Rapali Datta
From left, Assistant Professor Rupali Datta
receives award from AASIO President Manjit Kang

UTSA environmental researcher honored for community work

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(March 9, 2006)--Rupali Datta, assistant professor of environmental plant sciences, recently was awarded the 2005 Young Agricultural Scientist Award by the National Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO).

The international organization is an affiliate of the American Society of Agronomy, which has more than 21,000 members and represents the largest association of agricultural scientists in the world.

Datta is the second UTSA researcher to receive the award. Dibyendu (Dibs) Sarkar, UTSA associate professor of environmental geochemistry, was recognized for his outstanding contributions to agronomic research in 2004.

Datta's local research, as a founding member of the San Antonio Lead Task Force, involves studying ways to remove lead in the soils of the San Antonio community by 2010, a goal set by the Housing and Urban Development department.

Her research also was instrumental in creating a water and sediment quality database of Mitchell Lake, a known sludge disposal lagoon in the early 1900s on San Antonio's South Side. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center opened the site in 2004.

Nationally, Datta was part of a team in 2002 that designed a remediation plan to clean up arsenic from Environmental Protection Agency designated Superfund sites contaminated by hazardous waste and identified for cleanup for their risk to human health and the environment.

As an educator, Datta serves as associate director of the Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL) and has supervised or assisted with the research activities of five graduate or post-doctoral fellows in the EGL lab. Since 2002, she has helped generate more than $1.3 million in grant funding and has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications.

The AASIO award recognizes young agricultural scientists of Indian origin who have made an outstanding contribution by the age of 40 and received a doctoral degree within 10 years before the closing date for nominations.

Nominees are judged on the significance and originality of basic and applied research in any area of agronomy, crop science, horticultural science, soil science or plant biology and must have demonstrated excellence in teaching, extension service or administrative duties.

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