Apr 26, 2023
USDA names longtime Iowa State professor director of research agency

Manjit M. Misra, a longtime professor at Iowa State University with 10 patents in his portfolio, is the new director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The director leads NIFA’s work in advancing agricultural research, education and Extension. Misra takes its helm on May 8.

Misra, previously a professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University, served as director of the university’s Seed Science Center for more than 30 years. The center has administered the National Seed Health System, authorized by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, since 2001.

Under his leadership, ISU’s Seed Science Center conducted seed programs in 79 countries.

“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,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “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.”

Misra, also the founding director of the Iowa State’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products, is a researcher with 137 publications and an innovator with 10 patents.

“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.”

In 2012, Dr. Misra was appointed chair of the USDA National Genetic Resources Advisory Council, a position he held until 2017. Misra has served on more than 60 local, national and international boards and committees, including the Steering Committee for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Conference on Biotechnology, the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Seed Research Foundation, the board of directors of the Iowa Seed Association, and the Iowa Crop Improvement Association.

Misra, the recipient of awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Seed Trade Association and the Order of the Knoll Faculty Award from ISU, earned a bachelor’s in agricultural engineering in India, as well a master’s in science and a doctorate in agricultural engineering from the University of Missouri.


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