USDA Names New National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director

Manjit K. Misra led Iowa State University's Seed Science Center for decades.

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced the appointment of Manjit K. Misra as the new director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The NIFA director leads the agency’s work in advancing agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. Dr. Misra will start his new role on May 8.

“Dr. Misra is an esteemed scientist and educator whose devotion to studying and sharing his knowledge of seeds with the world will benefit society and inspire generations to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I am confident he will bring strong leadership and expertise to USDA as we continue our work to invest in and grow initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and food systems.”

"We are excited to add Dr. Misra's leadership and expertise to our team as we continue to transform our nation’s food and agricultural system,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Research, Education, and Economics Under Secretary. “NIFA, with its unique research, education, and Extension partnerships, and the current unprecedented investments we have toward building the next generation of ag professionals, is well positioned to address the complex challenges we face in agriculture.”

Prior to joining USDA, Dr. Misra served as a Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. For more than 30 years, he was Director of the university’s Seed Science Center. The center has administered the National Seed Health System, authorized by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, since 2001. Dr. Misra also was founding Director of the Iowa State’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products.

In 2012, Dr. Misra was appointed Chair of the USDA National Genetic Resources Advisory Council (NGRAC), a position he held until 2017. Misra has served on more than 60 local, national, and international boards and committees. These include the Steering Committee for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) International Conference on Biotechnology, the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Seed Research Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Iowa Seed Association, the Iowa Crop Improvement Association, and the First the Seed Foundation.

Dr. Misra is the recipient of several awards for leadership, including the “Distinguished Service Award” from the American Seed Trade Association, the “Order of the Knoll Faculty Award” from Iowa State University, the “Global Agricultural Leadership Award” from the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, the Sukup Global Food Security award, a certificate of appreciation from the Secretary of Agriculture and the AE50 award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Dr. Misra earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering in India, a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is a researcher with 137 publications and an innovator with ten patents. During his tenure as the Director of the Seed Science Center, the faculty and staff conducted seed programs in 79 countries, including 34 countries in Africa.

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