Tom Thompson, department head and professor of crop and soil environmental sciences, has been named associate dean and director of international programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

“I look forward to steering the international focus of the college and imbuing our international initiatives with a Virginia Tech spirit,” said Thompson. “Growing our global footprint is key in today’s higher education environment for attracting students, increasing research opportunities, and furthering the college’s mission of Ut Prosim around the world through agriculture and life sciences.”

Thompson’s career has been characterized by international engagement. In 2004 he took a sabbatical leave in Israel and has had scientific collaborations with colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University, and Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization.

His recent research and outreach have focused on the adoption of conservation agriculture practices in smallholder farming systems in the Caribbean in Haiti and in Africa in Senegal. He has mentored graduate students from Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

Thompson has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and garnered more than $9.7 million in extramural funding. As head of the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences since 2011, he has led a department with 25 faculty members, 300 undergraduate and graduate students, and a research portfolio of more than $5 million per year.

Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Thompson was chairman of the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech University from 2006 to 2011. In addition to leading the department’s academic and research activities, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses and advised graduate students.

He was professor and Extension specialist at the University of Arizona from 1991 to 2006. Throughout Thompson’s career, his research has focused on crop nutrient and water management, subsurface drip irrigation management, and reclamation of disturbed lands. At Texas Tech, he was the J.A. Love Endowed Chair and coordinator of Project Revolution, a $10 million collaborative research venture with Bayer CropScience.

Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Abilene Christian University, a master’s degree in soil chemistry and fertility from Texas A&M, and a doctorate in soil chemistry from Iowa State University.

In 1994, he received the Teaching Award of Merit from the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. Also in 1994, he was named the Outstanding Junior Faculty Member for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, and the Food Systems Leadership Insitute.

He is past president of the Western Society of Soil Science, and was associate and technical editor for the Soil Science Society of America Journal for more than a decade.

He will assume his new post Nov. 1.

Written by Amy Loeffler

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