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Guest Opinions

Lifetime achievement award recipient sets high standard of excellence

Written by UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Laramie – Choose any standard – total research money, total patents, graduate student advisees, publications or presentations – and Professor KJ Reddy is esteemed.

This year’s Andrew Vanvig Lifetime Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award recipient joined the University of Wyoming as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and went about quietly building a national and international reputation.

“The breadth and depth of Dr. Reddy’s research is extraordinary,” notes Professor Scott Miller, head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.  “He has contributed significant research to a range of critical areas including soil shale, acid mine drainage, nitrates in drinking water, coalbed natural gas co-produced water quality and arsenic to name a few. KJ possesses a rare, keen intellect and willingness to embrace new research challenges and provide key insight into topics relevant to both human and environmental health.”

Professor Emeritus Steve Williams first knew Reddy as a finishing Ph.D. student at Colorado State University (CSU). CSU’s Willard Lindsey called Williams to say Reddy was considering a temporary position at UW.

“Willard at that time was one of the really noteworthy environmental chemists in the world,” says Williams. “He strongly supported Dr. Reddy’s application and indicated that, should we hire him, we would never be disappointed.

“Willard Lindsey’s words were understated,” he adds.

Educational influence

Reddy’s educational contributions to the University of Wyoming have been tremendous, notes Miller.

“He has been recognized, rightfully so, as a master teacher, and his classes routinely draw students from across campus,” says Miller. “His ability to effectively deliver complex material in an understandable way sets him apart, and he extends his time outside the classroom to supporting students who need additional work.”

Reddy studies natural resource issues that pose major challenges to maintain sustainable environments for ecosystems. Major research topics include removal of toxic arsenic from groundwater, mineralization of industrial flue gas components and geochemistry and management of produced water generated from energy resource extraction and energy production processes.

Influence

Reddy’s interdisciplinary research approaches have attracted more than $25 million in funding as principal and co-principal investigator.

He has advised 28 master’s and seven Ph.D. students. He has served as a graduate student committee member for 44 master’s and 12 Ph.D. students from four different colleges across campus.

Reddy has also employed 10 postdoctoral fellows and six research scientists and advised and trained more than 50 undergraduates in his water quality laboratories.

Prolific publications

Reddy’s research groups published more than 50 refereed journal articles, several invited book chapters, conference proceedings and abstracts. He also edited an invited book on coalbed methane-produced water.

His group has given 114 UW presentations, 112 state and regional presentations and 159 presentations at energy and environmental conferences and workshops. Reddy has given 79 presentations at international energy and environmental conferences and workshops in 19 countries.

“We have never been disappointed, and on the contrary, Dr. KJ Reddy’s work in soil and water chemistry has enhanced all of our teaching, research and outreach endeavors in our department, in the college, and, to a degree, in the university,” says Williams.

Arsenic removal expertise

Reddy’s arsenic removal research has achieved international recognition.

Arsenic exists in nature and often in water at almost imperceptible levels, notes Williams. Arsenic accumulates in plants and animals and manifests its toxicity later in the life of the organism.

Reddy has been able to devise a very innovative way to remove arsenic from, among other sources, drinking water, says Williams.

“His discovery has the promise of making potable waters from around the planet at surprisingly economical levels,” he notes.

Teaching skills praise

Several of his graduate students were recognized and awarded UW outstanding thesis and James B. Warner American Water Works Association awards for research and publication track records.

Williams notes Reddy’s teaching skills are the influence that helped those students to achieve their goals.

“He is a skilled instructor and has that talent of being able to present complex materials and concepts often in an applied manner that resonates with students and colleagues alike,” Williams says.

Reddy has received UW’s highest distinguished teaching honor, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Professor Award, in addition to the John P. Ellbogen Distinguished Teaching Award and the Agricultural Experiment Station Outstanding Researcher Award.

“With outstanding accomplishments in all areas of his work – teaching, research, service and extension – Dr. Reddy has demonstrated how to build an exemplary career at UW,” says Miller.

This article is courtesy of UW's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.