Texas Tech University

Eric Hequet, administrator and pioneer in cotton fiber research, honored

Norman Martin

December 8, 2023

Over the past 25 years Eric Hequet, a multi-lingual leader within the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, has played a significant role in establishing Texas Tech as a center of cutting-edge research on cotton fiber properties, including textile processing performance. 

Hequet officially stepped away from his duties within Department of Plant & Soil Science last month to accept a new position as Senior Associate Vice President for Research in the Texas Tech Office of Research & Innovation. 

“In my new position, I have direct operational oversight of and provides support to OR&I's centers and institutes, as well as lead the development of new multidisciplinary centers and institutes,” Hequet said. “I will also continue to facilitate collaborations between faculty and external partners, with a focus on federal opportunities.”

As this transition takes place, Davis College officials took a moment this week to acknowledge Hequet's huge contributions from the classroom to the laboratory. Among the prominent positions Hequet has held are Executive Director Natural Fibers Research Initiatives, Department of Plant & Soil Science Chair and Professor, along with leadership of the university's Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute. 

“Dr. Hequet is a talented scientist and innovator who has been at the forefront of cotton breeding and cotton fiber research for decades,” said Glen Ritchie, Chair and Professor of Crop Physiology within the Department of Plant & Soil Science. “Eric is an exceptional administrator who understands successful leadership and cares about individuals. He is well-known for his considerate leadership style and sharp intellect.”

Noureddine Abidi, Texas Tech's Leidigh Professor in the Department of Plant & Soil Science and Managing Director of the Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute, added, “Eric has established himself as the leading expert in the world in cotton fiber quality research and his leadership philosophy is based on his belief that involving faculty, students, and staff is critical for the success of the research enterprise.”

Since he joined Texas Tech, Hequet has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than 250 funded projects totaling $35.6 million. These grants and contracts are from state and federal agencies, and the cotton industry. Over the years he has generated 112 refereed journal publications, two books, nine book chapters, more than 260 conference papers, three patents, three provisional patents, and one invention disclosure. Today, he remains focused on collaborative research with the cotton breeding and cotton biotechnology community to develop improved cotton fibers properties.

“Dr. Hequet has had a long, productive career at Texas Tech,” said Darren Hudson, Davis College Interim Associate Dean for Research and the Larry Combest Endowed Chair for Agricultural Competitiveness. “His leadership resulted in tremendous growth and expansion of the Fiber & Biopolymer Research Institute by building strong relationships with the cotton industry and USDA. His work has led to improvements in cotton classification, textile processing, and fabric and apparel quality.”

Hequet received his Diploma of Higher Education in chemistry-physiology from Orsay, Paris XI; a Master of Sciences in genetics from Orsay, Paris XI; and a Diploma of Applied Advanced Studies in plants genetics from Orsay, Paris XI. His doctorate in engineering sciences is from the Université de Haute Alsace (France). 

He joined Texas Tech's faculty in 1997, after serving in a variety of research positions including head of the Cotton Program and head of the Cotton Technology Laboratory at CIRAD-CA in Montpellier, France. CIRAD is the International Center for Agronomic Research and Development headquartered in Paris. Prior to that, he was head of the Bebedjia Agronomic Research Station and head of the Cotton Breeding Program and head of the Cotton Technology Laboratory for IRCT (part of CIRAD) in Bebedjia, Chad.

Hequet has received many honors during his tenure at Texas Tech. Among the top recognitions are his designation as a Horn Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can receive from the Texas Tech University System (2016). In 2017, Hequet was selected as an honorary professor and international advisory board member for scientific research by the Industrial Crop Research Institute in China's Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In 2019, Hequet received the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee's Cotton Genetics Research Award. 

That same year Hequet was named a Faculty Fellow within Texas Tech's Office of Research & Innovation, which is tasked with fostering university-driven innovation. Other honors include the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee Cotton Genetics Research Award (2019), Texas Tech Parents Association Barnie E. Rushing Jr. Faculty Distinguished Research Award (2012); Chancellor's Council Distinguished Research Award (2011), and a Davis College Research Award (2008). He has been a member of numerous scientific organizations including the International Committee on Testing Methods, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Cotton Science.

“While Davis College has missed Dr. Hequet' s leadership, he continues to contribute heavily to FBRI research programs and have a much broader impact on the university from the Office of Research and Innovation,” Hudson concluded. “We're proud to have him serving in that role and look forward to more years of his leadership and contributions to Texas Tech and Davis College.”


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