Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Hires Four Scientific Program Directors, Doubling Staff with Establishment of New Department

Lucyna Kurtyka, M.S., Tawny Mata, Ph.D., Daniel Moebius-Clune, Ph.D. and John Reich, Ph.D. bring depth and breadth of food and agriculture research experience

WASHINGTON — The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research today announces four new staff members with expertise spanning critical components of the Foundation’s food and agriculture research agenda. The first members of the scientific program department will work closely with the executive director, board, and advisory councils to identify areas of scientific opportunity for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and execute the research programming that will seize those opportunities.

Lucyna Kurtyka, M.S., joins the Foundation from Monsanto Company, where she was global lead on food policy and international organizations, providing strategy leadership for food and agricultural policy, standards, treaties, and trade-related issues. With previous positions at the National Academy of Sciences, the International Life Sciences Institute and AOAC International, Kurtyka brings more than 20 years of business and nonprofit experience to her new role as senior scientific program director managing food and nutrition-related initiatives. She earned her M.S. in food technology from the Agricultural University in Krakow, Poland.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research because my own values are reflected in its mission,” said Kurtyka. “There is nothing more rewarding than working for the benefit of the society as a whole.”

Tawny Mata, Ph.D., was previously the Partnership Coordinator for the U.S. Pollinator Health Task Force at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this role and previously as an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow at the Department’s Office of the Chief Scientist, Mata’s responsibilities spanned domestic and international work in climate change, pollinator health, open data, food security, and plant breeding. As a scientific program director, Mata manages the Foundation’s New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award and will apply her diverse experience to an array of future initiatives.

“I look forward to growing public-private partnerships that support Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research programming and ensure the relevance of the Foundation’s supported research to food and agriculture stakeholders,” said Mata.

Daniel Moebius-Clune, Ph.D., will lead the Rapid Response Program as well as soil health and water related initiatives as a scientific program director. Moebius-Clune holds an M.S. in soil science and a Ph.D. in plant pathology and plant-microbe biology from Cornell University, where he worked with fungal symbiosis in crop plant roots, and in soil health research and extension. Moebius-Clune was most recently a visiting soil scientist at the USDA-ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab in Beltsville, Md.

“I’m very happy to be working with the rest of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture team, to foster research that addresses the complex challenge of increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability, while conserving natural resources.”

John Reich, Ph.D, also joining the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research from the USDA, is a biomedical scientist. At USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Reich supported programs regarding food safety and nutrition and helped build relationships between federal agencies regarding climate change, food security, and agriculture.
Reich’s background includes community work addressing hunger and food security and his experience will be broadly applied across many facets of the Foundation’s mission. Reich holds a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I’m delighted to have these outstanding individuals join the Foundation for Food and Agriculture team. Each of them brings unique talents to our organization and their dedication and passion for agriculture and research bodes well for the Foundation’s future,” said Executive Director Sally Rockey, Ph.D.

Kurtyka, Mata, Moebius-Clune, and Reich assumed their new roles in January and February 2016.
Further background information on the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research staff is available here.

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