AMES, Iowa — Matthew Helmers, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University and director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Brent and Cindy Hart Professorship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Helmers was presented the professorship at a May 6 medallion ceremony hosted by Daniel J. Robison, holder of the Endowed Dean’s Chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The professorship is possible thanks to a gift commitment from Brent (’74 agronomy) and Cynthia (’77 elementary education) Hart, who are long-time supporters of Iowa State. The Harts have a strong interest in nitrogen management, carbon capture and water quality, and their giving focuses on supporting faculty research in these areas. The couple also support the work of Michael Castellano, professor in Iowa State’s Department of Agronomy, who focuses on soil science and fertility.
Brent Hart retired from the agricultural supply company Trammo, Inc., in 2018, after serving roles there including president and chief executive officer. Cindy Hart is a retired grade-school teacher. They maintain close ties to Iowa State from their current home in Colorado. Brent Hart still owns family farmland outside of Humboldt. They are frequent participants in RAGBRAI.
“The College greatly appreciates the wonderful generosity of alumni like the Harts, whose support for research and extension makes our important and impactful work all the better!” Robison said. “It is so appropriate that Dr. Helmers will be the inaugural holder of the Brent and Cindy Hart Professorship. He is a nationally known leader on water quality and nutrient management issues, whose collaborative work with diverse entities is having a positive impact in Iowa and far beyond.”
Helmers, an Iowa State faculty member since 2003, also holds the Dean's Professorship in Agriculture and Life Sciences. He leads research and extension activities on the impact of nutrient management practices and subsurface drainage from agricultural fields.
He serves as faculty advisor for the Iowa Learning Farms program, headquartered at Iowa State. Additional contributions include chairing the state’s nitrogen science team that assessed and continues to consider nutrient issues for the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a statewide science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients to waterways. He and his colleagues have won several national awards for developing educational materials on water quality and conservation.
“I am so appreciative of the generous support from Brent and Cindy Hart,” Helmers said. “This will allow us to attract high-quality graduate students who will help examine performance and implementation of edge-of-field conservation practices. The positive impacts from their support will be felt for years to come.”
Helmers earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Iowa State, his master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech and his doctoral degree in agricultural and biological systems engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.