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2021 Alumni Honors

Todd Forbush - 2021 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Todd Forbush, BS 1987, MS 1989, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2021 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Todd D. Forbush is a recognized expert on potato storage and often makes presentations on the topic in the U.S. and internationally. He is committed to getting produce to the plates of people who need the nutrition, while making sure the produce is not spoiled by pathogens on the path from the field to the plate.
Forbush received his master’s degree from MSU in agricultural engineering in 1989. While at MSU, he studied the effects of ventilation on the process quality of chip potatoes out of storage under the watchful eyes of the late Burt Cargill and Roger Brook.

Since graduation, he has applied his knowledge and experiences to the commercial potato storage industry at Techmark, Inc. A popular speaker, his list of presentations and webinars in 2021 alone includes the World Potato Congress, Manitoba Potato Growers, Michigan Potato Growers and Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference. 
He is the current president of the Michigan Section of The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Forbush said he loves working for produce farmers in Michigan and around the world. “These men and women invest themselves and their finances in producing healthy fruits and vegetables for our consumption.”

He is an active member of the Williamston Free Methodist Church, where he serves as a Children’s Sunday School Teacher and member of the nominations committee. 
He is also an avid outdoorsman, who loves to hunt and fish for about anything that runs, flies or swims. He and his family enjoy many meals from these harvests.

He and his wife, Kristen, live in Laingsburg, Michigan. They have three children, Tyler, Taylor, and Morgan, and four grandchildren.

2020 Alumni Honors

Dr. Alioune Fall - 2020 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Dr. Alioune Fall, PhD 1997, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2020 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Alioune Fall is the director general of the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) and has spent a career working to provide sufficient, safe, and nutritious food for active and healthy lives. His areas of specialization are the agricultural technology and innovation management system (modeling, artificial intelligence), agricultural research management, research evaluation, post-harvest technology, and mechanization.

Dr. Fall’s research career spans 35 years. He joined ISRA in 1984 as a researcher in the Casamance region (southern Senegal). After obtaining his doctorate, he was moved to the National Agronomy Research Center (CNRA) of Bambey, where he was appointed national coordinator of the post-harvest technology program. From 2000 to 2008, Dr. Fall was director of the Saint-Louis Regional Center for Agricultural Research. In 2002, he became the national research coordinator on irrigated systems of CORAF, an international non-profit association working to enhance prosperity, food, and nutrition security in west and central Africa.

He helped negotiate the new ISRA establishment regulations with the Government of Senegal and played a key role in decompartmentalizing research at the national and international levels. Dr. Fall chaired the executive group from 2014 to 2016.

His other leadership roles include scientific director of ISRA from 2008 to 2013 and chairman of the CORAF board from 2014 to 2018. Since August 2016, he has been a member of the scientific council of the French Research Center CIRAD and was appointed board chairman in February 2018, by order of the French Minister for Agriculture. He is president of the Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative, which brings together 23 African countries, in bilateral cooperation with South Korea, and president of the Senegalese Association of Agricultural Engineers (ASIA).

Dr. Fall was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite agricole de France in 2017 and Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Lion du Sénégal in 2018.

2019 Alumni Honors

Scott Piggott - 2019 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Scott Piggott, BS 1998, MS 2010, Biosystems Engineering, was awarded the 2019 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Scott Piggott was hired as Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Farm Bureau in April of 2012.  Michigan Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization with over 213,000 members.  As CEO, Scott is responsible for planning, managing and supervising all ongoing services and programs provided by Farm Bureau for members.

Scott began his career with Michigan Farm Bureau in 2000 as the Natural Resources and Right to Farm Specialist and became manager of the newly created Agricultural Ecology Department in 2002 where his responsibilities included all environmental issues that impact agriculture.  In his service, Scott served on over 20 boards and committees including co-chairmanship of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (serving alongside several MSU leaders as co-chair for 12 years) and the Michigan Groundwater Conservation Advisory Council.  Scott represented Great Lakes Basin agriculture in the development of the Great Lakes Compact that was eventually codified in state and federal law. Scott has been an invited fellow for environmental concerns at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and the University of Toronto.  Scott has served MSU in leadership and advisory capacities for several endowed chair searches, curriculum reviews and Right to Farm practice standard committees.  Scott currently serves on the MSU Institute of Water Resources Advisory Team.

In his service as CEO, Scott has participated in transition teams during Michigan Administration changes and continues to serve as a director for several non-profits and financial institutions.

Scott earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University and received the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from the MSU Agricultural Engineering Department.  Scott farms with his family near Fowler with his wife Donna and four children Danielle, Kaitlin, Anthony and Andrew.


Scott Millsap - 2019 BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Scott C. Millsap (BS, Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas, 2000; MS, Biosystems Engineering, MSU, 2002; MBA, Bowling Green State University, 2008) was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Scott is a Corporate IT Project Manager for JBT Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, IL.  He has worked for JBT Corporation for 17 years in roles that span the business including: Technical Sales Support, Account Management, International Project Management, Operations Management, Aftermarket Business Management, and IT Project Management.  Scott attributes his success and flexibility in such diverse functional areas to a strong work ethic instilled through working on his parent’s dairy farm, and a solid “problem solving” focus instilled by his Biosystems Engineering degrees.

Scott served on the MSU BAE Industry Advisory board until 2014 when he took an International Expatriate position in Bangkok Thailand.  JBT has frequently hired a handful of MSU BAE graduates per year to JBT which has earned a great reputation providing top talent with problem solving skills.  He is very proud of the “Spartan Army” within JBT.

