Matthew Helmers named to Dean’s Professorship


Courtesy of Matthew Helmers

Matthew Helmers, associate professor of agriculture and biological systems engineering, was named to the Dean’s Professorship in the college of agriculture and life sciences. Helmers is working to help farmers understand the importance of natural resources. 

Morgan Ball

Matthew Helmers, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, was named to the Dean’s Professorship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

A ceremony in the Memorial Union honored Helmers Jan. 17. Colleagues and family of Helmers were present to celebrate this achievement.

The Dean’s Professorship is a title that recognizes and supports faculty excellence. Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture, and Steve Mickelson, department chairman, spoke on behalf of Helmers. Helmers also spoke about the importance of the title and what it means to him.

“Humbly,” Helmers said, “is how I feel being recognized in this fashion.”

Helmers and his family did not grow up on a farm, but his grandparents had a soybean and livestock operation. Helmers showed livestock throughout his youth and grew up helping his grandparents.

“It helped to shape my interest in agriculture,” Helmers said.

Helmers received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Iowa State, his master’s degree in civil engineering at Virginia Tech and his doctorate in agricultural and biosystems engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Helmers is working to help farmers understand the importance of natural resources. The research team conducts tests of water and soil samples and it measures the impact of water on the land. The research team also asks what the impact of moisture is in the soil systems and what the crop yield is in that specific area.

The Dean’s Professorship will help provide resources, graduate training and the study of cutting-edge technology.

Helmers favorite part about his career is working with Iowa farmers and finding results that were not expected.

“It is a shared learning process,” Helmers said. “The farmers are teaching the research team about how their farm operates, and the research team is working with each farmer to help create a long-lasting, healthy farm.”

Helmers has been involved with related research projects since he received his doctorate. He employs graduate students, all of various agriculture majors, and he works with the students to educate and mentor them. The team also has six to eight full-time professional employees who research and do outreach work in Iowa.  

Helmers also works with a variety of teams and committees. Iowa Learning Farms is a team that Helmers is a part of, and the goal of the team is to work with the farms in Iowa. 

The main goal of the project is to investigate ways to look into agriculture systems that help minimize soil cost but maximize the amount of production.

Wintersteen initiated the Dean’s Professorship to support faculty excellence within the College of Agriculture as part of the Endowed Deanship.