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Shew is Inaugural Holder of R.E. Lee Wilson Chair of Agricultural Business


JONESBORO – Dr. Aaron Shew becomes the inaugural holder of the R.E. Lee Wilson Chair of Agricultural Business at Arkansas State University, Chancellor Kelly Damphousse announced this week.

The Wilson Chair of Agricultural Business is the first endowed academic position within the College of Agriculture, and the recruitment of Shew to accept is a landmark achievement for the college’s dean, Dr. Tim Burcham.

“Agriculture is literally at the root of Arkansas State University, and to have such an energetic and distinguished faculty member like Dr. Shew join our College of Agriculture is outstanding,” Damphousse said.  “I am personally excited about having Aaron and his wife Natalie join our community in Jonesboro.”

The Wilson Chair was established in 2015 through a $1 million gift from the R.E. Lee Wilson Trust Foundation with the intentional use of the position to attract a scholar to enhance A-State’s existing strength in the area of agribusiness.

“This new hire would not have been possible without the generous support of the Wilson family and the hard work to recruit the right person for the position by our dean, Dr. Tim Burcham,” Damphousse said.

“I am excited about the impact Dr. Shew’s broad-based agricultural background and dynamic leadership bring to our college’s graduate and undergraduate agricultural business programs,” Burcham added.  “His first-hand knowledge of global agricultural markets will better prepare our graduates to lead and serve in a growing world.”

Shew’s appointment begins at the semester break in January 2019.  Currently he is a postdoctoral research scholar at Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, working in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.

Recently completing his Ph.D. in environmental dynamics at UAF, Shew brings a wide academic portfolio to Jonesboro.  He completed a Master of Science in agricultural economics from UA in December 2016, a semester after he earned a Master of Arts in geography from Fayetteville in May 2016.

He began his academic career at Middle Tennessee State where he earned a similar double-degree with a Bachelor of Science in international relations and a Bachelor of Arts in global studies with a minor in agriculture in May 2011.

Shew brings a broad international experience having worked in numerous countries across Asia and Africa, and has language skills in Hindi, Urdu, Kurdish, Arabic, Tai and Dari.  Shew’s dissertation focused on the improvement of agricultural systems in coastal Bangladesh.

Important to production in the A-State region of the Upper Delta, most of his peer-reviewed publications or invited papers relate to the production of rice and soybeans.

Burcham pointed to Shew’s extensive background in quantitative methods as well as his background in agriculture economics, agriculture systems and farm management as strengths he added to the college.

“His work in time series statistics, linear programming, econometrics, spatial statistics and simulation analysis gives us a new dimension for our students,” Burcham said.  “Students will also benefit from his insights in crop modeling and simulation, risk analysis and life cycle analysis.”

During his educational career, Shew has volunteered during the summer overseas in Uganda, Mozambique and Rwanda.  He spent just over a year in Jaipur, India, studying the Hindi language at the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Among related agriculture work, Shew was an interim soybean mill manager for half a year in Afghanistan and was a director of training and research for a soybean production company in Iraq.

A founding area of academic interest of Arkansas State in 1909, the College of Agriculture is one of the oldest at the Jonesboro-based university.

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Aaron Shew
Dr. Aaron Shew