College of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Paul Winistorfer has appointed Robert L. “Bob” Smith of Christiansburg, Va., the college’s associate dean for engagement, as head of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials.

“Bob has been an extraordinary player not only in the sustainable biomaterials department, formerly known as wood science and forest products, but also in the Extension and engagement arena over the years and as part of my management team,” Winistorfer noted. “He knows his department well and will be an effective leader.”

Smith has actively traveled the world on behalf of his engagement duties and has been prominent in globalizing the college’s outreach and curriculum.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead such a renowned group of scientists,” said Smith, who has served as interim head of the department since January. “The faculty members are all leaders in their disciplines, so to be part of this team is a real privilege.”

“We intend to make sure our academic programs attract highly qualified students and educate them for careers that will help reduce our dependence on petroleum-based products in order to sustain our natural resources for the future,” he stressed.

Smith will focus on continuing the department’s leadership profile nationally and internationally in teaching and research in the sustainable use of natural resources, and preparing students for technological advancements in the forest products and biomaterials industries.

“Our goal remains to provide the best education to students and citizens of Virginia in the wise management and utilization of natural resources,” he said.

He will continue to lead all of the college’s Virginia Cooperative Extension programs, many of which are critical for the $25 billion forest products industry in Virginia.

Smith holds a doctorate in forest products marketing from Virginia Tech, a master of business administration from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, and a bachelor’s degree in wood science from Michigan Tech. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of wood science, business management, and forest products marketing.

Prior to completing his doctorate, Smith worked for a major U.S. manufacturer of wood products for 14 years as a production manager and sales representative in the Midwest. He was raised in northern Michigan, where his father managed a hardwood sawmill.

Smith’s research efforts focused on industrial marketing and new opportunities for wood in international markets. He has published more than 100 scientific articles and participated in $4 million of research funding.

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