One of Mississippi State’s own, David Shaw, has recently been selected as the vice president of research and economic development.
Shaw began his term Jan. 1 succeeding Kirk Schulz, who left to become president of Kansas State University.
Dean of Engineering Sarah Rajala served as chairman of the search committee that selected Shaw. The committee worked for about six months advertising the position, recruiting and reviewing applications. Applicants were narrowed down to 10 and then to four. Rajala said all the final candidates had outstanding credentials, but Shaw was in a unique position.
“He was the only internal candidate and as such, he certainly had a strong working knowledge of Mississippi State as far as who we are and where we want to go,” Rajala said.
Shaw has been a part of the land grant university’s faculty since 1985. His roots in weed science and agriculture were planted in Oklahoma.
Studying agriculture as an undergraduate student at Cameron University, Shaw said he chose the small college because it was close to his hometown.
“I was actually farming full time with my family, so in order to be able to get my degree I needed a university that could work with that schedule,” he said.
After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Shaw said he planned on returning to his family’s farm. It was not until March of his senior year that he decided to further his education. Through excellent mentorship and advising, he said he was steered to graduate school.
“Once I began working on my degrees, it became clear to me that a faculty position was what I was most interested in, and suited for,” Shaw said. “And I’ve never regretted that decision.”
He went on to achieve both his master’s and doctorate in weed science from Oklahoma State University. Shaw began his career as an assistant professor of weed science at Mississippi State 25 years ago.
“OSU in many, many ways reminds me of MSU, and when I interviewed here I felt that I was very well suited because of the similarities,” Shaw said.
From 1998, Shaw led an effort, which led to funding of the Remote Sensing Technologies Center with a NASA challenge grant. At the time it was the largest in the university’s history. He successfully developed a geospatial technologies certificate program at MSU during his leadership there until 2002.
Shaw was awarded the university’s highest honorary distinction as a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor in 1998.
“He has demonstrated success in terms of starting and leading research and clearly has outstanding communication skills working with people and the community,” Rajala said.
Shaw said he felt qualified for the position because of his time at MSU and his leadership of one of the largest research centers of the university.
“MSU has tremendous strengths in research, and even more opportunity in the future,” Shaw said. “We are also a strong economic engine for the state and region.”
With the tremendous opportunities to grow the research program, Shaw said his experience with agencies and industry compliment those opportunities.
“At the same time, we will be putting more focus on enhancing our reputation through scholarly works, competitive grants, and greater recognition of the outstanding faculty and students we have,” he said.
The research program at MSU is one of the primary factors, which differentiates the student experience here compared to other institutions, Shaw said.
“Outstanding research means that you have faculty in the classroom that are on the cutting edge of their disciplines; this in turn provides learning experiences for students that are truly unique,” Shaw said. “Research is also integrally linked with education, in that students have access to equipment and technologies that would not otherwise be available.”
Junior biological engineering major Emily Smith said the office of research and economic development allows students to get involved in research at an undergraduate level.
“Other schools make you wait until you’re a graduate student, so it gives us a lot of good experience,” she said.
Shaw has two children, Stacy and Russell. He has been married to his wife Sherri for 31 years.