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COLLEGE STATION – The inaugural University Professorship at Texas A&M University has been awarded to Dr. Bhimu Patil, professor and director of the Vegetable Improvement Center and U.S. Department of Agriculture National Center for Excellence, College Station.
The honor recognizes Texas A&M faculty members who have significant, sustained accomplishment in their discipline and have gained national and international recognition. Honorees also have a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and excel in teaching and service.
A celebration will be held May 8 at Texas A&M where Patil will be formally honored.
Patil received the award in recognition of his record of exceptional research, distinguished teaching and visionary leadership in administration. His research accomplishments have centered on improving human health by examining health-promoting bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables.
The professorship honor is the highest academic award that the university can bestow on a faculty member. Patil joins five other Texas A&M University awardees from across the university selected on their research excellence and potential to further distinguish themselves in their respective fields.
“Dr. Patil is an international leader in research and educational activities related to the health-promoting effects of fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “His service and dedication to the field exemplifies Texas A&M AgriLife’s commitment to create an evidence base that links food and nutrition to disease prevention and we applaud this outstanding recognition.”
Texas A&M Provost Dr. Carol Fierke wrote in the announcement memo, “Bhimu, congratulations on being honored in the inaugural group of University Professorship. Thank you for being an exemplary role model who excels in research, service and teaching.”
As director of the Vegetable Improvement Center (http://vfic.tamu.edu), Patil works with scientists and industry stakeholders from Texas and beyond. His consumer-to-farm research using system-wide approaches includes an examination of pre- and postharvest effects on bioactive compounds, isolation and characterization of these compounds from different fruits and vegetables, and multidisciplinary research to understand their roles in human health.
“Dr. Patil has been an incredible ally to the Texas fruit and vegetable industry over the last few decades,” said Dante Galeazzi, CEO and president of the Texas International Produce Association. “His commitment in areas such as melons and onions — two of the top fresh produce crops in the state — has been nothing short of amazing.
Galeazzi said Patil is not only a partner to our farmers and shippers in helping push for innovations and solutions to the many challenges associated with production, he has also been an advocate for many of their issues.
“Whether speaking to state or federal entities, putting grants in place for all U.S. growers, or even helping the fresh fruit and vegetable industry understand more about the science that goes into specialty crop production, we know we can count on Dr. Patil,” he said. “On behalf of the Texas International Produce Association, the Texas fresh produce industr and the many others who have worked with Dr. Patil over the years, we offer our congratulations on this much-deserved award and are more than confident that he will continue to be a pillar of education and commitment to the specialty crop industry.”
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a National Center of Excellence for melons, which is focused on providing healthy, safe and flavorful melons to consumers based on the historic success of research and educational activities of the Vegetable Fruit and Improvement Center.
Patil has developed and taught three unique, innovative multi-state and multi-disciplinary courses, Phytochemicals in Fruits and Vegetables to Improve Human Health, Science of Foods for Health and The Nexus of Food & Nutritional Security, Hunger and Sustainability. The enrollment in the three courses has been among the highest in the department and a similar number of students have enrolled in similar courses in other other states.
Patil has secured over $26.3 million in collaborative grants and over $17 million for his own research and education program, including federal grants. He has published 198 peer-reviewed articles and has been invited to present 21 international keynote/plenary presentations and more than 200 invited presentations.
Patil has provided important guidance and inspiration for numerous graduate, undergraduate and high school students. He has served as the chair or co-chair on 40 graduate committees and his students received 40 awards.
Graduate students and postdoctoral research associates have played key roles in Patil’s research program, which is recognized as one of the outstanding research programs in Foods for Health at the global level.
At the national level, Patil has chaired committees for the American Society for Horticultural Science, providing key direction on topics related to Foods for Health. He has also served as chair for the American Chemical Society Division of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, organizing symposia and discussions on key agricultural topics. Currently, he is the division chair for the Horticulture for Human Health initiative of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences.