UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has honored three of its graduates with 2020 Outstanding Alumni Awards. The awards, which will be presented during a virtual ceremony Nov. 19, recognize the alumni for their professional achievements, according to Alan Schaffranek, director of alumni relations.
Joseph Light, of Somerset, New Jersey, and Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, of Ithaca, New York, were named Outstanding Alumni. Darryl Blakey, of Silver Spring, Maryland, is the recipient of the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which honors alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.
The recipients will be inducted into the Armsby Honor Society, which recognizes those who have demonstrated a commitment to the College of Agricultural Sciences. Laurel Rush, of Avella, a 1996 graduate of the college who is retiring from the Ag Alumni Society’s board of directors, also will be inducted into the society.
Before his retirement, Light, who earned a bachelor’s degree in food science in 1987, was the vice president of global development/ingredient technology at Ingredion Inc., a global leader in food ingredients. He currently serves as an adviser for multiple food technology companies.
Light’s responsibilities spanned five regions and 29 innovation centers. He built capabilities recognized industry-wide in food formulation, including the Inside Idea Labs’ virtual lab, which enables those in the food and beverages industry to partner with Ingredion experts.
An expert on food texture, he spearheaded efforts to build texture and sweetness centers of excellence, which are focused on linking innovative technology approaches to yield consumer-preferred products. He is an inventor on 11 patents.
Light was a founding member of the Institute of Food Technologists’ IFTNEXT Think Tank and serves on the IFT Feeding Tomorrow board of trustees and the IFT Annual Meeting scientific program task force.
His Penn State activities include life membership in the Alumni Association, membership in the food science department's Food Industry Group, and participation in the Alumni Blue Band. He helped establish the Central New Jersey chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association and recently supported development of the Penn State-Ingredion Yogurt Alternative Short Course.
Eloundou-Enyegue is a professor and chair in the department of development sociology at Cornell University. He earned a master’s degree in rural sociology and demography and a doctorate in development sociology and demography from Penn State. He joined Cornell in 2000 after a postdoctoral term at the RAND Corp. in Los Angeles.
He has taught in multiple countries across Africa, North America and Asia, and he has extensive experience with field research and policy communication. With support from the Hewlett Foundation and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, he led a network to advance demographic training in Francophone Africa from 2008 to 2016.
Eloundou-Enyegue has consulted with the United Nations, the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He has served on the boards of several professional associations and institutions, including the Population Association of America, the Population Reference Bureau, the Guttmacher Institute and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
He was a member of an independent group of 15 scientists nominated by the U.N. secretary-general’s panel to draft the first quadrennial report on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Blakey, who holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science, began his career as a public policy and legislative intern with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In this position, the 2015 graduate worked with the association’s senior vice president of government affairs to research, develop and implement strategies for federal policy initiatives.
Subsequently, he served as staff assistant and then legislative assistant for the House Committee on Agriculture. He worked under the leadership of Chairman Michael Conaway and professional staff in handling the financial portfolio under the committee’s jurisdiction, which includes the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Farm Credit Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, and the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Three years later, Blakey became manager of legislative affairs and then director of legislative affairs and market regulatory policy for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In these positions, he represented agricultural and financial businesses on engagement with financial institutions and regulators.
Blakey recently was named policy adviser to the chairman and associate director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
He is a member of the Penn State Alumni Association and serves on the Alumni Council. Blakey has returned to the college to speak with students and participated in a diversity panel in 2016.