The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sought nominations for scientific leaders across various disciplines to be part of an activity that will develop a compelling strategy for food and agricultural research for the next decade and beyond. Nominations were sought for transformational thinkers across the scientific enterprise (including but not exclusively limited to the agricultural sciences) to be considered for the study committee. These include individuals on the frontier of scientific disciplines that would be of value but are not traditionally associated with food and agriculture.

In addressing its statement of task, the study committee will offer a strategic and ambitious view of the opportunities for fundamental and applied interdisciplinary research that is both grounded by a deep scientific understanding of food and agricultural challenges and elevated by the breakthrough potential of insights and tools from newly converging disciplines in the food and agriculture setting.

Study Committee


Susan R. Wessler
NAS, University of California, Riverside

Dr. Susan R. Wessler is currently the Neil and Rochelle Campbell Presidential Chair for Innovation in Science Education and Distinguished Professor of Genetics at the University of California, Riverside. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and in 2011 she was elected its Home Secretary, the first woman to hold this position in its 150 year history. She is also a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. Dr. Wessler is a plant molecular geneticist who studies the role of transposable elements in generating genetic diversity. Her laboratory has shown that transposable elements are an important mutagenic force fueling plant gene and genome evolution. She discovered a new type of transposon, called MITES, and unraveled revealed key features of gene regulation through her comparative studies of rice and maize. Wessler has contributed extensively to educational initiatives. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, she adapted her research program for the classroom by developing the Dynamic Genome Courses where incoming freshman can experience the excitement of scientific discovery. Dr. Wessler is the recipient of several awards including the inaugural Distinguished Scientist Award from the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA), the Stephen Hales Prize from the American Society of Plant Biologists, the Excellence in Science Award from FASEB, and the McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genome Studies from the Maize Genetics Community . She earned her B.A. in Biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974, and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cornell University in 1980.

John D. Floros
Kansas State University

Dr. John D. Floros is Professor of Food Science & Engineering, Dean of the College of Agriculture, and Director of K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University since 2012. For the previous 12 years, he was Head of the Food Science Department at the Pennsylvania State University, and prior to that he served as Professor of Food Process Engineering and Packaging at Purdue University. He also worked in the food industry, served on several boards, including FDA’s Science Board, and he is a Fellow and Past-President of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and a Fellow of the Food Systems Leadership Institute. He has expertise in food processing, engineering and packaging systems, and a broad understanding of food safety, microbiology, biochemistry and material science. As dean, he gained a broader perspective of our complex food system, including knowledge of animal and plant agriculture, water and natural resources, energy and environmental issues, as well as social and behavioral concerns. Similarly, he understands the continuum of agriculture-food-nutrition-health, and he has been extensively involved in international agriculture efforts and improving the sustainability of the global food system. He has published more than 220 refereed articles, research abstracts, book chapters and other publications, presented more than 400 scientific lectures, more than 300 being invited lectures, and received numerous awards and professional honors throughout his career. Dr. Floros received his B.S./M.S. in Food Science and Technology from Agricultural University of Athens, Greece and his Ph.D. in Food and Science Technology from University of Georgia, Athens.


David B. Allison
Indiana University, Bloomington

Dr. David B. Allison (NAM) is the Dean and Provost Professor of the School of Public Health-Bloomington and the
Director of Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Indiana University, Bloomington. Previously, he was Distinguished Professor and Quetelet Endowed Professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is also served as Associate Dean for Research and Science, Director of the Office of Energetics, and Director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at UAB. Dr. Allison’s research interests include obesity and nutrition, quantitative genetics, clinical trials, statistical and research methodology, and research rigor and integrity. Previously, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a second post-doctoral fellowship at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center. Dr. Allison was also a research scientist at the NY Obesity Research Center and Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons until 2001. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2009, the NY Academy of Medicine in 2014, the Gerontological Society of America in 2014, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research in 2017, and inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars in 2013. Dr. Allison was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2012. He received his B.A. in Psychology at Vassar College, M.A. in Clinical and School Psychology, and Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University.

