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Serving: West
Barbara Rasco speaks with man across table Steve Miller, University of Wyoming
ON THE JOB: On her first day on the job, Barbara Rasco gets engaged in the work of her office.

New dean gets to work

Barbara Rasco takes on a new role as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming.

By Steve Miller 

Barbara Rasco got started in her new role June 28 as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming.

She was formerly director of the joint Washington State University-University of Idaho School of Food Science. Rasco is a food scientist, engineer and attorney who is internationally recognized for her expertise in food safety, processing and regulation.

The UW board of trustees approved her appointment following a nationwide search involving constituents and stakeholders across the state.

Rasco says she is excited to work with the faculty and staff members and students of the college. She also looks forward to working with Wyoming’s cornerstone agriculture industry to support the state’s traditional animal and crop production and drive diversification to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.

“I am excited to join the University of Wyoming and to share the optimism, curiosity and unshakable determination for which the students, faculty and staff are known,” Rasco says. “I look forward to working with these talented individuals to build the next generation of future leaders in agriculture, human science and natural resource management.”

Rasco says the university has a shared vision among faculty and employees to improve the quality of life for people in Wyoming and the global community. This will be done, she says, by living the land-grant mission and integrating high-quality education, innovative research and impactful outreach programs to provide innovative solutions for some pressing needs facing the people of Wyoming, nation and world.

A history of service

Rasco had served since 2014 at the Washington State University-University of Idaho School of Food Science, where she had been a professor since 1998. From 1983 to 1998, she was a professor in the Institute of Food Science and Technology and assistant director of the Division of Aquaculture and Food Science at the University of Washington College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979 and a doctorate in food science and nutrition from the University of Massachusetts in 1983. Rasco earned a law degree from Seattle University in 1995 and is licensed to practice in Washington state and federal court, where she specializes in matters related to food and agriculture.

She also has private-sector experience as a biochemical engineer and a food scientist, providing assistance to hundreds of companies in the United States through outreach activities and Extension programming.

Rasco’s research has focused on food quality and safety, process design and product development. She has developed analytical methods to predict the safety and quality of food using spectroscopic, nanomaterial and microfluidic systems.

In addition to working extensively with the agricultural and food sectors in specialty crops and other operations, she has provided technical and legal assistance to small- and medium-sized enterprises in 37 countries to improve food security, economic development and public health.

Miller is senior editor at the University of Wyoming Extension.

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