Cotton professor appointed to lead MSU department

Contact: Karen Brasher

Darrin Dodds (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State cotton agronomist is the new head of the university’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Darrin Dodds, a 12-year veteran of the department, takes the helm April 1.

A native of Rushville, Illinois, Dodds is well respected throughout the Midsouth for his teaching, research and outreach programs in cotton physiology. In 2016, he was awarded the Dr. J. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Physiologist Award by the National Cotton Council and its partners.

An MSU alumnus, Dodds has garnered nearly $6 million in research funding and mentored a dozen graduate students. The professor performs more than 100 cotton extension and research trials each year.

“Dr. Dodds is an exceptional research scientist and educator. His students continually bring recognition to the university through their award-winning research,” said George Hopper, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. “He is a proven leader who will continue the MSU tradition of supporting Mississippi’s largest industry, agriculture.”

As a cotton specialist with the MSU Extension Service, Dodds has been a featured presenter at more than 100 producer meetings. He co-organizes the Row-Crop Short Course which brought nearly 800 agricultural professionals to campus in 2018.

“Dr. Dodds is a well-respected and trusted cotton Extension specialist throughout the Southeast,” said Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service. “His intensity and drive to help Mississippi producers and the cotton industry will serve him well as he leads this department.”

Dodds earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in agriculture, a master’s degree at Purdue University in botany and plant pathology, and his doctoral degree in agricultural science from MSU.

The department includes faculty and staff with appointments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and the MSU Extension Service. Numerous faculty in the department are located off-campus at one of the four research and Extension centers and the 16 branch experiment stations throughout the state.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this dynamic and diverse department that has so much talent,” Dodds said. “My goal is to help the students, staff and faculty succeed.”

MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in agronomy, horticulture and environmental science in agricultural systems. Master’s and doctoral degrees are offered in agronomy, horticulture and weed science. 

For more information, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at