4 WT Ag, Science Professors awarded endowed professorships

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Four instructors from the West Texas A&M University Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences are set to start the 2021-22 year as new professors.

“These gentlemen are four of our very finest,” said Dr. Kevin Pond, dean of the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “The breadth of their experience in their various fields will benefit current and future students immensely, and the support provided by the professorship endowments will allow them to expand their research activities.”

The four newly established professors, according to WT:

  • Dr. David Khan, Paul Engler Endowed Professor of Natural Sciences
    • Khan, the former head of the Chemistry and Physics Department, joined WT in 2009 after earning degrees from Florida Atlantic University and working with the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where he studied breast cancer cell invasion. He teaches general chemistry and biochemistry and has been published in American Chemical Society, Chemical Biology, Drug Design, BMC Cancer and in the Methods of Molecular Biology textbook series.

“I am very pleased and extremely honored to have received this professorship,” Khan said. “This opportunity will allow me and my research team to continue our work on targeted liposomal-based chemotherapeutics intended to treat metastatic breast cancer.”

  • Dr. Brock Blaser, Vernon Harman Professor of Dryland Farming
    • Blaser, assistant department head, also joined WT in 2009 after earning degrees from Ricks College, Brigham Young University and Iowa State University. He teaches plant science, crop physiology, plant breeding and other agronomy courses, as well as coaching the Crops Judging team.

“The Harman family have been tremendous examples of successful Texas Panhandle farmers and wonderful supporters of the community, and I am truly humbled by this recognition,” Blaser said. “This support will allow us to further our program’s efforts to train graduate students and perform research in semi-arid and dryland crop production systems. Our current research has been on improving grain production systems and testing alternative crops that may be grown under limited irrigation and dryland conditions, which perfectly aligns with the vision Mr. Harman had during his career.”

  • Dr. Craig Bednarz, Stan & Gerry Sigman Professor of Water Resources
    • Bednarz, who also serves as director of the Semi-Arid Agricultural Systems Institute, joined WT in 2020 and holds a joint appointment between the University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He earned degrees from Texas Tech University and the University of Arkansas. He teaches water, crop physiology and irrigation management courses, and is a member of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.

“This professorship aligns well with the mission of the Semi-Arid Institute, which studies rain-fed and limited irrigation cropping systems,” Bednarz said. “I am sure Mr. and Mrs. Sigman intended this professorship to enhance the quality of education our students receive. The endowment will provide financial resources that will be used to improve my teaching and research programs.”

  • Dr. John Richeson, Paul Engler Professor of Beef Cattle Feedlot Management
    • Richeson, director of WT’s Feedlot Research Group, joined the University in 2011. He earned degrees from Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech and the University of Arkansas, and his previous professional experience includes working for a major cattle feeding company and coordinating the Arkansas Beef Improvement Program. He teaches anatomy and physiology, animal health management and research techniques in animal science.

“When it comes to the beef cattle business, Paul Engler is one of the most passionate people I have ever met,” Richeson said. “I share his passion and I’m honored to be recognized with this professorship, which will support our continued efforts to conduct impactful feedlot research and train young professionals to enter the cattle feeding industry.”

According to the university, professorships are sometimes endowed by gifts, offering opportunities for faculty by giving additional teaching and research resources.

“As WT prepares to go public in the fall with a comprehensive fundraising campaign, the highest priority will be investment in people — students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations. “Establishing faculty endowments are essential for WT to become a doctoral granting regional research university as envisioned in WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.”

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