Corrie Brown
University of Georgia

Dr. Corrie C. Brown is a Professor of Anatomic Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. Dr. Brown received her Ph.D. in veterinary pathology with a specialization in infectious diseases from the University of California at Davis, and her D.V.M. from the University of Guelph. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Her research interests focus on pathogenesis of infectious disease in food-producing animals, especially the transboundary animal diseases. She is active in the fields of emerging diseases and international veterinary medicine. She has published or presented more than 300 scientific papers. Dr. Brown has served on many industrial and federal panels, and has been a technical consultant to several federal agencies and intergovernmental organizations on issues involving infectious diseases and animal health infrastructure. Dr. Brown has received numerous awards for her teaching and service, at the college, university and national levels.

Lisa Goddard
Columbia University

Dr. Lisa Goddard is the Director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and an adjunct associate professor within the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. She has been involved in El Nino and climate forecasting research and operations since the mid-1990s. She has extensive experience in forecasting methodology and has published papers on El Nino, seasonal climate forecasting and verification, and probabilistic climate change projections. Currently leading the IRI’s effort on near-term climate change, Goddard oversees research and product development aimed at providing climate information at the 10-20 year horizon and how that low frequency variability and change interacts with the probabilistic risks and benefits of seasonal-to-interannual variability. Most of Goddard’s research focuses on diagnosing and extracting meaningful information from climate models and available observations. She also developed and oversees a new national post-doctoral program, the Post-docs Applying Climate Expertise Program (PACE), which explicitly links recent climate doctorate graduates with decision making institutions. Goddard holds a Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from Princeton University and a B.A. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Mary Lou Guerinot
Dartmouth College

Dr. Mary Lou Guerinot is the Ronald and Deborah Harris Professor in the Sciences in the Department of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College. In 2016, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Guerinot pioneered research on metal metabolism in plants through key discoveries of genes involved in major transport processes for minerals such as iron and zinc. Her research is critically important for both agriculture and human nutrition since iron and zinc deficiencies affect billions of humans that rely upon crop-based diets. Dr. Guerinot is also a member of various societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Plant Biologists, and the Genetics Society of America. She received her B.S. in Biology from Cornell University, Ph.D. in Biology from Dalhousie University, and completed two Postdoctoral Fellowships at the University of Maryland, College Park and the DOE-Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University.

Janet Jansson
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Dr. Janet Jansson is Chief Scientist for Biology in the Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate and a Laboratory Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Dr. Jansson’s research interests are in the application of molecular “omics” tools to gain an understanding of the function of microbial communities in complex environments, ranging from soil to the human gut. She is currently coordinating two large research initiatives at PNNL; one is focused on microbiomes in transition “MinT” and the other is a DOE-funded project on the soil microbiome. From 2007-2014, she was a Senior Staff Scientist and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, she spent 20 years in Sweden with her last position as Professor (Chair) of Environmental Microbiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Vice Dean of the Natural Science Faculty. Dr. Jansson recently completed a term as the President of the International Society for Microbiology (ISME). She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Washington State Academy of Science. Dr. Jansson received her Ph.D. (1988) in Microbial Ecology from Michigan State University.

Lee-Ann Jaykus
North Carolina State University

Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Jaykus works in the area of microbiological food safety, with specific expertise in food virology and microbial risk assessment. She is currently serving as the scientific director of the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative. Also called NoroCORE, the Collaborative is a large consortium of scientists and stakeholders working collectively to reduce the burden of foodborne illness associated with viruses. Her professional activities have included membership on the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods; participation in several National Academies food safety activities; and on the executive board of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), for which she served as president in 2010-2011. She has taught food microbiology/safety on the undergraduate and graduate levels, has mentored over 40 graduate students and 15 post-doctoral research associates, and authored or co-authored over 170 publications. Dr. Jaykus received a B.S. degree in Food Science and M.S. in Animal Science (Food Microbiology) from Purdue University. Her Ph.D. is from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Public Health.

