Michigan State University Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff
Kelly Zarka | research technician II, Department of Crop
and Soil Sciences
Kelly Zarka's main responsibility is to manage the lab for the
MSU Potato Breeding program where she maintains organization,
coordinates molecular research experiments involving potato
disease and insect resistance, assists in data collection and
analysis, oversees compliance with chemical and radioactivity
safety regulations and orders supplies.
Zarka is involved in several notable research projects. She
currently is the project assistant for the SolCAP project, a
USDA-funded multi-year and multi-institutional Coordinated
Agricultural Project, which in 2011 was awarded the USDA
Secretary Honor Award for superior service. For this project,
Zarka assists with progress report preparation, publishing of
the SolCAP quarterly newsletter, coordinating daily
operations, scheduling yearly workshops, organizing monthly
conference calls and providing financial management and budget
oversight in addition to working on the project in the lab.
Zarka was the lead technician on the USAID-funded project on
Potato Tuber Moth resistance, which focused on improvement of
potato production and storage to aid poor farmers in South
Africa. She assisted in writing a dossier which was sent to
and is being reviewed by the South African government. Zarka
also performs research on drought tolerance improvement, late
blight resistance, plant virus resistance and virus removal
Professor C. Robin Buell said, "[Zarka] is the prototype for
the exemplary work performance and contribution to MSU that
should be recognized by receiving a Breslin Staff award."
The 35th annual Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award were
held May 1, 2012.
The winners each received $2,500 and were honored with a
reception at the Breslin Student Events Center.
"Each nominee for the award is very deserving, making the task
of choosing just six recipients a difficult one for the
selection committee," said Guy Procopio, Culinary Services
director and chairperson of the distinguished staff awards
committee. "We invite faculty, staff, students, family and
friends to attend the reception and recognize these deserving
recipients." The award is named in honor of the late Jack
Breslin, a student leader, honored athlete, top administrator
and steadfast advocate of Michigan State. Selections are made
on overall excellence, supportive attitude, contributions to
the unit or university that lead to efficiency and
effectiveness, and valuable service to the university.