Wiedenhoeft named interim chair of Iowa State’s Department of Agronomy

Mary Weidenhoeft
Mary Wiedenhoeft

AMES, Iowa – Mary Wiedenhoeft will begin leading Iowa State University’s Department of Agronomy as interim department chair, effective May 16, 2023.

Wiedenhoeft, Morrill Professor of Agronomy, will take over for current department chair Kendall Lamkey, who has accepted the role of associate dean for facilities and operations for Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Dr. Wiedenhoeft has proven herself to be an excellent leader within the Department of Agronomy,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the endowed dean’s chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Her ability to connect with others and encourage them to reach their full potential is admirable, along with her extensive background in sustainable agriculture and cropping systems. I am delighted Dr. Wiedenhoeft has agreed to take on this interim position.”

Wiedenhoeft earned her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Iowa State, then obtained her doctoral degree in crop physiology from Washington State University. After 12 years on the faculty at the University of Maine, she joined Iowa State’s Department of Agronomy in 1999. She currently serves as the associate chair for academics and director of the Masters in Agronomy Program.

Through the years, Wiedenhoeft has taught courses on the introduction to crop science, systems analysis in crop and soil management, and integrated crop and livestock production systems. Last fall, she took students on a Study USA trip, exposing them to the production and processing systems of various crops in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

She also advises students in the department and, for many years, led the agronomy learning community. Her efforts to positively impact students and help them succeed in their academic journeys was acknowledged by her selection as the CALS Outstanding Advisor Award winner in 2017.

Wiedenhoeft’s research has focused on sustainable agriculture, agronomic education and the production and management of alternative cropping systems.

“I have really appreciated Kendall’s leadership; he has been an excellent leader. It’s amazing that many of the current faculty have known no other department chair,” Wiedenhoeft said. “I think the department is ready for the challenge of the transition, but it will take everyone working together. I am honored and excited about the opportunity to lead the department into the next era.”

Wiedenhoeft will further the department’s excellence in all mission areas, build on it with her colleagues and prepare the department for the next chair. A search for a new department chair will begin shortly, Robison said.

“It has been an honor to serve the Department of Agronomy for the past 16 years,” Lamkey said. “I am confident Dr. Wiedenhoeft will be a visionary and thoughtful leader during this time of transition. Her years of experience and knowledge of the department will serve her well and enable her to support our faculty, staff and students in working together to advance agriculture.”

Housed within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Department of Agronomy focuses on discovering new conservation methods, improving soil health, taking new approaches to bioenergy and advancing the genetic traits of plants. There are more than 35 faculty and 60 staff in the department, and approximately 400 undergraduate and graduate students.