Tom Hammett, interim associate dean of academic programs and professor of sustainable biomaterials, has been appointed visiting professor at the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal’s first land-grant university. The four-year appointment will allow him to work closely with the university’s administration and faculty while still teaching and conducting research at Virginia Tech.

In addition to teaching courses, helping faculty develop curriculum, and mentoring graduate students, Hammett’s primary role will be to help the university develop administrative systems and foster a new outreach program. “The people there are incredibly engaging and welcoming, and receptive to new ideas,” said Hammett, who first visited Nepal in 1974. In an effort to help the university move toward a more active, project-based learning system, Hammett plans to engage students and faculty on research projects aimed at increasing the sustainable production of nontimber forest products and helping the country rebuild after a 2015 earthquake.

Hammett’s appointment creates a unique opportunity for Virginia Tech faculty and students to become involved in his work in Nepal. He advises the student service organization Service Without Borders, which is currently conducting a project there. “I want to get more students and faculty involved in Nepal and the region. There are great opportunities to build on previous projects and to create service and educational opportunities for our students,” Hammett explained. “I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to Nepal. I’m excited to continue the work that I’ve started and see it through to completion.”

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