Harris named acting director
Dr. B.L. Harris has been named acting director of the Texas Water Resources Institute.
Texas AgriLife Research Interim Director Dr. William A. Dugas and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Director Dr. Ed Smith announced the appointment, effective Feb. 1.
Harris replaces former director Dr. C. Allan Jones, who took a faculty position at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solutions Center at Dallas.
Harris joined the institute in 2001 as associate director and project director for the Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin project, also known as the Rio Grande Basin Initiative. This joint federal project with New Mexico State University is implementing strategies for meeting present and future water demand in the Rio Grande Basin by expanding the efficient use of available water and creating new water supplies.
Under Harris' leadership, the Rio Grande Basin Initiative has won numerous awards recognizing its outstanding research and education activities. In 2008, the project won the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the agriculture category. This award, the state's highest environmental honor, is presented annually by the Governor's Office and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The Rio Grande project received the Outstanding Integrated Activities for Water Resources Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service National Water Program in 2007. The project was also awarded Vice Chancellor's Awards in Excellence in two categories in previous years.
Harris holds the position of professor in Texas A&M's Soil and Crop Sciences Department, having been a faculty member since 1974.
Prior to joining the water institute, Harris was associate director for agriculture and natural resources for Texas AgriLife Extension Service (then Texas Agricultural Extension Service) and associate director for Texas AgriLife Research (then Texas Agricultural Experiment Station).
Harris earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy and his master's degree in soil sciences from Texas Tech University, followed by his doctorate in soil mineralogy from Oregon State University.
Harris received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Retiree Service award in 2007, the Texas Tech University Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2003, along with numerous other individual awards.