Helen H. Jensen
Iowa State University

Dr. Helen H. Jensen is a professor of economics and leads a research group focused on food and nutrition programs in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University, an internationally recognized research center that addresses issues of the food, agricultural, and natural resource sectors. Her research interests include the design of food and nutrition programs and policies, assessment of nutritional enhancement of foods, food demand and markets, linkages between agricultural policies and nutrition, and food-safety regulations. She has led projects that analyze food demand, involve dietary, nutritional, and health assessment as well as design and implement food consumption surveys in the United States as well as in several developing countries. Dr. Jensen was elected Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) in 2012 and has served on the Executive Board of AAEA and the Council on Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics (C-FARE). She has served on several committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine including the recent Committee to Review Women, Infants, and Children Food Packages. She also chaired the Planning Committee for a Workshop on Exploring the True Cost of Food, and is an active member of the Food Forum. Dr. Jensen holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin.

Rajiv Khosla
Colorado State University

Dr. Rajiv Khosla is Monfort Professor of Precision Agriculture at Colorado State University. His main research focus has been on management of in-field soil and crop variability using geo-spatial technologies for precision management of crop-inputs. In 2012, he was named the Jefferson Science Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, he served two 2-yr terms on NASA’s US “Presidential Advisory Board on Positioning, Navigation and Timing”. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy; Soil Science Society of America; Soil and Water Conservation Society; and Honorary Life Fellow of International Society of Precision Agriculture. He is the Founder and Founding-President of the International Society of Precision Agriculture. Dr. Khosla received his B.S. in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Allahabad, India, M.S. in Soil Physics from Virginia Tech, and Ph.D. in Soil Fertility and Crop Management from Virginia Tech.

Robin Lougee
IBM Research

Dr. Robin Lougee is the IBM Research Lead for Consumer Products & Agriculture. Robin chairs the 2017 Syngenta Crop Challenge Award in Analytics Prize Committee and serves on the Advisory Committee for the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. She is an industrial research scientist with a strong track record of delivering innovation to IBM and its customers. Robin pioneered the creation of COIN-OR, an open-source foundry for computational operations research, and led its growth to an independent non-profit that has served the scientific and business community for over 15 years. She was elected to the Board of INFORMS, the largest society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research, management science and analytics, Chair of the INFORMS Computing Society, and President of the Fora of Women in ORMS. She is a past Associate Editor of Surveys in Operations Research. Robin earned a Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University in 1993.

Gregory V. Lowry
Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Gregory V. Lowry is the Walter J. Blenko, Sr. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the Deputy Director of the NSF/EPA Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), and an Associate Editor of Environmental Science: Nano and Nature: Scientific Data. His research aims to safely harness the unique properties of engineered nanomaterials for making water treatment and crop agriculture more sustainable. Recent work aims at understanding how a nanomaterial’s properties and environmental conditions influence their fate in soils, nanomaterial-plant interactions, nutrient uptake efficiency, and disease management. He has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has served as PI or Co-PI on grants from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and from industry. He currently serves on the US EPA Science Advisory Board (Environmental Engineering committee) and on the board of directors of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. He served on the National Research Council Committee to Develop a Research Strategy for Environmental Health and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials. Dr. Lowry holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Davis, an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.

Alison L. Van Eenennaam
University of California, Davis

Dr. Alison L. Van Eenennaam is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis where she has been on faculty for 15 years. Her publicly-funded research and outreach program focuses on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock breeding and production systems. Her current research projects include the development of genomic approaches to select for cattle that are less susceptible to disease, the development of genome editing approaches for livestock, and applied uses of DNA-based information on commercial beef cattle operations. She has given over 450 invited presentations to audiences globally, and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology. Dr. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the 2014 Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Borlaug Communication Award. She received a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and both an M.S. in Animal Science, and a Ph.D. in Genetics from UC Davis.

