AFRE’s Scott Swinton named University Distinguished Professor

AFRE faculty member Scott Swinton has been named a Michigan State University Distinguished Professor.

AFRE faculty member Scott Swinton has been named a Michigan State University Distinguished Professor.

Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) professor Scott Swinton has been named a University Distinguished Professor. The MSU Board of Trustees announced the honorific for Swinton and nine professors at its June meeting in recognition of their exceptional teaching skills, records of public service, and distinguished scholarly achievements.

“It’s a great honor,” said Swinton. “I feel lucky because we have a lot of good professors here who are just as deserving as myself, I received this award because of the great community and the efforts of the colleagues who nominated me.”

Swinton has been at Michigan State University since 1991. Since then, he received the MSU William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award in 2015, the AFRE Faculty Excellence in Research Award in 2009 and the AFRE Faculty Excellence in Service Award in 2008, 20016, and 2019. Eleven of Swinton’s graduate student advisees have won AFRE’s best thesis award; three of them went on to win national awards from that Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA).

At the national level, Swinton was elected to the AAEA board of directors during 2012-15 and 2016-19, serving as President in 2017-18. During his presidential term, Swinton facilitated the launch of a new publication, Agricultural Economics Teaching Resources, he established a mentoring program that matches senior and junior professors, and he promoted childcare programs and a professional conduct/anti-harassment policy designed to encourage participation at the annual meetings by early career professionals.

Swinton’s research focuses on managing crop production to generate both profits and environmental benefits. Working closely with biologists to study farming systems from both natural and economic perspectives, he explores how improved technology, policy, and information management can make agriculture more successful. Over the past three decades, he has developed computer models for farmers to make more profitable weed management decisions; he has analyzed where, when, and how precision agriculture technologies can benefit Michigan farmers; and he has examined where, when, and how landowners can profit from producing bioenergy crops and residues. His latest research explores the economic effects of the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds, the potential benefits and costs of incorporating natural areas into agricultural fields, and how the way that farmers perceive changing climate is changing their management decisions.

According to Swinton, Michigan State University has offered many opportunities to expand and further his research.

“MSU has been a great place to do multi-disciplinary research on interdisciplinary problems,” said Swinton. “MSU offers great biologists to work with. People like Doug Landis, Phil Robertson, and Nick Haddad at the Kellogg Biological Station have been amazing. My AFRE colleagues and our superb students make it easy to keep learning and developing professionally. Among them, Roy Black has been a really special mentor and guide over the years.”

"I'm very excited about the selection of Scott Swinton as a University Distinguished Professor at MSU,” said AFRE chair Titus Awokuse. “He’s an excellent and very accomplished scholar who is globally recognized for his many outstanding intellectual contributions to the field of agricultural and applied economics. He’s also well-known for his exemplary citizenship and service as a servant-leader."

Moving forward, Swinton feels more motivated to make a difference on campus.

“Having this new title does not fundamentally change my goals, but it does give extra heft that I hope to devote to mentoring and to doing what I can to strengthen the university and what's good for us as a community as a long term.”

“The title of University Distinguished Professor takes you from being just another professor to a being a “distinguished” one. With that comes an obligation to think of the common good, whether that be good research, good teaching, or some other aspect of what we do.”

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