2013 FACULTY FELLOWS
Dr. Thomas Ficht
Professor, Veterinary Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M University
Dr. Ficht is a leading international researcher on an important zoonotic disease, Brucellosis, which has a global effect on both humans and their livestock. His targeted research has made significant contributions towards the developing new vaccines for zoonotic pathogens that could threaten the national security of our livestock and of human health. His leadership in this area of research has led to collaborations with international investigators. Scientists from Israel, Mexico, and the Soviet Union have come to Dr. Ficht’s laboratory for training in the molecular detection of this biothreat agent. He has been awarded over $3 million in grant funds in the last five years and ranks in the top three percent of research faculty according to Texas A&M AgriLife funding reports. Dr. Ficht has made significant contributions in research to the understanding of virulence mechanisms of zoonotic diseases. Dr. Ficht joined the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M in 1984. During the course of his tenure, Dr. Ficht has been an exceptional disease researcher and he remains committed to the education and training of the next generation of scientists.
Dr. James P. Muir
Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Stephenville
Dr. Muir has focused his forage legume research career on the plant-animal interface. His interests encompass the broad picture (ecosystems, both natural and manipulated) and how to maintain systems stability while increasing productivity. Research topics have focused on plant response to herbivory, both in terms of survival as well as primary productivity. In some cases, animal (mostly ruminant) responses to plants and plant communities have been of primary interest. Within the topic of legumes, Dr. Muir has established an international presence that has resulted, in recent years, in invitations to speak and publish review articles in Europe, North America, Africa and South America in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Dr. Muir’s international research encompasses multi-purpose legumes as pulses, cover crops, green manures, revegetation, soil conservation, wildlife, forages, bioenergy, grassland restoration, environmental stability, and biodiversity. Before Dr. Muir came to the Texas A&M System 16 years ago, he had already had a 10-year career in international research and development in Africa. He brought those cross-cultural insights and contacts with him to Texas and continues to expand his international reach. In the last five years he has traveled and worked throughout the world undertaking research, training students and presenting his findings. In the last five years, his research has taken him to, among other countries, South Sudan, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Poland, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and Ireland.
Dr. C. Wayne Smith
Associate Department Head and Professor
Soil and Crop Sciences
Texas A&M University
Dr. Smith has authored or co-authored 105 referred journal articles that deal with an array of scientific inquiries, from the use of the Bayesian approach for statistical mean separation to documentation of created germplasm/cultivars. He has completed research and published on uniform growth stage descriptions, production practices such as plant spacing with modified phenotypes of cotton, nitrogen rates, recovery from hail damage, double cropping, modified germination tests, impact of plant growth regulators, studies on host plant resistance in exotic germplasms, condensed tannin concentrations, field designs, yield components, root growth parameters, within-boll yield components, and fiber growth parameters. The majority of his energies have gone into the development of improved germplasm lines of upland cotton that were then transferred to the private sector for incorporation into adapted cultivars. He has released or co-released a total of 125 germplasm lines and 4 cultivars. Dr. Smith’s plant breeding ability and releases are recognized worldwide. Wayne was invited recently (October 2013) to present research and breeding results to the International Cotton Advisory Committee in Cartagena, Colombia. First, many if not all of the 125 germplasm lines and 4 cultivars have been used by other public breeders and private breeders in the potential development of new cotton cultivars. He has developed and released germplasm with fiber length and strength that is unparalleled in other upland public programs in the U.S. and continues to work in this area. Dr. Smith takes breeding research to completion as documented in over 100 peer reviewed publications and 129 genotype releases during his career. Dr. Smith’s research efforts would not be complete without noting his efforts to create research opportunities for Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant breeders. Wayne developed and guided through the approval process our distance plant breeding graduate program. This distance graduate program is the first distance delivered Ph.D. offered by Texas A&M University and the first in plant breeding offered in the United States. This program was initiated in January 2013 and promises to create collaboration between our plant breeding faculty and research scientists worldwide by co-mentoring distance graduate students. This program will give our plant breeding faculty