Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Andrew Cartmill

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Pioneer Spotlight
Dr. Andrew Cartmill and student
July 21, 2017

Dr. Andrew Cartmill’s lifelong interest in plants and how they work gradually grew into his interest and career in agroecology. Originally from Birkenhead, a town in Merseyside, England, he joined UW-Platteville in 2012. Cartmill is an assistant professor of soil and crop science, but his involvement extends far outside of the classroom. In addition to teaching, he also serves as a co-coach for the UW-Platteville Collegiate Crops Team, advisor to the Collegiate Farm Bureau, co-advisor to the Agronomy-Soil and Water Conservation Club, and advisor to the men’s Rugby Football Club.

When did you join UW-Platteville and what brought you to the university?

I started working for the university in the spring of 2012 at Pioneer Farm for Dr. Dennis Busch, as part of the Agroecology Research Program. I also did a spot of lecturing for the soils class in the School of Agriculture. I transitioned into the School of Agriculture as an assistant professor in the soil and crop science program in June of 2015.

My wife, Dr. Donita Cartmill, an associate professor of environmental horticulture, brought me to UW-Platteville. We met at Texas A&M. She graduated first, being far smarter than I, and got to pick our next destination. She said she was done with the Texas heat and something about wanting to go to the frozen North?

What initially got you interested in agriculture and crop science?

I have always been interested in plants and how they work and how they respond to their environment and us. This over time is reflected in my increased interest in agroecology. The balance between providing food, fiber and fuel for a growing population and protecting the services that these agroecosystems provide is fascinating.

You teach a variety of agricultural courses. What course do you enjoy teaching the most and why?

I like teaching all of my courses. I could not pick one in particular. I currently teach Crop Science, Seed and Grain Crops, Pest Identification and Management, Forage Crops, and Weed Science. I really enjoy incorporating undergraduate students into my grant supported agroecology research that I am conducting at Pioneer Farm. It tends to be very hands on and both mentally and physically demanding. The students I have been lucky to work with have been outstanding! I have worked with 20 undergraduate students to date. They have been very engaged and quick to learn. It is very satisfying seeing them linking concepts and putting classroom topics into practice.

My wife and I also very much enjoyed leading a short-term study abroad program to the U.K. with 21 students in May 2016. We explored British agriculture. It seemed to go very well, and the students were a credit to the program. We will be leading another short-term study abroad program to the Netherlands in May 2018 and are planning for another trip to the U.K. in May 2020.

Are you currently working on any projects or research?

I am currently a Co-PI with Dr. Busch on two active U.S. Department of Agriculture grants which are broadly focused on agroecology. The most recent grant is the National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program entitled: “Establishment of a hydrologic observatory to support long-term agro-ecosystem research, education, and outreach in the upper Mississippi river basin.” The proposal was submitted in April 2016, and funded $299,500.

There is also the National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program entitled: “Incorporating dairy livestock into agroecosystem research: Grazing responsibly for a sustainable tomorrow.” A total of $300,000 has been funded.

I am also continuing a research collaboration with a colleague in Mexico, Dr. Luis Valdez. We have been lucky to publish several papers (eight since 2012) together focusing broadly on plant nutrition and hope to have a couple more published this year.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I like the interaction with the students. I like seeing students develop through the course of their academic program. I especially enjoy hearing about their successes and how their lives progress after they graduate.

Interview conducted by Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact pr@uwplatt.edu.

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