Today (as of 2019), Scott resides in Roseville, California where he spends his free time with his wife Stephanie, and two children: Aaron (12) and Katherine (10).  They enjoy camping, hiking, traveling, and attending the kid’s soccer & basketball games. Congratulations Scott for making BAE proud! Go Green! 


Photo of Bridget Bednark 2019 Outstanding BAE Alumnus

Bridget Bednark (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2012; BS, Human Biology, 2012) was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Bridget is a Sales Consultant for Depuy Synthes Spine, Companies of Johnson & Johnson. She holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Biosystems Engineering (2012) and Human Biology (2012). She specializes in advancing sales and clinical value for Johnson & Johnson’s spine product portfolio of products, designed to improve patient care during spinal surgery. Bridget serves hospitals and clinical staff in the city of Knoxville, TN providing on-site consulting, clinical support, and product education.

During her time at MSU, Ms. Bednark worked as a research technician for the Sakamoto Laboratory where she had the opportunity to work on research focused on nerve guidance scaffolds for spinal cord repair. After graduation, she started as an Engineer for Terumo Cardiovascular systems. She became subject matter expert for blood gas monitoring sensors designed for cardiovascular surgery. In 2015, Bridget relocated with BrainLab Inc. as a Clinical Specialist supporting clinical staff with products for image guided neurosurgery. Through interacting and networking with Johnson & Johnson corporate partners, Bridget changed her career path to medical device sales for J&J.

Bridget has been a continuous and enthusiastic participant in the BE 101 alumni speaker panels since graduation. She has enjoyed mentoring others and helping them progress along their career paths particularly in the biomedical concentration area. In her spare time, Bridget loves hiking the Smokey Mountain National Park, skiing, traveling, and cheering on the MSU men’s basketball team. Go Green!  Congratulations, Bridget.

2018 Alumni Honors

Brad Borgman - 2018 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Brad Borgman, BS ’79, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2018 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Brad Borgman is the Vice President of Engineering for the TWT Group, where he leads the design and development of numerous rides and attractions for the theme park industry.  He holds a BSAE in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University.  Prior to working in the theme park industry, Brad was Chief Engineer of R&D for Sunkist, receiving 4 patents for his work developing a robotic packing machine as well as optically inspecting fruit by color, size and defects.

After graduating from MSU in 1979, Brad became a project engineer for Ford’s Tractor division in Troy, Michigan where he focused on testing and instrumenting their Tractor development.  His interest in Electrical Engineering brought him back to MSU where he was soon recruited to join Sunkist in California.  Brad was instrumental in expanding their business internationally and travelled to Israel, Sicily, Spain, England and Morocco. Brad received special merit recognition from the Chairman of the Board of Sunkist for his patents and the resulting growth of their market.

After 7 years at Sunkist, Brad joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1988, and began his journey developing thrill rides and attractions for theme parks around the world. At Disney, first as a Ride Engineer, Brad was responsible for directing the analysis, design, full-scale prototype and final production of a new generation ride vehicle for the Indiana Jones attraction.  Later, as Principal Ride Systems Engineer, Brad led teams of engineers designing and fabricating rides for Disney attractions around the world.

Brad started his own international consulting business in 1995 and has expanded his work on rides for multiple clients such as Universal Studios, Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Sony and Warner Bros.  In addition, Brad has diversified into special engineering projects for Apple Retail flagship stores, attractions on cruise ships, and specialty museum projects, including the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, (MSI), and the NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Brad lives in Seattle and enjoys unicycling, hiking, biking and international adventures with his wife, Sue.  They have 2 happy dogs that enjoy their agility training and swimming in Lake Washington.

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Jim Borsum - 2018 BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

James "Jim" Borsum (BS, Food Engineering, MSU, 1980; MS, Food Engineering, MSU,1981; MBA, Finanace and Marketing, Univ. of Chicago, 1986) was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Jim is Partnership Leader, Global Supply Chain & Shared Services for World Vision International. Jim is recognized for world-class operations management expertise in fast-paced human capital intensive professional services businesses, and as a forerunner in the evolution of contemporary strategic sourcing and global supply chain management practices. Jim is highly effective in team building, people development and motivation, creating enabling environments where people are innovative, performance-driven and excel.

At MSU, Jim graduated in the first Food Engineering cohort and continued with Dr. Bakker-Arkema for a Master’s degree while interning with Kellogg. Upon graduation in 1981, Jim joined CPC International as an Operations Manager / Superintendent / Process Control Engineer. In 1986, he joined RHM, PLC to become Vice President & General Manager / Plant Manager for New Tech Snacks. Most notable in his career he worked as a Management Consultant for almost 25 years with A.T. Kearney as Managing Director and Operations Practice Leader, focusing on Consumer Products, Retail and Manufacturing clients. In addition Jim also spent time with The Boston Consulting Group and KPMG as Operations Strategy Practice Leader.

Jim and wife Deborah live in Burr Ridge, IL. In recent years, they have been very active (investors and on Board/counsel) with the Great African Food Company where they expect to spend a lot of their time going forward. Congratulations Jim for making BAE proud! Go Green! 


Photo of Jim MacLellan 2018 Outstanding BAE Alumnus

James "Jim" MacLellan (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2011; MS, Biosystems Engineering, 2012) was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Jim is Senior Research Engineer, Global R & D Product Development, for Beam Suntory. He is a senior leader responsible for whiskey quality initiatives, specifically for Jim Beam Bourbon, along with helping to drive Beam’s portfolio growth strategy.

