From crossroads to careers | Oklahoma State University

Lixia Lambert (left) and Dayton Lambert joined OSU’s agricultural economics department in 2018. (Photo by Maddie Neuschwander)

Friday, May 27, 2022

Media contact: Jami Mattox | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-8061 | [email protected]

In the semi-arid and windy plains of Hetao in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northern China, a young Lixia Lambert established her roots in China’s agricultural industry.

On the other side of the globe, Dayton Lambert was educated in Ohio. After living and learning all over the world, their paths unexpectedly crossed in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The Lamberts met while getting their doctorate in agricultural economics, said Lixia Lambert, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University. Now both are faculty members of OSU’s agricultural economics department, but their early backgrounds were very different.

Dayton Lambert, professor and Willard Sparks Chair in Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and began his post-secondary studies in anthropology at Miami University in Ohio.

After completing his undergraduate degree, he earned a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from Rutgers University. After Rutgers, Dayton became a Peace Corps volunteer.

“I met Dayton on April 10, 1993, at an airport while we were on our way to volunteer for the Peace Corps in Africa,” said Michael Wilcox, associate director of Purdue University extension and friend always. “We were in North Carolina for 12 weeks of aquaculture training before being sent overseas to serve people in West Africa.”

Dayton was sent to Burundi, East Africa. There he worked as an extension officer at the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, teaching smallholders how to grow tilapia in earthen ponds and how to integrate aquaculture into other farms. agricultural.

In 1993, Burundi experienced civil unrest, which ultimately culminated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Dayton Lambert was evacuated from Burundi and reassigned to Gabon, Central Africa, where he completed his voluntary service.

After his service in Gabon, he enrolled in Auburn University’s graduate program in Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture, where he earned a master’s degree in 1998.

The rare opportunity presented itself again to consult with Peace Corps fisheries programs in Gabon and Zambia, where it trained new volunteers to build earthen ponds and raise fish.

“Peace Corps is where my interest in agricultural economics and international development really began,” said Dayton Lambert. “I really wanted to step back and understand this more fully from the perspective of markets, pricing, risk aversion and technology adoption. Agricultural economics was a natural discipline for me.

In 2000, Dayton Lambert was accepted into Purdue’s PhD program in agricultural economics, where the couple’s paths crossed, thanks to their mutual friend Michael Wilcox.

Wilcox and Lixia Lambert began their friendship early in their studies at Purdue.

“While I was at Purdue as a struggling PhD student, I met this young woman named Lixia in my econometrics class,” Wilcox said. “I loved her to the ends of the earth.

“I really didn’t know anything about China. Lixia was infinitely patient with me because I had a million questions about her culture, and I thought she was really cool.

Lixia Lambert’s family was involved in farming, that’s where her love for farming started, she said. His grandparents and uncles produced wheat, sunflower seeds, turnips, corn, sorghum, sugar beets, watermelon, sheep and goats.

In 1982, her father began teaching university courses in agricultural economics at Huazhong Agricultural University, which forced the family to move to Wuhan, China, and live on campus with other faculty families. , added Lixia Lambert.

“As a youngster, I had the chance to meet farming families with village chiefs, mayors and university professors from different disciplines with my father in the field,” she said. . “I was able to hear how their knowledge can be transferred to the agricultural production system. This process has stayed with me.

After high school, Lixia Lambert wanted to become an agricultural economist like her father, she says. When her scores on the national entrance exam were not high enough, authorities placed her in fermentation engineering for her undergraduate studies, she added.

“After graduation, I was employed for over two years at a food distribution center in Wuhan,” Lixia Lambert said. “Because it was the early 1990s, China had a planned economy where families could only buy a limited amount of food depending on the number of people, gender and age of the people in the household. This situation sparked my interest in the food supply and the economics behind it.

Lixia Lambert applied for and sat the national graduate school entrance examinations in 1995. She then completed her master’s degree in agricultural economics and management at Huazhong Agricultural University in 1998.

“I was walking around campus one day and saw a poster on a tree advertising a corn farming seminar given by a researcher from Purdue University,” Lixia Lambert said. “I didn’t go to seminary. Instead, I went home and researched Purdue University and its agricultural economics program and applied to Purdue.

She began her PhD program in agricultural economics at Purdue in 2000.

After taking classes together but never really speaking, Wilcox, their mutual friend, hooked them up at a grad student dinner in 2003.

After graduating from Purdue in 2004, Dayton Lambert moved to Washington, DC, and worked as a research economist for the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Lixia Lambert worked for the Alberta Ingenuity Center for Water Research at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

They married in 2006 and both started working for the University of Tennessee where they remained for 12 years. They moved to Stillwater in 2018 after accepting professorships in agricultural economics at OSU.

“Our students need to be able to see working couples in professional situations,” said Cheryl DeVuyst, head of the agricultural economics department. “Students see how it is possible to succeed as individuals and as partners.”

As researchers and faculty members, some projects required that their work paths intersect, placing them on the same project, Dayton Lambert said. They worked on separate parts of the project, so their personal and professional lives could stay separate, he added.

“The great thing about Dayton is that he’s very collegial, but he’s also very demanding and expects the best from everyone,” Wilcox said. “Lixia has always been a hard worker. It’s so hard to be a woman in the agriculture industry.

“Lixia and Dayton are living their dreams as highly productive, world-renowned faculty members.”

At OSU, Dayton Lambert teaches graduate students and participates in research projects.

Lixia Lambert teaches the Environmental Economics and Resource Development course and the Food Marketing course to a diverse population.

Lixia Lambert said she had a major research position, but learned that she was passionate about teaching undergraduates and was an academic advisor.

“I enjoy spending time connecting with students and providing them with guidance to achieve their career goals,” she said.

Dayton Lambert said he enjoys working with graduate students and studying issues concerning the agricultural industry.

“It is an honor to educate the next generation of Oklahoma agricultural entrepreneurs and to solve the problems facing agricultural producers and rural communities in Oklahoma,” said Dayton Lambert. “We are proud to be part of the Cowboy family.”


Story by: Halle Roper | cowboy diary

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