Four WT Ag and Science Professors Awarded Endowed Professorships

Chip Chandler

The four newly installed professorsin the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences are, from left, David Khan, Paul Engler Endowed Professor of Natural Sciences; Dr. Brock Blaser, Vernon Harman Professor of Dryland Farming; Dr. Craig Bednarz, Stan & Gerry Sigman Professor of Water Resources; and Dr. John Richeson, Paul Engler Professor of Beef Cattle Feedlot Management. Photo provided by WTAMU Communication and Marketing

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]

CANYON, Texas — Four instructors in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences will begin the 2021-22 academic year in newly established professorships.

The four newly installed professors are:

  • David Khan, Paul Engler Endowed Professor of Natural Sciences;
  • Brock Blaser, Vernon Harman Professor of Dryland Farming;
  • Craig Bednarz, Stan & Gerry Sigman Professor of Water Resources; and
  • John Richeson, Paul Engler Professor of Beef Cattle Feedlot Management.

“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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Gifts to WT may be used to endow professorships, offering opportunities for exceptional faculty members by providing additional resources for teaching, research and professional activities and development. Faculty members benefit from the coveted title, and students glean from the professor’s academic insight and leadership. This helps enrich the life of the University and strengthen the foundation of academic excellence.

“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.”

 

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.

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