MSU professor named James R. Moreton Fellow in Forestry

By: Vanessa Beeson

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Posted: 12/11/2018

MSU professor named James R. Moreton Fellow in Forestry Photo By: David Ammon

A forestry professor has earned a prestigious fellowship in Mississippi State University's College of Forest Resources.

Professor Robert Grala has been named the Department of Forestry's first James R. Moreton Endowed Fellow. Professor Dan Seale earned the inaugural accolade in the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts last year.

The James R. Moreton Fellow in Forestry was established in 2012 through a gift from James Reginald Moreton, a 1956 mechanical engineering alumnus. A Brookhaven resident, Moreton was founder and president of First Federal Savings and Loan before starting an industrial access mat company. He was heavily engaged in the timber business, which provided the raw material for his company's mats.

"We are grateful to Mr. Moreton for establishing this fellowship to honor a professor who embodies the land-grant mission of teaching, research and service," said George Hopper, dean of the College of Forest Resources.

Hopper added that it is fitting to honor Robert Grala as the inaugural James R. Moreton Fellow in the Department of Forestry.

"Dr. Grala, as a leading forest economist, is part of a nationally recognized research program. As a faculty member for 14 years, he's an invested student mentor, serving as faculty adviser of the MSU Society of American Foresters Student Chapter for more than a decade," said Hopper, who also pointed out that the MSU SAF Student Chapter has placed in the top three nationally for the last 20 years, garnering first place chapter honors this past year.

Grala, who teaches core courses in the department's forestry program and directs graduate students in research-driven master's and doctoral programs, said the honor has special meaning and that he is proud to be a part of the MSU's academic and research community.

"I am grateful for those who nominated me, fellow faculty, staff, my graduate students, members of the Society of American Foresters Student Chapter and my wife, Kate. This award would not be possible without their continuous support," Grala said. "I also extend my gratitude to Mr. Moreton for founding this award and look forward to future work toward improving student learning and contributing to the success of the Department of Forestry, College of Forest Resources and MSU."

Grala earned a master's degree in forestry from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, a master's in environmental sciences and policy from Central European University and a Ph.D. in forestry from Iowa State University.