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USU Natural Resources Professor Receives National Mentoring Award

Thursday, Aug. 07, 2014

USU professor Helga Van Miegroet has received a national mentoring award

Helga Van Miegroet is recipient of the 2014 Women in Agronomy, Crops, Soils and Environmental Sciences Mentoring Award, a national honor given by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America.

Professor Van Miegroet's students and collaborators

Van Miegroet's students and collaborators pause for a photo during field research. The professor's students praise her mentorship and academic guidance.

Utah State University professor Helga Van Miegroet is the 2014 recipient of the Women in Agronomy, Crops, Soils and Environmental Sciences Mentoring Award. Given annually by the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America to an individual selected from a national search, the award honors a society member for outstanding mentoring efforts aimed at advancing women in science.

Van Miegroet, who holds faculty appointments in USU’s Department of Watershed Sciences, Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center, will be formally recognized during the societies’ joint annual meeting Nov. 2-5, 2014, in Long Beach, Calif.

“We’re delighted Helga has been selected for this well-deserved award,” says Chris Luecke, dean of USU’s Quinney College of Natural Resources. “She has long involved students at all levels of education in meaningful research pursuits.”

A soil scientist, silviculturist and biogeochemist, Van Miegroet conducts research with collaborators in the United States and in Europe focusing on carbon storage in soils. She actively enlists both graduate and undergraduate students in her research pursuits.

Van Miegroet’s students and colleagues are quick to praise her mentorship efforts. The scientist was named QCNR’s “Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year” in 2012 and 2004. In 2007, she received USU’s Outstanding Faculty Employee Award and was named “Faculty Advisor of the Year” at the university’s 1996 Robins Awards.

“As a research mentor, Helga had a rare ability to expect a lot of me without ever making me feel like a disappointment,” says Carly Jugler, an undergraduate environmental studies major. “She has a real talent for conceptualizing and explaining those ‘hairy-scary’ daunting topics. Beyond that, Helga also shaped my personal beliefs about feminism in the 21st century and what it means to be a woman today.”

Doctoral student Antra Boca, who currently works with Van Miegroet, agrees.

“Helga shares her experiences of being a woman in science and expresses how that can be both frustrating and encouraging,” says Boca, an ecology major. “She is very straightforward and passionate. As an advisor, she puts a lot of trust in her students, but is always available to provide guidance when needed.”

Boca says her advisor encouraged her to present research shortly after her arrival at USU.

“I thought, ‘No way, I will not have anything ready by that time,’” she says. “But Helga tries to get her students ‘out there’ — networking at professional conferences. With her encouragement, I was ready and the experience connected me with many people who helped me with my research — one is even on my committee.”

Van Miegroet considers mentoring students a vital part of her mission at USU.

“I believe it’s tremendously powerful for a young person to be involved in collaborative scientific research,” she says. “I want to give students the opportunity to push their limits — just as I had these opportunities.”

Related links:

Contact: Helga Van Miegroet, 435-797-3175,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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