NCWSS Award Winners

Help us in congratulating the winners from the NCWSS 2021 Distinguished Achievement Awards.


Fellow is the highest honor that the Society can confer to an individual member. Only individuals who have made outstanding contributions to weed science (no more than 0.5% of the membership) receive the award each year. Fellows are considered life-time members of the NCWSS.

Aaron Hager, Illinois University

Aaron Hager is an associate professor of extension weed science in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.  He attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and received a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science in 1991.  He then went to Michigan State University and received his M.S. in weed science in May, 1993.  Later that month, he joined the University of Illinois as a weed science extension specialist.  In 2001, he completed his Ph.D. in weed science and joined the Department of Crop Sciences faculty ranks in 2002.  As an associate professor of weed science at the University of Illinois, Dr. Hager is responsible for weed biology and management research in corn and soybean production systems.  His research focuses on examining the biology and management of weed species that are common in Illinois agronomic crops.




Eric Spandl, Winfield United

Dr. Eric Spandl is a Senior Manager with Winfield United, a Land O’Lakes company. His career started with the Cenex Land O’Lakes Agronomy Company in 1997 and continued with Agriliance, Winfield Solutions, LLC and Winfield United. Roles included product and market development manager, technical marketing manager, and professional agronomist. His current responsibilities include business development, managing relationships with key partners, and managing the Spray Application Lab. Eric received a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, M.S., and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and post-doc at the University of Minnesota. Professional society memberships include the ASA, NCWSS, ASABE, and WSSA, and the Minnesota CCA board. Eric has served on many committees for the NCWSS and WSSA including the Local Arrangements Committee which delivered the first ever online NCWSS meeting in 2020, Fellows, Strategic Planning, Electronic Communications, Finance, Steering and Policy, Placement, Distinguished Achievement Award, Future Site Selection, and Summer Contest subcommittee of Resident Education. He also participated as a judge numerous times for the paper and poster contest. In addition, Dr. Spandl has authored and contributed to numerous professional and industry publications and has presented or co-authored many abstracts.





Awards in this category are given to representatives of industry who meet the basic guidelines in the education, research, or service categories. For these individuals, it is important to include the contributions this individual has made to weed science within the industry. Examples might be: pat­ents, development of unique formulations, development of research techniques, discovery of unique uses for a product, or service to NCWSS or to agriculture in general.


Kevin Thorsness, Bayer

Kevin B. Thorsness is a Crop Protection Technical Development Representative for Bayer Crop Science.  He received his PhD from North Dakota State University in Agronomy in 1992 and he began his career with Hoechst Roussel Agri-Vet as a Field Technical Representative.  Kevin resides in Fargo, ND and covers North Dakota and northern Minnesota.  Kevin conducts field research, works with university cooperators and with sales and marketing representatives of Bayer Crop Science to position and promote herbicide, fungicide, and insecticide use in more than twelve Northern Plains crops.  Kevin has been an active member of the NCWSS since 1985.  He has presented numerous papers or posters at the NCWSS meetings over the years.  Kevin has mentored more than 30 summer interns and several of them went on to achieve a graduate degree in weed science.



Michael Weber, Bayer CropScience

I have been at Bayer CropScience (thru legacy companies of Rhone-Poulenc & Aventis CropScience) since January 3, 1999.  My education background includes degrees of Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture (1995) and Master of Science in Weed Science (1998); both from Southern Illinois University of Carbondale.  The position of Principal Field Agronomist has many responsibilities; covering Southern Iowa/Missouri area by planning, managing, and conducting internal research trials to obtain data defining the biological/chemical activity and nature of experimental compounds identified as candidates for new product development.

I have been very active within North Central Weed Science Society over my career.  I’ve served on the Strategic Planning Committee (Iowa Director), the Local Arrangement Committee and supported the Summer Weeds Contest.  Also, chaired the Agronomic Crops – Soybeans twice.  I’ve prepared several Oral Presentations.  Personal interests include family, hunting and fishing.


This award is to be given to members who fulfill the requirements to qualify in the education, research, and service award categories and who must have received a terminal degree no more than 10 years before receiving the award at the annual meeting.

Rodrigo Werle, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Rodrigo Werle is an Assistant Professor, Extension Cropping Systems Weed Scientist, and the proud PI of the WiscWeeds Research and Extension Program in the Department of Agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rodrigo was raised in a small farming community of Dutch immigrants in the state of São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil. He received his BS in Agronomy from São Paulo State University in 2009 and his MS and PhD in Agronomy with Specialization in Weed Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012 and 2016, respectively. He served as an Assistant Professor and Cropping Systems Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln West Central Research, Extension and Education Center (2016-2017) before joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018.

Rodrigo has research and Extension responsibilities for weed management in corn, soybean, and small grains in Wisconsin. His program focuses on weed management strategies that help growers mitigate herbicide resistance evolution, protect water quality, enhance agroecosystems services, and increase food security. His program has conducted applied research on three main areas: i) herbicide resistance monitoring, ii) herbicide off-target movement and fate in the environment, and iii) biology, ecology, and integrated weed management. The main goals of his program are to: i) provide relevant research-based information and recommendations to Extension clientele, ii) train the next generation of decision influencers and practitioners, and iii) help advance the weed science discipline. To date, Rodrigo has authored/co-authored 52 peer-reviewed manuscripts, over 170 abstracts presented at professional meetings, and has secured over $1.7 million to support his program. Rodrigo has served as the major advisor for 1 PhD and 6 MS students and is currently advising 4 academic staff, 3 postdoctoral research associates, 3 PhD students, and 1 visiting research scholar. From 2018-2021, his program delivered over 140 Extension presentations (over 120 hours of educational content) to more than 7,800 participants, hosted 23 field days and workshops (over 50 hours of educational content) attended by more than 1,200 participants, recorded 37 Extension videos, and wrote 21 technical bulletins and 33 blog posts. Through traditional and virtual outlets, the WiscWeeds program continues to reach stakeholders across Wisconsin and beyond interested in weed management information. For more information about the program, please access the following link:

