USDA Head of Research to Lay Out Research Support Priorities

Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will give a free public talk at UC Riverside on July 21

Photo shows Sonny Ramaswamy

Sonny Ramaswamy was appointed by President Obama to serve as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) on May 7, 2012. He oversees a wide range of extramural research, education, and extension projects that address the needs of farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers.Photo credit: USDA.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) works closely with university researchers to find innovative solutions to issues related to agriculture, food, the environment and communities.

Food, in the broadest sense of the word, is a pressing global issue in a world where one billion people go hungry and one billion more are malnourished.  In light of such sobering statistics, what are NIFA’s priorities for research support?  How can the University of California, Riverside work with NIFA to achieve its goals?

Sonny Ramaswamy, the director of NIFA, will discuss these priorities in a talk he will give at UC Riverside on Monday, July 21, 2014.  The talk, which begins at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Genomics Building, is free and open to the public.

“As we look to the future of food and agriculture research, we must pay attention to the fact that agriculture is inextricably linked to the health of our nation and our world,” Ramaswamy said.  “With the burgeoning population, we must address climate change, diminishing land and water resources, changing incomes and diets and the expectation of better health outcomes. These complex challenges require complex answers.”

Earlier this month, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a major initiative—the UC Global Food Initiative—intended to marshal resources across the UC system to address global challenges related to food.  With the goal of building a world that can sustainably and nutritiously feed itself, the initiative grows out of a commitment by Napolitano and the 10 UC campus chancellors to work collectively to intensify and expand efforts at UC campuses to support healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and food security.

“The UC Global Food Initiative is a step in the right direction by dedicating the intellectual and monetary resources to finding the solutions that will strengthen the human, animal, plant, environmental and economic health of the world,” Ramaswamy said.

At NIFA, Ramaswamy oversees awards funds for a wide range of extramural research, education, and extension projects that address the needs of farmer, ranchers, and agricultural producers. Prior to joining NIFA, he served as dean of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. Previous to that, he was associate dean of the Purdue University College of Agriculture, where he directed the university’s agricultural research programs from 2006 to 2009. Prior to joining the Purdue faculty, he was head of Kansas State University’s Department of Entomology from 1997 to 2006. He also served on the faculty of Mississippi State University and as a research associate at Michigan State University.

During his academic career, Ramaswamy has received research grants from many federal agencies, including USDA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, as well as from state agencies, commodity groups, and industry. He has published nearly 150 journal articles, book chapters, and a book. He has received a number of awards and honors as a scientist and department head, including being named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a fellow of the Entomological Society of America; and distinguished graduate alumnus of Cook College, Rutgers University.

For other details about Ramaswamy’s talk, please contact Kaitlin Chell, the director of federal relations at UC Riverside, at

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