Skip to main content
MSU Potato Events, Exhibits and Outreach

MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics

 2012 Michigan State University Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award

2012 Michigan State University Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award Recipient:

Kelly Zarka Distinguished MSU Award 2012

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 through cryogenics.

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.