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New Mexico State University

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NMSU Range Insect Laboratories Renamed in Honor of Noted Expert Watts

LAS CRUCES -- The Range Insect Laboratories at New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences were renamed Oct. 25 in a ceremony honoring J. Gordon Watts, noted entomologist.


Watts' wife, Nanalie of Las Cruces, and two daughters, Robin Echols and Janice Siedel of Dallas, attended the dedication ceremony of the J. Gordon Watts Entomology Laboratories.

Watts earned a bachelor's degree from Clemson and master's and doctoral degrees from Ohio State, all in entomology. As an undergraduate, he was active in the ROTC.

When America entered World War II, Watts was called to active duty. He rose rapidly from the rank of lieutenant to that of colonel and was chosen to serve as military governor of Austria for two years at the close of the war.

Watts came to NMSU in 1955 as a teacher in the biology department. In 1956, he was selected to head what is now known as the entomology, plant pathology and weed sciences department.

A renowned expert on rangeland insects, Watts initiated research programs in entomology, plant physiology and plant pathology. He also devised the first instructional program at the college for students in those fields. His book, "Rangeland Entomology," is used today as a text in universities around the world.

Watts retired from NMSU in 1976. Even in retirement, he was a recognized expert in his field. He released a second edition of his book and was an invited keynote speaker at the 1993 International Grassland Congress. Watts died in January 1995.

"Gordon was a friend of warmth and wisdom, a philosopher and the epitome of a gentleman," said Grant Kinzer, current head of the entomology, plant pathology and weed sciences department. "He was a wonderful supervisor and mentor."

The newly renamed laboratories are located on College Drive, west of El Paseo Road. Scientists at the labs continue to research range insect pests, farming-related insect problems, and pesticide technology and safety.