Greg Sword, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and Charles R. Parencia Endowed Chair in the Department of Entomology, has been named a Regents Professor based on his sustained success as a researcher, teacher and scholar.
He is among five other Texas A&M University faculty members named as 2021 Regents Professor recipients.
The award is the highest honor bestowed on faculty members by the Texas A&M University System. The Regents Professor title was created in 1996 by the Texas A&M Board of Regents to honor individuals at the rank of professor or equivalent whose distinguished performance in teaching, research and service has been exemplary.
Sword said the designation was an honor.
“It’s humbling,” he said. “It’s something that I never imagined accomplishing when I was going to grad school. It is a testament to the support Texas A&M has given me, my lab and the people in my lab to experience the success we’ve had. I’m thankful for the support of a lot of people who made me look good enough to be recognized.”
Sword praised as researcher and scholar
Phillip Kaufman, Ph.D., head of the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said Sword has an outstanding record of service as a researcher, educator and scholar within his field.
Sword has established a top-tier multidisciplinary research program and provided local, national and international leadership in integrating genomics, ecology, microbiology, entomology, nutrition and plant science to provide fundamental advances and solutions to contemporary problems, Kaufman said.
As an outstanding researcher, Sword has obtained a career total of more than $21 million in grants from federal, state, local and industry sources, with over $8.5 million directly attributed to his program, Kaufman said. He has also been granted five U.S. patents since 2016. Commercial products developed from discoveries in his lab are currently being applied across multiple domestic and international cropping systems.
Industry, federal agencies and academia routinely engage Sword to review their science and technology, as well as provide input on candidates for promotion, grant funding decision-making and manuscripts in top scientific journals, Kaufman said. He also participates in 28 other committees at Texas A&M.
Sword has published 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and five book chapters to date, with nearly half of the work featuring undergraduate and graduate students or other mentees as authors.
Kaufman said Sword has a track record of success as an innovative educator and engaged mentor. He has provided 41 students with undergraduate research experiences, three of whom participated in the Undergraduate Research Scholar honors thesis program.
He has graduated nine doctoral students and three master’s students while mentoring nine postdocs, four visiting scholars and four visiting graduate students. He also serves as the external examiner for four international doctoral students.
Sword completely revamped undergraduate courses that previously focused on insecticides and insect taxonomy to include an understanding of the biology of agricultural pests and how science can be applied to manage them.
His graduate courses improved learning opportunities for off-campus students, providing components aimed to help students utilize elements of good scientific research through interdisciplinary teaching.
Sword received the Outstanding Faculty Award presented by the Entomology Graduate Student Organization in 2016.
“This recognition is a fantastic opportunity to showcase a top scientist, scholar and mentor who has demonstrated excellence over an extended period of time,” Kaufman said. “The dedication he devotes to his students is unwavering and reflects his giving personality.”
More about Sword
Sword earned his doctorate from the University of Texas and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford and the University of Arizona. Sword’s research program initially focused on the biology and ecology of grasshoppers, locusts and Mormon crickets.
At Texas A&M, his research expanded to study problems in cotton entomology. This ultimately led to him receiving the 2017 Texas A&M Technology Commercialization Excellence in Innovation Award for his fungal endophyte research.
His microbial ecology research led to a collaboration with an industry partner to produce commercially available seed treatments that improve production of cotton and other crops.
He currently serves on two editorial boards, and has been a member of scientific advisory boards and grant panels for federal agencies, including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture , National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Sword said the chance to work in an entomology lab as an undergraduate changed his life and put him on a path he never envisioned. He said as a professor, he wanted to provide the same opportunities for his students to find and follow their passions.
“All the unexpected opportunities to do new, fun and interesting things in the field of entomology is where I find the most personal satisfaction,” he said. “And I get a lot of satisfaction seeing students have that same experience and be successful themselves.”