The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is excited to announce the inaugural Foster Our Future – cultivate.discover.grow. the first of a kind event in Washington, DC on Feb. 5, 2019. This exciting event will feature speakers representing key sectors in the food and agriculture communities, including researchers, farmers, sustainability experts, policy makers, government officials, and others who will come together for interactive panels, chat, and farmer spotlights.
Speakers include those listed below.
Vice President, Federal and Industry Affairs, Danone North America
Chris Adamo is Vice President at Danone North America for federal and industry affairs. Prior, Chris spent over a decade at the highest levels of the federal government working on issues related to agriculture, environment and nutrition. Recently, Chris was the chief of staff for President Obama’s White House Council on Environmental Quality from 2015 until the end of the Administration in 2017. After serving in the Obama Administration, Chris spent 2017 as a senior fellow at National Wildlife Federation advising on a host of issues such as sustainable agriculture, climate change, natural resources and water. Previously, Chris worked for 10 years in the U.S. Senate as an advisor to various U.S. Senators, both Democrats and Republicans. Chris graduated with a degree in economics and business from Kalamazoo College and a law degree from Vermont Law School.
Assistant Professor, Iowa State University
Sotirios Archontoulis is an Assistant Professor of Integrated Cropping Systems at Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy. He completed his Ph.D. and M.S. in crop science and crop modeling at Wageningen University, the Netherlands and his postdoc research in cropping systems modeling at Iowa State University. His research combines field-lab experimentation with simulation process-based models to improve production and environmental performance of various cropping systems such as Midwest corn and soybeans. His current focus identifies land use and management practices that increase crop yields while decreasing inputs like water and nitrogen.
Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Professor, North Carolina State University
Rodolphe Barrangou is the Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Professor in Probiotics Research in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University, focusing on the evolution and functions of CRISPR-Cas systems, and their applications in bacteria used in food manufacturing. Barrangou earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Rene Descartes University in Paris, France, a M.S. in Biological Engineering from the University Sof Technology in Compiegne, France, a M.S. in Food Science from North Carolina State University, a Ph.D. in Genomics from North Carolina State University and a M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He spent nine years in R&D and M&A at Danisco and DuPont in the food industry. Barrangou was elected into the US National Academy of Sciences in 2018.
Head of Research USA, KWS
Derek Bartlem is Head of Research USA for German plant-breeding company KWS, leading the KWS Gateway Research Center in St. Louis, MO. Derek joined KWS in 2014 after serving as a tenured Associate Professor at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. His previous experience includes Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and Murdoch University in Australia. These global experiences forged his passion and commitment to diversity and equality in scientific research and education. Derek has a doctorate and master’s degree in agricultural chemistry from Hokkaido University in Japan and a bachelor’s degree from Murdoch University in Australia.
Chairman, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance
Chip Bowling, a corn grower in Newburg, MD, serves as Chairman of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. He is also former chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. A graduate of NCGA’s first Advanced Leadership Academy class, Bowling has also served at the state and local levels as a past president of the Maryland Grain Producers Association, as Farm Service Agency committee chairman, as a director for the Charles County Farm Bureau and on the Charles County Economic Development Board. Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents more than 40,000 dues-paying corn growers and the interests of more than 300,000 farmers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state associations and checkoff organizations work together to help protect and advance corn growers’ interests.
Former President & Chief Executive Officer, Noble Research Institute (retired)
Bill Buckner is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Noble Research Institute, LLC and President of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation (recently retired). Buckner has had a distinguished career with Bayer starting in 1993 and culminating with his election as President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in April 2006 and subsequent retirement in December 2011. Buckner serves on the boards of the Soil Health Institute (board chair), Wilbur-Ellis Company, the Farm Foundation, Trace Genomics, and on the Kirchner Food Fellowship Board of Advisors. He earned his B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1980.
Professor, School of Sustainability and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Arizona State University
Peter Byck is Director, Producer and Writer of “Carbon Nation” and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, in the Schools of Sustainability & Journalism. Byck is now focusing on soil health – via short films: “Soil Carbon Cowboys” and in leading a large systems science project comparing regenerative grazing to conventional – measuring a whole suite of data from water retention to soil carbon to animal well-being and more. Byck has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and NPR’s Science Friday. He has shown “Carbon Nation” at the House of Commons, Boeing, Nike, Google, Microsoft, Shell, Walmart.com and more. Awards: “Garbage”, Best Documentary at SXSW; “Carbon Nation” Best Documentary, IVCA, London; “One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts” Best Short Documentary at Cleveland International Film Festival and six more festivals.
