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Two NMSU weed scientists selected as Western Society of Weed Science fellows

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Two New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' professors were selected as fellows of the Western Society of Weed Science during the group's annual conference March 8 in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

NMSU professors Rick Arnold and Tracy Sterling, first and third from left, have been selected as fellows of the Western Society of Weed Science during the group's annual conference March 8 in Waikoloa, Hawaii. Also pictured are Drew Lyon, University of Nebraska, Outstanding Weed Scientist, second from left; and Ian Burke of Washington State University, Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist. (WSWS submitted photo)

Rick Arnold and Tracy Sterling were honored by the society for their contributions to weed science research and to the profession.

"I was surprised and humbled to receive this prestigious award. It demonstrates that the research I have been doing is recognized by the society members as top-notch work," said Arnold, professor and researcher at the Farmington Agricultural Science Center.

"I am extremely humbled to receive this award because it really deserves to go to the multitude of students and colleagues, at both New Mexico State University and the Western Society of Weed Science, with whom I have had the honor of working over the years," said Sterling, formerly a professor in NMSU's Entomology Plant Pathology and Weed Science Department and currently head of the Land Resources and Environmental Sciences Department at Montana State University.

During his 30 years with NMSU, Arnold has successfully developed a weed management program of value and relevance in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. His work and contributions have also been recognized by university and industry scientists outside of New Mexico.

Currently his areas of focus include weed control in cropland and non-cropland and insect control in agronomic and horticultural crops. He is also focusing on using water produced from coal-bed methane wells to revegetate disturbed lands in the oil- and gas-producing basin of northwest New Mexico. The water is used to help establish native and introduced grasses in the area.

Arnold is the principal investigator for weed and insect control in northwest New Mexico and has conducted numerous trials evaluating the efficacy and selectivity of herbicides for major crops grown in the Four Corners region.

Sterling was with NMSU 20 years before moving to Montana State University in August 2009. While at NMSU, she taught plant physiology and developed a nationally recognized research program in weed physiology. She has bridged the gap between applied and basic research by discovering fundamental aspects of important weedy species of arid rangeland vegetation and the role of oxidative stress tolerance in crop and weed interactions.

She has won several national awards for creating and developing teaching modules and animations, which are being used in an e-learning distance delivery graduate course in herbicide physiology.

Both Arnold and Sterling have been active members of the Western Society of Weed Science and Weed Science Society of America serving on several committees through the years. During the annual conference, research by both Arnold and Sterling were among the six presentations from NMSU.

In 2006 Arnold was named Outstanding Weed Scientist for the Public Sector by the Western Society of Weed Science. In 2004 he received NMSU's Staff Appreciation Award for outstanding teamwork with the oil and gas industry, cattle producers, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service for the amelioration of disturbed rangelands.

During her years at NMSU, Sterling received several awards, including the 2008 Honorary Member for Faculty Development Initiatives-NMSU Teaching Academy, the 1994 El Paso Natural Gas Foundation Faculty Achievement Award, and the 1992 National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit.

Western Society of Weed Science members are weed science professionals working throughout the western U.S. The society, established in 1938, fosters and encourages education and research in weed science; fosters state, federal and private agency cooperation on weed science issues; helps commercial, private and public agencies solve weed problems; supports legislation governing weed control programs and weed research and education programs; and supports state and regional organizations and agencies interested in weed control.