A professor with more than 15 years of experience at Mississippi State is the new head of the university’s Department of Geosciences.
John Rodgers, a professor with research interests in physical geography and geographic information systems, has spent the past year as interim department head and began his new role officially on July 1.
With plans to support faculty and students through financial awards for research and travel, Rodgers also hopes to develop innovative strategies to enrich research productivity and enhance teaching and outreach.
“I would like to build upon our existing strengths to promote a better understanding of our planet and all the people who live here so that we can continue to foster environmental stewardship,” Rodgers said.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rick Travis said Rodgers has a broad background in geosciences, which “acquaints him well with the challenges of driving forward all aspects of the department including the research agenda and the doctoral program.”
“He has demonstrated excellent leadership this year and has a wealth of ideas that will promote the department,” Travis said. “Dr. Rodgers also is a highly skilled teacher, both face-to-face and via a distance education format.”
The geosciences department has the largest distance education student base at the university — over 400 students — and a graduate program with more than 200 students.
Rodgers said his experiences serving on the Robert Holland Faculty Senate and working under the leadership of MSU President Mark E. Keenum “stand out as being the most transformative” times during his years at MSU.
He said his service on the faculty senate was valuable to him during his interim department head period because it helped him better understand academic policies, why and how they were created, and how governance can benefit faculty and staff.
Rodgers previously served as the geosciences undergraduate coordinator and chaired the department’s curriculum committee. He was the recipient of the 2014-2015 College of Arts and Sciences Teacher of the Year award.
Rodgers earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Georgia in 1999 and a master’s degree in botany and bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Tennessee in 1994 and 1991 respectively. He spent three years as a professor of geography at the University of New Orleans before joining the faculty at MSU in 2001, and he has approximately 30 publications to his name.
Students at MSU may rotate through the Department of Geosciences for courses such as climatology, geography, geology and meteorology. The geosciences program offers contributions in the areas of weather, environment, natural resources and distance learning. One in three of today’s on-air broadcast meteorologists is a graduate of MSU’s nationally recognized meteorology program.
The department not only is nationally recognized for its excellence in broadcast meteorology, but also for weather forecasting, severe weather research, hydrometeorology, artificial intelligence, weather modeling and climate sciences.
MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or Department of Geosciences may be found at cas.msstate.edu or geosciences.msstate.edu.