During most of his time at MSU, Jim worked very closely with Dr. Liao and his research group investigating energy production from traditional agricultural waste streams and creating more value-added byproducts from anaerobic digestion technology. Upon graduation, he started as a research technician in Louisville, KY, within the R&D organization at Beam Global (now Beam Suntory) helping to support new alcoholic beverage innovations. Jim was fortunate to move up within the organization as a research engineer that supported implementation strategies of new products into our various facilities across the globe with specific tours to India and Japan. His career path then took a turn as a research engineer at SC Johnson in Racine, WI, where he supported the growth of new home cleaning products and was a lead in new technology evaluation to help streamline manufacturing processes. He returned to Beam Suntory approximately a year ago.

Jim and wife Julie, married in a small Maine wedding in 2016, are expecting their first daughter in September. They have two amazing retriever dogs, Peyton and Harbor, and now reside in their new home just outside of Louisville, KY. They hope to make it back to East Lansing more often so their daughter can start to experience such an amazing place. Congratulations, Jim. Go Green!  

2017 Alumni Honors

Larry P. Walker  - 2017 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Dr. Larry P. Walker, MS ’75 and PhD '78, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2017 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Larry P. Walker serves as a private consultant, after having spent a career at the forefront of biobased fuel research and development at Cornell University.  He joined Cornell in 1979, following a short stint with the Tennessee Valley Authority as a process engineer, retiring as full professor and Director of the Biofuels Research Laboratory in June 2015.  

During his 30 years at Cornell, Dr. Walker was involved in a number of biomass to energy projects, including an assessment of NYS biomass resources available for ethanol production, farm-scale methane production and co-generation, the application of nanotechnology to discover and study important biocatalysts for biofuels and industrial biotechnology, and the optimization of solid-state fermentation for the production of natural products. Dr. Walker has served in numerous leadership roles including serving as coeditor in chief for the journal Industrial Biotechnology, adviser for the Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock Assessment for New York, member of the New York State Climate Action Plan Advisory Panel, the National Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, the Education Committee of the American Council of Renewable Energy, and the Advisory Board for the Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy.

 In 2009, he was elected as a fellow in the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and was also awarded the Black Enterprise Magazine Master of Innovation Award, and received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2008, and was named to the CANR Farm Lane Society in 2015.


Danielle Bellmer - 2017 BAE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Dr. Danielle Bellmer (BS, Food Engineering, '92) was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Danielle (Dani) Bellmer is a native of northern Michigan who completed her B.S. degree in Food Engineering from MSU in 1992. She then received a USDA Fellowship for graduate study at Purdue University and completed a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering in 1996.  In 1997, she joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department and the newly developed Food and Agricultural Products Research Center.

Professor Bellmer’s research efforts have covered a diverse range of topics, including both food and biofuels. In the area of value-added food processing, she has worked on development of new processes and products such as “Peanut Butter Slices.” Her biofuels research has involved conversion of lignocellulosic materials to fuels, with a specific focus on the use of sweet sorghum as a feedstock. A founding member of the Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Association, she represented the U.S. in a global summit sponsored by the United Nations involving biofuels. She received the 2003 Halliburton Outstanding Young Faculty Award in the College of Engineering at OSU.

Dr. Bellmer is highly engaged in the OSU teaching program.  She has taught courses involving food and bioprocessing, microbial applications in engineering, food rheology, and introductory biosystems engineering courses. She serves as the advising coordinator, chairs the scholarship and curriculum committees, and mentored more than 20 graduate students. She truly enjoys interaction with students, and was named the 2016 OSU Student Organization Advisor of the Year.


BAE 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award Winner - Matt Burtt

Matthew "Matt" Burtt, BS, Biosystems Engineering (Biomedical Concentration) '09, was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Matt Burtt is a Quality Assurance Manager of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) for all Oncology with AbbVie.  Matt interned in the pharma industry at Abbott in North Chicago, IL over the summer of 2008, which he credits for launching his career. After he completed his degree with a biomedical engineering focus, Matt went to work at Abbott full-time as a Quality Engineer trainee. This program gave him the opportunity to experience several different business units, including pharma, medical device, and nutritional products.  In 2011, Matt completed the rotational development program and transitioned into Research and Development Quality Assurance (RDQA). His start in the internal services and process improvement group gave Matt exposure across a diverse set of highly specialized Quality Units supporting all phases of the drug development lifecycle. Through the planned separation of the Abbott pharma business unit from the broader healthcare business units and part of becoming AbbVie, Matt also saw a personal transition into the ever-changing world of clinical research. He quickly gained expertise and training as a Program Manager and eventually took on responsibility for the Quality Assurance oversight of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) for all Oncology studies in late 2013.

As part of his personal development Matt completed his Master of Business Administration in 2016 at Loyola University of Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business, as part of an Executive MBA program designed for high-potential, working professionals. Throughout his career Matt has built a unique and strong network both internally and externally and has leveraged this to achieve positive results along the way, including two Research and Development President’s Awards for teams he participated on.

Matt is an avid sports fan with a passion for MSU football and basketball, but when there is not a game on he can be found on the water wakeboarding or on a mountain snowboarding! He has been married for five years to his wife, Renee, who is a fellow Spartan he met as an undergrad. They have been driving career growth for themselves since graduation. They both travel frequently for work and use travel points to take long weekends away and family vacations whenever possible!