Rodrigo has been a member of the North Central Weed Science Society since 2010 attending, presenting, and volunteering in various judging and committee roles during the summer student weed contests and annual meetings. He is an ad hoc reviewer in several journals including Weed Technology and Weed Science and serves as Weed Management Associate Editor of Frontiers in Agronomy. His program’s research and Extension efforts have been recognized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the “Alfred Toepfer Faculty Fellow Award (2020)” and by the Wisconsin Association of County Agents through the “Second Mile Award (2020)”. Rodrigo, his wife Lia Marchi-Werle, and their daughters Leila and Lorena enjoy spending time together as a family and with their friends, and exploring the beautiful outdoors that Wisconsin offers. Rodrigo is thankful to the NCWSS society and dedicates this award to his mentors, former and current lab members, colleagues, family, and friends.



Ryan Edwards, Winfield United

Ryan Edwards is a Sr. Research Manager in Product Development at Winfield United. He has been with Winfield United for 6.5 years where he is based at the Innovation Center in River Falls, WI. His primary focus is on field research & development of new adjuvant, herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide products in Winfield United’s development pipeline. He is responsible for field protocol design, contracting research trials with private external cooperators, internal field data collections and data interpretations. Ryan has been involved in launching over 30+ products into the Winfield United system during his tenure. Ryan has been an active member of the NCWSS since 2015. He has been a Poster and Paper contest judge, a 2017 symposium coordinator, 2020 symposium vice chair and the chair and moderator for the 2017 and 2021 Equipment and Application Method Paper section. Ryan received his Ph.D. in Weed Science from Mississippi State University and his M.S. in Weed Science from Colorado State University. He has a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science from the University of Northern Colorado.



This award recognizes outstanding and sustained contributions in support of weed science activities in the North Central region. Nominees will be restricted to individuals that work under the direction of uni­versity, federal, or industry scientists. These individuals may have titles such as researcher, research associate, technician, support scientist, or specialist. The nominee must have been involved in weed science research, extension, or resident education for at least five years at the time of nomination.

Andrew Toft, Corteva Agriscience

Andrew Toft is a Senior Technologist with 23 years at Corteva Agriscience in Indianapolis. He is an Australian citizen who moved to Indiana in 1976. He has an associate degree from Purdue University. After several years as an apartment maintenance superintendent, he changed careers and found his calling in agricultural research. Starting in the Greenhouse Management Team supporting multiple disciplines gave him a thirst for research. That led to an Associate Technician role in the Weed Management group. From there he managed all levels of screens from high throughput and phloem mobility assays to Level 4 and pre-development trials. Providing critical research support for development of molecules such as aminopyralid, penoxsulam, pyroxsulam, Arylex Active and Rinskor Active. Andrew continues to support new molecules in the discovery pipeline. In the second half of his career, he has shifted more to trait discovery and has played a large role in the development of the Enlist Control System in cotton, corn, and soybeans. He has also been involved in glyphosate, glufosinate and several other herbicide tolerance and insect resistance trait campaigns. He has been a growth chamber and greenhouse focal point for Arabidopsis model crops testing for many years. In more recent years he has been the lead technical support for herbicide resistant weed greenhouse studies. Andrew has been a mentor and coach for many contractors and new technicians. In his spare time Andrew enjoys hunting, fishing, and working out. He and wife Michelle have one son, Mason who is studying biochemistry in the school of Agronomy at Purdue.



The North Central Weed Science Society Outstanding Graduate Student Award recognizes one outstanding graduate student who is a NCWSS student member. This award will be given to a gradu­ate student who is actively involved in the Society, as well as contributor to the field of weed science through extension, research, and teaching.


Chandrima Shyam, Kansas State University

Chandrima is a recent graduate with a Ph.D. (Agronomy) from the Department of Agronomy at the Kansas State University (KSU) under Dr. Mithila Jugulam. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral fellow in the same lab. Chandrima grew up in an industrial city named Durgapur, located in the eastern part of India, and developed her passion for agriculture during undergraduate studies. She graduated with a BS in Agriculture from Visva Bharati, a central university in India. After BS, she received admission for MS in Agronomy at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and later worked there as a research fellow in industry and government-funded weed science projects. She started her Ph.D. in 2017, and her dissertation was focused on physiologically and genetically characterizing 2,4-D resistance in Palmer amaranth. Throughout her graduate career she has worked mostly on understanding metabolic non-target site resistance to herbicides in pigweeds.

Chandrima has published her MS and PhD work in nine peer-reviewed journal articles and is in the process of publishing few more. She is also an active reviewer for peer-reviewed journals, including Weed Science, Plos ONE, Pest Management Science, Agronomy, and Genes. In the summer of 2020, Chandrima worked in the Vero Beach facility of Syngenta as a crop protection research and development intern. She has won several fellowships from the Department of Agronomy at KSU and contests in the weed science societies, including NCWSS, WSWS, and WSSA. She is an avid reader, travel enthusiast, and animal lover. She likes to spend her free time with her spouse Raj, friends, and her cat Ukie.