Texas Tech University

Thornton Distinguished Chair Chuck West retires from teaching

Norman Martin

December 18, 2020

Thornton Distinguished Chair Chuck West

After eight productive years with Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science, Chuck West has announced that he will retire from his post as Thornton Distinguished Chair and director of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Water Center. His last day will be Dec. 31.

"My experience at TTU has been a dream come true," West said. "Working on water resources for crops and livestock in one of America's greatest agricultural regions was especially gratifying because of the excellent cadre of fellow scientists and students at this institution."

As CASNR Water Center director, West led efforts to procure funding for CASNR researchers from the USDA on the efficient use of water in agriculture. Agencies included the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The multidisciplinary teams conducted studies on groundwater hydrology, economics of adoption of improved irrigation practices, water management of novel crops, and soil health.

"Working on water resources for crops and livestock in one of America's greatest agricultural regions was especially gratifying because of the excellent cadre of fellow scientists and students at this institution."

West joined the Texas Tech faculty in 2012, after 28 years at the University of Arkansas where he was professor of forage ecophysiology. During that tenure, he was a Fulbright Senior Fellow in France, and was named Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the management, ecology, and research techniques of forage crops and pastures, and has won several awards for teaching and research.

During West's tenure at Texas Tech, he has produced one master's graduate, six doctoral graduates, and three postdoctoral advisees, who have so far published 26 journal articles. His students have won prestigious regional and national awards for presentations and published papers.

The research focused on enhancing beef cattle output from pastures at reduced levels of water input, and described how different forage types influenced populations of insects and soil microorganisms. This effort extended those of the previous Thornton Chairs in promoting the use of perennial forages into integrated crop-livestock systems as a means of sustaining economic production from cropland where groundwater resources have become increasingly limited.

West provided administrative leadership of the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, a consortium of agricultural producers, water districts, government agencies, and researchers to refine and transfer irrigation technology to make efficient use of water supplies. The TAWC has won various state and national awards for innovative outreach efforts toward promoting producer adoption of tools for efficient crop water use.

West's leadership of TAWC along with his invited talks to producers in Texas and other Great Plains states contributed to his being awarded the CASNR service/outreach award in 2015, CASNR outstanding researcher in 2020, and named a "2020 Integrated Scholar" by Texas Tech's Office of the Provost.


This story was first published in the CASNR NewsCenter. See the original article here.