Advisory Committee

The Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge has carefully selected a talented and diverse group of members to serve as the Challenge Advisory Committee. The committee of industry experts are responsible for evaluating team submissions and challenge submissions, and selection of the challenge winner through a comprehensive evaluation process. This process will result with the selection of the finalist who will be awarded the prize.

Christian Jude RichardChristian Jude Richard
Owner / Operator, Richard Farms LLC

Christian Richard is a fifth-generation rice producer from Kaplan, LA. Upon graduating from Vermilion Catholic High School he attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business. In 2001 Christian started farming and now farms over 4000 acres of rice, soybeans, and crawfish. Christian welcomes groups from across the county to visit his farm to learn more about the production and conservation practices that he utilizes. Continued work with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, and other conservation groups remain a high priority for Christian and his farm. 

Christian is a graduate of the LSU AgCenter Leadership Program, a graduate of the USA Rice Federation Leadership Program, is a certified Master Farmer, was recognized by the Vermilion Parish Rotary club as the 2009 Farmer of the Year, was selected as the LA Outstanding Master Farmer in 2010, the Conservation Systems Rice Farmer of the Year in 2013 by the Cotton and Rice Conference, and was selected along with his wife Julie as one of four National Outstanding Young Farmers in 2014. Christian's leadership roles include membership in La Farm Bureau, a seat on the Vermilion Parish Soil and Water Conservation Board, Past Chairman of the Vermilion and Louisiana Rice Growers organizations, and Vice Chairman of the LA Rice Promotion Board.


Michael B. Daniels Ph.D.Michael B. Daniels, Ph.D.
Professor for Extension Water Quality and Nutrient Management, University of Arkansas

Michael "Mike" Daniels is an Extension Professor of Water Quality and Nutrient Management at the University of Arkansas. Mike also serves as the co-director of the Environmental Task Force for the University as well as the Co-Director for the progressive Arkansas Discovery Farms Program where he with other colleagues and innovative farmers look to understand the implications of best management practices on improving sustainable intensification of agriculture, while congruently improving water use efficiencies and water quality to downstream systems. 

Mike serves a key role in leadership for water quality in the South East, and nationally. He is currently the chairman of the Environmental Quality Division of the American Society of Agronomy, as well as the chairman of the Southern Region Extension Water Resource Committee. He regularly publishes in the peer-reviewed and popular literature is the critical connection in Arkansas, and across the Southeast for bridging outreach and education and science for water quality improvement.


Beth Stauffer, Ph.D.Beth Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Dr. Beth Stauffer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she conducts research in the areas of protistan and phytoplankton ecology, coastal biological oceanography, and the use of innovative technologies for understanding coastal dynamics and protecting water quality. 

Prior to joining the UL Lafayette faculty, Dr. Stauffer was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Innovation Team in the Office of Research and Development. As a Fellow, Dr. Stauffer co-designed the Nutrient Sensor Challenge, a two-year market stimulation Challenge to accelerate development of affordable, reliable, and accurate sensors to measure nutrients in water. Prior to the fellowship, Dr. Stauffer was a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. She holds a Ph.D. in Marine Environmental Biology from the University of Southern California and a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from University of Miami.


Michael Buschermohle Ph.D.Michael Buschermohle, Ph.D.
Professor, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department, University of Tennessee

Dr. Michael Buschermohle is a Professor in the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he has more than 25 years of experience with the University of Tennessee Extension. His educational background includes a B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Kentucky and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Engineering from Clemson University. 

Dr. Buschermohle works with extension agents, producers and agribusinesses in developing and disseminating Extension educational programs that promote the adoption of precision agriculture technologies that enable row crop producers to increase production, reduce input costs, and manage farmland more efficiently.


