Jean-François Meullenet has been named interim director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. His position was effective Dec. 11, according to a UA press release.
The former director of the station, Clarence Watson, retired at the end of 2017.
Meullenet served as head of the Food Science Department and director of the Institute of Food Science and Engineering since 2010 and as assistant director of the experiment station since July 2016, according to the release.
Meullenet has held the Tyson Foods Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Sensory Science since 2006 and is a 2013 graduate of LEAD21, a national leadership program.
“Jean-François has the energy and leadership skills to keep the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station moving forward during this time of transition,” Mark Cochran, vice president of agriculture for the system and head of the Division of Agriculture, said in the release. “I’m pleased he has accepted this new challenge and am confident the experiment station and its research will continue the growth fostered by Clarence Watson, whose work in public research has been invaluable.”
A native of France, Meullenet earned a master’s degree in food engineering from the National Superior School of Agronomy and Food Science in Nancy, and a Ph.D. in food science and technology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He joined the Division of Agriculture as an assistant professor of food science in 1996.
“I am thrilled to be given the chance to lead research for the Division of Agriculture,” Meullenet said in the release. “I am very thankful to Dr. Cochran for giving me this opportunity and to Dr. Watson for the mentoring he has provided me over the past 18 months. I look forward to working with unit heads, faculty and staff to ensure we deliver the most relevant and impactful agricultural research for Arkansas and the nation.
“I know I still have a lot to learn about the breadth of our programs and plan to spend the first few months bettering my understanding of all aspects of our research through departmental and unit visits,” he said.
Headquartered in Fayetteville, the station has 13 research centers throughout the state. Its findings are transmitted to the public through the Cooperative Extension Service.