz has made extraordinary contributions in developing high-impact education programs that serve producers, industry and extension, and an active program training the next generation of agronomic scientists. He developed a progressive research program in soil fertility and has made a significant impact on national and international initiatives. He provides leadership and service to regional and state professional organizations, and he is active serving ASA and SSSA on numerous committees. He served as division chair, associate editor and technical editor for the Agronomy Journal.

Ganga Hettiarachchi, professor of soil chemistry, was named a fellow by the Soil Science Society of America. Her research at K-State focuses on understanding the chemistry of both nutrient and contaminant elements in soils, with the goal of developing solutions to agricultural or environmental problems.

Hettiarachchi is internationally recognized for her work on better understanding fundamental reaction processes ascertaining soil nutrient and trace elements’ bioavailability in the environment and uses this knowledge to develop practical solutions for nutrient deficiencies or elemental toxicities. In addition to contributing substantially to training graduate and undergraduate students in soil science or related fields, Hettiarachchi provides leadership at the international, national, state and university levels. She has authored 75 peer-reviewed publications and has made numerous invited presentations at national and international conferences. She is active in SSSA, ASA, the International Union of Soil Sciences and the International Society of Trace Element Biogeochemistry. She also holds an adjunct professor position at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

John Holman, professor of agronomy, was named a fellow by the American Society of Agronomy. His expertise is in integrated cropping systems with an emphasis on weed science and forages.

Holman is stationed at the Southwest Research and Extension Center in Garden City. He received his bachelor's and master's from Montana State University and his doctorate from the University of Idaho. He is internationally recognized as an authority on semi-arid cropping systems. His research has made a meaningful impact on the agricultural industry, improving water use efficiency, weed management, crop production and profitability. He is recognized for generating meaningful research for producers and effectively communicating his research. He has authored 75 peer-reviewed publications, 950 proceedings and abstracts, and 350 extension publications. In addition to his work at K-State, he is active in ASA, the Crop Science Society of America, and agricultural industry groups.