Bill Gibbons, director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at South Dakota State University, associate dean of research for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and distinguished professor, retired in July 2023 after 36 years of dedicated service to the university.
Gibbons held the roles of director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at South Dakota State University and the associate dean of research for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences since January 2020 and had previously served in these roles as interim since 2016.
In his roles, Gibbons coordinated and facilitated research in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the college’s network of research farms and stations with over 17,000 acres of land across the state that make up the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.
“I want to congratulate Dr. Gibbons on a highly successful 36-year career in service to South Dakota State University,” said Joe Cassady, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “His contributions to science and education will be felt by SDSU for decades to come.”
An alumnus of South Dakota State University, Gibbons earned multiple degrees—bachelor’s degrees in biology, microbiology and chemistry; a master’s degree in microbiology; and doctoral degrees in agronomy and microbiology.
Gibbons joined the Department of Biology and Microbiology as an assistant professor in 1987 and attained the rank of professor in 1997. He was named a distinguished professor in 2018. In his role as professor, Gibbons taught a biotechnology course and advised graduate students and undergraduate researchers. He has trained over 20 master’s students, three doctoral students and countless undergraduate students, most of whom have gone on to work in the biotechnology industry.
Gibbons had a highly accomplished research career at SDSU. His work focused on applied microbiology and biotechnology, specifically in value addition to agricultural products through bioprocessing. He helped develop a high-protein aqua feed ingredient from soybean meal that is now being commercially manufactured and providing aquaculture farmers and feed manufacturers around the world with the power needed to boost the rapidly growing industry’s performance. As a graduate student, Gibbons participated in one of the most impactful projects ever conducted at SDSU, the groundbreaking ethanol fuel research and development project that began in 1977. Since then, the ethanol technology developed at SDSU has grown and spread across the country.
“Dr. Gibbons provided an effective firsthand example of the potential to spin off university research results into creating opportunities for economic growth and employment,” said Daniel Scholl, vice president for research and economic development at SDSU. “While serving as leader of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and during the time he filled the additional duties of interim assistant vice president for technology transfer, he was a valuable coach and mentor for faculty and graduate students who saw the potential for their creative research to impact the marketplace. He knows how to inform research with questions that are important to the marketplace, navigate publication and confidentiality needs, and work effectively as both a researcher and as an entrepreneur. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him and learn from him.”
Gibbons practiced and promoted interdisciplinary research for many years and had a strong network of collaborators from process and chemical engineers to biochemists and molecular biologists.
“Dr. William Gibbons has made major contributions to bioprocessing education through teaching and mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students,” said Muthu Muthukumarappan, Klingbeil Endowed Department Head and distinguished professor. “He provided leadership and was a collaboration king in developing a Center for Excellence in Bioprocessing in South Dakota. Dr. Gibbons provided leadership in scholarship activities, and his collaborative contributions are enormous with many invention disclosures, patents applied, patents awarded and one license agreement in the development of aquaculture diets.”
During his career, Gibbons has published more than 120 refereed publications and more than 340 presentations in bioprocessing.
His honors include being named a distinguished professor by SDSU in 2018, a National Wetlands Award winner by the Environmental Law Institute in 2018, an F.O. Butler Award for Excellence in Research by SDSU in 2014, the Pat and Jo Cannon Intellectual Property Commercialization Award in 2011, Gamma Sigma Delta Researcher of the Year in 2011, College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Distinguished Researcher of the Year in 2007 and SDSU Microbiology Club Teacher of the Year in 1990.
During this transition, Russ Daly, professor, SDSU Extension veterinarian and state public health veterinarian, will serve as interim director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean of research for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
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