2016 Alumni Honors

John Larkin 2016 BE Distinguished Alumni recipient.

John W. Larkin, PhD ’84, Agricultural Engineering & Food Science, was awarded the 2016 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

John W. Larkin began making an impact in the food science industry even as an undergraduate student - through jobs, internships, and research projects.

He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in food science and nutrition (1978 and 1980, respectively) at The Ohio State University, and earned his PhD from MSU in 1984. He then took a position as assistant professor at Virginia Tech in both the Food Science and Agricultural Engineering Departments, where he developed a research program measuring thermal properties of food products.

In 1987 John accepted a fellowship with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and in 1989 was promoted to chief of the Food Processing Branch. He managed many projects, including those involving seal integrity of packaged food products, identification and isolation of Clostridium botulinum spores, and adequacy of dairy processing systems to meet the requirements of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.  From 1999-2002 John worked with the Grocery Manufacturers Association to develop a food industry specific guidance document on the validation of automated control systems - a document still in use today. Since 2014 John has been research director for the Food Protection and Defense Institute at the University of Minnesota. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

His awards and accomplishments include an FDA Individual Award for Significant and Exceptional Performance (1997) and being elected a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (2007).

John loves to watch Big 10 football; he cheers for both MSU and OSU and tries not to pick sides when they play each other. He has been married to his wife, Bev - whom he met while a student at MSU - for 32 years. They live in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. They have three children - Evan, Andrew, and Emily.


Amy Yoder 2016 BE Distinguished Alumni recipient

 Amy Yoder, BS, '89, Agricultural Technology and Systems Management, was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Amy J. Yoder is President & CEO for Anuvia Plant Nutrients. Anuvia Plant Nutrients is a sustainable company focused on transforming various organic materials into a multi-nutrient, slow release fertilizer.  Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Technology and Systems Management from Michigan State University (1989) with an emphasis of study in Crop and Soil Science.  A native of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, she grew up raising cattle along with 800-acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.

During her professional career, Amy has held a variety of sales, marketing and executive positions throughout the agricultural and related industries. She has worked in all aspects of these industries from basic AI research, commercial sales and marketing, manufacturing, distribution, generics, and even the consumer markets.  Prior to Anuvia, her executive roles were with Arysta Life Science, United Industries,a division of Spectrum Brands, BioLab, and United Agri Products.

Amy has served on boards of various agricultural associations and universities including Compass Minerals (public), Vive Crop Technologies (private), Clemson University Foundation (non-profit), and Sigma Alpha National Foundation Board (non-profit). She was recognized as Atlanta’s “Business Woman to Watch” in 2007.

Amy is active in Clemson University and Sigma Alpha sorority and lives with her husband Robert in Orlando, Florida.  Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering thanks Amy, 2016 Distinguished Alumni, for being an exemplary Biosystems Engineering Ambassador.


Paula Steiner 2016 BE Outstanding Alumni

Paula Steiner, BS, '04; MS '09, Biosystems Engineering, was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2016 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Paula Steiner is an Engineer for the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS).  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University (2004) and a master’s degree in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University (2009).  From 2007 to 2009 she was a staff engineer for NTH Consultants Ltd. working primarily with animal waste storage structures.  Paula currently works for USDA-NRCS in the Mason USDA Service Center providing engineering assistance for conservation practices on private agricultural land across southeastern Michigan.  Commonly implemented conservation practices include waste storage structures and waste transfers, agrichemical handling facilities, fuel storage, stormwater runoff management, and wetland restoration.  Paula assists the field staff with training, design, and implementation of structural/engineering conservation practices.

Paula has been actively involved with the Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for 8 years.  She has served in multiple positions on the executive board including chair and vice chair of membership.

In her free time, Paula likes to read, spend time with her family and her Alaskan malamute, Malachi, and practicing Shorin-ryu Karate.  Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering thanks Paula, 2016 Outstanding Alumni, for being an exemplary Biosystems Engineering Ambassador.

2015 Alumni Honors

Elaine Scott - 2015 College of Engineering Distinquished BAE Alumni

Elaine P. Scott, PhD ’87, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2015 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Elaine P. Scott is dean of the newly formed School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Washington Bothell. The school provides excellence in education in a collaborative environment with ties to local industry. Under Elaine’s leadership, it has experienced 82 percent growth in two years.

Prior to joining UW Bothell in 2012, Elaine was a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, and also served on the faculty at Michigan State University, the University of Utah, and Seattle Pacific University. In addition to her PhD degrees in agricultural engineering and in mechanical engineering from MSU, Elaine holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of California, Davis.

At Virginia Tech, she was responsible for the successful planning, development, and initial leadership of a new interdisciplinary, multi-institutional school - the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Her research in the area of biosystems ranges from modeling of quality loss in frozen foods to the estimation of blood perfusion. Her work in power electronics focuses on cooling of power electronics systems, and her work on aerospace systems focuses on parameter estimation of complex materials and estimation methods for high unsteady heat fluxes.

She received a Women to Watch in Life Science award during the 2013 Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association’s annual Life Science Innovation Northwest conference. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal for Academic Achievement from UC Davis, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Elaine is also passionate about research in engineering education and in enabling women and minority students to pursue careers in engineering. She has been involved with numerous government and industry-sponsored projects in the areas of characterizing complex thermal systems and engineering education.


