Forage, sheep researchers earn honors from Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

A scientist whose work springs from the needs of Wyoming forage producers and another whose focus is increasing sheep producer profitability have received outstanding research awards from the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES).

Anowar Islam, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, received the Outstanding Research Award. Whit Stewart, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, received the Early Career Research Award.

University of Wyoming Extension forage specialist Anowar Islam discusses production research during a recent forage field day.

WAES is the research branch of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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Islam joined UW in 2008 as an assistant professor and has received over $3.8 million in research funding. 

“Anowar Islam has evaluated the most critical needs of Wyoming forage producers and has responded to those needs with an aggressive research program that has had a significant impact on county extension educators and producers and certainly the scientific community,” wrote Mark Marsalis, a professor and extension forage specialist at New Mexico State University.

Marsalis noted Islam’s research covers diverse crops and economic needs, including pasture, hay and silage operations, fertility, planting dates, seeding rates, herbicides, legume-grass mixes and alternative forages.

Islam has contributed considerable research effort toward uses of forages in reclamation and restoration efforts, and his new project is focused on regenerative grazing with the aim of carbon sequestration, said Randa Jabbour, an associate professor in UW’s Department of Plant Sciences.

“He consistently explores the viability of several alternative crops for Wyoming production,” said Jabbour. “He is one of the national experts on lesser-explored alternative forages with research on forage sorghum, kochia, sainfoin, birdsfoot trefoil … and the list goes on.”

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Islam became an associate professor in 2014 and was promoted to professor in 2019. He has published 46 peer-reviewed journal articles and mentored 10 graduate students and has presented his research through hundreds of talks and posters.

His ability to design robust experiments provides critical information for the scientific community and applied performance data pasture managers can use immediately, said Jim Heitholt, director of UW’s Powell Research and Extension Center.

“His work greatly affects the economics of hay and livestock operations, which is the primary driving force in Wyoming and much of the Intermountain West,” said Heitholt.

Stewart, who joined the college in 2017, is also the UW Extension sheep specialist.

University of Wyoming Extension sheep specialist Whit Stewart discusses sheep production issues with producers in Uinta County.

Since 2017, “He has emerged as a leader in the department in areas of research, extension and teaching,” noted Bledar Bisha, associate professor and interim head of the Department of Animal Science.

“Stewart’s research is passionate about affecting positive change in the Wyoming and U.S. sheep industry through quality applied and basic research and consequently has gained the respect and appreciation of producers and his colleagues alike,” he said.

Stewart’s training has spanned Idaho, Montana, New York, Oregon, New Mexico and Wyoming. 

His research has involved effects of trace minerals on immune function, utilization of novel feedstuffs and effects of sire breed on lamb quality.

Nominators noted his collaboration with sheep researchers at multiple institutions allows an applied research focus aimed at enhancing the overall efficiency and profitability of U.S. sheep producers.

Stewart has received over $1.1 million in research funding and has published 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, 23 proceedings, 22 abstracts and over 101 popular press and extension publications.

“He sets the bar high and serves as an example for new faculty in the department as they take their first steps in building their research programs,” said Bisha.

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