There will be a new face in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering when Mari Chinn takes over as new department head in January 2021. The OSU A&M Board of Regents approved Chinn’s appointment at the September 2020 board meeting Friday.
Chinn comes to OSU from North Carolina State University where she began her teaching career in 2003 in the that school’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Chinn said she is eager to continue her career at OSU.
“I’ve always known biosystems and agricultural engineering at Oklahoma State University to be a well-recognized department and progressive in its research and Extension achievements,” Chinn said. “Prior to seeking this position, my interactions with faculty and staff and alumni affiliated with the department have been meaningful and long lasting, and I welcome the opportunity to become a part of the camaraderie I have observed within the department over the years.”
Thomas G. Coon, vice president for agricultural programs at OSU, said the biosystems and agricultural engineering department is unique in that it bridges the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
“Dr. Chinn has had a very successful and productive career in teaching and research, and will bring that experience to bear on OSU’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at a time of significant faculty turnover. We look forward to her leadership in developing new faculty and meeting student needs in a department with a long history of significant innovation and impact on agricultural, food and natural resources industries,” Coon said. “Dr. Chinn is well acquainted with the need to meet accreditation standards for the engineering profession while serving the three-way land-grant mission of the Division in teaching, research and Extension.”
Chinn said successful growth and meeting the needs of an evolving student population will require recognizing people as individuals with their own histories, strengths, needs and aspirations, as well as showing appreciation for the things they do and the value they bring to the department.
She said she’s looking forward to forging new relationships and collaborations with people within the department; the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology; and the broader OSU community.
“I already have identified five major things I will need to tackle immediately as part of my administrative responsibilities,” she said. “Most importantly, I would like to truly get to know the students, staff and faculty in the BAE department and establish strong, quality relationships with them so I can be effective at empowering them to do great things. It will also be exciting for me to learn more about Oklahoma, its people, resources, challenges and opportunities and work toward strategically adding value to the progression of the department and Division.”
During her time at NCSU, Chinn was instrumental in garnering more than $11 million in research funding and grants, of which $8.2 million was secured with her acting as lead principle investigator. She also has authored more than 50 publications, educated and advised undergraduate and graduate students, and mentored early career faculty and students in their pursuit of scholarly achievements.
Chinn earned both her Ph.D. and Master of Science degrees in biosystems engineering from the University of Kentucky and her Bachelor of Science degree in biological systems engineering from the University of California, Davis.