Dwayne Edwards started on Jan. 1 as the head of the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering, which is in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering.

Edwards, who most recently was a professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering at the University of Kentucky, has a background in watershed-scale hydrology and water-quality protection with specialized knowledge of information analysis and data-driven assessments and decision-making.

He has extensive formal training and experience in senior-level strategic leadership and resource management in rapidly-changing environments.

Edwards takes over the department during an exciting time as it celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

“This department has been successful over the last century because it has been a leader in issues such as biotechnology and the environment,” said Edwards. “As we look to the future, we will continue to innovate in these fields to find practical solutions with broad impacts on the communities we serve.”

Biological systems engineering represents a field where engineering solutions are developed to deal with environmental, agricultural, and public health challenges.   

Edwards wants the department to continue its existing work, such as using big data to make decisions on watershed management, while also expanding the department’s reach in biotechnology that will complement college and university priorities, such as the SmartFarm Innovation Network and the Innovation Campus.

Edwards earned his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from Oklahoma State University, a master’s of science in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, a master’s of science in agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas, and a bachelor’s of science from the same university.

Edwards was also a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve from 2009-2014, when he served as the commanding general of the 98th Training Division and exercised statutory authority over 3,000 soldiers stationed from Maine to Puerto Rico.

His area of expertise is water resources and environmental research that identifies sustainable solutions to contemporary challenges of water quality and availability. He has won the American Society of Agronomy Excellence in Extension Award, the ASABE New Holland Young Researcher Award, and an Environmental Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, among others. 

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