CLEMSON — A plant scientist and third-generation farmer who has worked in Clemson agriculture more than 20 years has been named permanent director of a Clemson University research facility that develops high-tech solutions for reducing water, pesticide and nutrient use in agriculture.

Chris Ray and others in soybean field

Christopher Ray (left) has been named permanent director of Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center.

Christopher Ray will become director of Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville. He has served as interim director since March. Ray is replacing the retiring John Mueller, who directed the Edisto REC for 10 years.

Ray has filled a number of roles at Clemson, including Experiment Station director, Experiment Station associate director, Agricultural Services Laboratory director, Plant Industry and Regulatory Services department head, and Department of Fertilizer and Seed Certification manager.

His experience as an administrator for many of Clemson’s agricultural facilities and programs and his roots as a farmer in the South Carolina Midlands give Ray a unique understanding of the importance of the land-grant mission in the success of South Carolina’s agribusiness industry. The move will bring Ray closer to his family farm in Orangeburg County.

“Because I was born to a family of farmers, I understand deeply the impact that Clemson has on the agriculture industry in our state, as well as regionally, nationally and internationally. The Edisto REC is doing important work, particularly as it relates to developing technology that helps farmers lower costs and improve efficiency. I look forward to continuing John’s excellent leadership,” Ray said.

In addition to its role in developing high-tech precision agricultural solutions, the Edisto REC also researches better ways to grow and harvest crops, raise beef cattle and conserve natural resources. It is home to a number of variety trials and field days, including Watermelon Field Day, Cotton and Soybean Field Day, Peanut Field Day and Edisto Forage Bull Test. The Edisto REC will host Watermelon Field Day July 12.

“Chris has succeeded in every role we have asked him to fill during his years at Clemson. He is positioned to provide the continuity of leadership required to ensure that Edisto REC programs and research continue making a positive impact on South Carolina farmers,” said Timothy Boosinger, interim dean of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

Boosinger will serve as acting director of the Clemson Experiment Station. The Experiment Station is comprised of six research and education centers strategically located in the state’s distinct soil and climate regions and is part of a nationwide network of scientists working to improve quality of life for people in their home states.

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