Soil Health Institute Names Chief Scientific Officers

Kelly MarshallAg Group, Plant Science, Research, Soil

soil healthFor the first time the Soil Health Institute has selected a Chief Scientific Officer.  Dr. Steven R. Shafer, one of the nation’s top agricultural research leaders, has been selected for this position.

“The Soil Health Institute is committed to safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of our soils. To accomplish this mission, high priority, outcome-driven research and education are foundational to our efforts,” said Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “We are thrilled to have Dr. Shafer join our team. The breadth and depth of his research and leadership experience will ensure that the Institute provides world-class research, ultimately increasing agricultural productivity, resiliency and environmental quality by improving soil health.”

Shafer began his career as a Research Plant Pathologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), where for 14 years he conducted research on beneficial and pathogenic soil microorganisms and their effects on plants in changing environments. For four years he served as a Deputy Administrator for USDA ARS, leading the agency’s research programs in natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems that included national research on soil management, water availability, rangeland systems, air quality, climate change, bioenergy and sustainable agriculture. In his most recent post, Dr. Shafer served as the USDA ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs, leading and coordinating its entire $1.1 billion research portfolio of more than 700 research projects and related international research.

“Any society or civilization that aspires to a long future must make a concerted effort to sustain its natural resources,” Shafer said. “The Soil Health Institute is poised for leadership in the research and education necessary to sustain our soil—a resource that is absolutely essential to production of food and a vast array of other ecosystem services. I consider it a great privilege to join this new organization as we work for today’s world and tomorrow’s.”

Shafer’s list of qualifications also includes both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in plant pathology from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D in Plant pathology with a minor in soil science from North Caroline State University at Raleigh.

Dr. Shafer will begin his new position on May 1, 2016 at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.