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Media contact: Mary Hightower email@example.com 501-671-2006
April 22, 2021
By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture
(Newsrooms – with photo: https://flic.kr/p/2kPWQqt )
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Aaron Shew, the incoming associate director of the Center for
Advanced Spatial Technologies, will be taking on tasks as broad as his background.
Shew will be joining the faculty at Fayetteville as an assistant professor in the
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences in the department of
agricultural economics and agribusiness. He will also have an appointment in J. William
Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences for his role as associate director for CAST
and research and extension appointments within the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture, an entity within the U of A System.
He will be a faculty member within the department of Geosciences as well as the department
of agricultural economics and agribusiness in Bumpers College and the Division of
The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, or CAST, focuses on applying geospatial
technologies in research, teaching and service. Its 16 full-time faculty and research
associates cut across departmental lines, spilling into civil, industrial and computer
engineering, landscape architecture, geosciences, archeology, anthropology and now,
Jack Cothren, CAST director, used “eclectic” to describe both the center’s wide-ranging
work as well as Shew’s set of skills and experience. Some of CAST’s projects include
the purely theoretical, but most are research and development oriented, Cothren said.
“Aaron has experience in all of those things,” Cothren said, noting Shew’s experience
in agriculture and the environmental sciences, as well as his spatial skills and work
in applied economics. “In so many ways, he’s a perfect fit.”
Shew, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native holds five degrees, three of them from the
University of Arkansas: master’s degrees in agricultural economics and geography.
His third Arkansas degree is a doctorate in environmental dynamics. He holds a Bachelor
of Science degree in international relations and a Bachelor of Arts degree in global
studies with a minor in agriculture, all from Middle Tennessee State University.
John Anderson, head of the agricultural economics and agribusiness department for
the Division of Agriculture and the Bumpers College said Shew “is uniquely equipped
to help assess the value of emerging agricultural technologies in terms of their impacts
on production costs and the efficiency of resource use.
“Aaron’s experience in the management and analysis of big data sets in spatial analysis
adds another valuable component to the research, teaching and outreach capabilities
of our department,” Anderson said. “It is rewarding to see one of our own graduates
having such a significant impact in the profession, and we look forward to seeing
that impact continue to grow.”
Cothren said, “my goal is to allow him to build his own programs within CAST and pursue
his own proposals and work with the Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural
Experiment Station and Bumpers College to develop a stronger bond between Fulbright,
Bumpers and CAST. It’s a lot, but if anyone can do it, Aaron can.”
Cothren said the addition of Shew builds in an economics component that’s important
as spatial observation is increasingly incorporated into analysis of a nation’s, state’s
or even city’s economic activity.
Shew’s research focuses on the economics of precision agriculture, irrigation and
groundwater resources, crop residue burning and management, and agricultural conservation
in Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi River Basin.“We hope to be a valuable resource for scientists, agricultural stakeholders and the
public in areas where spatial technologies are important tools for decision-making
in the agriculture and food industries,” Shew said. “Over the next few years, my efforts
will focus on building collaborative opportunities for research, education and outreach
via the creation of an Agricultural Technology and Environmental Informatics hub within
CAST.”Shew comes to Fayetteville from Arkansas State University where he was the R.E.L.
Wilson Endowed Chair of Agricultural Economics. He received the Young Scholars Award
from the International Rice Research Institute in 2018 and the Young Alumni Award
from Middle Tennessee State University in 2019. Among the skills he picked up along
the way were Hindi and Urdu proficiency through the American Institute of Indian Studies
fellowships in India.
He brings a host of international experience as well with USAID, Engineers without
Borders and other organizations in Mozambique, Bangladesh, Uganda, Rwanda, India,
Iraq, Afghanistan and Thailand.
“I became interested in remote sensing and spatial technologies because they provide
powerful tools for identifying agricultural and environmental problems as well as
creating solutions,” Shew said. “Using ‘big data’ and spatially explicit agricultural
and environmental information provides important opportunities for improving on-farm
agricultural decision-making as well as policy. I'm still learning, always, and very
keen to continue and expand my research in these areas.”
Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk, @uaex_edu or @ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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