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OSU Department of Crop and Soil Science gets new leader


Jay Noller, shown outside the Oregon State University Crop Science Building, has been selected as the new head of university’s Department of Crop and Soil Science. Noller has been with the department since 2000 and has served as an associate head of the department since 2008. Jay Noller has been chosen to lead Oregon State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Science. He has been at the university since 2000.

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University has selected a long-time College of Agricultural Sciences soils professor to head its Department of Crop and Soil Science.

Jay Noller, 55, replaces Russ Karow, who is retiring after 14 years in the position.

Noller, who served as associated head of the department for the past six years, said he is embracing the opportunity to administer on a full-time basis.

“This is where my personal energy was going,” Noller said, “just facilitating my colleagues. Now I get to do it full time.

“I see this as an opportunity to lift a heavy load for my colleagues, because I am thrilled with what they are doing,” he said.

Noller has been at OSU since 2000 and a full professor since 2012. He started in his new position Oct. 1.

Noller’s background includes a five-year stint as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a second five-year stint as co-founder of William Lettis and Associates, now Fugro Worldwide, a firm specializing in geoscience services.

Noller also spent four year as an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and was a teaching assistant at the University at Colorado in Boulder, where he obtained his Ph.D.

He obtained his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from California State University in Los Angeles, both also in geology.

His research has been focused primarily on the long-term effects of human interaction with soil. He recently had a two volume book published looking at paleo agricultural systems in the Eastern Mediterranean with a central question of how long humans can farm a plot of land.

“In the places I’ve looked at, like in Syria, it’s been 15,000 years that people are still cropping the same field, the same plot of land, and (that land) is not too unlike our soils that we have in places around Oregon. So I am very optimistic about Oregon agriculture.”

Noller was chosen from a field of on- and off-campus candidates by a selection committee that included stakeholders and faculty and staff.

“Jay has tremendous experience with Oregon State University,” College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Dan Arp said. “He knows the university well, he knows the college well, and, most importantly, knows the department well.

“He also has strong scholarly interests and accomplishments that are important to the department and bring important strengths to the position,” Arp said.

Arp said the selection committee did not consider Noller’s lack of direct experience in extension as a liability.

“Jay understands the importance of all the pieces of the mission of the college, from the education mission to the research mission and the extension, outreach and engagement mission,” Arp said.

“He has a good understanding of all of those pieces and how they fit together and how they integrate across the department’s mission,” Arp said.

The original article published on Capital Press can be found here.