2017 Borlaug CAST Communication Award goes to Jayson Lusk

Lusk uses multiple forms of media to advocate for science and how innovation is critical for agriculture.

The Council for Agricultural Science & Technology (CAST) announced that the 2017 Borlaug CAST Communication Award goes to Jayson Lusk, a consummate communicator who promotes agricultural science and technology in the public arena. Lusk uses multiple forms of media to advocate for science, as he explains how innovation and growth in agriculture are critical for food security and global progress.

Currently a Regents professor and Willard Sparks endowed chair with the department of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, in July he will become the head of the department of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

Lusk calls himself a "food and agricultural economist who studies what we eat and why we eat it." As one colleague stated, however, "He's more than a scholar; he's an unparalleled communicator."

Lusk uses articles, editorials and a popular blog to take complicated issues and make them accessible to all. He has published influential books and more than 190 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on topics ranging from animal welfare to biotechnology to consumer interests. He also communicates through frequent television appearances, numerous radio and podcast interviews, newspaper articles and many well-received presentations. Various media outlets have named him as one of the most prolific and cited food and agricultural economists of the past decade.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for the public and policy-makers to have science and evidence-based information about food and agriculture. If we want to solve some of society’s most pressing problems in food and agriculture, we will need innovation and science, and it is important that the public understands the consequences of policies and consumption choices,” Lusk said.

Lusk achieved a B.S. in food technology from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Kansas State University before diving into academic work at Mississippi State University and Purdue. A visiting research position at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research gave him and his family a chance to experience Paris, France. Leading up to his current position at Oklahoma State, Lusk served on councils, chaired committees, wrote extensively and became a valued voice in the realm of agricultural science. In 2015, he was named a fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Assn.

Colleagues praise Lusk for his ability to reach audiences outside the agricultural community and for his willingness to engage in controversial food issues. As one nominator wrote, "He is an excellent columnist and blogger. His perspective is surprising, and he engages the reader." Another pointed out that Lusk believes farmers, policy-makers and consumers need credible information to make informed decisions -- and he specifically wants an informed public to know more about important research by land-grant university scientists.

Lusk's most recent book, Unnaturally Delicious: How Science & Technology are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World, explains how science and innovation are linked with feeding the growing global population. With his ability to understand food issues at all levels and his skill at getting agricultural messages across to varied audiences, Lusk is indeed a worthy recipient of the 2017 Borlaug CAST Communication Award.

An award presentation will occur at a breakfast side event co-hosted by Syngenta and CAST during the World Food Prize Symposium on Oct. 18, 2017, in Des Moines, Iowa. The Borlaug CAST Communication Award honors the legacies of Nobel Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug and Dr. Charles A. Black, the first president of CAST.

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