Announcing 2020 Staff Updates

Dear Friends,
It has been several months since we last shared an update of the transition of IR-4 Headquarters from Rutgers to NC State. Activities and actions continue to happen. To start, there have been several retirements in the Rutgers office including three Management Team Members.

Tammy White-Barkaalow

    • Tammy (White) Barkalow– Since January 1993, IR-4’s national Quality Assurance Unit has been managed by Tammy. During her tenure, Tammy upgraded IR-4 Quality Assurance and Good Laboratory Compliance systems to meet or exceed acceptable practices within the regulated community. IR-4 is grateful for her dedication and service to the Project to ensure that the quality and integrity of our data was the best. Tammy’s retirement is effective on September 1, 2020. She intends to turn her attention to opening a candy-making business.
    • Van Starner – Earlier this year, Van announced his retirement effective January 1, 2021. Over the past 15Van Starneryears, Van has been leading IR-4 efforts with stakeholder and company engagement, including leading the priority setting workshops, arranging the numerous company meeting, and leader in educational conferences. He is also well known for arranging the annual EPA educational tours where many new employees get to see some of the challenges specialty crop farmers face with pest management. Van, a native of Pennsylvania, will be spending time helping with his grandchildren. He will also be able to enjoy more time enjoying everything Penn State.Dan Kunkel
    • Dan Kunkel – Dan has announced his retirement from IR-4/Rutgers effective November 1, 2020. He has been with IR-4 for 29 years starting out as a Weed Science coordinator directly out of graduate school and moving up in the ranks to Senior Associate Director. At one time or another, Dan has led almost all of IR-4’s technical activities in the Food Program. Going forward, Dan will be joining Amvac as Eastern Regional Product Development Director, working out of his house in New Jersey.

Cheryl FarrazoliAlso retiring before year-end is Cheryl Ferrazoli. Cheryl is the longest-serving active IR-4 employee at IR-4 Headquarters, joining the IR-4 in April 1986. Many stakeholders know Cheryl with her involvement with the Food Use Workshops and other large IR-4 meetings. The Headquarters knows her more for the work she did when we were allowed to travel. This includes arranging the travel tickets, hotel rooms, cars, registrations to submitting the paperwork for reimbursement.

On a personal note, the four people mentioned above have collectively been with IR-4 for over 100 years! They have seen the highs and have seen the lows. They have made the program what it is today, a successful government program that respects its stakeholders, works hard for deliverables, and is proud of its integrity. It has been my joy to spend so much time with these outstanding people. I have learned much from them as a work associate and friend. They will be missed!

While I will miss the four who are retiring, there is so much to look forward to, including some of our talented new peoples. We are pleased to announce two new hires and one promotion. The new hires include:

    • Cristina Marconi– Cristina has joined the IR-4 team effective June 1, 2020, as a study director. Cristina has extensive experience as an IR-4 Field Research Director at the IR-4 research center in Weslaco, TX for the past eight years.
    • Johanna Mazlo – Effective September 1, 2020, Dr. Johanna Mazlo will be assuming the IR-4 responsibilities of Quality Assurance Manager, replacing Tammy Barkalow. Johanna comes to IR-4 with significant experience as a Study Director and Quality Assurance professional with Syngenta Crop Protection. Prior to Syngenta, Johanna was on the faculty of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in the Chemistry Department.

We are also pleased to announce that Venkat Pedibhotla has been promoted to Assistant Director for Planning and Product Performance Research, effective September 1, 2020. He will be responsible for many of the duties performed by Van Starner; taking over fully in early 2020. Venkat first joined IR-4 in May 2020 as Principal Entomologist. Prior to that, he held various positions in industry with Syngenta, BASF, and Scotts, where he interacted with IR-4. We welcome Venkat to the new IR-4 HQ Management Team.

There are several other new or soon to be open positions in the queue for the new IR-4 Headquarters. These include:

  • Research Assistant/Regulatory Studies – IR-4 will be conducting our first round of interviews on September 1-2, 2020. We hope to have the top candidate in place by late September.
  • Associate Director – A position description has been submitted to NC State Human Resources to partially fill the void with Dan Kunkel’s retirement. Understanding the importance of the position, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences administration has pledged assistance to move this position through the systematic review process as quickly as possible. We hope to have a person in this position before Dan retires on November 1.
  • Communications Officer – A position description is pending in NC State Human Resources

Further down in the queue are positions for Registration Manager, Principal Entomologist, Quality Assurance Auditor, and Business Services Coordinator. It is our goal to get the position descriptions into HR on/about October 1 and fill one or more of these positions before the end of the calendar year, early 2021.

The other aspect of the transition that we would like to share is that IR-4 has identified our new long term home on the NC State campus. We will be moving a short distance to prime space on the Centennial Campus in the Venture IV building. At this time, our move-in date is unknown as we are waiting for the space to be available and partially renovated.

On the grants side, all new resources are now directed to NC State. The NC State unit has received the FY2020 USDA-NIFA grant for HQ, a new cooperative agreement with USDA-ARS to fund QA travel, numerous private donations. Both IR-4 Headquarters units (NC State and Rutgers) are working together to ensure that adequate operational funds are available to function through the remainder of the transition.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide additional information.

All the best,

Jerry Baron
Executive Director
Cell: (908) 627-4213