New IANR chief says Nebraska is 'natural fit'
Growing up in a blue-collar family in Ohio, Michael Boehm learned a thing or two about hard work.
The first-generation college student has 20 years of experience in the military, in addition to his significant list of accomplishments in research and academics. He is deeply committed to and passionate about his work and said he already feels at home in Nebraska.
"What feels like a natural fit to me is the people," Boehm said. "There’s such a strong work ethic instilled in Nebraskans and they go about their lives in a values-driven way. I'm excited to get to know more about the state and its people."
Boehm took the reins in a dual role at the University of Nebraska on Jan. 1. He is the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and NU vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
Boehm had the opportunity to explore several areas of Nebraska in December. He woke up to -2 degree weather in North Platte. But despite the frigid weather, he said he fell in love with the state.
“The blue sky in west-central Nebraska is just amazing, and the Sandhills are breathtakingly beautiful," he said. "The pictures just don’t do it justice."
A plant pathologist, Boehm most recently was professor of plant pathology and vice provost for academic and strategic planning at Ohio State University. His research focuses on the integrated management of turfgrass diseases and the Fusarium head blight of wheat. Bringing research to the people is at the forefront of Boehm’s work.
“I’m a naturally curious person who likes to learn,” he said. “The land-grant mission is exciting because we have the opportunity to put discoveries and intellectual capacity use on major challenges facing society. It’s our responsibility to not only think about local challenges, but also what’s facing our region, nation and globe.”
Engagement from partners plays a key role in finding solutions to these challenges. Working with producers, companies, government officials and other stakeholders is critical to IANR’s success, Boehm said, and it’s where he will rely on his military experience. When he was in the military, especially during his 1.5 years of active duty service after Sept. 11, 2001, Boehm learned about the importance of teamwork.
“You learn how to navigate different parts of the system and integrate those parts in a seamless way,” he said. “The real fun in academics is bringing a team together to drive a mission forward, which is a lot like what I experienced in the military,”
As the NU system's vice president for agriculture and natural resources, Boehm will lead the system's institutions in all agricultural, natural resources and related affairs. He will oversee the executive directors of the Rural Futures Institute and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and the dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
As IANR vice chancellor, he will lead the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Agricultural Research Division, Nebraska Extension, and the IANR research and extension components of the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Away from the office, Boehm enjoys spending time with his family and friends, especially in the outdoors. Gardening, doing yard work, cooking and playing guitar are among his favorite hobbies, along with playing disc golf and camping.
Boehm is also a big fan of college sports. As for who he’ll root for when the Ohio State football team travels to Lincoln next October? Boehm said he’ll proudly cheer for the Huskers.