Vice President of Technology, Produce Marketing Association
Vonnie Estes is the new Vice President of Technology at Produce Marketing Association. Her role is to bring technology to the produce industry across the supply chain, working with both technology companies and the industry to identify and solve pressing needs. She has held leadership positions at prominent companies including DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta along with start-ups and venture funds to identify revolutionary science and bring products to market. She has built a number of agricultural and bio-industrial start-ups with successful exits. In 2017, Estes was the recipient of Rosalind Franklin award for leadership in Biotechnology. She has a vision to commercialize new technologies creating revolutionary products that are good for people and the planet. Estes has a B.S. in Horticulture from New Mexico State and a Masters in Plant Pathology from U.C. Davis.
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance
Erin Fitzgerald serves as Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a farmer and rancher led organization committed to encouraging stakeholder and consumer dialogue about how food is grown and raised. Fitzgerald’s thought leadership in the sustainability space convenes food and agriculture stakeholders in an inclusive dialogue on the sustainable food systems of the 21st century. Prior to USFRA, Fitzgerald served as Senior Vice President, Global Sustainability for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, where she conducted an environmental impact assessment that led to an industry-wide voluntary carbon reduction goal of 25 percent by 2020.
Deputy Under Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture Research, Education, and Economics Mission
Scott Hutchins is the Deputy Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area which is comprised of the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Together these agencies cut across every USDA department and have unique federal leadership responsibility to advance agriculture research, extension, and education. He was sworn-in by Secretary Perdue on January 29, 2019. Hutchins recently retired from CortevaTM AgriScience after almost 32 years, where he held many roles in Program Management, Human Resources, Six Sigma, R&D Portfolio Management and Global Administration. In addition, he is a Board-Certified Entomologist, Adjunct Professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Past President of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and Fellow of the ESA. Hutchins received a B.S. in entomology from Auburn University, a M.S. in entomology from Mississippi State University, and a Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University. He and his wife Janet have three children and seven grandchildren.
Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Chavonda Jacobs-Young has served as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency since February 2013. Previously, Jacobs-Young had served as ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs. Prior to moving into her roles at ARS, Jacobs-Young served as the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist at USDA. She also served as the Acting Director for USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Jacobs-Young has also served as a senior policy analyst for agriculture in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Jacobs-Young is a native of Georgia. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wood and Paper Science and a B.S. degree in Pulp and Paper Science and Technology from North Carolina State University. She also is a graduate of American University’s Executive Leadership in Public Policy Implementation Program.
Board Chair, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
Mark Keenum became Mississippi State’s 19th president on Jan. 5, 2009. Keenum serves as vice-chairman of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges’ Executive Council. He also is a member of the American Public Land-Grant Universities Board of Directors. A graduate of Mississippi State University, Keenum began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. He went on to serve as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC and was Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture prior to returning home to Mississippi State.
Chief Executive Officer, Elo Life Systems
Fayaz Khazi is the Chief Executive Officer of Elo Life Systems. Prior to joining Elo, Khazi was the Chief Executive Officer of KeyGene USA. Khazi holds a doctorate in molecular genetics from Auburn University where he studied DNA repair and recombination. He became the founding Director of Translational Medicine at Intrexon Corporation, where he held several executive leadership positions supporting the food, human health, and agricultural biotechnology sectors. Khazi also worked with executive management at Intrexon to help launch a successful IPO in 2013 (NYSE: XON) before moving on to become Chief Executive Officer of KeyGene USA. At Elo, he will continue to pursue innovative approaches and creative partnerships to develop high impact solutions at the nexus of food, agriculture and human wellness.
Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University
Jonas King grew up in North Mississippi and Southern Arizona. He received his Baccalaureate degree in Biology and Chemistry and master’s degree from Ole Miss and pursued his Ph.D. in molecular biology at Vanderbilt University where he studied host-parasite interactions in mosquitoes. King completed postdoctoral research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he studied human malaria and at the USDA-ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Center in Fort Detrick, Maryland, where he studied a bacterial select agent. King’s current research focuses broadly on host-pathogen interactions and arthropod disease vectors.
Assistant Professor, South Dakota State University
Crystal Levesque was born and raised on a broiler and mixed grain farm in central Saskatchewan, Canada. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in amino acid metabolism during pregnancy followed by post-doctoral training at Prairie Swine Center and University of Guelph prior to accepting the position of Assistant Professor of Monogastric Nutrition at South Dakota State University. Her main research interests are protein and amino acid metabolism during pregnancy and maternal nutritional influence on offspring growth and development. Levesque is an active member of the American Society of Animal Science and the American Society of Nutrition.
