COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Ben Wherley will be walking on new “turf” beginning Oct. 1, but he won’t be a stranger to the environment.
Wherley has been hired as an assistant professor for turfgrass science/ecology with joint appointments to Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Dr. Wherley brings turf experience and leadership to the program,” according to Dr. David Baltensperger, professor and head of the Texas A&M soil and crop sciences department.
One of his first duties will be to participate in the statewide Turf and Landscape Field Day Oct. 4-5 at F&B Road, the site of the new turf research area of the Urban Ecology Field Laboratory at Texas A&M in College Station.
In his new position, Wherley will oversee the turfgrass ecology program and supervise undergraduate students, technicians, graduate students and postdoctoral research scientists, Baltensperger said.
His research component will be targeted at basic ecological processes of turfgrass in urban landscape systems. In addition, he will work with scientists from other disciplines to solve plant-soil-water problems.
Wherley earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Ohio State University and his doctorate from North Carolina State University.
Prior to assuming his new position, Wherley was an assistant research scientist with AgriLife Research’s turfgrass management and ecology program in Dallas.
There he worked on sustainable turfgrass cultures, environmental stress physiology and conducted evaluations of experimental germplasm for improved drought and shade tolerance, as well as industry-sponsored cultivar, herbicide and fertilizer evaluation trials
Wherley has coauthored a release of St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass cultivars.
He helped design and coordinated the construction and sod donations for the turfgrass irrigation conservation exhibit at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. This exhibit introduces visitors to five locally-adapted turfgrass species planted under four levels of irrigation.
Another of Wherley’s activities was to provide consultation to Texas golf course superintendents, homeowners and city parks and recreation departments regarding turfgrass cultivar selection, establishment and culture, and biotic/abiotic stress issues
He is a member of the Crop Science Society of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Texas Turfgrass Association, Turfgrass Producers of Texas and the Southern Extension and Research Activities Information Group for Turf.