By: Kay Ledbetter

The Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence – Early Career Research honor was presented to Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan at a ceremony Jan. 7 on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

The awards, established in 1980, recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife, and represent the highest level of achievement for the organization.

Muthu Bagavathiannan
Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan received the 2018 Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence - Early Career Research.

Bagavathiannan joined the Texas A&M department of soil and crop sciences as a tenure-track weed science faculty in 2014 with a Texas A&M AgriLife Research appointment. He has since established a rigorous research group that is gaining national and international recognition in weed science research, his nomination stated.

“Muthu’s research focuses primarily on understanding herbicide-resistance evolution in weeds and developing integrated weed management solutions for various cropping systems,” said Dr. David Baltensperger, head of the department of soil and crop sciences.

As a principal investigator or co-investigator, he received, through a diverse range of funding sources, more than $15 million in grant funds, of which $3.3 million went directly into his research program. In particular, he has secured five U.S. Department of Agriculture grants as the principal investigator and another five USDA grants as the co-principal investigator.

“Muthu engages with producer groups, agribusiness industry and other funding sources to provide additional support to his program,” Baltensperger said. “He has quickly built an aggressive research program by attracting talent from national and international arenas.”

Bagavathiannan supervises four doctoral students and two master’s students and is serving on one doctoral and master student committee. He mentored 11 international scholars/interns and 10 undergraduate student researchers. He also mentors two postdoctoral researchers and two research assistants.

“Muthu has been active in multi-disciplinary research collaborations with renowned local, regional, national and international research groups,” Baltensperger said. “His collaborations have been highly fruitful and resulted in successful grant applications and publications.”

Bagavathiannan is also an active member of the TAMU-Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, project where his program has made excellent progress in using UAS for weed management applications. He has provided significant leadership to the weed research and development activities within Texas.

He has authored or co-authored 26 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, eight book chapters and four extension bulletins since 2014. Two of his lead publications have been selected as featured articles by the journals Weed Science and Weed Technology.

“Muthu has also been very effective in translating his research findings into classroom teaching,” Baltensperger said. “His recent student evaluations were higher than the departmental average at both undergraduate and graduate levels.”

He developed a new course to train the students with practical job skills in applied weed science and agronomy and prepare them for the Southern Weed Judging Contest. A total of 26 graduate students and 10 undergraduate students were trained as part of this activity.

He chaired the Weed-Crop Interactions and Allelopathy sessions at the 2016 International Weed Science Congress held at Prague, Czech Republic, and served as a co-organizer of a Workshop on Weeds and Invasive Species held at Alberta, Canada in June 2016.

Bagavathiannan co-chaired the Weed Biology and Ecology section of the 2016 WSSA annual meeting in Puerto Rico, and chaired the 2017 meeting in Tucson, Arizona. He also chaired the Weed Science and Growth Regulation session of the 2016 Rice Technical Working Group meeting in Galveston.

Recently, he was invited to speak at the Brazilian National Weed Science Congress at Rio De Janeiro and the Indian Society of Weed Science Congress at Jabalpur, India.

He was selected as a recipient of the Outstanding Reviewer Award by WSSA and also received an Outstanding Reviewer Status by the Crop Protection Journal, published by Elsevier.