Humberto Perotto, Ph.D., associate professor in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management, was awarded the Joan Negley Kelleher Endowed Professorship in Ranch Management.

A man in glasses and a maroon shirt stands in front of a gray background.
Humberto Perotto, Ph.D., was awarded the Joan Negley Kelleher Endowed Professorship in Ranch Management. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

The five-year appointment was approved in May following an evaluation by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences advisory committee on endowed chairs and professorships. 

“Dr. Perotto is a nationally recognized scholar who enhances professional competence and leadership in rangeland productivity and ranching profitability,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences. “His research focuses on utilizing innovative technology to improve rangeland productivity and the long-term sustainability of this critical natural resource. We are extremely grateful for his passion and expertise in this meaningful area.”

Understanding and advancing rangeland productivity

The Joan Negley Kelleher Endowed Professorship was established in 1986 to elevate scholarly and professional endeavors focused on improving rangeland productivity and the profitability of ranching operations.

“It’s truly a privilege to hold this position,” Perotto said. “I’m very grateful for the trust that the department and College have placed in me, and I will strive to continue impactful research contributions for rangeland management.”

A landscape ecologist by training, Perotto’s research and teaching focus on better understanding and improving the relationships between spatial patterns and ecological processes within the environment. Advances in technology, such as drones and remote sensing, have opened new opportunities in this field and play a central role in Perotto’s work.

“As technology progresses, new tools and approaches are available to help us understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of vegetation, livestock and wildlife movement and resource allocation across rangelands,” Perotto said. “We can use technology to better understand the fine and broad-scale dynamics of change and how that affects landscape productivity.”

Utilizing technology to enhance land stewardship

High-resolution satellite imagery and remote soil moisture sensors allow researchers to identify the impacts of climate change on the landscape. In turn, this data empowers land managers to adapt practices to ensure efficiency and productivity within their operations.

A primary research focus for Perotto is the continued development of range management methodologies guided by this technology.

“Over the last several years, we’ve led the effort in developing methodologies for crude protein and forage production estimation across rangelands,” Perotto said. “As technology improves, we are investigating how to develop and fine-tune these methods to work more efficiently.”

Making this technology and information accessible to the public is also a priority. 

“The next step is developing an app where producers can use their smartphone to collect data and analyze the resources available on their property,” Perotto said.

This ongoing process necessitates collaborative partnerships across Texas A&M AgriLife including the Center for Grazinglands and Ranch Management and Center for Natural Resource Information Technology, as well as the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“We are developing partnerships that will be very impactful and meaningful to the mission of this endowed professorship while also advancing Texas A&M University’s land-grant mission,” he said.

Three decades of international research and service

Prior to joining the department in 2023, Perotto developed an international reputation for research and teaching across institutions such as the Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno in Bolivia and Cranfield University in the United Kingdom.

Most recently, he served as associate professor and research scientist with the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Department of Rangeland and Wildlife Sciences and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Perotto has demonstrated exemplary performance in range management education and research, particularly within the context of South Texas rangelands,” said Roel Lopez, Ph.D., head of the Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management. “Moreover, he has consistently demonstrated his dedication to service within the university and the broader professional community.”

Perotto holds multiple leadership roles with the Society for Range Management, SRM, the international professional organization that promotes rangeland health, stewardship and productivity through sound ecological and economic principles. He currently serves as SRM advisory council chair with the parent organization and as president of the organization’s Texas section.

In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in geographic information systems and remote sensing, Perotto has published more than 75 peer-reviewed and popular articles, obtained $15 million in research grant funding and supported 39 graduate students. In 2022, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society for Range Management.

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