Dr. Robert J. Barney to serve as Acting Dean for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
May 7, 2014
West Virginia State University Announces Dr. Robert J. Barney to serve as
Acting Dean for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) President Brian O. Hemphill today announced Robert J. Barney, Ph.D. will serve as Acting Dean for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics effective July 1, 2014.
“Students, faculty and staff at the University’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will benefit from Robert’s experienced leadership as well as his unyielding dedication to research,” President Hemphill said. “Throughout his career, Robert has served up-and-coming researchers by advocating for student research opportunities, serving in national leadership roles within the scientific community and leading by example as evident in his multitude of published works surrounding beetle biodiversity and environmental assessment. I am confident Robert will work with our outstanding faculty to continue to strengthen our research University.”
Research completed by Dr. Barney has appeared in a total of 63 peer-reviewed scientific publications in several areas of research including beetle biodiversity and environmental assessment, stored grain entomology and alfalfa entomology among others.

The WVSU tenured professor of biology can often be found in the field as he works to complete a long-term study to review and re-identify every specimen ever collected east of the Mississippi River of the leaf beetle genus Pachybrachis, of which there are 160 species recognized in the United States.

Barney was instrumental in securing a total of $400,000 in public and private funds to support the development and establishment of the University’s new Research Rookies program, bioenergy research and student involvement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The Research Rookies program enables STEM students the opportunity to participate in cutting edge research with faculty while receiving financial support.

“I look forward to leading the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and working closely with students and our talented faculty to further strengthen the University’s sciences with an emphasis on research, teaching and outreach especially in the STEM disciplines,” Barney said. “I am particularly interested in providing more student-centered, hands-on research opportunities to enhance the educational experience of our students.”

At WVSU, Barney has also been instrumental in the development of the new Promoting Excellence in Education through Research (PEER) program which provides University faculty with grant funds to conduct scholarship and research. He also contributed to the development of the Dow High eSTEAM Program which promotes biology, chemistry and other STEM-based education to kindergarten through college-aged students while expanding hands-on research opportunities for WVSU students.

Barney joined WVSU in 2010 serving as the Associate Dean and Associate Director for Research with responsibilities for an interdisciplinary research program. Barney led and managed proposal and grant development as well as assessment and evaluation among other duties associated with University research.

In 2013 Barney also began serving as Interim Assistant Vice President of Research and Public Service at WVSU where he developed research policies and research-related publications among other administrative duties.  

A national leader in the science community, Barney has served in several leadership roles including as president of the Kentucky Academy of Science and he currently serves on the WVSU Research & Development Corporation Board of Directors. Barney has received numerous honors including the Exceptional Service Award from the Entomological Society of America and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.

With a commitment to public service, Barney volunteers with the annual WVSU Cares Day, serves on the newly formed West Virginia Water Sustainability Institute on behalf of WVSU and has served as panelist at the West Virginia Bioscience Summit.

Prior to joining the State family, Barney served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, principal investigator and then Associate Research Director at Kentucky State University.

Barney earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Kentucky, a master of science in Zoology from Eastern Illinois University, and a bachelor of science in Zoology from the University of Illinois.

Barney resides in Putnam County with his wife, Sherri.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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