Alumni Spotlight

Photo of George Uetz in a laboratory studying spiders

UD alumnus George Uetz details his illustrious career in spider biology

With more than 40 years of research experience and nearly 200 publications to his name, George Uetz is an expert in arachnology — the study of spiders. But his illustrious career in this highly specialized field started by chance and has been shaped by serendipitous moments since.

Interested in insects from a young age, Uetz enrolled in a course on arthropods while working toward his undergraduate degree in biology from Albion College. “I got into this class and realized that the professor was an arachnologist, which is a rare thing, and he was going to teach us all about spiders. I was just mortified but I quickly found that if you look at them up close and learn about them then your fear goes away and turns into fascination,” said Uetz.

Visit UDaily to read more about George Uetz

Alumni Awards

George M. Worrilow Award

Named for a leader whose belief in the art and business of agriculture and whose respect for the Delaware farmer were steadfast, the award is presented to a graduate of the college who has exhibited outstanding service to agriculture and natural resources. He led the college with vision, compassion and a determination to make it the best agricultural school in the land.

Nomination Form

Photo of W. Jay Meany

George M. Worrilow Award

2022 Recipient  

William "Jay" Meany

Graduation: 1981 BS

Degree: B.S. in Agricultural Business Management



William “Jay” Meany graduated with a degree Agribusiness Management from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture & Natural Resources in 1981. He, along with his wife – Kathleen – are the proud parents to three University of Delaware alumni –

  • Jessica – a 2007 graduate from the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Daniel – a 2009 graduate of the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources; and
  • Sarah – a 2013 graduate from the Lerner College of Business

Jay serves as President of Hy-Point Farms, located in Northern, New Castle County – Delaware. Founded in 1919, the company employs over 110 people – Jay has been with the family operation for over 60 years. Currently, there are 12 members of the Meany family working with the company!

Along with his family, Jay has been a tremendous partner and friend of the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources through the years – specifically to the dairy initiatives and UDairy Creamery operations. In 2015, Jay and Kathleen established the Dr. U. Carl Toensmeyer Scholarship to support students in UD’s Food and Agribusiness program.

Distinguished Alumni Award

This award recognizes alumni who demonstrate outstanding career accomplishment, service and leadership to their profession.

2021 Award Winners


Worrilow Award

  • Susan Barton

Distinguished Alumni Award

  • Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr.
  • George Uetz
  • Sam Lemheney

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

This award recognizes the personal and professional accomplishments of a graduate of less than 20 years.

2021 Award Winners


Distinguished Young Alumni Award

  • Kishana Taylor
  • Yihuan Xu
  • David H. McNear, Jr.
Headshot of Sue Barton

George M. Worrilow
Award Recipient  

Graduation: 1981 BS; 2005 PhD

Degree: PhD Plant Protection, BS Plant Science

Susan Barton, Phd is an extension specialist and professor in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Delaware. She has worked closely for the past 20 years with DelDOT to research and implement new roadside vegetation management strategies. She has also worked with partners to develop the Plants for a Livable Delaware Program, designed to provide alternatives to known invasive plants species and to promote sustainable landscaping. She teaches Plants and Human Culture, Farm to Table, Landscape Drawing, Landscape Architecture Symposium, Landscape Management and coordinates the Landscape Architecture/Plant Science Internship. She also works closely with the nursery and landscape industry, writing newsletters, organizing short courses and conducting horticulture industry expos with the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association. Susan received the Nursery Extension Award in 1995 from the American Nursery and Landscape Association and the Ratledge Award for service from the University of Delaware in 2007. Susan received her SITES AP certification in summer 2017. In 2021, Susan received the George M. Worrilow award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, given to a college alumnus with exemplary service to agriculture in the state.

Stephen Cook

Distinguished Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 1991

Degree: B.S. Plant Science

Sam Lemheney is the Chief of Shows and Events at PHS and directs the strategy, planning, and execution of all events including the annual Philadelphia Flower Show where over 250,000 visitors from all over the world experience the work completed by him, his team, and PHS every year. Sam is a judge for flower shows in Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, and has judged the floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. He is also an active member of the International Festival and Events Association.

Sam received his B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Delaware and has had a lifelong passion for horticulture. He began his career at The Walt Disney Company in the Land Horticulture Science Program and eventually rose to the position of Area Manager of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Rodney Robinson

Distinguished Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 1988

Degree: M.S. Agricultural Economics

Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr. is currently head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University.  Dr. Nayga’s research interests include the economics of food consumption, policy, and health. He has focused his work on critical issues such as poverty, nutrition, obesity, and novel food technologies. He has examined issues related to how people comprehend and use food and nutritional labels and how these would then influence a number of important health related outcomes such as diet quality and obesity. He has also analyzed the effects of important federal food programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program on food consumption and obesity. 

