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Global Excellence Award Ceremony

Varady, Cuello Receive 2012 Global Excellence Awards

By Shelley Shelton, University Communications

Robert Varady and Joel Cuello recently received the University of Arizona's Global Excellence Awards, presented by the Office of Global Initiatives and the Center for English as a Second Language.

The awards recognize individuals who have had a substantial impact in the areas of international service or international education and have distinguished themselves locally, regionally, nationally or globally.

Varady, deputy director and director of environmental policy programs at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, received the Award of Excellence in Global Service, recognizing his work addressing environmental and water management policy in arid regions with an emphasis on transboundary issues. He particularly focuses on the border between the United States and Mexico.

In an interview, Varady said he looks at how climate information affects the way water is managed, if it affects it.

"That's gone beyond the regional southwestern United States-Mexico focus into a more global focus," he said. "It's not one-size-fits-all."

Even though the landscape is the same when a person steps across international boundaries, everything else can be different, including the culture, language, laws, administrative approaches and wealth within the country, he said.

"Anytime you get those sorts of differences across borders, it makes management more interesting and more complicated," Varady said.

He felt honored to receive the award and feels it's a good fit for his work, he said.

"It (global work) is something that I've worked on for so long and been so passionate about. I very much appreciated it," he said.

Cuello, a professor and researcher in agricultural and biosystems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received the Excellence in Global Education award for efforts to foster, encourage and enhance international education and exchange.

He was specifically commended for his contributions in the area of international faculty and student exchanges as well as his work in the production of algae for biofuels and bio-production. Cuello traveled to six continents, 22 countries and 59 cities from 2000 to 2010 to benefit his research activities. He wrote a featured article in Resource Magazine about the discoveries he made through his travels.

A U.S. citizen, Cuello grew up in the Philippines, so he's always had an eye toward the global picture, he said.

"International interaction is something that is exciting to me and something that I enjoy doing," Cuello said. "I firmly believe that we have a lot of shared problems that we are addressing on our planet today. … All these important problems require global cooperation."

Such issues include climate change, food security and public health, he said.

Just engaging in the international work he does and collaborating with people in other places is rewarding on its own, he said, "But being recognized for it is really icing on the cake."

Varady and Cuello received their awards at the Global Excellence Reception held Nov. 15 during the annual celebration of International Education Week.

Despite its humble beginnings, the UA has become a gathering place for international scholars and strong scholarly work of international acclaim, said Mike Proctor, vice president for outreach and global initiatives.

"Both these individuals really manifest that global character that is consistent with what the UA does best," he said.

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