Rangeland specialist earns “outstanding contribution” award from Texas group

COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Brad Wilcox, a Texas AgriLife Research rangeland specialist, was recently presented the Outstanding Contribution to Rangeland Management Award by the Texas Section Society for Rangeland Management.

Dr. Brad Wilcox, a Texas AgriLife Research rangeland specialist,accepts the Outstanding Contribution to Rangeland Management Award from Matt Wagner, president of the Texas Section Society for Rangeland Management. (Courtesy photo)

Each year, the organization presents the award to the member recognized as having made the most significant and noteworthy contribution to the rangeland profession, according to its guidelines.

“This year’s recipient has had an exceptionally productive career, devoting his energy and talents to the art and science of rangeland management, and more specifically rangeland hydrology and watershed function,” said Tim Reinke, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service rangeland management specialist in Victoria and presenter of the award.

The nomination says Wilcox’s passion for his work has earned him respect in his field from ranchers, scientists, range management professionals and the general public.

The nomination stated: “His research has transformed the understanding of the role of vegetation in the rangeland water cycle. His goal has been simple: to utilize the best scientific methods and the highest professional standards to discover and illuminate rangeland water dynamics.”

Wilcox’s research has shown that the water cycle on rangeland is more complex than some previously thought. The research has dispelled the simple notion that brush control necessarily increases the yield of water, Reinke said.

“To improve our understanding of rangeland ecology and how best to manage rangelands, we depend on the development of new ideas based on rigorous science,” Reinke said at the awards banquet. “This individual is a scientist of impeccable credentials who has contributed an immense volume of relevant, quality scientific information to the field of range management. His major scientific contributions are twofold: research and teaching, and he excels in both areas.”

Wilcox has published 165 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, proceedings and scientific abstracts, many of which appear in top-tier ecology and hydrology journals. In addition, he has made scientific presentations of his research results at more than 70 meetings, conferences and seminars.

Within the field of range management in Texas, water has emerged as the most critical issue, and Wilcox has emerged as the preeminent authority on rangeland hydrology, Reinke said in the award presentation. He added that Wilcox has conducted research, especially during the last 10 years, to more accurately understand the relationship between vegetation and water in rangeland ecosystems.

Wilcox, as a professor in the Texas A&M University department of ecosystem science and management, developed and teaches one undergraduate course, one graduate-level course, as well as a graduate/faculty seminar. He has served as advisor to 25 masters and doctorate students.

“Former recipients of the award include many of the very best practitioners and scientists of the past 60 years,” Reinke said. “But only a few have made contributions of such significance that they literally alter the science, art and practice of rangeland management. Brad Wilcox belongs in such a group and deserves our recognition for his outstanding contributions to our profession.”

Wilcox earned his doctorate from New Mexico State University and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University. He joined the Texas A&M department in 2000, after serving four years as the chief scientific officer at the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, headquartered in Brazil. He also taught watershed management at Colorado State University and conducted hydrologic research at the Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.

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