DeGruy and Pingali honored as CALS Distinguished Alumni

Date posted: February 8, 2011

Mike deGruyCourtesy Mike deGruyMike deGruy

A world-renowned underwater cinematographer and an international leader in agricultural economics are the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni for 2010-2011. Michael V. deGruy and Dr. Prabhu L. Pingali have received the award for their outstanding career achievements, which have brought honor and recognition to the College, and for their commitment to the land-grant principle of service to community, state and nation. The two were recognized in ceremonies Oct. 1.

Familiar to audiences of the Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week” telecasts, Mike deGruy is a native of Mobile, Ala. He graduated from N.C. State in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, with a marine science concentration. At N.C. State he was a varsity athlete on the diving team, winning eight Atlantic Coast Conference championships in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard, and was a two-time All-America selection. DeGruy then pursued his doctoral degree in marine biology at the University of Hawaii, but he decided he wanted to film the creatures he was learning about. A nearly fatal encounter with a gray reef shark in 1978 inspired his fascination with sharks — and skates and stingrays — and his desire to develop his career as a specialist in underwater, wildlife, volcano and aerial filmmaking.

Described as “one of the world’s greatest underwater cameramen” by Andrew Neal of the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), deGruy has gone on to film and produce multiple documentaries for the BBC, Discovery Channel, PBS, National Geographic and TBS. He won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for cinematography in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 2002. He received the EMMY award for cinematography in 1996 and 2002 and was named Best Presenter/Host at the International Wildlife Film Festival in 2004.

DeGruy, who owns The Film Crew, a Santa Barbara, Calif., production company, was director of photography for The Life of Mammals, Tempest from the Deep, Last Mysteries of the Titanic and Mysteries of the Shark Coast, and he hosted the televised programs Perfect Shark, Amazon Abyss, Sharks: Size Matters and Shark Roulette.

Becky Kirkland

The achievements of Mike deGruy (top) and Dr. Prabhu Pingali (above) were recognized at the College’s Alumni Awards reception in October.

Dr. Prabhu L. Pingali, deputy director of Agricultural Development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a native of Hyderabad, India. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in economics from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in 1977. He completed his Ph.D. in agricultural economics, with a minor in statistics, from N.C. State in 1982. Pingali began his distinguished economics career at the World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department. From there he moved on to serve as director of the Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. Currently, his affiliations include past president of the International Association of Agriculture Economists, as well as fellow of the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association (AAEA), the highest honor that the organization bestows on individuals.

Pingali’s career is full of accomplishments and has allowed him to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the economies of agriculture. He has been recognized with several research awards from the AAEA, and he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as a Foreign Associate. He lives in Seattle, Wash.

— Terri Leith

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