UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has honored four of its graduates with 2018 Outstanding Alumni Awards.
The awards, which will be presented during a banquet on Oct. 4 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, recognize the alumni for their achievements and provide opportunities for recipients to interact with the college's faculty, students and other alumni. The recipients also will be inducted into the Armsby Honor Society, which recognizes those who have demonstrated a commitment to the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Named Outstanding Alumni were David Clark, of Gainesville, Florida; Wayne Martenas, of Lititz, Pennsylvania; and Christine Christian, of Prunedale, California. Douglas Masser, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was named Outstanding Recent Alumnus, an award that honors alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.
Clark earned a doctoral degree in horticulture from Penn State in 1994. He is internationally known for his innovative work in both basic and applied plant science and for his ability to take new technologies to the consumer marketplace.
He holds seven U.S. patents, 26 U.S. plant patents with four more pending, and seven U.S. trademarks. His groundbreaking work in functional genomics led to the largest publicly available DNA sequence database in the world for his model species petunia. He has published 75 articles.
Originally from Kingsport, Tennessee, Clark earned his bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Tennessee and his master's degree in horticulture from Clemson University. After earning his doctorate, Clark joined the University of Florida, where he is professor of horticultural biotechnology and genetics. His research focuses on developing flowers and plants that have maximum sensory appeal to humans.
In 2013, he was named a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, and in 2014, he received the Gold Medal Award from the Society of American Florists. He is a member of the Penn State Alumni Association and a faithful donor to the Ag Sciences Future Fund.
Martenas grew up on a farm near Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State Hazleton before graduating from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering in 1974 -- a degree that launched a 38-year career with Case New Holland (now CNH Industrial) and its predecessor companies, the second largest global designer and manufacturer of farm equipment.
Martenas held several positions at CNH, working in Belgium, England, Canada, Chicago and Lancaster.
After a merger to form CNH in 1999, Martenas was instrumental in driving the standardization of global engineering processes across more than 20 locations around the world. He is a named inventor on 17 U.S. and European patents and in 2008 received the Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers. In 2010, Martenas was named a Penn State Outstanding Engineering Alumnus.
In 2012, he retired as vice president of security and facilities of CNH. Martenas serves on the college's Entrepreneurship and Innovation advisory board, the Volunteer Development Council, the Penn State Ag Council, and the Lancaster County Extension board. He is a member of the Penn State Alumni Association, and Penn State's Atherton Society, Mount Nittany Society and President's Club.
Originally from New Castle, Pennsylvania, Christian earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology in 1985 and a master's in food science in 1991, both at Penn State, which helped launch her exemplary 20-year career in the produce industry.
Christian spent the first decade of her career in progressively more responsible positions at Fresh Express Inc. in Salinas, California, leaving the company as its director of business management. While at Fresh Express, she managed a retail premium salad line valued at $450 million, developed and introduced new product lines, and led quality-improvement initiatives.
In 2003, Christian took a position with the California Strawberry Commission. She has been senior vice president of the commission since 2013, overseeing financial reporting and domestic and international marketing programs.
Christian developed a leading trade relations program that served as a model in the produce industry and supported the growth of the California strawberry industry to a $2 billion crop and the fourth most valuable food crop in California. She has served leadership roles with organizations such as the Institute of Food Technologists and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Penn State Alumni Association.
In the six years since Masser earned his bachelor's degree in agricultural and extension education from Penn State, he has become a valued teacher, prolific author and presenter, sought-after facilitator, and leader in agricultural education.
As an undergraduate, he was a Schreyer Honors Scholar, an Evan Pugh Senior Scholar, and received the Penn State Ag Council Leadership Award. After graduation, he served as a research assistant in the agricultural education department at the University of Idaho, earning a master's degree in agricultural education.
In 2014, Masser returned to Pennsylvania to take a position as an agriscience teacher -- and eventually agriculture department chair -- at Pequea Valley High School in Lancaster County, where he was a key figure in integrating agriculture into the school's biology curriculum. He has been instrumental in increasing the number of agriculture courses and students and in adding a second agriculture teacher at the school. He is co-adviser to Pequea Valley's FFA chapters.
In 2017, Masser was named Outstanding Young Member of the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators. He assists with Penn State Teach Ag! workshops, has published articles in refereed education journals and has presented at dozens of meetings and conferences.