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Texas A&M agriculture, life sciences college names two department heads


Two new department heads have been named by the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Dr. Jimmy Keeton will head nutrition and food science while Dr. Leland "Sandy" Pierson III will head plant pathology and microbiology, according to Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture.

Keeton came to Texas A&M in 1984 as an associate professor in the department of animal science. Since then, he has been promoted to full professor and was interim head of the nutrition and food science department since 2007.

He has studied the safety, nutritional value and quality attributes of meat products. He has also authored or co-authored more than 70 refereed journal articles and 10 textbook chapters, secured six patents and received more than $4 million in grant/contract funding as principle investigator.

Keeton earned a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry and agricultural education, a master's and a doctoral degree in food science, all from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Pierson has been with the department of plant science at the University of Arizona since 1990. During that time, he has served as a major adviser or committee member for 44 graduate students.

He has also chaired the University of Arizona Institutional Biosafety Committee for nine years. For the past year, he served as the department's associate head.

He researches microbial secondary metabolite gene regulation, microbial community interactions, biofilms and biological control.

Pierson earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology from the University of California-Davis and a doctorate in microbiology from Washington State University. His wife, Elizabeth, also will be joining the college faculty in the department of horticultural science.

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