South Dakota State University professor Erin Cortus was named the 2010 Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Award winner. Cortus is an assistant professor in SDSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and joined SDSU in June 2008. She has participated in successful grant applications totaling more than $790,000, including one proposal where she was the principal investigator. She works as a contributor to the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study, and she has mentored nine undergraduate students and continues to serve the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service as a specialist in the area of air quality and waste management.

Cortus developed ties with researchers across the U.S. through the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study and has maintained this national collaboration through recent climate-change grant proposals, as well as representing South Dakota in these studies. Cortus completed her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan, and then served as a post-doctoral research assistant at Purdue University prior to coming to SDSU. The North Battleford, Saskatchewan native said she was intrigued by biological systems such as plants, animals, and the environment, and that in part led her toward agricultural engineering.

“As an undergraduate, I took a summer job as a research assistant at the Prairie Swine Centre, Inc. in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I thoroughly enjoyed the air-quality work that I took part in at the center,” Cortus said. “I think that experience set me on my path to graduate work and led me to my faculty post at South Dakota State University. Through my past, present, and future research, and my work with Extension, I find it rewarding to improve the intricate relationships between animals, the humans who raise them, and the environment. When I can help find ways to harmonize livestock production with the surrounding environment, it is very rewarding.”

She said that she intends to use the cash portion of the award to test a novel technique for tracing the production of ammonia and other gasses from beef cattle confinements. The data will support a research proposal and ultimately help livestock producers gain efficiency while meeting emission regulations. She said she was proud to receive the award and looks forward to using it to help her complete important research.

“I’m flattered to have been nominated and to have received this honor,” Cortus said. “The award’s funding will help me and my students develop a program that will serve the interests of the state’s livestock producers and the public in general.”


Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg established the eponymous award to recognize and provide support to promising young faculty scientists at SDSU. Sherwood Berg served as SDSU president from 1975-1984, while his wife is known unofficially as SDSU’s “First Lady Emeritus.” The award named for the Bergs honors their many years of service and many contributions to the university. PD

—From SDSU news release

Officials named South Dakota State University assistant professor Erin Cortus the 2010 Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Award winner. Cortus is a professor of Agricultural and BioSystems Engineering.