Uden receives junior faculty award

by Ronica Stromberg

Dan Uden
Dan Uden received a Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research award from Nebraska’s Agricultural Research Division at the All Hands meeting in the East Union on February 13.
February 13, 2024

Lincoln, Neb. —Dan Uden received a Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research award from Nebraska’s Agricultural Research Division at the All Hands meeting in the East Union on February 13.

Uden has racked up 17 publications since being hired as a professor in the School of Natural Resources and Department of Agronomy and Horticulture in August 2020. He has also helped secure $4 million in funds for teams, collaborated with numerous people through his 13 funding sources and created and delivered about 15 tools to help agencies, farmers and ranchers in making decisions.

In his dual appointments, he has collaborated with the Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes, CALMIT, the Center for Grassland Studies, Andy Little and his AWESM lab, the Nebraska-Montana EPSCoR, Powell Center, Nebraska Game and Parks, Pheasants Forever and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

He has also helped with the collaborative adaptive management project at Barta Brothers Ranch, developed curriculum for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, taught four classes and advised eight graduate students, seeing two to graduation.

And much of this work was started and carried out during the Covid pandemic.

“I think all the nominators have been impressed with Dan really hitting the ground running,” said Craig Allen, director of the Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes and one of seven professors who nominated Uden. “Dan has been able to get traction under his research and teaching programs and do so during a period that corresponded with Covid quite a bit. So, obviously, his skills are in demand.”

Uden uses tools such as GPS, remote sensing and geographic information systems to track changes on land and equip land managers. He earned his graduate degrees from Nebraska and served briefly as a postdoc before taking his current position as a resilience spatial scientist. He said his prior work on campus helped him somewhat during Covid.

“I've been able to build momentum quickly because of some of the work I had started as a postdoc here and following through on those efforts,” he said.

He also said he has benefited from the success of others and sees himself as making the most of their contributions in his fields of interest.

Larkin Powell, the director of the School of Natural Resources, led the professors nominating Uden and, in his nomination letter, encouraged the award committee to try to count the number of groups Uden had been involved with.

“We believe you will find substantial evidence that Dan’s peers are highly aware of his skills and abilities,” Powell wrote. “Dan is a ‘sought after’ scientist, and his impact is limited only by the number of hours in the day.”

Powell said Uden’s work at Barta Brothers Ranch has shown his impact goes beyond the university, to local agricultural producers.

“Dan can get up and talk to the local landowners about the project in a way that brings them into the conversation,” Powell said. “That is a unique trait for such a successful scientist.”

Uden said he was honored and humbled by the award and wanted to thank his nominators and celebrate with his students and collaborators.

“Maybe I can find a way to celebrate that recognizes everyone’s contributions to the award,” he said. “I don’t see it as just mine.”

He and Katarzyna Glowacka from the Biochemistry department received the junior faculty award, which included a certificate, recognition ceremony and $3,000 grant to each winner to use for professional development or research-related activities.

Uden said he plans to use his $3,000 to support the research of graduate students he advises.

Generally, two professors receive the Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research award each year. The last School of Natural Resources professor to receive the award was Jessica Corman in 2021. Samuel Wortman was the last Department of Agronomy and Horticulture professor to receive it, in 2019.

Powell said he expects Uden to have an even greater impact soon with grants he has obtained since 2020.

“His trajectory is strong and steep,” he said.

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CRAWL | Agronomy | Horticulture