I am pleased to announce that we have two new department heads joining the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Effective Nov. 1, Joseph Awika, Ph.D., has been appointed department head for the Department of Food Science and Technology and, effective Jan. 3, Brian King, Ph.D., will join our faculty to serve as the new department head for the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences.
Joseph Awika, Ph.D., Department of Food Science and Technology
Awika has been a professor at Texas A&M University since 2008. Most recently, he served as associate head of the Department of Food Science and Technology and lead of the Cereal Quality Lab in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.
Awika has investigated specific markers of chronic disease prevention and the ways new innovations can lead to improved health and nutrition benefits from grains and other plant-derived commodities.
His work has been instrumental in developing value chains for grain-based food products to help address food and nutrition insecurity among vulnerable populations. The work has also allowed developing economies to advance in creating high-quality, locally produced and processed foods with enhanced nutritional properties and broad consumer appeal.
Awika’s research involves multidisciplinary and international collaborations with geneticists, nutritional biochemists, agronomists, plant breeders and others from around the world. In particular, he has been involved in international projects aimed at using grains to improve livelihood through nutrition and food security. This work earned him the 2021 International Food Security Award. He is also Fulbright Fellowship recipient. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in dairy science and technology at Egerton University, Kenya, and doctoral degree in food science and technology from Texas A&M.
Brian King, Ph.D., Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences
Currently, King serves as associate dean in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Previously, he was professor at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, where he held various leadership roles including as pro vice-chancellor and head of the School of Hospitality Tourism and Marketing.
Originally from Scotland, King has worked in the tourism field his entire professional life, linking academia and practice in Europe and the Pacific as well as Hong Kong and Australia. His industry experience includes manager and director roles in airlines, tour operations, destination management, cruise operations and hotels. He has also provided consulting services to international agencies, including the United Nations World Tourism Organization, on tourism human resource development and marketing.
King earned his doctoral degree from Monash University, Australia, and master’s degrees from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and the University of Aberdeen. His teaching and research focus on experience management and the visitor and hospitality economy.
Please join me in welcoming both Drs. Awika and King to these key leadership roles. Also, please join me in thanking Drs. Bhimu Patil and Matt Baker for their respective interim leadership.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor and Dean, Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research