Five faculty members representing Texas A&M AgriLife have been named Regents Professors and Regents Fellows for 2019-2020 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
The board established the Regents Professor Awards program in 1996 and the Regents Fellow Service Awards program in 1998. The awards recognize employees who have made extraordinary contributions to their university or agency, as well as to the people of Texas.
“This designation by the Texas A&M Board of Regents celebrates an elite level of excellence in research and service, a level of excellence that can only be achieved in the Texas A&M System,” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Their dedication exemplifies Texas A&M AgriLife’s impact in agriculture and health, and we applaud this outstanding recognition.”
Recipients of the Regents Professor Award are:
- Bhimanagouda “Bhimu” Patil, Ph.D., is the interim head for the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Department of Food Science and Technology. He is a professor and director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, VFIC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Center for Excellence on Melons. Patil received the award for his record of exceptional research, distinguished teaching and visionary leadership in administration. He is internationally recognized for his expertise and research on foods for health and his related educational programs. His systems-wide farm-to-table approach includes examining pre- and post-harvest effects on bioactive compounds, isolating and characterizing these compounds from different fruits and vegetables, and understanding their roles in human health. Patil has a strong working relationship with produce industry stakeholders.
- David Threadgill, Ph.D. is a distinguished professor and interim department head for the Department of Nutrition and holds appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine. Threadgill’s research focuses on using the mouse as an experimental genetic model to investigate factors that contribute to individual differences in health and disease. Research conducted by Threadgill has led to new insights regarding the role of genes in neuronal survival and behavior, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Threadgill is internationally recognized for his efforts to develop new mouse genetic resources that will support the integration of genetics into systems biological analyses at the whole animal level. As the director of the Texas A&M Institute of Genome Sciences and Society, Threadgill is a genetics expert within the university, across Texas and around the world.
Recipients of the Regents Fellow Service Awards are:
- Diane Boellstorff, Ph.D., is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service water resources specialist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Boellstorff is responsible for developing educational outreach and applied research programs involving water resource management, including water conservation, water quality and aquatic ecosystems, watershed protection planning, and groundwater and private water well protection. She has been instrumental in developing and delivering educational programs involving supporting source water protection for residents using drinking water wells and facilitating community-driven watershed planning efforts. Her Texas Well Owner Network program has provided outreach to more than 11,000 private water well operators with well water quality screening and remediation to protect human health and groundwater quality. The network has been an important part of the agency’s natural disaster response in the wake of hurricane landfalls and floods.
- Ruben Saldaña, Ph.D., provides overall leadership for AgriLife Extension’s District 12, South District, headquartered at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. He is responsible for all fiscal and human resource aspects of county programs within the district as well as for the operational leadership for AgriLife Extension at the center. His duties include recruiting, hiring, training and supervising county-based faculty, along with general program oversight and accountability. He is also responsible for resource development and management, including budgeting support of the center and collaborating with Commissioners Courts in several counties for budget support of county programs. Saldaña is also responsible for communicating AgriLife Extension programs and outcomes in the district with county, state and federal officials, as well as local industry and community stakeholders. He works cooperatively with regional program directors to provide guidance and support for county programs in the South Region.
- Wes Moorehead, assistant director for the Texas A&M Forest Service, is recognized for his dedicated efforts to the conservation and protection of forests and natural resources, as well as his cultivation of the people, programs and communities responsible for the stewardship of these resources. Starting 19 years ago, he has made his way up the agency ranks. As assistant director, he will continue to cultivate those working relationships gained along the way to help protect lives and property and elevate incident response capabilities at the local, state and national levels. He helps lead the Forest Resource Protection division tasked with wildland fire suppression by working with communities, partners and fire departments to prevent, prepare for and suppress wildland fire. By providing training, safety gear and firefighting vehicles and equipment, studying weather patterns and the status of vegetation, this division helps to build protection against wildfires at the local level. Moorehead will continue to combine agency natural resource management expertise with firefighters’ experience and leadership to help create a safer, more fire resilient state.
To date, 268 Texas A&M system faculty members have been recognized with the Regents Professor Award, and 157 agency professionals have received the Regents Fellow Service Award.