THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCE PRIZE IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SCIENCES

The National Academies of Science (NAS) Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences was established by FFAR, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), to recognize extraordinary contribution to agriculture and the biology understanding of species important to food and agriculture production. FFAR and BMGF established the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences to elevate food and agriculture research and highlight the critical need for scientists working toward more productive, sustainable agriculture.

Beginning in 2017, the prize recognizes mid-career scientists at U.S. institutions, working in scientific fields applicable to agriculture, including plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science, soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. One recipient each year receives a medal and a $100,000.

2019 NAS PRIZE IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SCIENCES WINNER: DR. ELIZABETH AINSWORTH

Dr. Elizabeth Ainsworth, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service researcher and adjunct professor at the School of Integrative Biology at the University if Illinois, is the 2019 recipient of the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.

Ainsworth’s pioneering research focuses on how the world will eat in the face of climate change and other threats. This research has revealed how man-made atmospheric changes will affect the physiology and growth of crops around the world. Ainsworth is the lead investigator for the SoyFACE Global Change Research Facility, which is studying how crops will be affected by increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone in combination with drought and other environmental stresses, as well as possible solutions. The work recently revealed that a large portion of the United States harvest of corn and soybean was lost due to ozone pollution over the past 20 years.

Learn more about Dr. Ainsworth’s research

2018 NAS PRIZE IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SCIENCES WINNER: DR. RODOLPHE BARRANGOU

Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou, an Associate Professor of Food Science and the Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research at North Carolina State University, is the 2018 recipient of the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.

Dr. Barrangou’s groundbreaking research established CRISPR as the adaptive immune system of bacteria, a discovery which promoted the practical use of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing. The work has tremendous worldwide applications in food and agriculture, including virus resistance in the widely used yogurt starter culture, Streptococcus thermophilus, and the potential for translational genome editing in other microbes, crops, and livestock.

Learn more about Dr. Barrangou's research.

2017 INAUGURAL WINNER: DR. EDWARD

Dr. Edward Buckler is the inaugural National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences recipient. Buckler, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service researcher and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, studies the connection between a crop plant’s genetic makeup and the physical traits exhibited by different strains.

Buckler’s research aims to combat vitamin A deficiencies, a life-threatening issue in the developing world. Buckler and his colleagues used their findings to breed a new kind of maize with 15 times more vitamin A than conventional varieties. This biofortified maize is now widely available in Zambia, where more than half of children under the age of five are vitamin A deficient.

Learn more about Dr. Buckler's work.

Watch video from the reception honoring Dr. Buckler.

Portrait of Dr. McNutt, Dr. Buckler, and Dr. Schaal

NAS President Dr. Marcia McNutt, NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences Recipient Dr. Ed Buckler, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and Chair of the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences Selection Committee Dr. Barbara Schaal. Photo: National Academy of Science