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ACE Newsletter

Senior Awards

Throughout their time at the University, ACE students leave their mark on this department in many different ways. However, few seniors leave distinct impressions that not only affect ACE, but this campus as an entirety. After years of determination, hours of handwork, and simply going above and beyond the expectations that have been set for them, they have been honored with some of the most prestigious student awards across campus. Congratulations graduates, we are so proud to add your name to the esteemed list of ACE Degree recipients!

Bronze Tablet Award

Three distinguished ACE students will be graduating with university honors and adding their name to the 2015  Bronze Tablet in the Main Library this year. These students are:

William Bird, Agribusiness Markets and Management

Timothy Hartman, Agribusiness Markets and Management

Joseph Wabick, Finance in Agribusiness

James Scholar Seniors

To maintain the status of being a James Scholar student over the course of your time spent at the University of Illinois, it takes dedication to grades, coursework, and faculty. These ACE  students completed all of the requirements of a James Scholar student for four years:

Jonathan Alton, Financial Planning                                                                            

Qi Qi Amanda Ang, Environmental Economics and Policy                                                                                                                     

Jacqueline Douglas,  Public Policy and Law

Carly Kenny, Public Policy and Law

Slam Dunk Award

The Slam Dunk Award is presented to a single ACE student with the highest cumulative GPA of his or her graduating class. This year’s recipient is Allison Hirsh of Tinley Park, who received her degree in Consumer Economics and Finance.

Undergrad Research Award

This award is granted to a student that has presented an entirely original research product that generates new knowledge. Throughout the students works, they must show that they have done all of the principal work that entitles them as the primary author of the paper. The student to be recognized with this award this year is Jacqueline Douglas from Lockport, Illinois. Jacqueline’s research project regarding the factors that influence the distribution of Chicago’s stormwater management funds was supervised by ACE faculty member Amy Ando. Jacqueline received her degree in Public Policy and Law this May.

Map The Meal Gap 

Dr. Craig Gundersen and the individuals of Feeding America are taking the nation by storm with their Map the Meal Gap analysis. Dr. Gundersen has been a professor at Illinois ACE since 2008, he serves as the Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Lab and is the Soybean Industry Endowed Professor in Agricultural Strategy. His passion to work with issues in poverty coupled with his specific research on the causes and consequences of food insecurity are what Dr. Gundersen credits with being the underlying factors that prompted him to work with Feeding America towards the Map the Meal Gap plan. By “mapping the meal gap” this group of specialists help food banks across the country to best direct their resources where there is most need. Before this tool was implemented, there was no way to estimate where the food demand was most prominent.
Dr. Gundersen also works on multiple other projects including, most recently, as PI (along with Jim Ziliak of the University of Kentucky) on the Research on Childhood Hunger Program, a seven million dollar program examining hunger among children in the U.S. As PI (along with Val Tarasuk of the University of Toronto) on a two million dollar project to, in part, use insights from the U.S. to better understand food insecurity in Canada; and as PI (along with Kathy Baylis, AC) to look at the consequences of the geographic distribution of food on the well-being of low-income Americans. In addition to consulting for Feeding America, he does consulting work for the Conagra Foods Foundation and the American Beverage Association. While Gundersen’s focus remains within the research, Feeding America has done an incredible job with keeping their websites up-to-date and attending to the public through their media campaigns and press releases. Currently, the United States is the only country that has adopted Map the Meal Gap in efforts to fight food insecurity; however, it is the hope of Dr. Gundersen and Feeding America that this plan can be put to use in other countries to combat global hunger.


New Faculty Profile

Dr. Sandy Dall'erba

Dr. Sandy Dall’erba will be joining our faculty team this June to teach a course in spatial econometrics and another on regional and interregional input-output. He also plans to continue his funded research projects (NSF, USDA, NASA) after his move to Illinois. Principally, his research is centered around understanding a variety of aspects affecting the dynamics of regional and local economic development. For Dr. Dall’erba coming to  U of I represents a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with new colleagues and initiate new research projects. He is most excited to share his passion for Regional Economics with colleagues and students.

Dr. Dall’erba began his research in Regional Economics during his Master thesis. At that time, there was a lot of controversy in the academia and in the political arena about the future of the economic development of most Eastern and Central European countries. This economic dispute sparked Dall’erba’s interest and has instigated his research on regional inequalities and associated regional development policies. He has written several articles about this topic and has extended his expertise to the U.S. case following funding from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Dall’erba was born and raised in the suburbs of Paris, France, in a city called Maisons-Alfort. He received all of his secondary education from the Department of Economics at the University of Pau, France. However, he spent two years of his PhD-thesis on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus as a Visiting Scholar of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (2001-2003), then returned to campus from 2004 to 2005 as a Post-doctoral student. It was later followed by a Post-doctoral stay at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and an Assistant and Associate Professor position at the University of Arizona (2006-2015).

