Valdez, Bell, Mehall receive Edwards Graduate Teaching Award

COLLEGE STATION – Three graduate students in the Department of Animal Science are recipients of the 2013 Ronnie L. Edwards Graduate Teaching Award, in recognition of their important contributions as graduate students to the undergraduate student experience.


Left, Sigrid Edwards and granddaughter Claire, Natasha Bell, Raul Valdez, Lindsey Mehall, Cathy Edwards and Dr. Russell Cross.

Raul Valdez, Natasha Bell and Lindsey Mehall were presented the award during the department’s Christmas luncheon held Dec. 17 at the AgriLife Center.

The Ronnie L. Edwards Graduate Teaching Award was created in remembrance of Dr. Edwards, who served as associate head for the Department of Animal Science and spent more than two decades working with graduate students. One of his major activities was coordinating the teaching assistantships for the department, helping to ensure the best graduate teachers possible for the courses taught.

Valdez, from Laredo, received a master’s degree in animal science this December under the direction of Dr. Clay Cavinder. He received a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas A&M in 2010.

As a graduate research and teaching assistant, Valdez taught a lab section for  ANSC 421, Advanced Stock Horse Training;  ANSC 311, Equine Behavior and Training; ANSC 420, Equine Production and Management; and ANSC 481, Seminar. He was assistant coach of the Texas A&M Stock Horse Team and helped guide them to the 2012 national championship and the 2013 reserve national championship. In addition, he traveled to Norway, Sweden, Poland and Switzerland in 2010 and 2013 as part of a group of Texas A&M equine students and conducted horsemanship clinics.

“…Raul’s greatest attribute is his kind attitude and genuine desire for the students he works with to progress. He is dependable beyond comparison and this is demonstrated by his involvement with multiple programs, classes and after-hours activities,” said one nominator.

Valdez will begin working on a doctorate in animal science in January working under the direction of Cavinder.

Bell, from Normanna, is pursuing a doctorate in animal science with a focus on animal nutrition working under the direction of Dr. Tryon Wickersham and Dr. Jason Sawyer.

Bell earned a bachelor’s in animal science from Texas A&M in 2005 and went to work as a high school science teacher and district FFA advisor until 2012. During the last two years of her high school teaching career, Bell worked on and completed a master’s degree in agriculture with a concentration in ruminant nutrition from Stephen F. Austin State University.

As a graduate student, Bell teaches ANSC 320, Animal Nutrition and Feeding and the laboratory for ANSC 318, Feeds and Feeding. Her current research explores the utilization of ionophores for improvement of nutrient use in grazing cattle.

“Natasha places a strong emphasis on application by designing homework assignments that require a strong understanding of the fundamentals of nutrition and build on the material presented in class. Additionally, her well designed homework prepares the students for both the test and for solving “real world” nutritional problems. Natasha brings research into the classroom by sharing her personal experiences, data and observations.  She assists students in identifying undergraduate research opportunities, writing letters of recommendation, and in working towards greater clarity regarding their future,” said one nominator.

Mehall, from McKinney, is seeking a doctorate in animal science working under the direction of Dr. Jeff Savell and Dr. Kerri Harris. She received a bachelor’s in animal science in 2008 and a master’s in meat science in 2010, both from the University of Arkansas.

At Texas A&M, Mehall serves as a graduate teaching/research assistant for ANSC 307, Meats; Honors ANSC 307, Meats, and ANSC 457/657, HACCP. She coached the 2013 Texas A&M Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team and is the at-large director of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association. In addition, she assists with hands-on educational programs including Pork 101, Beef 101, Beef 706, Pfizer Beef University, Beef Sustainability 101, HEB Boot Camp and Camp Brisket. Her doctoral research investigates various parameters for controlling the major E. coli pathogens.

“In all of these endeavors, she is solid and dependable. I love watching Lindsey around our undergraduate students. She teaches with such charm and passion that it is difficult not to be drawn in by this. Our students will follow Lindsey wherever she goes! When you see her teaching ratings and comments from our students, you will understand how valuable she is as a teacher and leader of undergraduates in our department,” according to a nomination letter.

The Ronnie L. Edwards Graduate Teaching Award in Animal Science is presented yearly and winners are selected based on nominations and supporting letters from department faculty.



For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at or (979) 845-1542.

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