David Constant has been named head of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, a joint position shared between the LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Engineering.
Constant, who was most recently dean of the LSU Graduate School, has been on the LSU faculty since 1984. He holds the Humphreys T. Turner Professorship in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and has served as associate dean and then interim dean in the College of Engineering.
In addition to Constant’s appointment in biological and agricultural engineering, the department’s faculty teaching appointments previously in the College of Agriculture have been moved to the College of Engineering, according to John Russin, vice chancellor for research at the LSU AgCenter.
Faculty research appointments will remain in the AgCenter.
“This move will increase our efficiency, provide additional opportunities for research and offer increased services to the citizens of Louisiana,” said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson.
“We are pleased to have an individual of Dr. Constant’s caliber leading the department into the future,” said College of Engineering Dean Richard Koubek. “His background is ideally suited to expand the collaboration between the AgCenter and the College of Engineering.”
The LSU AgCenter research and extension activities are internationally renowned, and this partnership holds promise to deliver great outcomes to Louisiana, he added.
“The research focus and emphasis will remain the same for the faculty,” Constant said. “The bulk of their research funds come through the AgCenter.”
With 25 years in environmental engineering, Constant has seen the technology and state of the art changing.
“We need to take a risk-based approach to addressing agriculture,” he said. “With agriculture facing water issues such as total maximum daily loads, the AgCenter, the College of Engineering, the state and LSU are all more engaged in the water business. And there are contributions we can make.”
The departmental change increases the diversity of research opportunities in the AgCenter, Russin said. “We now have the opportunity to look at agricultural research programs from a new perspective.”
Constant also cited the importance of the connection between the AgCenter and the College of Engineering.
“The Cooperative Extension Service is a wonderful resource,” he said. “It shows how collaboration can be used in engineering to benefit the state. It’s a real plus for the department and the college. Collaboration from engineering to the people through extension is a strong asset.”
Collaborating more closely with the College of Engineering will be extremely beneficial to the LSU AgCenter mission, said Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for extension. “Expanding engagement beyond traditional agriculture will be beneficial for stakeholders and businesses in all 64 parishes, which will now be connected to the engineering college.”
Constant also sees potential for increased collaboration among the college, the AgCenter, Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LSU Health Systems.
“I think we have some excellent biomedical-type faculty in this department,” Constant said. “We have potential to go after some significant funding with faculty who can bridge between programs very nicely.”
On the teaching side, Constant said biological and agricultural engineering is “a good program, a growing program.” Student enrollment has been growing and now numbers about 260 undergraduates.
Undergraduate students primarily focus on biological engineering while graduate students’ research mostly focuses on more traditional agricultural issues.
“Opportunities for students in this department are diverse,” Constant said. “They have a broad understanding of engineering and the chance to work in a variety of fields.”