Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center leader recognized for visionary leadership
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has named Bhimu Patil, Ph.D., as a Regents Professor who is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pacesetting.
Patil is the interim head for the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Department of Food Science and Technology. He is a professor and director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, VFIC, and U.S. Department of Agriculture National Center for Excellence on Melons.
Patil was one of 15 faculty members recognized for their extraordinary contributions to their university or agency, as well as the people of Texas.
“These individuals exemplify the commitment to excellence in research and service that sets A&M System employees apart,” said Elaine Mendoza, chairman of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. “I hope their example will inspire others in their own endeavors.”
The Regents Professor Award was established to recognize and honor individuals at the rank of professor or equivalent who have provided exemplary service not only to their university, agency or health science center component, but also to the community, state and/or at the international level.
“I’m honored for this recognition of my accomplishments, which is possible due to my transdisciplinary collaborators’, students’ and staff’s efforts,” Patil said. “This award is a testament to our group work, including late Dr. (G.K.) Jayaprakasha for his dedication and passion towards advancing science.”
The farm-to-table approach
Patil received the award for his record of exceptional research, distinguished teaching and visionary leadership in administration. He is internationally recognized for his expertise and research on foods for health and his related educational programs. His systems-wide farm-to-table approaches include examining pre- and post-harvest effects onbioactive compounds, isolating and characterizing these compounds from different fruits and vegetables andunderstanding their roles in human health. Moreover, he has a strong working relationship with produce industry stakeholders.
Patil also has a distinguished record of achievements in education, including leading the development of three unique courses linking agriculture, human health and sustainability. Texas A&M University has been a leader in this area, due in part to his seminal contributions in these first-of-their-kind multidisciplinary courses.
Patil has secured over $26.5 million in collaborative grants and over $17.1 million for his own research and education program, including highly competitive federal grants. He has published 210 peer-reviewed articles and has been invited to present at 21 international keynote/plenary presentations and more than 200 invited presentations.
Undergraduate and graduate influence
“As a social scientist and educational researcher, I applaud Dr. Patil’s impact on undergraduate and graduate students, the university curricula, and land-grant university education system,” said Neil Knobloch, Ph.D., professor, Purdue University.
Patil’s innovative ideas provided graduate students to serve as role models in helping undergraduate students see the possibilities of continuing further study in the science of foods for health. Moreover, graduate students conducted PK-12 engagement activities with high school teachers from Texas and Iowa.
He also has provided important guidance and inspiration for numerous graduate, undergraduate and high school students. He has served as the chair/co-chair on 43 graduate committees, supervised 30 visiting scientists/postdoctoral research associates and more than 50 undergraduate/high school students and his students received 40 awards.
Graduate students and postdoctoral research associates have played key roles in Patil’s research program, which is recognized as one of the outstanding research programs in ‘Foods for Health’ at the global level.
Recent graduate Jose Perez, Ph.D., currently working at USDA, wrote, “Prior to meeting Dr. Patil, I lacked guidance on how to navigate my academic life and how to go forward with other options. I had recently lost my father to heart disease and my mother had an elementary education. As a first-generation U.S. citizen and college student, I was unsure what path to take. Dr. Patil filled that void and became a guiding light in my career and my life. Thanks to his advice, support and motivation, I completed my undergraduate degree and continued with master’s and doctoral degrees at Texas A&M University.”
Jinhee Kim, Ph.D., a former doctoral student and current team leader/principal researcher of the Biomimicry Team, National Institute of Ecology, Republic of Korea, wrote, “Let me amplify what separates Dr. Patil from others in his field. To be a good teacher, one must possess the skill to transfer knowledge. Equally important, a good instructor must develop a relationship with their students, encourage them, and spur them to success. Unfortunately, many world-class researchers lack those attributes. However, Dr. Patil personifies an exemplary teacher who makes extraordinary efforts to help ensure students fulfill their promise.”
Words of support were noted by Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO, Texas International Producers Association, who wrote, “Dr. Patil has worked hard to explore and understand the many challenges farmers face and bring solutions so that more of their delicious and healthy foods may reach more consumers.” And by Yves Desjardins, Ph.D., director of International Relations for the Institute for Nutraceutical and Functional Food, University of Laval, Canada, who said Patil’s program “is now internationally recognized and considered a model, since he has been able to bridge the gap between horticultural and nutritional and medical sciences.”
Under Patil’s leadership, the VFIC has become a world-renowned research center in the area of phytochemical enhancement, stated Dean Kopsell, Ph.D., chair, Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida.
“What is most impressive to me about Dr. Patil is his commitment to foods for health and the impacts his work has had on horticultural industries in the state of Texas and around the world,” Kopsell said. “I have witnessed the connections he has made with commodity leaders within Texas. He has the best program in the world to emulate for impactful research and industry collaborations.”
Patil has earned many awards, including a Healthy Living Lifetime Achievement award from the Texas International Producers Association, Texas A&M University’s Leonard M. Pike’s Inaugural University Professorship, a Distinguished Service Award from the Division of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, AGFD, of the American Chemical Society, and Outstanding Graduate Educator Award by the American Society for Horticulture Sciences, ASHS. He also has been named a Fellow by AGFD, ASHS, Brazilian Horticulture Society, Indian Horticulture Society and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
At the national and international level, Patil has chaired committees for the American Society for Horticultural Science, providing key direction on topics related to foods for health. He has also served as AGFD chair, organizing symposia and discussions on key agricultural topics. Currently, he is the division chair of Horticulture for Human Health of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences.