Faculty and staff at MSU recognized for their excellence in natural resource field.

The award recipients from CFR/FWRC include Leslie Burger, Heidi Renninger, Sandra Correa, Garrett Street, and Curtis VanderSchaaf (Not pictured: Dana Morin) (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

According to Dean Wes Burger, the college and the university’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, which he directs, achieve significant accomplishments in teaching, research, and service related to natural resources, thanks to the exceptional faculty and staff.

“The College of Forest Resources is the sole nationally accredited educational program in the state that trains and develops future leaders in natural resources. MSU ranks 14th in the nation in natural resources and conservation research and is one of the leading research universities nationwide, with $300 million in research and development expenditures, according to the latest report from the National Science Foundation,” said Burger.

A photograph of the staff members who won awards in 2023 from the College of Forest Resources

The recipients of the awards are as follows:

—Dana Morin, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, received the CFR/FWRC Teaching Award. Morin teaches three core classes, leads several directed independent studies, and delivers numerous guest lectures. She has been featured in an instructional video called “Fostering Learning in Small Groups,” which is used for teaching certification in MSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Morin has mentored 21 graduate students and visiting scientists.

—Garrett Street, associate professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, received the CFR/FWRC Research Award. Street has published over 50 articles and secured more than $6 million in competitive funding. Committed to the success of his students, he has supervised four post-doctoral fellows, nine graduate students, and four undergraduate research scholars and has served on an additional 15 graduate committees.

—Heidi Renninger, associate professor, Department of Forestry, received the CFR/FWRC Service Award. She serves as the graduate coordinator for the forestry department and chairs three departmental committees. Renninger is also a member of three college-level committees and four other committees. She actively contributes at the division level through her involvement in the DAFVM Carbon-Climate Collaborative and at the university level as part of the MSU Graduate Council. Renninger is also the editor of three scientific journals and serves as an ad hoc and panel reviewer for the National Science Foundation.

—Curtis VanderSchaaf, assistant professor, Department of Forestry stationed at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, received the CFR/FWRC Extension/Outreach Award. Over the past two years, VanderSchaaf has conducted 43 presentations for county forestry associations, visited 290 sites to assist landowners, and organized various programs, including 4-H events, professional training, and online videos. He has also published 10 peer-reviewed papers, 16 extension publications, 18 conference proceedings, five abstracts, and two articles in The Conversation.

—Sandrea Correa, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, received the CFR/FWRC Early Career Achievement Award. Correa has guided and mentored 12 students, including funded undergraduate research scholars, for the past five years. She has secured more than $1 million in external funding and published 25 peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters. Correa was recently appointed by the United Nations Environment Programme to join its Multidisciplinary Expert Scientific Advisory Group, which will oversee the seventh edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-7), to be presented in 2026.

—Leslie Burger, associate teaching professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, received the CFR/FWRC Faculty Excellence in Advising. Burger has served as the department’s undergraduate coordinator for the past eight years and has actively worked towards the overall development of students, advising numerous undergraduate and graduate students. Students commend her unmatched dedication and exceptional commitment to advising and mentorship. Burger has previously received the Irwin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award and the MSU Community Engagement Award in the community-engaged teaching and learning category.

—Laura Andrews, program manager in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, received the Doris Lee Memorial Professional Staff Award. She has held this position for the past 20 years and is recognized for her reliability, expertise, and positive attitude.

—Crissy Hathcock, assistant director and fiscal administrator in the CFR Dean’s Office, received the Beverly Smith Professional Staff Award. Hathcock has been at MSU since 2010 and has dedicated 10 years to her current role. She is known for her composed demeanor and committed work ethic.

—Chris Forrester, master HVAC mechanic in Forest Operations, received the Doris Lee Memorial Support Staff Award. Forrester has been part of CFR for 12 years and is highly regarded for his knowledge and willingness to provide assistance wherever needed.

—Chelsea Taylor, administrative assistant II in the CFR Dean’s Office, received the Beverly Smith Support Staff Award. Taylor has been with MSU for eight years and is valued for her efficiency, effectiveness, and friendly professionalism.

To learn more about the College of Forest Resources, please visit www.cfr.msstate.edu. For additional information about the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, visit www.fwrc.msstate.edu.