R. Ernest Girouard Jr. Ph.D.R. Ernest Girouard Jr., Ph.D.
State Coordinator, Louisiana Master Farmer Program

R. Ernest Girouard, Jr. is the State Coordinator for the Louisiana Master Famer Program (LMFP) and an employee of the LSU AgCenter. The LMFP program is a formal partnership among the LSU AgCenter, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Louisiana Cattleman's Association. The program is a comprehensive educational process that assists agricultural producers in addressing environmental concerns and enhancing natural resource management skills for the continued sustainability of Louisiana agriculture. It includes classroom instruction, observation of LSU AgCenter research-based best management practices (BMP's) and implementation of an on-farm conservation plan. The LMFP has been named the Conservation Educator of the Year for 2014 by the Annual Governor's Conservation Recognition Program conducted by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. 

Ernest has been active promoting conservation at the local Soil and Water Conservation District, Louisiana and National Association of Conservation Districts, the Louisiana Soil and Water Conservation Commission and LDAF State Nutrient Management Strategy Committee. His awards include: USA Rice Federation Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award; Guy Caire Memorial Award (State Conservation); Certified Louisiana Master Farmer; LSU Agriculture Alumni Association-Outstanding Alumni; LACD-Outstanding State District Supervisor; Rice Farming Magazine-LA Rice Farmer of the Year; International Rice Festival-Rice Farmer of the Year; Woodmen of the World-Conservation Award; and the LCAAA and NACAA Extension Achievement Awards. He earned his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 1967.


Matt Helmers Ph.D.Matt Helmers, Ph.D.
Dean's Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University

Matt Helmers is the Dean's Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, where he has been on the faculty since 2003. Matt received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003, a M.S. from Virginia Tech in 1997, and B.S. from Iowa State in 1995. Dr. Helmers' research areas include studies on the impact of nutrient management, cropping practices, drainage design and management, and strategic placement of buffer systems on nutrient export from agricultural landscapes. He has a regional Extension program working to increase adoption of practices that have the potential to reduce downstream nutrient export. He served as the nitrogen science team lead on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Science Assessment.


Dan PrevostDan Prevost
Field Conservationist and Project Manager

Following a B.S. and M.S. at Mississippi State University, Prevost has served on the staff of Delta F.A.R.M. (Farmers Advocating Resource Management) since 2007. A primary responsibility involves providing conservation related advice and assistance for Delta F.A.R.M.'s membership which spans approximately 1.3 million acres in Northwest Mississippi. 

Prevost also coordinates watershed-based restoration projects throughout the Mississippi Delta that improve both local and downstream water quality. He has been directly involved with the development and implementation of the Delta Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which was the first of its kind in the Mississippi River Basin. His professional focus is on comprehensive "on the ground" solutions that benefit the farmer and the environment.


Tim SmithTim Smith
Owner / Operator, Century Farms, Iowa

Tim Smith farms 800 acres near Eagle Grove in north central Iowa. Tim has been involved in farming the family Century Farm since his early twenties. The crops grown are evenly split between corn and soybeans. 35 acres of the farm is enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program. 

In 2011 Tim became involved with the M.R.B.I. program through the NRCS. 550 acres that are in the Boone River watershed utilize cover crops, strip tillage, Prairie STRIPS, and nutrient management practices along with a woodchip bioreactor to reduce tile water nitrates. Through this involvement Tim began doing nitrogen rate and nitrogen source comparisons. In 2012 Tim received an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and in 2014 a Good Steward Recognition from the National Corn Growers Association.


Jennifer Tank Ph.D.Jennifer Tank, Ph.D.
Galla Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Jennifer Tank is the Ludmilla F., Stephen J., and Robert T. Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. She is also the Director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative. Dr. Tank holds a B.S. In Zoology from Michigan State University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Ecology.

