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By Matt Hayes
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

Kelly Merchán earned the 2022 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Core Value Staff Award for Communication in recognition of excellence in communication with faculty, staff, students and the public.

The award, presented September 1, recognized her exemplary contributions in advancing a workplace where people are informed and heard.

At the award ceremony, Benjamin Z. Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, praised Merchan's efforts to "inform and excite others about the work of her department" and thanked her for "your tremendous contributions to CALS."

Merchán joined CALS in December 2019 as a communications specialist for the Department of Global Development and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI). Since that time, she has been a driving force bringing together community members within the department and Innovation Lab. In particular, colleagues praised her work highlighting diverse narratives in support of Global Development's mission.

“Kelly brings an infectious spirit of enthusiasm and determination, leavened with seriousness, humor, boldness and humility,” said Professor Scott J. Peters, chair of the department’s DEI committee “I can’t imagine a better or more valuable colleague to have in this challenging, important work of advancing principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

With ILCI, Merchán provides rigorous communication to a globe-spanning project focused on tackling the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food security. 

The Innovation Lab works directly with National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) in Costa Rica and Haiti, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda. The Innovation Lab supports NARIs to advance their unique goals while driving advancement in crop improvement to reduce malnutrition and hunger and provide equitable benefits to women and youth.

“Projects like ours simply cannot function without strong staff support,” said Stephen Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics at Clemson University, professor in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, and director of the Innovation Lab. Kresovich noted Merchán's exceptional communications skills and growth in strategic planning and leadership.     

Since its launch in 2019, the Innovation Lab has expanded to support multiple regional food security projects and a fellowship for graduate students from Minority Serving Institutions to study sustainable agricultural development at Cornell. 

“ILCI was initially conceived as a research network in plant breeding but has grown exponentially from that core mission to reach new regions, environments, crops and people,” Kresovich said. “Projects like ILCI get to the heart of what makes CALS so special, and Kelly Merchán is incredibly deserving to be recognized for all she does.”

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