Wayne Wilkerson named MWRRI director

An associate professor of landscape architecture at Mississippi State is the new director of a research institute at the land-grant university focusing on economic and environmental issues affecting water resources.

Wayne Wilkerson will lead the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute. Appointment of the MSU alumnus is pending approval of the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning.

One of more than 50 established nationwide in the 1960s, the institute provides a coordinated research and development program to find solutions to water and water-related land use problems in the state and region. Its projects address a wide range of concerns, including economic development, drinking water quality, groundwater sources, and aquifer and watershed management, among others.

Wilkerson, who received MSU bachelor's and master's degrees in 1975 and 1978, respectively, joined landscape architecture department in 1999. He currently coordinates the department's research and graduate programs.

He taught previously at Louisiana State University, from which he completed a second master's in 1988. He is a registered landscape architect and a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and International Association of Landscape Ecologists. (For more, visit www.lalc.msstate.edu/faculty/wilkerson/wilkerson.php.)

Wilkerson's current research focuses on the producing computer models that enable the development industry to design and build more resilient and sustainable communities. His work is supported through a grant from the Northern Gulf Institute, an MSU-led research consortium.

He is also a member of the steering committee for the MSU Healthy Watersheds, Healthy Oceans, Healthy Ecosystems working group comprised of more than 30 faculty and staff from 10 departments across campus.

At MWRRI, Wilkerson succeeds George Hopper, dean of the College of Forest Resources and director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. Last July, Hopper assumed additional responsibilities as interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and interim director of the Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station.

Under Hopper's leadership, the MWRRI funded research programs of 38 faculty members at four Mississippi institutions that helped train 15 doctoral candidates, nearly 40 master's-level students, 33 undergraduate students, and one in high school.

Wilkerson has been very active in water-related research throughout his career. He has worked closely with professionals within and outside the university in collaborative research and outreach efforts.

He also has been involved in several multi-disciplinary projects sponsored through the Geosystems Research Institute at MSU focusing on issues impacting the natural and economic resources of Mississippi watersheds. Among them have been the development and copyrighting of a spatial-decision support system to help public agencies assess the hydrologic impacts of large industrial developments.

The MWRRI director reports jointly to the university's vice presidents for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine and for research and economic development.

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