Dr. Dall’erba is incredibly excited at the opportunity to join campus again this summer and return to the state of his “intellectual roots”. He says, “The Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics has a very good reputation and is composed of brilliant scholars. I can’t wait to join it this summer”.

Dr. Dall’erba attributes much of his professional accomplishments to interdisciplinarity. He says this was an attribute he was fortunate enough to acquire during the early stages of his Ph.D. He was exposed to numerous ways of combining theories, techniques, and developments from different fields, and says “it allows me to meet and collaborate with brilliant scholars in my field and from outside of my own research area to provide new insights on a variety of societal challenges”.

Aside from his professional career, Dr. Dall’erba is a devoted father to his girls ages 3 and 7. He says he loves to spend his free time with them in the swimming pool, roller-skating, and in the kitchen making dough for their next crusty bread. As both a tennis player and fan he says he is looking forward to keeping up with our tennis program. Lucky for him, The Illini hold a reputation  as one of the most successful men’s tennis programs in the country!

A Tribute To Professor Delmar Wilken 

Professor Emeritus Delmar F. Wilken had a highly esteemed career dedicated not only to the university, but to farm practices across Illinois.

Wilken summarized farm business records and preparing farm comparative analysis reports for Extension. He was known statewide for his numerous publications analyzing Illinois farm business records. He identified agricultural challenges through data and records to further the advancement of farming techniques. Wilken says, “It was a pleasure to coordinate and work with the field staff.  It was really the help of the field staff that contributed to much of my success.” The most important thing he would stress to his field staff is that “loyalty is everything to farmers, because the relationship between field staff and a family or farmer can be a great thing, as long as you do everything you can to protect it.”

Wilken served as the State Leader for the Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Field Staff and therefore as the liaison between the Illinois FBFM Association and the College of ACES. Wilken worked through times of clarification of the relationship between the original sponsored Farm Bureau and the Illinois FBFM Association.

Toward the conclusion of his 31 years of employment at the University of Illinois, Wilken trained new faculty to communicate with Extension field staff who worked with farmers across Illinois. He retired from the University in 1985

Among his collection of successes throughout his career, Wilken received the Funk Award in 1983. The Funk Award is an honor presented by the University of Illinois to an individual that has illustrated superior service to the college. The following year he received the USDA Distinguished Service Award, the USDA’s most prestigious recognition. The program recognizes outstanding Federal employees for their efforts of leadership and innovations within their field of study.

Wilken’s passion for leadership and extension was inspired by his father who served as a 4-H leader for 30 years. Until the age of 13, he worked on his family's dairy farm in Danforth, Illinois, where his focus was to retail the milk they produced.  He completed Officer Candidate School and took part in Advanced ROTC, causing him to spend another year on campus before graduating from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Agriculture in 1947. Later that year, he married his late wife, Phyllis Anderson Wilken, who received a M.S. in Education from the University of Illinois. Wilken’s graduate studies were interrupted when he was called to active duty for the Korean War in 1951. Following his return from war, he was employed by the Pioneer FBFM Association for four years before he became a Farm Management Extension Specialist at U of I. Together, he and his wife have three adult children, all of which are U of I graduates and continue to lead successful lives between Oregon, Southwest Chicago Suburbs, and Champaign.

In 1973, Wilken and his wife became part of the International Goodwill People to People Ambassador Program. He and his wife guided a group of agricultural leaders to visit their occupational counterparts in 30 different countries including every continent except Antarctica. Wilken had the opportunity to sightsee in 20 other various countries. Since retirement, Wilken has completed a project that placed many thousands of individual farm record data sheets on microfilm. He also engaged in some early technology work with the use of computer-assisted data for making better farm management decisions. Since retirement, he enjoys spending his time concerned with farm management operations and engaged in leisurely activities.   

Wilken spent his entire life devoted to being a loving father, husband, and agriculturalist. He touched many lives throughout his career; still, the work he achieved for this department and university stands second to none. He will be greatly missed.

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Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
Dr. Paul N. Ellinger
Head of Department

326 Mumford Hall
1301 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801-3605
Phone: (217)333-1810
Fax: (217)333-5538