Apr 7, 2022
Top state scientist to lead California Bountiful Foundation
Amrith Gunasekara, manager of environmental programs for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, has been hired to head a research foundation conducting and supporting scientific studies on critical matters affecting California farm communities.
Gunasekara will serve as director of science and research for the California Bountiful Foundation. The foundation, which is affiliated with the California Farm Bureau, will serve as a research clearinghouse compiling scientific data on agriculture, water and the environment.
“Bringing together Dr. Gunasekara’s considerable expertise and experience and the collective contributions of our 31,000 farmers, ranchers and supporting businesses presents a tremendous opportunity to the people of California,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson in a news release. “Science and agriculture are the bedrocks of our society and our state, and now we have the best of both working to bring more food, fiber, flora and fauna to the people in a healthy and sustainable way.”
Gunasekara served as scientific advisor to California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and manager of the Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation. He previously served as a senior environmental scientist for CFDA, specializing in environmental issues related to fertilizer use.
He is also a former research scientist for the California Department of Public Health and worked as a graduate assistant with the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Gunasekara earned his doctorate in agricultural and environmental chemistry from the University of California, Davis. He holds a master’s degree in plant and soil sciences and bachelor’s degrees in environmental sciences and anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The California Bountiful Foundation aspires to become a leading agricultural research institute, supporting studies on climate-smart agriculture, farming technology, forest management, and water and economic security for agriculture.
The California Bountiful Foundation replaced the Agricultural Clean Water Initiative Foundation, which was founded in 1998 with a goal of supporting scientific research on surface and groundwater management in California.
The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 31,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6 million Farm Bureau members.