Dr. Nayga received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.  Prior to joining the University of Arkansas, he was a professor at Texas A&M University for 12 years.  He also was a faculty member at Rutgers University and at Massey University, New Zealand.  He has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, adjunct professor at Korea University and Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, NBER research economist, and senior research fellow of the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study in Tokyo. He is currently an executive board member of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and member of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast.

Patrick Carroll

Distinguished Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 1970

Degree: M.S. Entomology

George Uetz is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. He has also served as Department Head, Associate Dean for Research, journal Editor and NSF Program Officer. He conducts research on the behavior of animals supported by grants from the National Geographic Society and National Science Foundation and has published over 160 scientific research articles.

Dr. Uetz received a B.A. in Biology from Albion College, M.S. in Entomology and Wildlife from the University of Delaware, and Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Illinois.

The major focus of the Uetz lab research is the behavioral ecology of spiders, addressing questions about both the proximate and ultimate mechanisms involved in communication and sexual selection. His current research focuses on the integration of multiple sensory modes underlying signal detection, communication, learning, cognitive decision-making and signal evolution.

Distinguished Young Alumni

Headshot for David McNear

Distinguished Young Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 2006

Degree: Ph.D. Environmental Soil Chemistry

David McNear is a first generation college student. He started out at community college where he earned an Associate’s degree in Life Sciences before transferring to Pennsylvania State University where he earned a B.S. degree in environmental resource management (ERM) with a minor in environmental engineering. After spending ~ 9 months working for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and a hazardous materials emergency response company he went back to school at Penn State where he earned an M.S. degree in Environmental Pollution Control with a focus in Soil Chemistry. He then went on to earn his PhD in Feb of 2006 with Dr. Donald Sparks in the Environmental Soil Chemistry lab at the University of Delaware. He joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in Jan 2007.

McNear is a Professor of Rhizosphere Science in the University of Kentucky Department of Plant and Soil Sciences where he operates the Rhizolab ( His research team investigates the influence of plant breeding on root system architecture (RSA) and the biogeochemical processes occurring at the plant root-soil interface (a.k.a. rhizosphere) over multiple spatial scales; assessing the influence of these processes on carbon and nutrient cycling in managed and unmanaged ecosystems. The aim of the lab is to unravel the inherent complexity of the rhizosphere to help solve some of the most critical problems facing the World today (climate change, food security, ecosystem integrity)

Catherine Connelly

Distinguished Young Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 2011

Degree: B.S. Animal Science

Kishana Taylor is a virologist, co-founder and president of the Black Microbiologists Association and advocate for minority groups in STEM. Dr. Taylor received her B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Delaware where she was named a Woman of Promise in addition to being an EPSCoR and Summer Institute Research Scholar.

After earning her B.S. in Animal Science from UD, Taylor earned an M.S. in Public Health Microbiology and Emerging Infectious Disease from George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences from the University of Georgia. Her research focused on developing laboratory animal models of virus transmission for epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus. She also served in postdoctoral roles at the University of California, Davis and Carnegie Mellon University and as a graduate research assistant for the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study.

Currently, Taylor is a postdoctoral researcher at Rutgers University, Newark and adjunct professor at Mercy College. Her current research focuses on the ecology, evolution and epidemiology of endemic vector-borne viruses. Dr. Taylor’s research interests include arboviruses, zoonotic viruses and their epidemiology, ecology and evolution. Dr. Taylor also serves as the counselor for virology trainees with the American Society for Virology.

As an undergraduate researcher at UD, she studied avian infectious viruses as well as plant infectious fungal diseases and have experience with both molecular biology and virology techniques. As a master’s student, her final project was an assessment of the presence of antibiotic resistant and extra-intestinal E. coli in watersheds with high poultry production density.

Kate Zook

Distinguished Young Alumni
Award Recipient

Graduation: 2004

Degree: M.S. Statistics

Yihuan Xu is a Senior Director in Biometrics Department, TG Therapeutics, where she works as a biostatistician to provide statistical support for clinical development of Multiple Sclerosis program. Prior to Joining TG, Yihuan worked as a biostatistician in BeiGene and Eli Lilly and Company – NJ for more than years, supporting multiple oncology drug development programs and leading multiple late phase clinical trials. Before that, Yihuan was a biostatistician in Thomas Jefferson University Cancer center, providing statistical support on cancer research across cancer biology to clinical studies.

