Writer: Kay Ledbetter

Two Texas A&M AgriLife faculty members brought back honors from the recent National Cotton Council’s 2019 Beltwide Cotton Conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state cotton specialist, College Station, was presented the 2019 Outstanding Career Research Award for Cotton Agronomy. The award is sponsored by BASF.

Dr. Katie Lewis, Texas A&M AgriLife Research soil scientist, Lubbock, was presented The Dr. J. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Cotton Soil Scientist Award. One is given each year, and the recipient must have earned a doctorate within the past 10 years and demonstrate a strong research, teaching and advising program. The award is sponsored by PhytoGen Cotton.

Gaylon Morgan and Katie Lewis
Texas A&M AgriLife faculty Dr. Gaylon Morgan, College Station, and Dr. Katie Lewis, Lubbock, brought back honors to Texas from the annual Beltwide Cotton Conference. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Dr. Gaylon Morgan

“Dr. Morgan is a catalyst who is known to develop teams and working groups across agencies to support the cotton industry in Texas and across the Cotton Belt,” said Dr. Randy Boman, senior technical service manager in cotton for Indigo Ag, in a letter of support.

“He and his team do an outstanding job of integrating outreach programming, applied research efforts, student training and grant acquisition to provide cutting-edge information to the clientele through county agent-led programming, professional meetings and various media outlets.”

In just two years, Morgan and his collaborating AgriLife Extension specialists across the state made more than 14,600 educational contacts in 278 cotton variety educational meetings on variety performance alone. Approximately 9,000 test-plot trial reports have been distributed to producers, cotton gins and consultants via educational meetings also during that time.

Morgan helped develop enterprise budgets to assess the per-acre costs of using herbicides rather than mechanical means to destroy stalks in two regions of the state. He also researched new herbicides for destroying stalks of the new auxin-tolerant cotton varieties and worked to obtain a state label and make it available to Texas cotton growers.

Another area of concentration for Morgan is nitrogen fertilizer, the nomination stated. Surveys indicate more than 19,000 producers have seen presentations on crediting soil residual nitrogen based on his work since 2007.

“I am very honored to win this award,” Morgan said. “I have witnessed many great and internationally recognized colleagues win this career award at the Beltwide. I was completely surprised and humbled by just being nominated for the award, much less to win it.”

Morgan has been recognized with three Superior Service Awards by AgriLife Extension as a member of the Auxin Herbicide Educational Team, the Cotton Variety Evaluation and Education Team and the Cotton Root Rot Management Team, and one individual award.

Additionally, he has been honored by the Texas County Agricultural Agents Association with the Statewide Extension Specialist award, as the Beltwide Cotton Specialist of the Year by Bayer Crop Sciences and with the Academic/Agency Award by Texas Plant Protection Association.

Dr. Katie Lewis

“As the daughter of a South Texas cotton and grain farmer, Katie was introduced at a young age to the challenges of cotton farming and how they can drastically change the bottom line,” said Dr. Jaroy Moore, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center director at Lubbock.

“Naturally, cotton is the central focus of her research program where she concentrates on soil fertility responses in both dryland and irrigated soils,” Moore said. “Her work is vitally important to the Southern High Plains, Texas and the nation, while helping educate future scientists, farmers, society and policymakers.”

While only in her third year with AgriLife Research, Lewis is continually striving to enhance her understanding of the critical challenges currently facing agriculture and society, her nomination stated.

“Dr. Lewis considers soil to be one of our most valuable natural resources, with the ability to produce food, feed and fiber, recycle wastes, filter and break down contaminants, and sequester carbon,” said nominator Dr. Glen Ritchie, AgriLife Research and Texas Tech University cotton physiologist, Lubbock.

Lewis has a joint appointment with Texas Tech, so she is engaged in research, teaching and service. In her first three years, she obtained federal, state and private research funding, taught at a graduate and undergraduate level, attracted and advised high-quality graduate students, and served her community, universities and professional organizations.

“Even though Katie does not have an official AgriLife Extension appointment, she passionately serves her community by participating in grower meetings and field days and consulting farmers on soil and nutrient management decisions,” Ritchie said. “Her passion and desire to enhance the profitability and sustainability of farming operations is evident to her students, colleagues, industry partners and farming community.”