Thomason returns to roots as new plant and soil sciences department head
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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One of the new faces in Oklahoma State University Agriculture this fall semester is Wade Thomason, head of the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.
Thomason began his role at OSU in August after a 19-year career as a professor and Extension grains specialist at Virginia Tech University where he provided leadership in the production and management of corn, small grains and sorghum for grain and silage. Most recently, he served as the associate director in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
“We worked a lot on the advancement of no-till production, and our success led to a much better understanding of the overall soil health benefits of reduced tillage and organic matter,” Thomason said.
Not only is Thomason an OSU alumnus, but many of his professional colleagues are also OSU faculty members. He was named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2017.
“I’m very familiar with what our folks are studying in the areas of modeling and data science,” he said. “The extent of development of the OSU Wheat Improvement Team is special, and the size and scope of its work is impressive.”
OSU’s WIT is a signature program of the plant and soil sciences department. The interdisciplinary group of scientists develops highly adapted winter wheat cultivars with marketable grain quality. Researchers support the Oklahoma wheat industry by enhancing wheat genetic resources and partnering with OSU Ag Research, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation. Each new variety developed by OSU’s wheat breeding team involves at least 10 years of research and is well received worldwide.
“The department’s faculty and staff are very knowledgeable and skilled in their roles,” Thomason said. “My job is to help them get where they want to go and keep the trains running on time.”
A native of Mangum, Oklahoma, Thomason attended OSU and earned an undergraduate degree in animal science.
“I came here with the idea that I would go to vet school, but when I got into it, I realized I didn’t like the medical classes and preferred the science classes,” he said.
As a plant and soil sciences master’s student who later also completed a doctorate in soil science at OSU, Thomason conducted research in the soil fertility program and worked as a senior agriculturalist and research technician in the department.
Before joining Virginia Tech, he served as a soils and crop specialist on an ag consulting team at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore.
Thomason said his return to Stillwater is an opportunity for him to help his alma mater and give back to his home state. Fun fact: he and his wife were married in OSU’s Bennet Chapel, and Brett Carver, OSU wheat genetics chair and program leader of the WIT, played the organ at their wedding. Thomason and his wife have two daughters, a freshman at OSU and a sophomore at Stillwater High School. Both children are involved in sports and outdoor activities that the family enjoys supporting.
Professionally, Thomason’s Extension experience and agronomy background will help further the success of his department. He said OSU’s New Frontiers Agricultural Hall will attract top-level researchers to campus.
“It will help our recruiting and student experiences with an improved space that’s modern and specifically designed for teaching labs. We’ll capitalize on that,” he said.