National Political Correspondent, National Public Radio
Mara Liasson is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR’s award-winning newsmagazine “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” Each election year, Liasson provides key coverage in presidential and congressional races. She has covered six presidential elections—from 1992 to 2012. Previously, Liasson was NPR’s White House correspondent for the Clinton administration. She won the White House Correspondent Association’s Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and 1997. Liasson is a graduate of Brown University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in American history.
Chief Sustainability Officer, General Mills, Inc.
Jerry Lynch leads General Mills sustainability efforts globally. Lynch began his career at General Mills in 1995 and has served in various general management, marketing, and sustainability roles across the company globally. In addition to his day job, Lynch volunteers his time on the Food Recovery Network and the Board of Trustees of the Keystone Policy Center. Lynch earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1984 and a M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1995.
CEO of Select Milk Producers
Mike McCloskey is Co-Founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers, the sixth largest milk cooperative in the country. He is also Chairman of the Board for Fair Oaks Farms, the nation’s largest agritourism attraction located in Northwest Indiana. Dr. McCloskey’s home dairy is Prairies Edge Dairy Farms, also in Northwest Indiana, which milks 15,000 cows living in free-stall barns and is recognized as being the leading dairy in the U.S. from many perspectives. Prairies Edge Dairy Farms harvest their cow manure and through digesters create electricity to power their farms as well as creating bio-based CNG to fuel 42 milk trucks and thus displacing 2 million gallons of diesel use annually.
Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Arizona State University
Kathleen Merrigan is the inaugural Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University and the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Sustainable Food Systems. She came to ASU after four years as Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University. From 2009-2013, Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Previously, she was a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Her prior career includes a variety of agriculture policy positions, including Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and senior staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Executive Vice President, American Farm Bureau Federation
Information coming soon
Vice President of Research & Development at Benson Hill Biosystems
Mohammed Oufattole is currently serving as the Vice President of Research & Development at Benson Hill Biosystems. Prior to joining Benson Hill, Mohammed spent a decade of his career at Monsanto (now Bayer Crop Sciences) where he served in numerous progressing roles in the biotechnology division, including multiple scientific leadership positions across various Discovery, Enabling and Trait Product Development programs. He also served as the head of Monsanto’s Biotechnology Research Center in India. Mohammed completed his postdoctoral training at Washington State University, where he also obtained a M.B.A. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and M.S. in Biological Sciences from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and his B.S. from the University of Moulay Ismail in Morocco.
Kroger Foundation Manager
Sunny Reelhorn Parr leads the Kroger Foundation and philanthropic strategy and grantmaking for the Kroger family of companies. In this role, she is responsible for launching the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Fund – a $10 million philanthropic commitment to fund solutions and technologies focused on ending food waste through prevention, recovery and recycling. Before joining the corporate world, Sunny owned a dance studio where children of all ages studied various styles of dance for both recreation and competition. Mentoring youth through the artform of dance was a true passion for her throughout her 10-year career. In addition to being an entrepreneur and a nonprofit leader, Sunny is a mother to a five-year-old boy and a wife to a high school teacher. Time with her boys is often spent traveling and laughing.
Associate Professor, Iowa State University
Paul Plummer is an Associate Professor in Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University, and serves as the current Director of the Midwest AMR Consortium and Executive Director for the newly formed National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE). He obtained his D.V.M. from the University of Tennessee in 2000 and went on to complete a Large Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at Texas A&M followed by a Large Animal Medicine Residency at the University of Tennessee. He then completed his Ph.D. in Veterinary Microbiology at Iowa State University in 2009 while working as a ruminant clinician. He also holds an appointment on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Antimicrobials.
Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Sonny Perdue came by his knowledge of agriculture the old fashioned way: he was born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia. From childhood, and through his life in business and elected office, Perdue has experienced the industry from every possible perspective. Under Secretary Perdue, the USDA is facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. As the former governor of Georgia, he is a strong believer in good government who will seek solutions to problems and not lament that the agency might be faced with difficult challenges. His four guiding principles are clear: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell foods and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.
Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University
Benjamin Reading is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. He is the Co-Coordinator of the National Program for Genetic Improvement and Selective Breeding for the Hybrid Striped Bass Industry, Aquaculture Co-Coordinator for the USDA National Animal Genome Project (NRSP-8), and Technical Committee Member of the USDA Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC). Reading is a 21st Century Center for Excellence Visiting Scholar at Hokkaido University (Japan) and an Edwin Pauley Visiting Scholar at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology. He received his B.A. in Biology (Cum Laude), a Master of Science Degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He also was Brevetted 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army (Illinois National Guard).
