This story begins with a boy and a chemistry set in the basement of a Nebraska farmhouse.
“I guess I’m lucky I didn’t blow up the place,” laughs Dan Arp, who was that farm boy and is now the new dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
That chemistry set ignited a love of learning that has characterized Arp’s life and career. Growing up in 4-H, Arp explored projects from animal science to electronics that eventually earned him recognition and a scholarship to the University of Nebraska. There, Arp pursued his fascination with chemistry and the chemical building blocks of life on Earth.
Earning his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Arp explored the detailed mechanisms of nitrification and the role of microorganisms in oxidizing ammonia. New technologies associated with genomics helped Arp see how bacteria can affect nitrogen in the soil, with impact on agricultural systems, bioremediation, and renewable energy.
Such discoveries thrilled him. “But eventually, I was thrilled even more by witnessing my students and younger colleagues make discoveries of their own,” Arp said. His love of learning became their love of learning.
Arp joined OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 1990, eventually heading the department of botany and plant pathology where he earned the honor of “distinguished professor.” In 2008, he was named dean of the University Honors College, where he worked closely with students to enhance their learning experience.
Now, as the Reub Long Dean of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station at OSU, Arp takes over from former dean Sonny Ramaswamy, who was named by President Obama to lead the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C.