OSU ag unit names senior director
The Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources found the leader it was looking for in Randy Raper, the new senior director of its Field and Research Service Unit.
Part of DASNR's statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system, the FRSU provides the infrastructure for cutting-edge research conducted by OSU scientists and engineers, who often work in cooperation with other public and private agencies and organizations.
"These experiments benefit the lives of Oklahomans by improving the food we eat, ensuring that water leaving agricultural fields is clean, creating alternative energy solutions and reducing production costs for farmers and ranchers," Raper said.
Raper added that the division having 18 outlying agricultural experiment stations situated across Oklahoma in addition to facilities on the main university campus in Stillwater allows for OSU scientists to study crop, animal and land management, as well as agricultural product development, under conditions specific to the area in question, thus maximizing value to individuals, groups, communities and counties.
"OSU's state and federally mandated land-grant mission is to help Oklahomans solve issues and concerns of importance to them, their families and communities," said Robert Westerman, DASNR assistant vice president for program support. "We're pleased to have been able to attract a professional of Randy's abilities and experience to provide key leadership for many of our agricultural research efforts."
The FRSU is supported by a staff of 70 fulltime and 30 part-time employees statewide.
Prior to joining OSU, Raper lived and worked in Booneville, Ark., where he served as research leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center and co-coordinator of the USDA Southeastern Biomass Feedstock Research Center from 2009-2011.
From 2002-2009, Raper served as lead scientist and agricultural engineer of the Conservation Systems Research Team at Auburn University in Alabama. The focus of the team was to develop agricultural systems that minimized inputs such as fertilizer, maximized yields and reduced management risks, all the while conserving natural resources.
He originally joined Auburn in 1987, serving as an agricultural engineer in the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory. He worked as an agricultural engineer with the USDA-ARS Soil and Water Research Unit in Ames, Iowa, from 1983-1987.
"I was born and raised in Alabama's Franklin County, near the Mississippi and Tennessee state lines; my father raised cattle, pigs, corn, cotton, soybeans and timber on a 200-acre farm while my mother worked in town as a nurse," Raper said. "I have been married to my college sweetheart, Rena, for 28 years."
He has published extensively and given invited technical lectures throughout the United States and beyond. His professional recognitions and awards include being named the 2006 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Distinguished Lecturer, the 2007 USDA-ARS Scientist of the Year for the MidSouth Area and the 2008 No-Till Innovator of the Year for Research and Education.
Raper earned his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering from Mississippi State University in 1983. He earned his Master of Science degree and doctoral degree in agricultural engineering from Iowa State University in 1985 and 1987, respectively.