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Cameron H. Hackney

By Lynn Davis

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

A food microbiologist who has been highly successful in serving the commonwealth with his applied research in food safety and then bringing back those experiences to his classroom has earned Virginia Tech's highest award for Extension.

The Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award for 1995 goes to Cameron Hackney, professor and newly named head of the Food Science and Technology department with Extension, research, and teaching appointments. Judged by his peers, former recipients of the awards, Hackney is being honored for the work he does to increase the safety and value of food products.

"I believe that to have a good Extension program, you must build it on a solid research foundation," the award winner said. "Much of the research that I am conducting is Extension-related and involves direct industry input. This approach allows me to make a national impact with our state program." A major thrust of his Extension work is training food inspectors at the state and federal level.

While his research has concentrated on seafood, the Extension project leader has also contributed to the poultry, dairy, and meat industries of Virginia. He started at Virginia Tech in 1985 as superintendent of its Seafood Agricultural Experiment Station in Hampton, where he directly served seafood processors. Virginia ranks third in processing and is the fifth-largest seafood producer in America.

Soon after moving into the food science department on the Blacksburg campus in 1989, Hackney established a reputation for being an outstanding teacher because, as noted in his evaluations, he does "a wonderful job applying microbiology to daily life." Hackney says he attributes his 3.9 teaching evaluations (out of a possible 4.0) to his Extension work.

"It makes a circuit," he explains. "My research is in direct response to some problem that industry faces. I take my research out into the marketplace via Extension. Then I bring back those real-life experiences to my classes, so they can see the connection between the academic and the real world."

Hackney also recently received Gamma Sigma Delta's Teaching Award.

One student told him, "Don't change your teaching style, it really works well!"

Hackney has been principal or co-principal investigator of grant research totaling nearly $2.5 million, which has resulted in 86 publications. Some of his research is reported through the government agencies of Sea Grant and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Extension outreach accounts for most of his 31 national and regional talks and his 48 conference presentations. He has developed nearly 40 extension workshops.

Hackney's Extension activities have influenced and formulated national policy that affects seafood processing. He serves on numerous committees, including two from the National Academy of Sciences and several from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.