Jul 19, 2021
Dhingra joins Texas A&M; Doreen Main takes interim role at WSU

Following the retirement of Dan Lineberger earlier this year, an extensive search for a new department head in Horticultural Sciences has been ongoing at Texas A&M University for the important leadership position. Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., will become the new horticulture department head effective Sept. 1.

Dhingra joins Texas A&M from Washington State University where he has served as interim chair and professor of Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Horticulture. He has also served as chair of the Entrepreneurial Faculty Ambassadors Program.

At Washington State, his research program focused on biological processes in plants relevant to the current and future needs of agriculture. Dhingra developed extensive relationships with pear growers and others across the state in helping them with value-added opportunities. On the academic side, he has trained 17 graduate students and several post-doctoral scientists, and more than 100 undergraduate students.

He has published more than 77 high impact peer-reviewed journal articles. He serves on the editorial board of four internationally reputed plant science journals and has been awarded three US and international patents on regulating ripening in fruits to reduce post-harvest wastage.

Dhingra has also been successful in transferring intellectual property derived in the laboratory to the agriculture industry, founding two biotechnology spin-off firms.

Dhingra earned a bachelor’s in science degree in botany from Hindu College, New Delhi, India, and his master’s degree in botany with specialization in cytogenetics and plant breeding from Raja Balwant Singh College, Agra, India. He earned his doctoral degree at the University of Delhi.

Main takes over interim role at Washington State University

Professor and plant scientist Doreen Main will again lead Washington State University’s (WSU) Department of Horticulture. She began her new role as interim chair of the department on July 16.

Active across the state, WSU’s )horticulture team performs research, teaching, and outreach work that improves and protects Northwest urban landscapes, orchards and agriculture, including important crops such as tree fruit, grapes, wine,and specialty crops.

Previously serving as interim chair from 2019-2020, Main replaces prior interim chair and professor Amit Dhingra, who leaves to head the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. Dhingra has chaired the department since June 2020.

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to once again lead our department’s highly engaged and productive faculty, staff, and students,” Main said. “Together, we will continue to build on the achievements of the outgoing interim chair, Dr. Dhingra, who led our department so inspirationally through the worst of the COVID crisis. I wish him every success in his new position at Texas A&M.”

Doreen Main

“In the coming year, we’ll focus on recruiting a world-class permanent chair for this state-critical and globally impactful department, and continue to strengthen our graduate program, undergraduate teaching, and donor partnerships,” she added.

“I thank Dr. Main for her willingness to once again lead this important department,” said Rich Koenig, interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “She is an experienced leader, and is well-versed in supporting faculty, staff, and students in their mission on behalf of agriculture, the environment, and society.

“I also thank Dr. Dhingra for his service as chair and 15 years of work in plant genomics and biotechnology on behalf of CAHNRS, and wish him well in his next chapter,” Koenig added.

Born and raised in Scotland, Main is a professor of bioinformatics, the science of analyzing and sharing complex biological data. She has been a member of the department since 2005.

Main holds a doctorate in bioscience and biotechnology from the University of Strathclyde and is former director of bioinformatics at Clemson University Genomics Institute in South Carolina.

Her discoveries draw on genomics, genetics, and ‘Big Data’—extremely large data sets analyzed by computers—to develop tools and knowledge affecting hundreds of crops, from forest trees to legumes, cotton and the vast rose family, encompassing apples, almonds, cherries, pears, raspberries and strawberries.

WSU’s horticultural department includes more than 70 faculty and staff and more than 250 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. Horticultural scientists at WSU bred the recently released Cosmic Crisp(R) apple, found the reference genome for peas, and annually generate more than $7 million in research awards.

Photo at top: Amit Dhingra.

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