There are several new faces in leadership roles in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station
After 19 years as a faculty member in the Department of Crop Sciences, including 8 years as department head, Dr. Germán Bollero became the College of ACES Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station on January 1.
An award-winning teacher and researcher, Bollero is a native of Rosario, Argentina. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from the National University of Rosario, Argentina. After receiving his master’s degree and Ph.D. in 1993 and 1994 from the University of Illinois, he continued his association with the U of I Department of Agronomy as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, and a Senior Research Specialist in Agriculture. In 1998, he joined the ACES faculty as Assistant Professor of Biometry and Cropping Systems.
Bollero is internationally recognized for his scholarship in biometry and cropping systems. His teaching, service, and research contributions have placed him among an elite handful of truly outstanding faculty members Dr. Bollero is a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America and the Agronomy Society of America.
Department of Crop Sciences Interim Head
Dr. Pat Tranel is serving as the Interim Head of the Department of Crop Sciences. Currently holding the Ainsworth Professorship in Crop Sciences. Tranel is a highly respected weed scientist who has had a stellar 20-year career at Illinois.
His research program is internationally recognized for expanding our understanding of the evolution and underlying mechanisms of herbicide resistance in weeds.
He is an award-winning teacher and has been highly engaged in various leadership roles in the Department of Crop Sciences.
Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences
Dr. Elvira de Mejia has been named the Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Dr. de Mejia has over fifteen years of experience as a faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
She has almost ten years of experience as Interim Assistant Dean for the College of ACES Office of Research, where she has led the Research Academy and the ACES Summer Internship Program.
She brings a wealth of experience in research, teaching, administration, international cooperation, internal and external interdisciplinary collaborations, industry relations and interdepartmental programs.
Her experiences will bring significant value to the Division of Nutritional Sciences for achieving its mission of providing an exceptional interdisciplinary graduate program through innovation, education, and discovery.
Department of Animal Sciences Head
Dr. Rod Johnson became head of the Department of Animal Sciences on January 1. A faculty member for 24 years, Johnson has served as the Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences since 2009.
Johnson is an accomplished research, instructor, and administrator. His research in animal sciences investigates how perinatal insults such as infection, nutrient deficiency, and birth weight affect brain and cognitive development; and how aging results in inflammation in the brain and deterioration of brain health and behavior. A special focus is on how infection and diet influences the communication between the immune system and brain.
Johnson grew up on a crop and livestock farm in west-central Illinois. He earned a B.S. from Truman State University and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. After postdoctorate training at Iowa State University, he joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1993. Dr. Johnson has published over 135 peer reviewed papers and is a University Scholar.
Interim Associate Dean and Director of Extension
Shelly Nickols-Richardson has been named Interim Associate Dean and Director of Extension within the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois.
“Dr. Nickols-Richardson brings a tremendous amount of administrative leadership experience to this role, which will serve well as she works closely with all of us to evolve the Extension enterprise to the next level of excellence,” says Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of ACES.
In addition to serving as the head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) for the past five years, Dr. Nickols-Richardson served as a member of the Extension 3.0 Task Force, which familiarized her with many of the opportunities and challenges Extension is facing. As the head of FSHN, she also had the opportunity to work with Extension faculty and staff on a regular basis.
“I consider Dr. Nickols-Richardson to be the ideal person to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations from the Extension 3.0 Task Force, and to create cohesion between Extension and the College of ACES based on the experience, perspective, and wisdom she brings to the position,” Kidwell says. “We will partner closely with college and Extension personnel to achieve this goal. It is imperative for our long-term success and sustainability that we frame an exciting vision that will allow us as a collective to manifest the land-grant mission that means so much to so many.”
Nickols-Richardson will succeed George Czapar, who will be retiring on March 1 as Associate Dean and Director of Illinois Extension. Czapar has served in this role for the past five years, activating the reorganization of Extension in an extremely challenging budget climate.
“Czapar’s dedication, compassion, and commitment to Extension and 4-H are unwavering,” Kidwell says. “The persistence and resiliency with which he has fought for the cause and has supported his personnel is truly impressive.”
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Acting Head
While Nickols-Richardson is serving in this interim role, Nicki Engeseth, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, has agreed to serve as the acting department head of FSHN. Having served in the interim head role several years ago, Engeseth brings experience and a deep understanding of the department to this role. Nickols-Richardson and Engeseth will assume their new duties and responsibilities on March 1.