Sustainable and intensive agriculture is considered by most, but not all, to be key to achieving food security in the U.S. and globally. Science and technology has been essential to the success of U.S. agriculture during the past century; and, with the applications of advanced genetics and genetic engineering, agriculture is poised to be a driver for a strong and sustainable bioeconomy into the future. The lecture will consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Dr. Roger Beachy was appointed by President Obama as the first Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in October 2009 serving through May 2011. He served as Chief Scientist of USDA from January – October 2010. NIFA is responsible for awarding extramural funds for research, education and extension for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Founding President of the Danforth Center and served in this position from 1999-2009. Dr. Beachy, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is recognized for his research on plant virology and molecular biology and for developing virus-resistant plants through biotechnology.
From 1991 to 1998, Dr. Beachy headed the Division of Plant Biology at The Scripps Research Institute, a leading biomedical research center in La Jolla, California. He was also Professor and Scripps Family Chair in Cell Biology and Co-Director of the International Laboratory for Tropical Agricultural Biotechnology (ILTAB) at Scripps.
Dr. Beachy was a member of the Biology Department at Washington University in St. Louis from 1978 to 1991, where he was Professor and Director of the Center for Plant Science and Biotechnology. In collaboration with Monsanto Company, Beachy's team led to the development of the world's first genetically modified food crop, a variety of tomato that was modified for resistance to virus disease. His technique to produce virus resistance by 'pathogen derived resistance' has been replicated by researchers around the world and yielded many types of plants with resistance to a number of different virus diseases. Research under his direction has led to a number of patents and has been described in 50 book articles and more than 240 journal publications.
Dr. Beachy has received a number of honors for his research. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and in 2001 received the Wolf Prize in Agriculture. He is a Foreign Associate in the National Academy of Sciences India, Indian National Science Academy, and the Third World Academy of Science. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the Academy of Science of St. Louis. Dr. Beachy was awarded the Dennis Robert Hoagland Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists, the 1990 recipient of the American Phytopathological Society's Ruth Allen Award, the Peter Raven Lifetime Achievement Award, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Michigan State University. He was the 1991 recipient of the Bank of Delaware's Commonwealth Award for Science and Industry. In 1999, Dr. Beachy was named R&D Magazine's Scientist of the Year; and in 1995, the San Diego Press Club recognized him with a Headliner of the Year Award.
Dr. Beachy has served as editor of several scientific journals and has served on numerous boards and committees; he is currently a member of the Grand Challenges in International Development Committee (NAS; sponsored by USAID) and is an advisor to the Editorial Board of EMBO Reports. He is a member of a number of scientific societies, including the American Society of Plant Biologists, American Phytopathological Society, the American Society for Virology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as consultant in plant biotechnology and frequently lectures on the applications of biotechnology in agriculture.
Dr. Beachy holds a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Michigan State University and earned a B.A. in Biology from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.
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