Christopher Daubert 2015 BE Distinguished Alumni recipient

Christopher Daubert, PhD, '96, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Christopher R. Daubert is head of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at NC State University, where he has been a faculty member since 1997.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University (1991) and a Ph.D. degree in agricultural engineering and food science from Michigan State University (1996).

In addition to administrative responsibilities, Daubert directs the Food Rheology Laboratory.  An internationally-recognized expert on food rheology and texture, Daubert applies fundamental engineering principles and physical-chemical models to explain ingredient functionality known to impact food quality.  He and his research team have published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and chapters, while mentoring more than 20-graduate students and post-doctoral engineers and scientists. 

In 2005, NC State University recognized Daubert for instructional excellence by naming him to the Academy of Outstanding Teachers.  Dr. Daubert is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Institute of Food Technologists which will recognize him as a Fellow in 2015.  He recently concluded service as editor-in-chief of the prestigious Journal of Texture Studies and continues to serve the editorial board of the Journal of Food Process Engineering.  He is a past president of the NC State chapter of Sigma Xi research society, and previously served as associate director of the university’s Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center.

Dr. Christopher R. Daubert continues making outstanding contributions to agriculture through his dynamic food engineering teaching and research programs and with visionary leadership as department head of a highly respected food science program.


Eric LaChapelle 2015 BE Outstanding Alumni Award recipient

Eric LaChapelle, BS, '06, Biosystems Engineering, was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Eric LaChapelle is a senior Systems Engineer for Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, MD.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University (2006) and a master’s degree in systems engineering from George Washington University (2009).  His work with Lockheed Martin has spanned satellite ground system development through vehicle launch and mission operations. In his current role of Technical Lead, Eric leads teams of engineers in accomplishing program milestones, identifying/mitigating risk, and identifying anomaly/failure root cause while ensuring technical quality of products and compliance to process and engineering best practices.  Eric has also led and supported proposal efforts in support of new business capture. Eric enjoys working with college interns and new hires, and is a mentor for junior engineers across the company.

Eric has been a Big Brother for the Big Brother Big Sister program in the Denver area for 7 years and loves talking STEM with students of all ages.

Eric resides in Denver, Colorado where he spends his free time fly fishing and snowboarding in the Rockies.  Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering thanks Eric, 2015 Outstanding Alumni, for being an exemplary Biosystems Engineering Ambassador.

2014 Alumni Honors

Cassaundra Edwards - 2014 College of Engineering Distinquished BAE Alumni

Cassaundra Edwards BS ’94, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2014 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Cassaundra F. Edwards is a research and development manager at ConAgra Foods in a strategic customer development role, driving product innovation for warehouse club markets such as Costco, Sam’s, and BJ’s.

For nearly 20 years she has held various roles within the food industry, starting as a junior engineer developing innovative frozen meals for Nestlé and researching novel non-thermal preservation technologies such as high pressure pasteurization and irradiation for Kraft Foods, and leading a product technical team with the integration of two food industry giants—Kraft Foods and Nabisco. Throughout her career she has touched a multitude of consumer brands such as Stouffers, A.1. Steak Sauce, Grey Poupon Mustard, Lunchables, Oscar Mayer, Banquet, and Hunt’s.

Cassaundra holds a bachelor of science in biosystems and agricultural engineering from Michigan State University and a master of engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

She has a great passion for her work in the food industry and for developing the careers of young scientists and engineers. She has been a member of MSU’s Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Industry Advisory Board for the past four years and now serves as its chair.

Cassaundra attributes her professional accomplishments and development to her family and a network of mentors who have shared their leadership philosophies and ideals and ultimately helped shape her as a leader. Her personal philosophy on leadership is that “great leadership is achieved partly through other great leaders and people helping you along the way.”

In addition to driving business growth for ConAgra Foods, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay Edwards, eight-year-old son, Miles, and a mischievous Welsh terrier, Coltrane. They currently reside in Omaha, Nebraska.


Andrew Wedel

Andrew Wedel was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Andrew Wedel (MS, Agricultural Engineering, 1996) is the General Manager of McLanahan Corporation’s Agricultural Systems Division where he is part of a team that develops, designs, and supplies dairy manure handling systems focused environmental sustainability and cow comfort. Specific designs include: anaerobic digester pre-treatment systems; conveyance and separation systems; earthen, concrete, and HDPE lined manure storage structures; runoff control structures; and pump and gravity conveyance systems.

Andrew holds a B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering Technology from the University of Delaware and a M.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University. He is a registered professional engineer in: Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In 2010, Andrew received the Young Agricultural Engineer of the Year award by the Northeast Agricultural and Biological Engineering Conference.

Prior to joining McLanahan Corporation in 1996, Andrew was an Agricultural Engineering Specialist at Michigan State University where he, along with a group of agricultural engineers and dairy producers, researched and developed systems for handling sand-laden dairy manure.

Andrew, his wife Ann, and their three sons reside in Duncansville, PA. Their spare time is spent playing/coaching baseball, boating, ATV-ing, and raising chickens.


Photo of Danielle Habitz

Danielle Habitz was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Danielle Habitz (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2008) is a Snacks Process Engineer with Kellogg Company, headquartered in Battle Creek, MI.  She has led various engineering startups throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America including the recent international startup and equipment training for Kellogg’s® Special K® Cracker chips in Belgium.  She is engineering leader across various product lines for cookies, crackers, wholesome snacks, and on-the-go foods such as Keebler® Fudge StripesTM, Kashi® Soft’n Chewy Bars, Special K® Popcorn Chips, and most recently Rice Krispies Treats® Crackle Snaps. 

