The Oklahoma Turfgrass Research Foundation (OTRF) inducted Emeritus Professor Dr. Greg Bell into the Oklahoma Turfgrass Hall of Fame during the opening of its 69th Oklahoma Turf Conference & Trade Show on Dec 2, 2014, at Stillwater, Oklahoma. Induction into the Oklahoma Turfgrass Hall of Fame recognizes long and exceptional achievement as well as service to the members of the OTRF and the state’s turfgrass industry. The OTRF is a nonprofit organization that focuses on raising funds for turfgrass research and that provides annual education for the Oklahoma turfgrass industry.
Bell grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania. He began his turf management career working in golf course construction and maintenance at Mohawk Trails Golf Club, Edinburg, Pennsylvania, on evenings, weekends and summers while attending high school. After honorably serving in the U.S. Army, Bell was involved in industrial management from 1976 to 1983, holding management positions in both manufacturing and service industries with responsibility for up to 100 employees at a time. He built a profitable golf club repair business, Gregory Bell Golf Club Company, during 1983-1993. He earned a Bachelor of Science (1993), Master of Science (1995) and Ph.D. (1997) with specialization in turf management/science from The Ohio State University, and won the prestigious Gerald O. Mott Meritorious Graduate Student Award in Crop Science in 1997 as well as the James Watson Fellowship in 1998.
Bell joined the Oklahoma State University (OSU) faculty in December of 1997 as an assistant professor of turfgrass research and teaching. In 2001, he was recognized with the Outstanding Advisor Award in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. In 2002, Bell and the GreenSeeker Research Team at OSU won the USDA Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for developing a revolutionary approach to fertilizing crops with GreenSeeker computerized sensor equipment that reads crop needs and applies treatment accordingly and immediately. He was awarded the OSU Faculty Phoenix Award in 2003 by the OSU Graduate and Professional Student Government Association, and the Wayne W. and W. Jean Huffine Endowed Professorship in Turfgrass Science in August 2004 and served in that capacity until his retirement in July of 2014.
During his time at OSU, Bell taught nearly 600 green industry students in four undergraduate turf/horticulture courses and was advisor or co-advisor or mentor to over 130 undergraduates in the OSU turfgrass management program. He was the major advisor to seven completed MS and Ph.D. students. His graduate and undergraduate alumni today fill major leadership roles in the turfgrass industry across the U.S. Bell also served as director of education for the Oklahoma Turfgrass Research Foundation for three years. He provided over 60 oral presentations at various turf industry workshops and conferences across the U.S.
Bell’s major research contributions to the turfgrass industry included identification of specific nutrient deficiencies, and effects of restricted air movement, root competition, and shade on turfgrass health. He played an instrumental role in furthering the use of the normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI) in assessing turfgrass health as well as optical sensing methods for assessing turfgrass health. He developed management techniques that reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff from turf as well as identified experimental bermudagrass types with improved shade tolerance that are being used in developing the next generation of improved turf bermudagrasses. He is the author of the book "Turfgrass Physiology and Ecology: Advanced Management Principles," three book chapters, 32 peer reviewed scientific journal articles on turf science and over 30 turf trade articles.
Photo: OTRF President Rick Murray, left, presents Greg Bell with the Hall of Fame Plaque.