CFAES Dean announces chair appointments

Nov. 18, 2020

Devin Peterson joins Tim Habb in being named as The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) inaugural Dean’s Chairs by Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean.

Tim Haab, chair of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) was named Dean’s Chair in June of 2019. This week Dean Kress announced that Devin Peterson, a Distinguished Professor of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences in Flavor Science, faculty director for the Foods for Health Discovery Theme, director of the Flavor Research and Education Center (FREC), and co-director of Nutrient & Phytochemical Analytic Shared Resource, will join Haab as a CFAES inaugural Dean’s Chair.  

The Dean’s Chair is a new program initiated to celebrate Ohio State’s sesquicentennial. Chair-holders are provided financial support and “startup” capability from the college and strategic partners to provide the college with the margin of excellence needed in an identified priority scholarly endeavor. A focus on the missions of teaching, research, and extension, as well as on the ability to contribute to the economic well-being of the state of Ohio, are among the sought-after qualities of faculty who hold Dean’s Chair appointments.  

Haab serves as the Dean’s Chair in Transformative Initiatives, where he focuses on new and innovative programs that integrate all three missions of teaching, research, and extension, and contributes to the economic well-being of the state of Ohio. Initially, Haab will focus on the launch of the CFAES Knowledge Exchange, funded as part of the recent $7 million dollar grant from the Nationwide Foundation. The Knowledge Exchange is a transformative, research-based, data-driven platform for collection, storage, translation, and exchange of CFAES data and research for diverse audiences.

Haab joined Ohio State in 2000 and has served as AEDE department chair since 2010. A first-generation college student, he received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1991, and his PhD in agricultural and resource economics, from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1995. From 1995 to 2000, Haab was an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at East Carolina University.

Haab’s research and teaching focus on environmental economics and applied econometrics. His recent research has looked at the impacts of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, the impacts of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the impacts of marine debris on southern California beaches. He has led research supported by more than $4 million in grants; authored more than 70 articles and reports, and three books; and has given presentations and seminars at more than 100 universities and conferences worldwide.

Haab is past president of the National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators and has served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board Environmental Economics Advisory Committee.

Under Haab’s leadership, AEDE has been ranked the top research-doctorate program in the United States in agricultural and resource economics, as well as in regional economics. Haab has successfully led AEDE programs that go beyond the classroom to integrate teaching, research, and extension, and has transformed the AEDE staff to focus on customer service and innovative support programs.

Peterson will focus on food, and general health and wellness initiatives as determined with input from the dean. These initiatives will be complementary to his leadership of Foods for Health and will engage faculty and issues beyond the Discovery Theme. Additionally, Peterson will provide leadership as the college explores opportunities within food sciences and health initiatives and partnerships on the CFAES Wooster campus. 

In 2011, while at the University of Minnesota, Peterson launched FREC with eight companies. In 2016, Peterson joined CFAES, bringing with him FREC, which has grown its membership to eighteen major industry partners. 

Peterson has a worldwide reputation for his pioneering work on flavor chemistry. His research is cutting-edge and has changed—and will continue to change—the quality of food enjoyed by consumers. A focus of his work is to support the development of highly palatable healthy food choices to promote consumption and health outcomes.

His research outcomes have been translated into practice in food companies through an industry-based center. He has received many of the highest profile awards offered by his profession and provides inspiration to the students and colleagues with whom he works.