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Forage, Sheep Researchers Earn Honors from UW’s Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

February 1, 2021
Anowar Islam and Whit Stewart

A University of Wyoming scientist whose work springs from the needs of Wyoming forage producers and another whose focus is increasing sheep producer profitability have received outstanding research awards from UW’s Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES).

Anowar Islam, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, received the Outstanding Research Award. Whit Stewart, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, received the Early Career Research Award.

WAES is the research branch of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Islam joined UW in 2008 as an assistant professor and has received over $3.8 million in research funding.

“Anowar Islam has evaluated the most critical needs of Wyoming forage producers and has responded to those needs with an aggressive research program that has had a significant impact on county extension educators and producers and, certainly, the scientific community,” wrote Mark Marsalis, a professor and extension forage specialist at New Mexico State University.

Marsalis noted Islam’s research covers diverse crops and economic needs, including pasture, hay and silage operations, fertility, planting dates, seeding rates, herbicides, legume-grass mixes and alternative forages.

Islam has contributed considerable research effort toward uses of forages in reclamation and restoration efforts, and his new project is focused on regenerative grazing, with the aim of carbon sequestration, says Randa Jabbour, an associate professor in the UW Department of Plant Sciences.

“He consistently explores the viability of several alternative crops for Wyoming production,” Jabbour says. “He is one of the national experts on lesser-explored alternative forages, with research on forage sorghum, kochia, sainfoin, birdsfoot trefoil, and the list goes on.”

Islam became an associate professor in 2014 and was promoted to professor in 2019. He has published 46 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he has presented his research through hundreds of talks and posters. Additionally, he has mentored 10 graduate students.

His ability to design robust experiments provides critical information for the scientific community and applied performance data that pasture managers can use immediately, says Jim Heitholt, director of UW’s Powell Research and Extension Center.

“His work greatly affects the economics of hay and livestock operations, which is the primary driving force in Wyoming and much of the Intermountain West,” Heitholt says.

Stewart, who joined the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2017, also is the UW Extension sheep specialist.

“He has emerged as a leader in the department in areas of research, extension and teaching,” says Bledar Bisha, an associate professor and interim head of the Department of Animal Science.

“Stewart’s research is passionate about effecting positive change in the Wyoming and U.S. sheep industry through quality applied and basic research and, consequently, he has gained the respect and appreciation of producers and his colleagues alike,” he says.

Stewart’s training has spanned Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Wyoming. 

His research has involved effects of trace minerals on immune function, utilization of novel feedstuffs and effects of sire breed on lamb quality.

Nominators note his collaboration with sheep researchers at multiple institutions allows an applied research focus aimed at enhancing the overall efficiency and profitability of U.S. sheep producers.

Stewart has received over $1.1 million in research funding. He has published 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, 23 proceedings, 22 abstracts and over 100 popular press and extension publications.

“He sets the bar high and serves as an example for new faculty in the department as they take their first steps in building their research programs,” Bisha says.

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