CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sonny Ramaswamy, an agricultural leader from Purdue University, has been named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University. He also will direct the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, which is based at OSU.
Ramaswamy succeeds long-time OSU dean Thayne Dutson, who retired from the position in 2008. William Boggess has been serving as interim dean.
For the past three years, Ramaswamy has been associate dean of Purdue’s College of Agriculture and directed the university’s agricultural research programs. He brings to OSU extensive experience in different agricultural settings, including Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Michigan and India.
An entomologist, Ramaswamy has studied the reproductive biology of insects and plant-insect interactions, conducting applied research on insect pests affecting wheat, cotton, beans, other row crops and trees.
His breadth of experience will help Ramaswamy connect OSU’s agricultural programs with Oregon’s agricultural industry, which last year posted record sales of $4.9 billion. The overall economic activity involving Oregon agriculture is estimated at $25 billion annually with important sectors including cattle, dairy, nursery crops, fruits and berries, wheat, grass seed and others.
“Agriculture is a critical component of the Oregon economy and bringing in a respected leader like Sonny Ramaswamy will strengthen the relationship between our College of Agricultural Sciences and its many constituents,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. “His work in research and outreach will be particularly valuable as the state continues to expand its agricultural activities.”
At Purdue, Ramaswamy supervised coordination of the university’s research programs in agriculture, food and natural resources – both on campus and at eight regional research centers and several research farms. He will find a similar challenge at Oregon State, where he will direct the Agricultural Experiment Station as well as serve as dean of the college.
OSU’s agricultural programs are an $85 million-a-year enterprise that includes:
15 academic departments that offer teaching and research to support the agricultural and natural resource needs of Oregon and beyond;
An Agricultural Experiment Station that includes 11 branch stations throughout the state;
1,600 students and numerous programs offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees;
“The college is quite diverse in its programs, faculty, revenue streams and the constituents it serves,” Randhawa pointed out. “It also has excellence in areas that the casual observer may not associate with agricultural sciences. OSU is ranked first nationally in conservation biology, for example, and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife within the college is one of the key reasons for that ranking.”
Randhawa said the college blends strengths in production agriculture with expertise in numerous other areas, including biodiversity and environmental quality, nutrition and food systems, water resource management, biofuels and other energy sources, and genetics and economically viable technologies, as well as the social impacts of related activities.
Prior to joining the Purdue faculty in 2006, Ramaswamy was head of the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University (1997-2004), where he held the title of distinguished professor. He also was on the faculty of Mississippi State University, and was a research associate at Michigan State University. He began his academic career as a research assistant at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and at Rutgers University, where he received his Ph.D. All of his degrees are in entomology.
Ramaswamy is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Entomological Society of America.
He will begin his new duties on Aug. 1.