Danielle has played an active outreach role for several groups including The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Western Michigan’s Senior Design program, and Kellogg’s Intern Leadership Committee. Danielle especially enjoys recruiting MSU intern candidates and presenting to the BE Club and introductory engineering classes.

Danielle and husband Neil, another Spartan graduate, reside in Chelsea, MI.   In her free time, she frequently takes part in alumni tailgate events and spends much quality time with family and friends.  Both groups along with Biosystems Engineering faculty recognize Danielle as fiercely loyal, determined, caring and passionate; attributes she consistently brings to her personal as well as her professional life.   Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering thanks Danielle, 2014 Outstanding Alumni, for being an exemplary Biosystems Engineering Ambassador.

2013 Alumni Honors


Kevin Evans - Distinguished Alumni

Kevin Evans BS ’87, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2013 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Evans is senior technical manager for Beam Global R&D. Since joining the company fall 2012, he has played a key role in the design and build out of the new Beam Global Innovation Center in Clermont, Kentucky. He grew up on a dairy farm in south central Michigan, with green and white running through his veins from the beginning; his dad, sister, and brother all attended Michigan State before him. It was this background that led Kevin to MSU to earn his BS in biosystems and agricultural engineering in1987, where he worked his way through school in the agricultural engineering department. Kevin furthered his education at the University of California, Davis, obtaining his MS in biosystems and agricultural engineering in 1989.

Kevin began his career at Frito-Lay, Inc., in Dallas as an R&D process engineer and acquired exposure across the portfolio of potato chips, extruded and salty snacks, and sweets.  While at Frito-Lay, Kevin started to hone his skills and passion for process design and project management. The next career move, in 1994, found Kevin migrating back north to Sara Lee Bakery in Chicago, where he continued to expand his consumer goods exposure in the bakery industry.  Continuing to migrate south, Kevin moved to sunny Florida to join Tropicana Products in 1997. There he developed strategic plans and business models for new technologies to drive productivity, quality, and cost. In 2006, he transferred back north to Barrington, Illinois, as the PepsiCo-Quaker- Tropicana-Gatorade R&D operations manager for the cross-functional operations teams including: pilot plant, health, safety and environmental, quality, project management, and purchasing sub-teams. In 2008, Kevin moved into the role of director of commercialization and engineering for PepsiCo Beverage, taking responsibility for research and commercialization of new products and processes across the PepsiCo Beverage portfolio, including Tropicana, Naked Juice, Gatorade, and Lipton Tea.

Kevin has engaged in a variety of leadership and mentoring opportunities. He has chaired local blood drives and United Way campaigns and volunteered for Junior Achievement. He was an original PepsiCo trainer for diversity and inclusion initiatives. He has twice achieved Gold Level Toastmaster status and was the founding member of the Quaker-Tropicana- Gatorade Toastmasters club. He also served on the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering industry advisory board for several years (as chairperson 2007-2008) and mentored several senior design project teams at MSU.

Kevin and his wife, Shay, reside in Louisville, Kentucky. They have two boys—Avery, 14, and Harrison, 11. Kevin continues to spend many hours coaching and supporting his boys in the many endeavors they undertake, from sports, to music, to academic teams. He also enjoys traveling the globe.


Scott Piggott - 2013 Biosystems and Agricultural Distinguished Alumni Award

Scott Piggott was awarded the 2013 Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering  Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Piggott (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 1998; MS, Biosystems Engineering, 2010) was hired  as Chief Operating Officer of Michigan Farm Bureau in April of 2012. As Chief Operating Officer, Scott is responsible for planning, managing and supervising all of Farm Bureau’s ongoing programs and services. Scott began his career with Michigan Farm Bureau in 2000 as Natural Resources and Right to Farm Specialist and became manager of the Agricultural Ecology Department in 2002 where his responsibilities included environmental issues like air quality, water quality and water quantity. Scott has served on over 20 committees and boards, including co-chairmanship of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and the Michigan Groundwater Conservation Advisory Council. Scott has been an invited fellow for environmental concerns at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and University of Toronto.


Scott earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University. He has worked for the State of Michigan and designed air pollution control devices in private industry. Scott lives and works on his family’s farm near Fowler, Michigan with his wife Donna and four children.


Photo of Adam Eisele

Adam Eisele was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Eisele (BS, Biosystems Engineering, 2003) is currently an environmental engineer with the U.S. EPA – Region 8 in Denver, Colorado, where he specializes in the development and application of advanced air quality monitoring tools. Adam has been with EPA Region 8 since late 2008. Prior to this, Adam received his Master’s degree from the University of Colorado – Boulder where he majored in both Mechanical and Environmental Engineering. His thesis work focused on measuring air toxics at the urban/mountain interface along Colorado’s Front Range. Adam was recently awarded a PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) by President Obama for pioneering research in air quality surveillance and method development.

Adam and his wife Sara recently married in Napa Valley in 2012 and live in Boulder, Colorado. When not thinking about air quality, Adam enjoys mountaineering and skiing, Colorado microbrews, and repeatedly picking the Spartans to win the NCAA Basketball Tourney despite the string of broken brackets.

