Oklahoma State's Lambert named 2020 Whatley Award recipient

Oklahoma State University’s Dayton Lambert has been named the 2020 recipient of the university’s James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Service in Agricultural Sciences.

STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State University’s Dayton Lambert has been named the 2020 recipient of the university’s James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Service in Agricultural Sciences.

Initiated in 1982, the award is presented annually by the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and recognizes outstanding research contributions to the advancement of agricultural sciences. 

A former research economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Lambert joined the OSU faculty in 2018 after serving on the University of Tennessee faculty from 2006-2018. He is the holder of the OSU Willard Sparks Chair in Agribusiness within the division’s department of agricultural economics. 

Lambert’s research record is remarkable not only for the volume of work he has completed, but also the wide breadth of topics he has studied, said Thomas Coon, OSU vice president and dean for agricultural programs. 

“Dr. Lambert is an extremely versatile economist with a diverse toolkit of skills and analytical approaches,” Coon said. “As much as I appreciate what he has already done, I am even more excited about his future work and how it will help Oklahoma farmers and ranchers improve their success.” 

Known in his career field for the ability to bring researchers together from multiple disciplines, Lambert’s work has been published in a wide range of academic and economics journals, contributing to his international reputation in spatial econometrics specifically and agricultural economics in general. 

“Faculty typically do not publish as many seminal papers when working with impact-driven multidisciplinary teams, but Dr. Lambert has published 153 peer-reviewed research articles, including 10 during 2019 alone,” said Cheryl DeVuyst, head of the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics. “Dayton’s ability to interact with faculty across disciplines and institutions has increased the visibility, impact and reputation of OSU and benefited all of Oklahoma.” 

Lambert serves as co-principal investigator on two significant multidisciplinary and multi-institutional grants. One grant focuses on sustainable agricultural systems in the southern Great Plains region, and the other focuses on effects of the 2019 flooding of the Arkansas River and associated ports. 

The USDA Economic Research Service has previously recognized Lambert with two of its most prestigious awards: the Helios Award for Outstanding Research and the Helios Award for Research Product of Enduring Quality. 

He has served in many capacities in economics, including panel review boards for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the scientific advisory board for the Spatial Econometrics Association World Conference. Lambert now serves as president of the Southern Regional Science Association and as editor for several professional journals, including Applied Economic Policy and Perspectives, the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and the Journal of Precision Agriculture. 

Lambert could be considered a Renaissance scientist for his broad interests. He earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Miami University of Ohio; his master’s degrees in cultural anthropology and fisheries and aquaculture from Rutgers University and Auburn University, respectively; and a doctoral degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University. 

“Dr. Lambert’s contributions are extraordinary for someone who earned his doctoral degree as recently as 2005,” DeVuyst said. “He has the much-sought-after ability to build strong, focused and productive teams that make each researcher more productive, and the work those teams are doing are having significant positive benefits on people’s lives.” 

Whatley, in whose name the award is presented, was an animal geneticist who became director of the statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and then dean of the division, which is comprised of the OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Extension and OSU Ag Research. Whatley served OSU for 41 years.

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