Dr. Tank studies the cycling of nutrients in stream and rivers systems with a focus on the restoration of ecosystem function in impacted systems. It is her goal to translate this research to inform effective management of streams and rivers. Dr. Tank also leads a multidisciplinary group of researchers examining the effect of watershed-scale conservation using cover crops to improve water quality. She and her research team are also assessing strategies to improve the health and nutrient removal efficiency of streams draining cropland in the agricultural Midwest by restoring floodplain connectivity. Dr. Tank has served as an advisor to several government agencies focused on environmental issues, including the science advisory board for the North American Carbon Program (NACP), National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Dave De GeusDave De Geus
Working Lands Director, The Nature Conservancy in Iowa

Dave De Geus is currently the Working Lands Director for The Nature Conservancy's Iowa Program. In this position he works with The Nature Conservancy's Iowa and North American Agriculture Programs on strategies ranging from supply chain sustainability to watershed protection.   In previous positions with the Conservancy he worked with state operating units in the Upper Midwest to set up nutrient reduction projects in partnership with a number of agricultural groups, state agriculture departments and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Dave has an M.S. In Animal Ecology from Iowa State University and continues to assist with operation of the family farm in south central Iowa.


Mark Tomer Ph.D.Mark Tomer, Ph.D.
Research Soil Scientist, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Dr. Mark Tomer is a Research Soil Scientist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (NLAE) of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Ames Iowa. He has held this position since 2000. His background includes a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Montana, an M.S. in Soil Physics from Montana State University, and a Ph.D. in Soil and Water Resources from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining ARS, Dr. Tomer gained research and technology transfer experience working on agricultural salinity in eastern Montana, and on municipal wastewater irrigation in forest plantations in New Zealand. 

Dr. Tomer is currently the Lead Scientist for watershed research at NLAE, and he has served on ARS's National Leadership Team for the Croplands Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). His current research is focused on the development of GIS-based watershed planning tools; he has led the development of the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) which is being trialed for use in watershed improvement projects in four states. Dr. Tomer has also conducted studies on agricultural hydrology and water quality, overbank sedimentation, and edge-of-field water monitoring.


Dennis Busch Ph.D.Dennis Busch, Ph.D.
Research Leader Pioneer Farm, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Dennis Busch is the Research Leader at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Farm, an applied agricultural research facility located in the driftless area of southwest Wisconsin. Dennis is responsible for directing research activities at UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm related to the Wisconsin Agricultural Stewardship Initiative, the United States Department of Agriculture's Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Project, and the Global Farm Platform. 

Dr. Busch's research is focused on monitoring surface-water runoff from agricultural landscapes to determine the impact of farming practices on the environment. In addition, he is developing and testing alternative, low-cost methods for monitoring edge-of-field surface-water runoff.  A native of Cuba City, Wis., Dennis received both his B.S. degree in agriculture business and M.S. degree in ag industries from UW-Platteville and received his Ph.D. in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Previously he worked at the University of Minnesota Extension service as an Area Extension Educator. Dennis began his career with Pioneer Farm Spring 2004.


Mead and Marshall HardwickMead and Marshall Hardwick
Partners at Hardwick Planting Company, Newellton, LA

Mead and Marshall are partners with their parents, Jay and Mary Hardwick, at Hardwick Planting Company located on the family’s Somerset Plantation in Tensas Parish. Mead obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and Marshall obtained a Bachelor of Agriculture Business and a Masters of Science in the School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. Both are currently in The Louisiana Master Farmer Program.  

Hardwick Planting Company farms approximately 9,000 acres of cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum on Somerset’s 20,000 acres. The Hardwick family has been extensively involved with conservation and restoration efforts in the area for many years. Almost 500 acres have been removed from agriculture production and restored to their natural existence along with the continued preservation of 3,000 more acres. In addition, approximately 6,000 acres of hardwood timberland are maintained which provide habitat for the Louisiana black bear.  

The Hardwicks firmly believe it is crucial to combine productive agricultural operations with maximum natural resource protection and a comprehensive conservation plan for the farm. They have implemented conservation practices and systems such as extensive crop rotation, minimum tillage, filter strips and wetland restoration and preservation. Hardwick Planting Company was recently awarded the 2015 National Wetlands Award for Landowner Stewardship for their effort of blending production agriculture and conservation.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000