Falk College Professor Rick Welsh receives 2013 Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award

The Rural Sociological Society (RSS) honored Rick Welsh, Ph.D., professor of food studies in the Falk College’s Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, for exceptional contributions to the field of rural sociology with the 2013 Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award. This distinguished honor recognizes excellence in scholarly work in the same spirit exemplified by the late Fred Buttel, a prominent scholar of the sociology of agriculture and environmental sociology.

The award was presented to Welsh and co-investigators Leland L. Glenna, David Ervin, William B. Lacy and Dina Biscotti at the annual meeting of RSS in August 2013 for the journal article, “Commercial Science, Scientists’ Values, and University Biotechnology Research Agenda.” The study, published in Research Policy, examined the interaction between innovation, technology or research, and economic, social, political and organizational processes. Reviewers described Welsh’s collaborative work as “a major contribution to the literature on agricultural science and technology—a central dimension of Fred Buttel’s contribution to rural sociology.”

The research will measure the ecological, social and economic impacts of 50 restored public-private partnership (PPP) wetlands on private landholdings within the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River watershed in New York State. PPP wetlands are important for conserving and restoring wetlands in the Great Lakes watershed. However, minimal assessments have been conducted to understand how these programs impact wetland-associated biodiversity within agricultural landscapes. Even less is known about the impact of wetland restoration on property values, as well as landowner motivations for participation in these projects.

The Water Center is part of the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute and is supported by funds from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the University of Michigan. Welsh will be working with co-investigators Tom Langen (Clarkson University) and David Chandler (Syracuse University). The project will engage the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dr. Welsh joined the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition as a Professor of Food Studies in August, 2012. Prior to taking this position he worked at Clarkson University as a Professor of Sociology. Previous positions have included Policy Analyst with the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture and the Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program for the Southern Region. He serves as editor-in-chief for the journal, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, published by Cambridge University Press. His research and teaching focus on social change and development with emphases on agri-food systems, science and technology studies and environmental sociology. He holds a Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell University, M.S. in food and resource economics from the University of Florida, and B.A. in economics from the College of William and Mary.