Yihuan got her medical degree from Peking University Health Science Center, M.S. degrees in Molecular Biology and Statistics from University of Delaware, and Ph.D. in Statistics from Temple University.

Her research interest is in survival analysis in oncology clinical trials, especially in biomarker enrichment study design, non-proportional hazard survival analysis.

George M. Worrilow Award Recipients

Award Year Awardee
1970  Edward H. Schabinger '39
1971  J. Frank Gordy '28
1972  Byard V. Carmean '31 
1973  Warren C. Newton '16 '55H
1974  Edward H. Ralph '55 '57M
1975  Preston C. Townsend Sr. '32
1976  Claude E. Phillips '21 '23M
1977  Ralph J. O'Day '40 '59M
1978  J. Allen Frear Jr. '24 '92H
1979  William R. Ratledge '38
1980  Thurman G. Adams Jr. '50
1981  F. Grove Miller '51
1982  David H. Woodward '55
1983  John M. Curtis Sr. '41
1984  William N. Hopkins '42
1985  William J. Benton '59M '66PhD
1986  Ralph P. Barwick '50 '56M
Award Year Awardee
1987  John K. Rosenberger '64 '66M
1988  Horace E. Short Sr. '42 '52M
1989  Donald F. Crossan '50
1990  H. Wesley Towers Jr. '64
1991  J. Edward Legates '43
1992  Henry P. Wilson '63 '65M
1993  Samuel J. Talucci '51
1994  Chester T. Dickerson Jr. ‘62 ‘64M
1995  W. Edwin Kee Jr. '73 '75M '96M
1996  George F. Haenlein '60M
1997  Walter C. Hopkins '70
1998  Keith H. Carlisle '64
1999  Thomas A. Fretz '66M '70PhD
2000  Spangler Klopp '66 '68M
2001  Theodore A. Haas '71
2002  Carlton C. Fifer '62
2003  John L. Morris '58M
Award Year Awardee
2004  S. Derby Walker Jr. '68 '70M
2005  Fred W. Melchior Jr. '64 '66M
2006  J. Rennie Stavely '61
2007  H. Wallace Cook Jr. '56
2008  Robert P. Mulrooney '73 '74M   
2009  Willis L. Kirk '67
2010  Robert L. Baker '71
2011  Joanne Whitehead Whalen '83M
2012  Jack Gelb Jr. '74 '76M
2013  Ronald L. Ritter '75
2014  Robin L. Talley '84 '96M
2015  Erica Spackman '97M '01PhD
2016  Charles C. Allen III '71
2017  Wayne L. Currey '65 '67M
2018  James L. Glancey, P.E. 
2019  Steven Leath '81M
2020 Lee W. Richardson '91
2021 Susan Schumacher Barton '81; ‘05PhD  

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Award Year Awardee
2020 Stephen Cook
2020 Kate Zook *
2020 Catherine Connelly *
2020 Patrick Carroll
2020 Rodney Robinson
2019 Mark Collins
2019 Michael J. Graham
2019 Wayne D. Lord
2019 Robert M. Thompson
2019 Shawn Dash *
2019 Grace Chapman Elton *
2019 Michele Maughan *
2017 Robert Cohen
2017 Ronald S. Ferriss
2017 David A. Morris
2017 Sara-Beth Bittinger *
2017 Phung Luu *
2017 Joseph Rogerson *
Award Year Awardee
2016 Cynthia Stewart
2016 Andrew Short *
2015 Jared G. Ali
2015 Mary Denigan-Macauley
2015 Devan V. Mehrotra
2015 Kenneth F. Raffa
2015 H. Don Tilmon
2014 James H. Baxter, IV
2014 Craig Clifford
2014 Tom Fretz
2014 Mary Ellen Setting
2013 John Cantello
2013 Bernard Murphy
2013 Zaiqi Pan
2012 Bruce Cobb
2012 Daral Jackwood
2012 Mark Jackwood
Award Year Awardee
2012 Carol Long
2012 Jennifer McEntire
2012 Jennifer Walls
2011 Steve Castorani
2011 Goodwin Cobb
2011 Rick Darke
2011 Joshua McGrath
2010 Dennis Byrne
2010 Steven Leath
2010 Stewart Ramsey
2009 Daniel Camenga
2009 Roger Glendenning
2009 Andrew Paterson
2009 Linda Stallings
2008 Rick Colbert
2008 William Culp
2008 Phillip Jardine
2008 Erica Spackman

(*) denotes Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipients