College of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Paul Winistorfer has appointed Robert L. “Bob” Smith of Christiansburg, Va., who currently serves as associate dean for engagement, as interim 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 Virginia Cooperative 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.

“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to work once again with my colleagues back in my home department,” he said. “The faculty members are all leaders in their disciplines, so to be part of this team is a real honor.”

Smith will focus on continuing the department’s leadership profile nationally and internationally in teaching and research in the sustainable use of natural resources.

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

He says he plans to continue the Extension programs that are so critical for the forest products industry to be competitive in a world economy.

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

Smith holds a doctorate in forest products marketing from Virginia Tech, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, and a bachelor’s degree in wood science from Michigan Tech. He 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 Michigan, where his father managed a hardwood sawmill.

Smith’s research efforts focused in 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.

Smith follows Barry Goodell, who stepped down as department head after serving for two years.

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