A new chapter in the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station's (UAES) history began in May with the appointment of Utah State University Vice President for Extension and Agriculture Noelle Cockett as the top UAES administrator. The change in leadership was necessitated by the retirement of H. Paul Rasmussen, who had served as UAES director since 1989. Cockett's appointment brings the full extent of USU's agricultural activities in teaching, research and extension under her leadership as she continues to serve as dean of the College of Agriculture and vice president for USU Extension.
"It is a challenging but exciting time to be involved in agriculture," Cockett said. "People are often surprised by the scope of the research supported by the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. Our researchers work on problems in animal health, rangeland management, cell biology, plant breeding, rural sociology, crop physiology, food safety, economics, sustainable development, human and animal nutrition, irrigation and water quality-- all the aspects of agriculture and natural resources, and factors that keep rural communities thriving. It is a privilege to work with so many people who are committed to improving lives and communities."
Cockett joined the USU Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences faculty in 1990 as a researcher and assistant professor. She became a full professor in 1996 and has since served the university as interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies, vice provost for academic affairs and as interim provost. Cockett was named dean of the College of Agriculture since 2002 and vice president for USU Extension and agriculture in 2006.
"The Utah Agricultural Experiment Station is the historic foundation of research at Utah State University," Cockett said. "The first research plots were established in 1888 when the university was founded. While we respect our legacy, we're always looking to the future. The challenges Utahns face are always changing and we continue to search for ways to solve or prevent problems for people in Utah, the West and the world."
Cockett has built a distinguished career in sheep genetics research, maintaining an active research program even while serving in various leadership positions at USU. She is the recipient of a Young Scientist Award from the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, and one of USU's top honors, the D. Wynne Thorne Research Award. She has served as U.S. coordinator of the international effort in sheep genome mapping and received a distinguished service award from the ASAS. She earned a bachelor's degree in animal science at Montana State University and master's and doctoral degrees in animal genetics at Oregon State University.