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Chris Ashwell

Chris Ashwell takes a picture at ski slopes.


Currently, I am 100 percent administrative, but once I get my legs under me, I anticipate beginning a research program that’s going to focus on environmental influence on food animal production.

What jobs did you have before coming to WVU?

I was a professor at North Carolina State University. My research and teaching was in animal breeding and genetics. I had an administrative role where I was the director of the Undergraduate Research Office. Before that, I worked for the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Maryland. And I worked on understanding the genetic regulation of growth in farm animals and food animals.

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your job?

From an instruction point of view, probably the most rewarding thing that I’ve been able to work on with students is to develop their research capacity so that they can get to that next level and get into graduate school. I’ve helped some students get a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which is a grant that allows them to fund their graduate career. That kind of reward is what makes it worth it.

Why did you decide to come to West Virginia?

I completed a leadership program in North Carolina several years ago. That sort of motivated me to look for opportunities to lead a group of faculty and that’s what happened here at West Virginia. Personally, the timing was quite good because my youngest child is off to college in two weeks. So the timing was great for a transition.

What are you most excited to do or see in West Virginia?

The scenery. The rolling hills are fantastic. I grew up in Central Virginia where we had rolling hills. I spent some time in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. My undergraduate time was at Virginia Tech and Morgantown is very similar. So it’s like coming back home.

What’s one thing you wish you had known in college?

I wish I had gotten to know the faculty better when I was an undergraduate student. I think that students miss out. You know, we’re people. Yes, we’re in front of the classroom, but our reason for being here is because we enjoy seeing students develop. That’s really something I wish I had engaged more in is getting to know the faculty.

If you won a billion dollars, what would you do with the money?

If I had unlimited resources … My first inkling would be to buy a boat and sail the world. There’s lots of places in the world that I'd love to see that I've never seen. You can't get to them by a boat, anyway… That would be sort of my retirement dream, I guess. You’d need a lot of funds for the fuel.

What have you been most grateful for in 2020 or 2021?

The opportunity to reflect on why we do things the way we do. Opportunities to reconsider the standard so that we can, once the pandemic is over and we’re still feeling it, is to be able to come back with sort of a refreshed approach. For instance, we have opportunities to teach in different ways and the pandemic taught us that we can do some things remotely. That frees us up to do more things one-on-one. I would say, to be able to reflect on standard practice and come back after the pandemic with a revised approach of how we interact with students.


Higher education, no offense to anybody, was kind of in a rut. The pandemic has offered us an opportunity to rethink how we do things. And there were some things that we weren’t doing virtually that I think we’ll continue. If we do that, that opens up time for other things we never had time for.

Just for Fun

What are you currently reading? Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

What’s your favorite meal? Street Tacos 

What’s your favorite music genre? 80’s music 

What’s one thing you can’t live without? A dog in the house