Nine Department of Agronomy and Horticulture faculty received promotion and/or tenure in 2021. They are among 109 University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty honored this year.
Cody Creech was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure. Creech received a Bachelor of Science in business operations management and a Master of Science in plant science from Utah State University. He earned a doctorate in agronomy specializing in weed science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Creech joined the department faculty as an assistant professor and dryland cropping systems specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center May 1, 2015.
Creech leads a research and extension program addressing wheat production, alternative cropping systems, soil/resource conservation, and crop/livestock integration in dryland cropping systems in western Nebraska. In addition, he is the faculty supervisor for the High Plains Agricultural Laboratory near Sidney, Nebraska, and leads the state variety testing program jointly with Amanda Easterly, research assistant professor in agronomy and horticulture.
Mitchell Stephenson was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure. Stephenson received a Bachelor of Science in animal science from Brigham Young University-Idaho and a Master of Science in range science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He earned a doctorate in range science from New Mexico State University. Stephenson joined the department faculty as an assistant professor and range and forage management specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff April 1, 2015.
Stephenson’s research has focused on better understanding spatial and temporal variability for plant production in the Nebraska Sandhills and how this may influence grazing management decisions. His work has also evaluated cattle grazing behavior decisions with GPS technology and how behaviors may be manipulated for specific management objectives with targeted grazing. He is currently working to better understand how precision livestock management tools, such as virtual fencing systems, may be used to inform management at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab.
David Holding was promoted to professor. Holding received a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of Sussex. He earned a doctorate in plant molecular genetics from King’s College London. Holding joined the department faculty as an assistant professor of plant molecular genetics in 2009.
Holding’s research centers around understanding the molecular genetic and biochemical control of seed development in maize and sorghum and applying this knowledge to improving the nutritional quality. At the basic level, this has led to the functional characterization of multiple genes involved in normal seed development and varieties which possess increased protein quality and digestibility. Recent notable successes in applying this knowledge include pioneering the use of gene editing strategies to improve sorghum grain digestibility and development of high yielding, high protein quality popcorn hybrids. These Quality Protein Popcorn lines also possess high consumer preference ratings and show promising positive effects on the human gut microbiome.
Most recently Holding has developed a suite of maize breeding projects for student training that are producing novel colored and high nutritional value popcorn and sweetcorn varieties.
Holding brings his broad biology background to the classroom where he teaches Plant Science with an emphasis on experiential learning. He is heavily involved in efforts to review and improve the graduate curriculum.
Daren Redfearn was promoted to professor. Redfearn received a Bachelor of Science in animal science from Texas Tech University. He earned a Master of Science and a doctorate in agronomy with a range and forage specialization from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Redfearn joined the department faculty as an associate professor and extension range and crop residue management specialist in June 2014.
Redfearn is a member of a multidisciplinary team focused on enhancing and developing forage-based beef production systems. His research and extension program emphasize annual and perennial grass management, converting cropland to forage production, and grazing of forages that can be integrated into economical and resilient crop-forage-bioenergy agricultural production systems. He also serves as a Nebraska Extension Program Leader for the Water and Integrated Cropping Systems team co-leading a group of technical area experts in water and cropping systems to build collaborative relationships and foster engagement to address complex issues in agricultural production and natural resource systems.
He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America and has served as co-editor for Volume II of Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture and as editor and co-editor for Crop, Forage, and Turfgrass Management.
Harkamal Walia was promoted to professor. Walia received a Bachelor of Science in plant breeding and genetics from Punjab Agricultural University and a doctorate in plant biology from the University of California Riverside. Walia joined the department faculty as an assistant professor and plant molecular physiologist May 3, 2010.
Research in the Walia lab is focused on physiological and genetic mechanism related to improving climate resilience in crops. Specifically, research on impact of high temperature stress and drought stress on crop productivity and quality in major cereal crops is ongoing. This research uses whole plant physiology, phenomics, genetics and genomics approaches.
David Lambe was promoted to professor of practice. Lambe received a Bachelor of Science in agriculture and a Master of Business Administration specializing in strategic management from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Lambe joined the department faculty as an assistant professor of practice in 2005.
Lambe is actively seeking new resources and programs to assist and ensure student success. He helps students discover alternative career paths through entrepreneurship and free enterprise. He teaches business finance, customer discovery, marketing, communication and branding for business startups through online, resident and 1-credit module courses.
He also engages with students who are interested in launching businesses through one-on-one coaching. As part of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, Lambe assists in developing many successful student businesses adding value to the economic viability of Nebraska and the Midwest.
Anne Streich was promoted to professor of practice. Streich received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in horticulture from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She earned a Master of Community and Regional Planning also from Nebraska. Streich joined the department faculty as an assistant extension educator in 2003. After about eight years in extension, she moved into a student-focused position that included student recruitment, advising and teaching as an assistant and then associate professor of practice.
Streich advises 200 undergraduate students. Her primary interest is to connect students to academic resources to help them adjust to and succeed in college. She also encourages student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as internships, clubs, courses, and research and teaching experiences that help them develop skills, knowledge and relationships in their professional discipline.
Streich currently teaches the Career and Internship Preparation course, the department internship courses, Introductory Turfgrass Management and Lab, and co-leads Domestic Study Tour of Turf Facilities. She advises the Turf Club and coaches the Turf Competition Team. Streich is finalizing implementation details of the new Plant and Landscape Systems major and associated minors that will be available to students for the first time in the fall of 2022.
Vikas Belamkar was promoted to research associate professor. Belamkar received a degree from Sir M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology and a Master of Science from Texas Tech University. He earned a doctorate from Iowa State University. Belamkar joined the department faculty as a research assistant professor in small grains breeding and genetics in 2014.
Belamkar’s duties involved developing and utilizing quantitative genetics theory, analyzing high-throughput and large datasets, and statistical modeling for applications in plant breeding. He led the efforts on optimization and deployment of genomic prediction, marker-assisted selection, and other uses of molecular marker information for improving winter wheat. Belamkar has taken a research scientist, wheat breeder position at Corteva Agriscience located at Moorhead, Minnesota.
Juan Diego Hernandez-Jarquin was promoted to research associate professor. Jarquin received a Bachelor of Science in statistics from the Chapingo Autonomous University. He earned a Master of Science and a doctorate both in statistics from the University of Postgraduate Education in Mexico. He received postdoctoral training at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Jarquin joined the department as a postdoc April 1, 2013 and faculty as a research assistant professor Jan. 2, 2017.
Jarquin is a statistician who merges statistical methodology, computer algorithm development, data science and collaborative work with plant sciences including plant breeding, biometrics, biostatistics and quantitative genetics. His research agenda is to advance prediction models for forecasting performance of plant genotype by considering several sources of information including genomic, environmental stressors, biotic factors and management, and their interactions. Jarquin’s work is contributing to a better understanding of how biological/genetic mechanisms affect plant performance.
He is developing novel prediction models that permit an accurate prediction of newly developed genotypes under extreme environmental conditions. Jarquin is actively collaborating on several projects where he provides his expertise for understanding crop performance via high dimensional interactions between genotypes and biotic and abiotic factors.
For more information on all Nebraska promotions and tenures, go to 2021 Promotion and Tenure.