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UW Fills Plant Sciences Department Head Position

July 14, 2014
Man smiling
Jim Heitholt is the new head of the University of Wyoming Department of Plant Sciences.

A plant scientist with years of experience teaching students and conducting studies at research and extension centers is the new head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Wyoming.

Jim Heitholt will leave his crop physiology position with Texas A&M University-Commerce and join the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Aug. 18.

“The appointment is a very exciting time for me personally,” says Heitholt, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with Texas A&M University-Commerce, who also has a joint appointment in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at College Station.

Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the college, served as one of two interim department heads during the search to fill the position.

“He brings a wealth of experience and a comprehensive understanding of the land-grant mission to the Department of Plant Sciences,” Hess says. “I believe he is poised to continue the department’s and college’s commitment to research, teaching, extension and community outreach.”

Heitholt coordinated teaching, service and research activities while head of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Commerce before returning to the faculty this year. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in agronomy from Western Illinois University and the University of Missouri, respectively, and his doctorate in crop science from the University of Kentucky.

Heitholt’s research specialty in recent years is screening genotypes for drought and insect tolerance, and studying the yield potential of vegetable crops.

Having taught for many years, he is passionate about teaching the next generation of plant scientists. He says his previous experience leading a department with a primary focus on teaching courses provides excellent perspective on what is successful in the academic environment.

“This position will allow me to make a positive impact on the training of students,” Heitholt notes. “Fostering student learning and success is a tremendous motivator.”

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