Ag research foundation names scientific advisory committee

Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation to focus on AFRI grant program.

The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation announced the formation of its Scientific Advisory Committee, an eight-member panel led by Vicki Chandler, PhD, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the Minerva Schools at KGI. The Committee's primary mission is to strengthen agricultural research and raise its profile within the broader science community. Special focus will be placed on the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, the nation's primary source of competitively awarded funding within the US Department of Agriculture.

"Four reports from the National Academies of Sciences since 1972 have pointed out the need for more and better funding of competitively awarded, peer-reviewed agricultural research," said Chandler, who also sits on the SoAR Foundation's board of directors. "AFRI holds the potential answer to these reports, tapping the brightest minds in the nation's entire research community to generate cutting-edge solutions to the problems confronting agriculture and food production today. Everyone with a stake—from consumers to producers to scientists—needs this program to excel."

The SoAR Foundation's Science Advisory Committee will focus on several goals: increasing the participation of the nation's leading research institutions in AFRI and in the field of agricultural research; identifying additional opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary work between agricultural research programs and other federally funded science programs; and providing advice and recommendations for advancing agricultural research as a whole.

"The 'green revolution' of the 1950s and 1960s set the bar for a fruitful era of scientific progress," said Dr. William Danforth, chancellor emeritus of Washington University in St. Louis and chairman of SoAR Foundation. "Given the many problems confronting farms and food production today—including changing growing seasons, threats from new pests and diseases, and feeding a rapidly growing world— we need the next revolution to start today. Food is too important for the human race to be a research after-thought; it needs to be a high priority for the nation's entire scientific community."

The members of the SoAR Foundation's Scientific Advisory Committee include:

  • Dr. Vicki Chandler (the committee chair)—member of the National Academies of Sciences; dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the Minerva Schools at KGI; and a member of the National Science Board.
  • Dr. Arthur Bienenstock—professor emeritus of photon science, Stanford University; former associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a member of the National Science Board.
  • Dr. Robert Cousins—eminent scholar and Boston family professor of nutrition, University of Florida; director, Center for Nutritional Sciences at the University of Florida; president emeritus, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; and a member of the National Academies of Sciences.
  • Dr. Michael Lairmore—dean and distinguished professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis; and a member of the Institute of Medicine.
  • Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz—George W. Beadle professor of biology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology; and a member of the National Academies of Sciences.
  • Dr. Charles Rice - university distinguished professor of soil microbiology, Kansas State University; member of the IPCC; Chair, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine;
  • Dr. Barbara Schaal—dean of the faculty of arts & sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton distinguished professor in the Department of Biology, Washington University; Member,  Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; and member of the National Academies of Sciences.
  • Dr. Patrick Stover—professor and director of the division of nutritional sciences, Cornell University; and president, American Society for Nutrition.
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