Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellows

2012 Award Recipients

TEXAS A&M AGRILIFE RESEARCH 2012 FACULTY FELLOWS

AgriLife Research established the Faculty Fellows Program in 1998 to acknowledge and reward exceptional research faculty within the agency. Upon second recognition, a Faculty Fellow is designated a Senior Faculty Fellow. Faculty Fellow and Senior Faculty Fellow designations are permanent and become a part of the individual’s title.

Thomas H. Welsh, Jr., Ph.D.Thomas H. Welsh, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor and Section Leader, Physiology of Reproduction
Department of Animal Science
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Dr. Thomas H. Welsh, Jr., is an internationally recognized endocrine physiologist whose major research focus is the investigation of how stress adversely affects the metabolism, immunity, and growth of animals. The central premise is that an appropriately functioning immune system boosts health and promotes efficient use of nutrients by animals, reducing veterinary costs and improving product quality. Dr. Welsh coordinates a team with members across colleges, agencies, and states to develop methods to assess temperament and stress responsiveness in beef cattle. Because of their findings, larger feedyards are incorporating methods for measuring temperament and disposition as they assess and manage incoming cattle. Dr. Welsh and his colleagues also investigate the influence of prenatal stress on postnatal health. Their work is not only relevant for production agriculture but also has implications for human health. The contributions of Dr. Welsh’s team play a key role in the worldwide One Health Initiative, which is based on the premise that animal and human health are inextricably linked. The team has laid the groundwork for epigenomic and translational biology approaches to meet societal challenges that Texas A&M AgriLife Research has a responsibility to address. Throughout his 29-year career in the Department of Animal Science, Dr. Welsh has excelled as a teacher at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has served on numerous master’s and doctoral committees, including in advisory roles, and is a leader in recruiting underrepresented minorities. He currently holds adjunct appointments to the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University and the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences at Texas A&M-Kingsville. He has extensively collaborated with Texas A&M University System scientists at Uvalde, Beeville, Kingsville, and Canyon, as well as with faculty at Texas Tech University. His scholarly and service-oriented approach to science brings distinction to AgriLife Research and to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

David D. Briske, Ph.D.David D. Briske, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Dr. David D. Briske’s research on ecological resilience and the ecological and social consequences of climate change has won him international acclaim. Over his 34-year career at Texas A&M University, Dr. Briske has designed innovative experiments, mentored successful graduate students, and frequently published in top-tier science journals. In 2000 he began to investigate the complex and internationally important issues surrounding climate change, collaborating with scientists from around the world. In 2003 Dr. Briske and a departmental colleague developed an experimental field facility on the Texas A&M campus to study the response of regional trees and grasses to increased atmospheric warming and summer drought. Funded by four successive Department of Energy grants, the facility provides a platform to investigate the mechanisms of ecosystem response to climate change. Dr. Briske is currently working with a research team commissioned by the International Society for Range Management to assess the ecological and social impacts of climate change on North American rangelands. In 2008 Dr. Briske was appointed as editor in chief of the academic journal Rangeland Ecology & Management. As a result of his leadership, the number of combined visits to the journal’s web page increased to an all-time high. He has served in several other capacities, including as chair of a National Science Foundation project designed to develop a national ecological monitoring network. Dr. Briske is currently leading a research group on ecological resilience with data from nine long-term vegetation records from the western United States. The group’s research has been called “a novel and daring effort to link people and ecosystems.” Dr. Briske was invited to coauthor a keynote presentation at the International Grassland Congress in Sydney, Australia, in September 2013. Dr. Briske’s experiences provide his students with fascinating insights that go beyond what they find in textbooks. One colleague referred to his accomplishments as creating “a sea change in the approach and direction of the rangeland profession.” He has won numerous awards, including the Chapline Research Award (2008; the highest research award offered by the Society for Range Management) and the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2012).

 

TEXAS A&M AGRILIFE RESEARCH 2012 SENIOR FACULTY FELLOWS

Nova J. Silvy, Ph.D.Nova J. Silvy, Ph.D.
Regents Professor and Research Faculty Fellow
Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
During his 38 years at Texas A&M University, Nova J. Silvy has distinguished himself as an exceptional researcher, teacher, and leader in wildlife conservation. Dr. Silvy has had a stellar research career: he has authored more than 265 peer-reviewed publications, won 12 Best Paper awards from his professional organizations, and helped secure over $13 million in funding. He has been a Texas A&M University System Regents Professor since 2001 and became a Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow in 2006. Outside the academic arena, Dr. Silvy’s research has led to the development of a deer guard that keeps the endangered Florida Key deer from being killed on highways. His work has contributed to the understanding of more than 100 wildlife species and has helped prevent five endangered species from going extinct. Dr. Silvy is also a revered mentor of students at all levels. Among his many teaching awards are the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for Undergraduate and Graduate teaching and The Wildlife Society Educator of the Year Award. In 2008, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also honored Dr. Silvy as a Minority Recruiting Mentor. He involves undergraduates in field research and introduces them to professional organizations. He has served as faculty adviser to the Texas A&M University student chapter of The Wildlife Society; under his mentorship the chapter’s Wildlife Bowl Team has never placed less than second. He has been the major mentor to 104 graduate students. Four former graduate students have named children after him. In 2012, a former graduate student endowed the Nova J. Silvy Fellowship within the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. Though Dr. Silvy has undoubtedly made an impression on the wildlife profession, writes Dr. Michael P. Masser, chair of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, “his greatest impact to our profession will be seen in the next generation of wildlife biologists and scientists.” Dr. Silvy has been an active member of The Wildlife Society, his field’s major professional organization, for over 50 years, serving as president from 1999 to 2000. Among his 67 awards and honors are the American Revolution Conservation Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award from The Wildlife Society, the highest award given a wildlife professional.

Dr. Charles M. RushCharles M. Rush
Regents Professor and Research Faculty Fellow
Professor of Plant Pathology
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo
Since joining the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo in 1986, Dr. Rush has led an internationally respected plant pathology program that fights economically damaging crop diseases in the Texas Panhandle. He has gained international recognition for his program’s work on highly contagious crop diseases. To help control rhizomania of sugar beet, for example, Dr. Rush’s program showed how changes in irrigation could lessen the severity of the disease or even keep plants from becoming infected. These studies were among the first to investigate the relationship between irrigation and plant disease progression. The research helped Texas growers both retain high yields and save water. Dr. Rush’s lab gives tours, helps with school science projects, presents its research at field days, and helps growers diagnose plant diseases. He expanded these diagnostic services by establishing a plant disease diagnostic laboratory as part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. Dr. Rush has provided diagnostic services to detect the fungus that causes Karnal bunt—a disease that attacks wheat and triticale—and provide Texas farmers with documentation that their crop was disease-free and could be sold. Dr. Rush has distinguished himself as a leader in the field of plant pathology. In the past five years alone, he helped to bring more than $16 million in grants for plant disease research, has served on many review panels in his field, and has contributed to 117 publications. He and members of his research staff are sought-after experts and speakers; his former students have become integral faculty in research facilities across the country. Since 2009, Dr. Rush has served as national program director for the Zebra Chip Specialty Crop Research Initiative, coordinating the efforts of 30 scientists in seven states to study zebra chip disease in potatoes. He and several other members of this team received the Integrated Pest Management Team Award from the Entomological Society of America in 2012. Dr. Rush was named a Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow in 2006 and a Texas A&M University System Regents Fellow in 2007.

 

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