André-Denis Girard Wright, an internationally recognized researcher and director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Arizona (UA), has been named dean of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).
University Provost Dan Bernardo announced Wright’s hiring following completion of a nationwide search. He will begin his duties at WSU on June 1.
“Dr. Wright brings the ideal skillset to lead the next chapter in the evolution of CAHNRS,” Bernardo said. “He has extensive academic and administrative experience at multiple land-grant universities and possesses an impeccable record of scholarly accomplishment. He is also much praised for his collaborative and engaging leadership style.”
Wright holds the Carl and Patricia Weiler Endowed Chair for Excellence in Agriculture and Life Sciences at UA. He is also a BIO5 Research Fellow at the university, a group of transdisciplinary scientists collaborating to develop new technologies, diagnostics and treatments to solve humanity’s grand biological challenges.
“I am incredibly honored to be joining Washington State University,” Wright said. “WSU is a distinguished and innovative public land-grant university, and CAHNRS has a long history of excellence in research, education, extension, outreach, and societal impact. I look forward to getting around this beautiful state to meet our outstanding faculty, staff, students, and alumni. I am keen to establish new relationships throughout Washington, and to build upon existing relations with our devoted stakeholders and supporters.”
For nearly two decades, Wright has been developing strategies to increase the efficiency of nutrient utilization in livestock and to raise the level of production of food in an ecologically sustainable way. Much of his effort has focused on reducing the enteric methane produced by cattle during the digestive process.
Several years ago, Wright expanded his research interests to also include human gut microbiology. He uses next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics to examine the gut microbiome of animals, including humans, to better understand the interactions between host genetics and immune responses with their gut microbiota, which are largely unexplored.
Wright has published 104 peer-reviewed papers, contributed 18 book chapters, presented 98 conference papers and delivered 34 plenary lectures in 10 countries. He serves on several national boards and has served on review panels for the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASA. He has also served as an external scientific reviewer for the governments of Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Scotland and Switzerland.
In 2008, a new species of ciliated protozoa, Apokeronopsis wrighti, was named after Wright in recognition of his contributions to microbiology.
Earlier career achievements
Before joining UA in 2014, Wright was professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Dairy Center of Excellence. Earlier in his career he served as a faculty member at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Canada, and at the University of Queensland and Murdoch University in Australia. He also was a research scientist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (SCIRO) in Australia.
Wright earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of Guelph and completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada.
Provost praises dean and search committee
Bernardo thanked CAHNRS dean Ron Mittelhammer for his leadership the past four years, and also praised the efforts of the dean’s search advisory committee.
“I would be remiss not to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Mittelhammer for his steadfast leadership and for the numerous roles he has served since my departure from CAHNRS four years ago,” Bernardo said. “And the search advisory committee and chair Mike Trevisan also deserve special recognition for their tireless efforts to ensure a strong finalist pool.”
The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences
CAHNRS is one of WSU’s largest colleges. It includes 16 academic units, four research and extension centers and 40 county and tribal extension offices across the state. CAHNRS consists of about 1,200 faculty and staff and enrolls nearly 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually.
The college’s research advances a safe and abundant food supply; promotes sustainability of agricultural and economic systems; supports energy innovations; encourages careful stewardship of natural resources and ecological systems; and enhances the well-being of individuals, families and communities.
In 2016, CAHNRS secured research funding exceeding $83 million, accounting for more than 40 percent of WSU’s total extramural research funding.
Daniel J. Bernardo, provost and executive vice president