Dr. Roger Beachy has tendered his resignation as head of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. As of May 20, 2011 Beachy will be replaced by Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, who will serve as acting director. Jacobs-Young is currently director of the Office of the Chief Scientist at USDA.
Research, Education and Economics Under Secretary Cathie Woteki says they understand that Dr. Beachy's first priority must be to the needs of his family, and he will be returning to St. Louis, Missouri, to spend more time with his wife, his children and his grandchildren.
"What a huge loss," says Karl Glasener, director of science policy for the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. "He gave us a face for agricultural science that I've never seen before - modern [and someone] talking about change. It was really refreshing."
Beachy took the helm of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in October 2009 and led the reorganization which transformed the agency into the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2010. He will return to Washington University in St. Louis as a professor in the biology department and hopes to continue to advocate for agricultural research.
In a USDA memo Woteki said that Beachy's leadership contributed to increasing the visibility of science and innovation at USDA so that American agriculture can continue to be the economic engine for the nation and help our country keep providing a safe and healthy food supply to the world. She said he leaves a legacy that will endure for years to come.
"Secretary Vilsack and I both appreciate the dedication of the NIFA staff who will keep up the good work Dr. Beachy has set in motion." Woteki said. "We are initiating an aggressive search to identify and bring on board a distinguished scientist as NIFA's next director."