J. Michael Kelly, chair of the Natural Resource Ecology and Management Department at Iowa State University, will become the second dean of Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, effective Sept. 1. He will replace Gregory N. Brown, founding dean of the college, who has announced his retirement this summer.
"I am delighted that Dr. Kelly has accepted our offer to become dean of Natural Resources. His background and leadership skills will allow the college to continue the great progress begun under Dr. Brown," said Mark G. McNamee, university provost and vice president for academic affairs, in making the announcement.
"Interest in and pressures on natural resources will continue to intensify as this century progresses. Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources is well positioned to take a leadership role in educating the next generation of natural resource managers as well as providing the research base and Extension programs needed to effectively manage, utilize, and protect the natural resources of Virginia and the nation," Kelly said.
A Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, Kelly joined the Iowa State University Department of Forestry as professor and department chair in 1995, a position he held until 2002. He also served as interim chair of the Department of Horticulture during 2001.
In 2002, he was responsible for developing and implementing a merged Department of Forestry and Department of Animal Ecology to form the Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management and was named chair of the new department, the position he now holds. He also conducts research, principally in mechanistic modeling of plant nutrient uptake, and teaches an undergraduate course in forest biology/ecology and a graduate course in scientific writing.
While he was forestry department head, research grew significantly, with external annual support increasing by a factor of five, and his initiatives led the department to prominence in restoration ecology, bio-based materials research, and the pedagogy of undergraduate natural resource education. He also helped grow the department's endowments by $2.2 million.
Before going to Iowa State University, he spent 20 years with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), where he progressed through a series of assignments leading to a position as senior environmental scientist/team leader. He served as the Ozone Non-attainment Program team leader and the Ecosystem Studies process team leader. His personal research from 1976-1995 focused on nutrient cycling and plant response to environmental stress.
At TVA, he conceived, developed, and directed the Cooperative Forest Studies Program, a joint effort between TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and helped develop and conduct several programs for the Electric Power Research Institute.
The seminal work of Kelly and his colleagues in theoretical and experimental evaluations of acidic deposition impacts on forest soils and in surface waters was a key component of the National Acidic Precipitation Assessment Program and contributed to the knowledge base on ozone impacts used in recent amendments to the Clean Air Act.
From 1974-1976, he worked as a research associate in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University, where he participated in terrestrial studies relating to the cycling in forest systems of toxic metals derived from industrial sources.
He also has worked as an associate ecologist for the NUS Corporation in Pittsburgh, a pre-doctoral fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and an assistant professor of biology at Ferrum College and has held adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Tennessee and Purdue University.
Kelly has been active in numerous professional organizations and activities. He helped develop and served as chair of the National Acidic Deposition Program/National Trends Network, has served on the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges Executive Committee, and has been a member of the board of directors of Trees Forever. He has served on technical committees for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program and the Electric Power Research Institute Integrated Lake and Watershed Study Program; has been a technical representative to the U.S. Department Interior Committee on Acid Precipitation Research; chaired the Effects Subcommittee of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program; and co-chaired the Workshop on Aluminum Toxicity to Trees, which was held in Sweden. He has been a technical reviewer for numerous grants programs, and chaired both the Iowa Chapter of the Society of American Foresters and the North Central Region of the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges. Both TVA and the Electric Power Research Institute presented him with special awards for bridging the gaps between research and policy applications.
Kelly has authored and co-authored numerous articles for professional journals. He sits on the editorial board for Forest Ecology and Management and has served as associate editor for Forest Science and the Soil Science Society of America Journal. He has been listed in Who's Who in Science and Engineering, Who's Who in America, and Men and Women of Science.
In addition to his professional activities, he has been a chapter president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, a member of the Iowa Conservation Congress Planning Committee, a head referee in region 390 of the American Youth Soccer Organization, a volunteer craftsman in the Museum of Appalachia in Tennessee, an organizing committee member for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and a volunteer train crew member for the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.
Kelly received his bachelor's degree in biology from East Tennessee State University and a master's degree and Ph.D. in plant ecology and forest soils from the University of Tennessee. He did post-doctoral work in forestry and soil science at Purdue University. He is a certified professional soil scientist.
The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.