A widely recognized expert in cotton production in not only California, but the U.S., Kings County, Calif., farm advisor Bruce Roberts, is leaving the University of California to accept a position at California State University, Fresno.

Currently agronomy farm advisor and UC Cooperative Extension county director for Kings County, Roberts has been named the first holder of the J.G. Boswell Endowed Chair in Plant Science at California State University, Fresno.

The chair was created with a $1.2 million gift from the James G. Boswell Foundation of Pasadena. Roberts will assume his new position in August.

Roberts has been with UC Extension for 20 years.

"The J.G. Boswell Chair in Agronomy is a critical position in the Plant Science Department and to the plant industry in the Valley," said Daniel Bartell, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

"Bruce Roberts comes to us as a well-respected, experienced researcher and teacher who will be able to integrate the classroom with industry's needs. He will also provide a tremendous conduit for continuing the collaborative efforts that we have under way with our counterparts in the University of California and the USDA," Bartell said.

Mark Grewal, J.G. Boswell Co. vice president, said the company is pleased with the selection of Roberts, "who understands industry and university issues.

"We look forward to graduates who have a strong understanding about cotton and its importance to the state and the country as the challenges in our industry continue to grow," Grewal said.

Earl Bowerman, chair of the Department of Plant Science called Roberts’ appointment "a milestone" for the department.

Charlie Krauter, chair of the search committee for the J.G. Boswell Chair and professor in the Department of Plant Science, added: "The J. G. Boswell Foundation recognized its importance to agriculture at the university when it endowed the position and Dr. Roberts was selected from a distinguished group of applicants for the position. His extensive background in all of the major agronomic crops in the Central Valley will bring a wealth of knowledge to the students that are the future of California agriculture."

A 1975 graduate of Fresno State with a bachelor of science degree in agronomy and soils, Roberts earned his master’s degree at Utah State University and his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis.

In addition to his UC Extension role, Roberts is the chair of the UC West Side Research and Extension Center’s Research Advisory Committee and executive secretary for the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy. He previously served on the executive board of the California Plant and Soil Conference.

Although Roberts will primarily be teaching, he plans to continue his research in cotton and other agronomic crops grown in the San Joaquin Valley.

"I will maintain a research component on the college farm as well as with my San Joaquin Valley contacts," Roberts said. "I’m excited about incorporating my experience with classroom teaching and having the opportunity to involve students in applied field research projects. I’m also looking forward to building collaborative relations with my former Extension colleagues and CSU Fresno graduates."

e-mail:hcline@primediabusiness.com