Arkansas State University’s history is steeped in agriculture, and the school’s first endowed academic position in the school’s College of Agriculture has been filled.
Dr. Aaron Shew becomes the inaugural holder of the R.E. Lee Wilson Chair of Agricultural Business at Arkansas State University, Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said. The recruitment of Shew to accept is a landmark achievement for the college’s dean, Dr. Tim Burcham.
“Agriculture is literally at the root of Arkansas State University, and to have such an energetic and distinguished faculty member like Dr. Shew join our College of Agriculture is outstanding,” Damphousse said. “I am personally excited about having Aaron and his wife Natalie join our community in Jonesboro.”
The Wilson Chair was established in 2015 through a $1 million gift from the R.E. Lee Wilson Trust Foundation to attract someone who could recruit scholars to the college, he said.
“I am excited about the impact Dr. Shew’s broad-based agricultural background and dynamic leadership bring to our college’s graduate and undergraduate agricultural business programs,” Burcham said. “His first-hand knowledge of global agricultural markets will better prepare our graduates to lead and serve in a growing world.”
Shew’s appointment begins at the semester break in January 2019. He is a postdoctoral research scholar at Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, working in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.
Recently completing his doctorate in environmental dynamics at the UA, Shew brings a wide academic portfolio to Jonesboro, according to the school. He completed a master’s degree in agricultural economics from UA in December 2016, a semester after he earned a master’s degree in geography from Fayetteville in May 2016. He began his academic career at Middle Tennessee State where he earned a similar double-degree with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s degree in global studies with a minor in agriculture in May 2011.
Shew has international experience having worked in countries across Asia and Africa, and has language skills in Hindi, Urdu, Kurdish, Arabic, Tai and Dari. Shew’s dissertation focused on the improvement of agricultural systems in coastal Bangladesh. The bulk of his peer-reviewed publications or invited papers relate to the production of rice and soybeans, according to ASU. Burcham said Shew has an extensive background in quantitative methods as well as his background in agriculture economics, agriculture system,s and farm management as strengths he added to the college.
“His work in time series statistics, linear programming, econometrics, spatial statistics and simulation analysis gives us a new dimension for our students,” Burcham said. “Students will also benefit from his insights in crop modeling and simulation, risk analysis and life cycle analysis.”
Among related agriculture work, Shew was an interim soybean mill manager for half a year in Afghanistan and was a director of training and research for a soybean production company in Iraq.