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is a fourth generation Kansan. After graduating from Kansas State University, Roberts served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He worked for several newspapers before joining the staff of Kansas’ U.S. Senator Frank Carlson in 1967. In 1969, Roberts became administrative assistant to U.S. Congressman Keith Sebelius. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980. In 1996, Roberts was elected to the U.S. Senate, and is currently serving his fourth term. Roberts is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He is the first Congressional member to have chaired both the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate committee. He is also the first Congressional member to write and pass a Farm Bill in both chambers. Roberts works to ensure that farmers and ranchers have the tools to advance American agriculture. He is fighting barriers to trade and regulations that threaten producers’ competitiveness.
Executive Director, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
Sally Rockey became the inaugural Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) in September 2015. Prior to this role, Rockey was a leader in Federal research, overseeing the operations of the extramural programs in both agriculture and biomedicine. She spent 19 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking on the extramural research program at the National Institutes of Health. As Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Rockey led groundbreaking initiatives and activities that have and will have a lasting positive impact on the research community. Rockey received her Ph.D. in Entomology from The Ohio State University and was recently named a fellow of the Entomological Society of America.
Director, Crops of the Future Collaborative, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
Jeff Rosichan joined FFAR in January 2018 as the Director of the Crops of the Future Collaborative. Rosichan brings 30 years of agriculture industry experience as a senior R&D executive with significant management, scouting and early stage milestone development expertise. In his role at Dow AgroSciences as External Technology Leader for Oilseed Crops, Cereals, and Output Traits, he was focused on technology exploration, assessment and developing strategic alliances for these crops. He previously served as Global Head of Technology Scouting for Novartis Agribusiness and as Research Leader for all oilseeds projects at Renessen LLC. Rosichan earned his doctorate in Genetics and Cell Biology at Washington State University and did postgraduate work at U.C. Davis.
Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 9, 2019, by Governor Gavin Newsom. In re-appointing Secretary Ross, Governor Newsom cited her unmatched leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and in California, in areas including environmental stewardship, climate change adaptation, and trade. Secretary Ross was initially appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2011. Before joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996- 2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996.
Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America
Vimlendra Sharan, an Indian citizen, joined FAO as Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America on December 1, 2016. Sharan brings with him more than two decades of national and international government leadership experience focusing on rural development, agriculture and food security issues. Sharan has worked with the Indian Government extensively in rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra and has also been actively involved in agriculture & food policy formulation working with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in New Delhi. He comes to Washington from his previous post as Permanent Representative of India to the Rome based UN Agencies where he was Vice President of the WFP Executive Board, Chairman of IFAD Evaluation Committee and Asia Group representative on FAO Programme Committee and a member of the FAO Council. Sharan holds a degree in Economics from University of Delhi, India and a M.B.A. in Public Policy from University of Birmingham, U.K.
Vice President, Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Doug Steele became the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Vice President for Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources on January 2, 2019. In April 2018, Steele became director for International Extension Outreach and Education with the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. Previously, he served as director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station. Steele earned his bachelor of science degree in animal science and agribusiness from Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma, his master of agriculture in agronomy and horticulture from West Texas A&M University in Canyon and his doctorate in educational human resource development from Texas A&M.
Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Lisa Tiemann is currently Assistant Professor of Soil Biology in the Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State University. With a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas, she takes an agroecological approach to research, which is critical for developing innovative approaches to agriculture that simultaneously increase system productivity, resilience and sustainability. The ultimate goal of her research is to determine how we can manage soil microbes and agroecosystems to sustain the critical services soils provide in support of food production for a rapidly growing human population.
Vice President of Agriculture - B-29 Investments and
Michael Vance grew up on a small cattle and farming operation in Mississippi. He serves as the Vice President of Agriculture for B-29 Investments and manages a portfolio of investment ranches across three states and as the managing partner for Stark Ranch, LLC. At Stark, Vance is responsible for building a registered red angus herd that is raised and performs in a forage-exclusive environment. His most recent project at Stark Ranch is vertically integrating into the beef business. He earned his B.S. in Animal Science from Mississippi State University and his M.B.A. from Oklahoma State University.
Assistant Professor, University of Rhode Island
Maya Vadiveloo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. Her research focuses on dietary assessment methods and identifying and understanding factors that improve population-level dietary quality, obesity and obesity-related outcomes. Vadiveloo completed her postdoctoral work at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Nutrition, earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from New York University, her M.S. in Nutrition from Boston University, and her B.A. in Human Biology from Brown University.
President, Iowa State University
Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on November 20, 2017. She is the first woman to hold the university’s highest office. Wintersteen completed her doctorate in entomology at Iowa State and rose through the ranks to become a professor of entomology (with a brief stint at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.), and then assumed a number of administrative roles in extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Wintersteen served for eleven years as the endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station.
About the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.