Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - Octavio Ramirez, a faculty member with Texas Tech University, will become head of New Mexico State University's agricultural economics and agricultural business department June 1.
Ramirez has been strongly involved in education, teaching several undergraduate and graduate courses annually and advising thesis and dissertation research of numerous graduate students in the last 13 years. His experience includes eight years in research and leadership positions at a Latin American agricultural research center.
Ramirez earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in food and resource economics from the University of Florida. He has an admitted passion for teaching and for mentoring students.
"I'm looking forward to being part of a multicultural academic environment with a significant population of Hispanic-American students," he said. "The NMSU faculty members that I've met so far are highly committed to education, and the well-being and academic achievement of their students. It will be a pleasure to work in that kind of an environment."
Ramirez's specialty is econometrics, or building and applying statistical models for economic research. Leading agricultural economics journals have featured his statistical analyses of U.S. crop yields and his economic models to forecast U.S. and international crop prices.
Some of his latest international research, which attempts to assign an economic value to environmental benefits from tropical forests, has been showcased in European economics journals and several book chapters.
Another of his research projects, recently featured in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, uses econometrics to quantify the effects of irrigation water and fertilizer use on West Texas cotton yields and quality under different rainfall and temperature regimes. "More water increases yields, but it sometimes worsens the quality of the cotton produced," Ramirez said. "In fact, under certain circumstances, because of the marked price differentials for quality, producers could substantially increase profits by reducing irrigation water use, even with somewhat lower yields."
Before joining Texas Tech, Ramirez worked for eight years with the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), a Latin American research and postgraduate education center based in Costa Rica. "We focused on research, educational, and outreach programs to meet the needs of small and mid-sized farmers in Latin America," he said. "We also provided expert advise to policy makers, donor agencies, and other interested groups, on agricultural development and environmental and natural resource management issues."
From 1995 to 1998, he directed the center's environmental economics and sociology research program, which focused on environmental economic issues in agriculture, watershed management, sustainable forestry and agroforestry. From 1993 to 1995, he coordinated the center's Integrated Pest Management project, a component of a large environmental and natural resource management initiative funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
"At NMSU, I will try to promote an academic environment that motivates and helps the faculty continue developing and excelling in their teaching, extension and research careers," he said. "Faculty who are satisfied with their work and professional achievements translate their knowledge and enthusiasm into high-quality teaching and student mentoring, which are the most important activities of a university."
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