2012 Alumni Honors

Steve Richey - 2012 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award

Steve Richey, BS '80, MS ’87, Agricultural Engineering, was awarded the 2012 College of Engineering BAE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Upon graduation in 1980, Steve took a position as a design engineer with Bolens Outdoor Power Equipment in Port Washington, Wisconsin, designing and testing walk-behind mowers and snowblowers. He returned to MSU in 1982 to begin work on his master's program under Dr. Ajit Srivastava on a project funded by John Deere Harvester Works to simulate the performance of small grain combines.

In 1984, Steve began his career at Kellogg Company in the Advanced Technology Group and progressed through Engineering and Research Groups over the next 20 years. Responsibilities he had on some recognizable new products included project manager and process engineer on the first Rice Krispies Treats Squares®; and process engineer on the first multi-colored, flavored Mini-Wheats® (Maple & Brown Sugar MiniWheats®) and Fruit Twistables®. He has received three patents for equipment, products, and processes; has been recognized with multiple internal awards; and was inducted into the Kellogg 25-Year Club in 2009.

In 2005, Steve became a director in Morning Foods Process Engineering at Kellogg's. This group provides process engineering for cereal projects in the United States and Canada, as well as technical expertise to North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America business units. He provides engineering expertise for cereal manufacturing network strategies and has made significant contributions to training programs for cereal process engineering and development of engineering managers.

Steve maintains a connection with MSU's Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) by volunteering to promote food engineering to freshman classes, speaking to the engineering student clubs, and helping to organize Kellogg participation in MSU Engineering Week activities. He has been a member of the BAE Department Industry Advisory Board since 2007 and chaired the board in 2010.


Photo of Janelle Boosi

Janelle Clark Boosi was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Ms. Boosi graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering in May 2007. She is currently employed by Kellogg Company as the Morning Foods Business Unit Manager in their Research and Development Pilot Plant in Battle Creek, MI. Prior to her current role, Janelle spent time as a Process Engineer in the Morning Foods Division, an Associate and Assistant Food Technologist in the Core Technology & Cost Optimization group (focusing on the Snacks platform) and a 6-month intern with the Snacks R&D Core Maintenance team.

Janelle manages eight Process Leaders who organize and execute testing in the pilot plant. On a daily basis, she is working with her team, contracted personnel, and customers (developers, food technologists, and engineers) to ensure R&D testing is completed successfully and in a timely fashion. Another integral part of her role is the development of the individuals reporting to her, for whom she focuses on knowledge management, training, and career development.

At Kellogg, Janelle has spent the last 5 years on the team organizing the company’s involvement in the Annual Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference. As a number of positions were added to the Engineering team in 2011, she also spent a large portion of the year leading a team to develop a new on-boarding program.

Outside of Kellogg, Janelle stays involved with multiple causes including a leadership role within the Great Lakes Section of the Institute of Food Technologists, Vice President of the South-Central MI Chapter of SWE, outreach activities with local groups, including Girl Scout troops and Habitat for Humanity and the Western Michigan University SWE Student Chapter.

In addition to her outstanding professional success and service, Janelle is an extraordinary ambassador for the BAE department, as she often can been seen at MSU speaking to BE classes, student clubs, and Engineering Expos about internships, life after college, her personal career path, and Kellogg’s in general. Her enthusiasm is contagious and definitely has had a positive impact on hundreds of students in recent years.

If Janelle wasn’t busy enough, she and her husband are expecting their first child in early May.  Congratulations to Janelle, our 2012 Biosystems Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award winner. 

2011 Alumni Honors

Photo of Gene Ford

Eugene (Gene) Ford was awarded the MSU College of Engineering BAE 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Ford  is vice president of global technology management, R&D, at Nestlé Nutrition in Fremont, Michigan. He has more than 25 years of experience in domestic and international product development, manufacturing, logistics, and sales within the consumer food industry. One of his strengths is his ability to establish strategic direction, bring structure to ambiguity, and design and execute new business concepts and business-building projects. He is also known for his strong consumer and customer focused business skills combined with leadership, communication, mentoring, and team-building skills. In 1984, he joined the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey for R&D, in process research and development, as a research associate. Most recently, he was director of R&D, process development, within Campbell’s USA Division, where he was responsible for a family of products under the Pace, Prego, Swanson, V8, and Campbell brands with sales exceeding $3.1 billion. After 22 years with Campbell’s, Gene left in 2006 to become director of product development for Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., in Middleboro, Massachusetts. He was responsible for product development globally, including retail and business-to-business sales of ingredients of roughly $1.5 billion. In 2008, he moved into his current position with Nestlé. In addition to product development and manufacturing support for Infant Nutrition, Meals and Drinks, his duties include capital plan development and management for the site, strategic direction of a 35,000-square-foot pilot plant, seamless commercialization of technology including developing and conducting training, and intellectual property management. He is currently an IFT member.

Gene earned his BS (‘83) and MS (’84) in agricultural engineering from MSU, and an executive master of science in engineering degree in 1992 through the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  


Photo of Dirk Maier

Dirk E. Maier was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Maier is Professor and Head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University where he is responsible for leading the department’s teaching, research and outreach programs. He serves as the Director of K-State’s International Grains Program which aims to educate foreign business leaders, industry professionals and government officials about U.S. grains and oilseeds through technical training and assistance programs in storage, handling, milling, marketing and processing. He also serves as the Director of the GEAPS-KSU Grain and Biorefinery Operations Distance Education Program which provides continuing education to grain industry professionals around the world. Dr. Maier is a registered professional engineer, and a member and officer of several academic, professional and scholarly societies. He has served on two EPA FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panels related to the assessment of genetically modified grains. He has traveled extensively throughout the world as a speaker and participant in many national and international industry meetings and scientific conferences.

