Puneet Srivastava, professor of ecological engineering in Auburn University’s Department of Biosystems Engineering, has been named the Butler-Cunningham Eminent Scholar in Agriculture and the Environment at Auburn following an internal search. College of Agriculture Dean and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Director Bill Batchelor said Srivastava assumed the three-year appointment March 1.
Only the third Auburn faculty member to be awarded the prestigious honor since its establishment in 1990, Srivastava will be responsible for developing strong research, education and extension programs that integrate agricultural and environmental issues to improve the quality of life in rural and urban communities. His programs may target agriculture’s effects on water quality and biological diversity, environmental education and enhancement of ecological stability in areas such as forests, parks or communities.
Srivastava said he is honored to have been selected for the position.
“I greatly appreciate the trust that the College of Agriculture faculty and administration have placed in my ability to lead to national and international stature and prominence our interdisciplinary research, teaching and outreach programs focused on agriculture and the environment,” he said.
Srivastava was awarded a master’s degree in biological and agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1994 and, five years later, a Ph.D. in the same from Pennsylvania State University. He joined the Auburn faculty in 2004 as assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and in 2013 was awarded professor status.
His research focuses on short- and long-term climate forecasts to reduce risks to water resources, the development of fundamental understanding of hydrologic and pollutant fate and transport processes and the development of scientifically sound and economically feasible approaches for protecting water resources and the environment. Over the course of his career, Srivastava has been awarded more than $15.9 million in research grants and contracts, as well as teaching grants totaling almost $224,000.
Before coming to Auburn, Srivastava worked as an engineer with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in Little Rock for two years and was assistant curator at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University’s Patrick Center for Environmental Research in Philadelphia for three years.
The Butler-Cunningham endowed eminent scholar position, which is administered through the College of Agriculture, was established at Auburn by Eugene Butler and Emory Cunningham. Butler was the long-time editor of the Southwest version of Progressive Farmer Magazine, which his father launched in 1900. Cunningham, an Auburn alumnus with a degree in botany, was the long-time president of Southern Progress Corp., the parent company of Progressive Farmer and Southern Living. He also served on Auburn’s Board of Trustees for 12 years.
The first two Butler-Cunningham eminent scholars were both faculty in what is now the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences at Auburn. William Davies held the position from 1991 to 1995. Professor Claude Boyd was awarded the honor in 1995 and served until 2014.