Dirk Hays, Ph.D., professor in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, has been named director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
As center director in Weslaco, effective May 1, Hays will oversee the center’s mission to solve agriculture, life sciences and natural resources challenges facing farmers, ranchers and residents of the Rio Grande Valley.
Hays brings 32 years of leadership and problem-solving experience, which he will use to leverage synergistic alliances among the center’s research and extension faculty and staff, leadership of The Texas A&M University System, and county, state and national elected officials.
“We are excited to welcome a leader of Dr. Hays’ strengths and considerable experience,” said G. Cliff Lamb, director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “His directorship in Weslaco is a major step toward nourishing health, strengthening communities, protecting natural resources and supporting economies in South Texas. His successes will carry great implications across the state, U.S. and world.”
A leader of collaborative research
As a researcher, Hays is an expert in agronomy, breeding, plant physiology and biochemistry. He has served as chair of the intercollegiate Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences graduate degree program at Texas A&M for over 10 years. The program serves 65 faculty members across three colleges through budget acquisition and management of administrative staff.
“I’m elated to have been named to this important role in Weslaco,” Hays said. “The center’s mission and historical impact in South Texas and beyond is critical to supporting Texas agriculture, life sciences and natural resources research. I’m excited to begin our expansion of these initiatives in collaboration with producers and constituents.”
Hays maintains ongoing multidisciplinary collaborations across Texas A&M nationally and internationally with other land-grant universities, industry and the international CGIAR research centers. He is also a Fulbright Fellow who has made inroads among program directors at U.S. federal agencies as well as philanthropic and industry leaders — key components of the directorship at the center.
Hays is also the founder of Crop Phenomics LLC, which provides tools for crop selection, production, logistics and carbon credit monitoring for breeders, producers and industry.
His academic résumé includes training 35 doctoral and master’s scholars who are now research leaders at major U.S. universities and employees of federal agencies, international research organizations and multinational companies. Hays’ students have been supported by over $30 million in federal, state, philanthropic and industry-funded research, acquired by Hays as a lead or co-lead principal investigator.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Calgary, Canada.