I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newest “returning” faculty member to the Biological Systems Engineering Department. My name is John Shutske, and on July 1, I came back to the BSE faculty after spending the last eight years working in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and UW-Extension administration.
I moved my family from the Twin Cities in Minnesota in 2008 to become the Associate Dean for Extension here at UW. In this role, I was also the Program Director in Cooperative Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program area. BSE became my home department after I received tenure here back in May of 2008. A couple years ago, I also served for 10 months as an interim Provost for UW-Extension (February – December 2014) while the institution searched for a new Chancellor and a permanent Provost. I returned to CALS in early 2015, and then stepped back to my faculty position on July 1, 2016 where I will be a Professor and Extension Specialist.
In these recent administrative roles, I learned so much about CALS, UW-Madison, the whole UW-System, and the challenges we face in higher education. I also got to work directly for five different Deans (CALS and Extension) and I appreciate all of the support and direction they provided over the last eight years. I also am grateful to have been able to work very closely with departmental colleague and Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Richard Straub who has become a trusted and supportive friend and mentor.
Prior to coming to Wisconsin in 2008, I’d been a Professor and Extension specialist for 17.5 years at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosytems Engineering. While in Minnesota, my research, Extension, and teaching focused on agricultural and food system risk control. I worked on a range of activities that examined issues of workplace, equipment, and system design for safety; development of sensor and technology-based systems to reduce risk; education about occupational health hazards; homeland security; food system preparedness and response; and, biosecurity for livestock operations and food processing facilities. I worked with and advised students in engineering, agriculture, public health, nursing and veterinary medicine. I enjoy catalyzing and facilitating multi-disciplinary work and look forward to continuing that in this new role.
As I return to the department, I am excited to expand my past work and ongoing interests, leveraging and helping our agricultural and food industries to evaluate and deploy new innovations (sensors, Internet of things, mobile/smartphones, robotics, UAVs, and big data). The goal is to reduce human and environmental risk while improving profitability. I am very eager to engage with students – graduate and undergraduates, through classroom teaching and research. It is very exciting to step back into a role and offer some skills and relationships that I hope will compliment and support the work of Cheryl Skjolaas and Dr. Brian Luck in BSE.
On the personal side, my wife Kate and I live in Cross Plains in western Dane County. Our sons Mike (23) and Jack (20) are students and also live in the area. Kate is a nurse at UW-Children’s Hospital and has been an RN for almost 30 years. We love hiking and exploring places like the Ice Age Trail and the many outdoor venues that Madison has to offer! I am also quite a music fan and enjoy many of the local and Midwestern bands and venues where you might see me listening to Americana, bluegrass, and modern tunes. We’re heading to Appleton’s “Mile of Music” festival in early August where Kate and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary.
I am a graduate from the Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) Department at Purdue where I completed all of my degrees. I also spent a couple years after grad school in the insurance industry working in safety engineering and community education in Illinois, Washington, Nevada, and Oregon.
I am relatively settled in my new office located in the quiet, far southwest corner of room 125 of BSE. I will be traveling quite a bit in the coming months as I build and change my Cooperative Extension role, but feel free to stop in and say hello or introduce yourself (for those who I’ve not yet met) in the hallway. I am excited to re-join the department and have the opportunity to work with you as a new colleague!
John Shutske, Ph.D.
Professor & Extension Specialist
Biological Systems Engineering- UW-Madison
460 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706