Dr. Sally Rockey will join the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research as its first executive director, the Foundation announced Thursday.
Rockey, the National Institutes of Health deputy director for extramural research, will assume her new role in September 2015.
The Foundation, formed to increase research in food and agriculture as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, will continue to operate under the direction of its board until Rockey assumes her duties in September.
Prior to joining the NIH in 2005, Rockey spent 19 years of at the USDA, where she oversaw the competitive research component of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, which is today's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. There, Rockey established the National Research Initiative and led expansion of its programs.
FFAR Board Chair and former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said Rockey's 20 years of USDA experience and her "proven commitment to scientific integrity and innovation" will be invaluable assets for the Foundation.
As executive director, Rockey will steer FFAR's approach to addressing challenges in food and agriculture through funding cutting edge research, fostering public-private sector collaboration, and supporting young scientists in the agricultural field.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me to lead an organization through its early days and see FFAR develop as a vital component of the food and agriculture research enterprise," Rockey said.
Leading the largest extramural research operation in the world at the NIH, Rockey oversees a $25 billion annual budget and 500 employees and contractors.
In her current role, Rockey cultivates strong relationships with the academic, public, and private sector to advance NIH-supported biomedical research and leads numerous cross-agency activities to bring government-wide approaches to federally-supported research. She has earned dozens of honors including the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.
Rockey is an insect physiologist by training and holds a Ph.D. in entomology from The Ohio State University.