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March 2011

Release Date: March 28, 2011ASU Logo

ASU Geographer’s Research Receives National Award

Federally funded research involving Dr. R. Gary Pumphrey of the Angelo State University History Department has received the United States Department of Agriculture 2010 Project of Excellence Award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Water Program.

Pumphrey, an assistant professor of geography, is co-principal investigator on the 3½-year, $757,528 National Science Foundation grant jointly awarded to Angelo State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Texas Tech University to study the impact of increased ethanol production on water usage in the Ogallala aquifer.

The research looks at attitudes toward water as a resource and at municipal water conservation policy in the area overlying the Ogallala aquifer in light of the increased agricultural production of corn, the feedstock necessary to produce ethanol.

“Our research,” said Pumphrey, “seeks to identify the best strategies to preserve the aquifer and avoid potential conflicts between water users.”

In recent decades, water from the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies portions of eight states, including Texas, has been extracted from the formation faster than it can be recharged by rainfall. Corn requires significantly more water than other crops traditionally grown on the High Plains. Because increased corn production for ethanol is accelerating the depletion of the Ogallala, the research is measuring community attitudes toward both free market and regulatory approaches to allocating the increasingly scarce water resources in the affected areas of the Plains states.

Dr. Kenneth J. Heineman, head of the History Department, which is the administrative home of ASU’s geography program, said the honor recognizes Pumphrey’s research proficiency, which complements his teaching skills.

“It is my philosophy that solid research enhances the classroom experience,” Heineman said. “Consistently, Gary receives excellent teaching evaluations from his students, demonstrating the value of a strong research program to strengthening the education we provide our students.”

Pumphrey joined the ASU faculty in 2007. He holds his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University.

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