NDSU crop scientist appointed to Charles Mode professorship

Robert Brueggeman, associate professor and agricultural research scientist at North Dakota State University, was appointed Wednesday to a newly-established professorship within the university’s College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources.

Brueggeman, who joined the Department of Plant Pathology in 2010, is the first faculty member to be awarded the privately-funded Dr. Charles J. Mode Professorship of Genomics Research. Mode, a 1952 NDSU graduate, renowned mathematician and genetic scientist, established the professorship with the NDSU Foundation to provide outstanding faculty with permanent funding for agricultural research, teaching and service.

Professorships are awarded to faculty who have distinguished themselves through outstanding success in teaching and original research. Endowed professorships can be established at NDSU at a base level of $1 million. Earnings from endowed positions advance research, provide students valuable opportunities and enhance academic programs.

“Dr. Mode’s endowment will empower NDSU to help fill important knowledge gaps in agricultural research,” Brueggeman said. “His vision and support will have a lasting impact on genomics research at NDSU and beyond.”

Brueggeman teaches Host Parasite Genetics and directs research that involves both undergraduate and graduate students. Through applied research, he is pursuing genetic resistance to a range of diseases that threaten the production of cereal crops. In 2013, Brueggeman received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty.

NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani and Ken Grafton, vice president for agricultural affairs; dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources; and director of the North Dakota Experiment Station, announced Brueggeman’s appointment to a large crowd of NDSU faculty and other university supporters, including Mode, who gathered in the atrium of Loftsgard Hall.

“Dr. Brueggeman is advancing promising, state-of-the-art research that has tremendous implications on the agriculture industry and the world food supply,” Bresciani said. “The Charles J. Mode Professorship and others like it help us solve complex problems, they greatly enhance our students’ educational experiences and help make our state, region and the world a better place.”

Mode said he decided to fund an endowed professorship in 2017, after returning to the NDSU campus and touring labs and classrooms within the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources.

“The Department of Plant Pathology is involved in fundamental research to find answers that can revolutionize plant breeding,” Mode said. “The work is so much more advanced and completely reinvented since I was at NDSU.”

After graduating from NDSU in 1952, Mode continued his education at Kansas State University and the University of California Davis where he earned a doctorate in genetics. His strong background in genetics and mathematics led to a 41-year career, teaching and conducting research at Montana State University, State University of New York and Drexel University’s Department of Mathematics. Mode’s leading research can be found in his books and more than 130 other publications that have advanced what we know today about AIDS, other infectious diseases, genetics and research methods in biology and medicine.