MSU natural resource faculty, staff honored for excellence

A group of the College of Forest Resources' faculty award winners for 2023
CFR/FWRC faculty award recipients include Leslie Burger, Heidi Renninger, Sandra Correa, Garrett Street and Curtis VanderSchaaf (Not pictured: Dana Morin) (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Several Mississippi State faculty and staff in the College of Forest Resources are entering the spring semester with new awards following the college’s annual recognition ceremony at the close of 2023.

Dean Wes Burger said the college, as well as the university’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, of which he serves as director, “accomplish great things in natural resource teaching, research and service because of the extraordinary faculty and staff we have.”

“The College of Forest Resources is the only nationally accredited educational program in the state for educating and developing future leaders in natural resources. MSU is among the top research universities nationally, reporting $300 million in research and development expenditures in the latest National Science Foundation report.  MSU is ranked 14th in the nation in natural resources and conservation research,” Burger said.

A picture of the College of Forest Resources staff award winners for 2023
CFR/FWRC staff award recipients include Crissy Hathcock, Chelsea Taylor, Chris Forester and Laura Andrews (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

Honorees include:

—Dana Morin, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, CFR/FWRC Teaching Award. She teaches three core classes, several directed independent studies, and gives numerous guest lectures. Morin has been featured in an instructional video “Fostering Learning in Small Groups,” used for teaching certification in MSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She has mentored 21 graduate students and visiting scientists.

—Garrett Street, associate professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. CFR/FWRC Research Award. Street has more than 50 publications and more than $6 million in competitive funding. Invested in student success, he has directed four post-doctoral fellows, nine graduate students, four undergraduate research scholars and served on an additional 15 graduate committees.

—Heidi Renninger, associate professor, Department of Forestry, CFR/FWRC Service Award. The graduate coordinator for the forestry department chairs three departmental committees, serves on three college-level committees and is a member of four additional committees. She is engaged at the division level as part of the DAFVM Carbon-Climate Collaborative and the university level as part of the MSU Graduate Council. She also is editor of three scientific journals and an ad hoc and panel reviewer for the National Science Foundation.

—Curtis VanderSchaaf, assistant professor, Department of Forestry stationed at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, CFR/FWRC Extension/Outreach Award. In the past two years, VanderSchaaf has completed 43 presentations to county forestry associations, 290 site visits with landowners and covered a wide spectrum of programming including 4-H events, professional training and online videos. He has published 10 peer-reviewed publications, 16 extension publications, 18 conference proceedings, five abstracts and two articles in The Conversation.

—Sandrea Correa, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, CFR/FWRC Early Career Achievement Award. Correa has mentored 12 students, including funded undergraduate research scholars for the past five years; secured more than $1 million in extramural funding; published 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts and five book chapters and was recently appointed by the United Nations Environment Programme to join its Multidisciplinary Expert Scientific Advisory Group, that will direct the seventh edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-7), presented in 2026.    

—Leslie Burger, associate teaching professor, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, CFR/FWRC Faculty Excellence in Advising. As the department’s undergraduate coordinator for the past eight years, Burger seeks to advance the whole student, advising many undergraduate and graduate students. Students note her unparalleled dedication and exceptional commitment to advising and mentorship. Burger previously received the Irwin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Award and the MSU Community Engagement Award in the community-engaged teaching and learning category.

—Laura Andrews, program manager, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Doris Lee Memorial Professional Staff Award. Andrews, who has served in the role for 20 years, is noted for her dependability, job knowledge and positive attitude.

—Crissy Hathcock, assistant director and fiscal administrator, CFR Dean’s Office, Beverly Smith Professional Staff Award. Hathcock, who has been at MSU since 2010 and served 10 years in her current role, is noted for her calm, dedicated work ethic.

—Chris Forrester, master HVAC mechanic, Forest Operations, Doris Lee Memorial Support Staff Award. Forrester, who has been with CFR for 12 years, is noted for his expertise and willingness to help wherever needed.

—Chelsea Taylor, administrative assistant II, CFR Dean’s Office, Beverly Smith Support Staff Award. Taylor, has been with MSU for eight years, is noted for her efficiency, effectiveness and friendly professionalism.

For more on the College of Forest Resources, visit For more on the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, visit

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