Prior to joining Kansas State University, he was Professor, Associate Head and Extension Agricultural Engineer at Purdue University (1991-2008), where he was the co-founder of the Purdue Grain Quality Team, key initiator and director of the Purdue Post-Harvest Education and Research Center, and director of the Purdue Grain Quality Laboratory. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural engineering from Michigan State University.


Photo of Paul Forton

Paul E. Forton was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2011 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Forton graduated from MSU in December 2004 with a B.S. degree in Biosystems Engineering. During his time at MSU, he worked as a student assistant in the Fruit Pathology Department, a research assistant for Drs. Harrigan and Northcott, and was Assistant Site Manager for Ag Expo as well as a Teaching Fellow with Dr. Marks. In the fall of his junior year, Paul began working part-time at Spicer Group as a co-op in the drafting area for their St. Johns office.

Upon graduation, Paul was offered a full-time position at Spicer Group as a Design Engineer in the Water Resources area. He has since been promoted to Project Manager and oversees a variety of projects from conception to implementation. During his time at Spicer Group, he has utilized his watershed management skills on projects involving pond and wetland design, stream restorations, agricultural conservation practices, floodplain management, storm sewer system design, and soil erosion and sedimentation control projects. His experiences include managing a broad range of projects from designing small private ponds to serving as the construction administrator for an $18 million watershed restoration project. Over the course of his career, he has formed lasting relationships with both private and municipal clients across the state of Michigan completing work in over 55 townships in 22 different counties.

Paul received his Professional Engineer License and is also a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. He currently resides in DeWitt Township with his wife of five years, Melissa, and their son, Jack. They are expecting the arrival of their second child in April.

2010 Alumni Honors

Photo of Dan Poland

Daniel L. Poland was awarded the MSU College of Engineering BAE 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mr. Poland is the Vice President of Manufacturing at H.J. Heinz Company. He joined Heinz in 1999 as the Factory Manager at Muscatine, Iowa. He was promoted to General Manager of PPIC/Operations in 2002; Director, Foodservice Operations in 2003; Vice President, Dry Manufacturing in 2005; and Vice President, Manufacturing in 2006. Dan is responsible for 25 manufacturing facilities across the US and Canada, representing $1.0 billion of costs of goods sold and 7,000 team members. Prior to joining Heinz, Dan was employed by Nestle and Gerber in various roles, including R&D, Engineering, and Operations Management.

Dan earned a BS in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University and his MBA in Business/Finance from the University of Iowa. Dan, his wife and two children reside in Pittsburgh.


Photo of Dorota Haman

Dorota Z. Haman was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Haman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She received a B.S. degree in Mathematics from the University of Warsaw in Poland, then went on to receive her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University. She has been working at the University of Florida since 1985. Her research projects are focused on water conservation and implementation of water efficient technologies including microirrigation. Her recent research focused on efficient, water conserving production systems in ornamental container nurseries and lead to a patent for water harvesting devices in plant production. She has extensive international experience that includes teaching irrigation courses in Chile, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt and India.

She has been an active member of ASABE, EWRI and several other professional organizations. She is a life member of USCID, a member of the USCID Board of Directors, and a past representative to the ICID Working Group on Capacity Building, Training and Education.

Photo of Nick Friant

Nick Friant was awarded the Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Friant joined Cargill in 2002 where he serves as the Grain Handling Coordinator for the Cargill AgHorizons and Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain, North America business units. In January 2008, his role was expanded to include leading the Cargill World Wide Grain Operations Grain Quality Center of Expertise. He attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2000 and a Master of Science in 2002, both in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. His main area of study was grain quality, handling, storage, and drying.

He is a member of The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, GEAPS, the NFGA Grain Grades and Weights & Agroterrorism/Facility Security Committees, the NAEGA Grain Grades and Inspection Committee, and recently completed a three-year term on the USDA GIPSA Grain Inspection Advisory Committee (Chairperson during the third year). Nick is married to Stephanie (MSU 1998) with one son (Mason), and another child on the way. He enjoys hockey, time working in the yard, and vegetable gardening. 


Photo of Shelley Crawford

Shelley Crawford was awarded the CANR 2010 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

Ms. Crawford received her B.S. degree in 2006 from MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) with a specialization in food engineering. Since her graduation, she has quickly established herself as a rising star at the Kellogg Company, becoming a key team member for the design, installation and startup of a new Morning Foods manufacturing plant. In addition, she has been the process engineer for the successful launch of more than 20 new cereal innovations.

Ms. Crawford has also continued her involvement with Michigan State University, serving as a speaker in biosystems engineering and food science classes and clubs, and as a volunteer helping students with their senior design projects. From 2007 to 2009, she served as the Great Lakes section chair of the Institute of Food Technologists, a group that offers strong support to the MSU Food Science Club through travel funding and scholarships to food science and biosystems engineering students. Shelley has also served as a presenter for the MSU chapter of the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) and serves as the collegiate advisor for the Western Michigan University chapter of SWE.

In addition, Shelly has volunteered in her community with Habitat for Humanity and the Girl Scouts, as a mentor and coach to youth and students at Western Michigan University, and in other service initiatives. She is always ready to lend a hand to promote MSU within her community and profession.