Study Staff

Peggy Tsai Yih
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Peggy Tsai Yih is a Senior Program Officer and joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in November 2004. She has worked on various studies ranging from animal health to food systems to risk assessments. In addition to Science Breakthroughs 2030, she currently serves as the study director for a Committee on Developing a Smarter Occupational Safety and Health System in the 21st Century, and a Committee on Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area. She most recently served as the study director for the report Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA AFRI Program (2014). She began her work with the Academies as a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Peggy received an M.A. in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University, and B.S. in microbiology and molecular genetics with a double major in political science from UCLA. Peggy enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, traveling, being part of a church, and raising a puppy for a guide dog organization.

Maria Oria
Food and Nutrition Board

Dr. Maria Oria has been a Senior Program Officer at the Food and Nutrition Board of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine since 2002. She has been the lead on food safety (e.g. “Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the FDA”) as well as nutrition (e.g. “Sodium Intake in Populations”) and food studies (e.g. “A Framework for Assessing the Effects of the Food System”). She recently completed a consensus study on “Food Allergies: Global Burden, Causes, Treatment, Prevention, and Public Policy” and currently directs a study on “Development of Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Chronic Disease in Future Dietary Intake References”. She has also directed the Food Forum, a group of stakeholders from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations that meet regularly to discuss food and nutrition regulatory and scientific issues. Her main interest lies in the intersection between agriculture, food, and nutrition. Maria has also been a lecturer at the Honors Program in the University of Maryland, teaching a course for honors students titled Food for Health: How Food Production Methods Have an Impact in our Lives. She received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Navarra, Spain (1985), M.S. in Animal Science from the University of Wyoming (1990), and a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from Purdue University (1995).

Amanda Purcell
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Amanda Purcell is an Associate Program Officer with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC). Amanda began working with BASC as a Program Assistant in 2008 and has since supported studies on abrupt climate change, climate intervention, Arctic changes and their global connections, decadal climate variability, and event attribution. She is also the staff lead to the standing Committee to Advise the US Global Change Research Program and coordinates the Climate Change at the National Academies newsletter and web presence. Amanda received a BS in physics and mathematics in 2008 and an MA in mathematical logic in 2013, both from American University in Washington, DC. She is also a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sports Performance Coach.

Keegan Sawyer
Board on Life Sciences

Dr. Keegan Sawyer is a Senior Program Officer on the Board on Life Sciences. Her work addresses a wide range of research, communication, and science policy questions across the broad spectrum of life science disciplines. She has special interest in the interplay of environmental conditions and human health, ecosystem health, and public engagement in science. Dr. Sawyer is co-lead of the National Academies’ Standing Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. She recently served as the Project Director for the Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences and Project Director of the Committee on Gene Drives Research in Non-Human Organisms: Recommendations for Responsible Conduct. She is committed to fostering discussions about research infrastructure, collaborative environments, and public engagement in science to support a healthier people and planet. Dr. Sawyer holds a B.S. in environmental biology from University of California Davis and an M.S. and Ph.D. in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health.

Robin Schoen
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Robin Schoen is the Director of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR), a position she has held since 2005. As BANR Director, she works with experts (members) of the Board to identify important emerging issues deserving of greater exploration. Board meetings typically provide a platform for further inquiry and discussion of such issues with members of the food, agriculture, and natural resources enterprise. Robin is the point person for BANR program development and represents the Board to sponsors and prospective sponsors of BANR activities. She also oversees the work of the Board staff on a broad portfolio of activities. In recent years BANR’s portfolio of work has been wide-ranging and has included studies and workshops on brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, genetically engineered crops, citrus greening, nutrient requirements of dairy cattle, surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses, laboratory safety, the veterinary workforce, herbicide-resistant weeds, the management of wild horses and burros in the West, and the future of animal agriculture. Robin joined BANR from the Academies Board on Life Sciences, where she managed consensus studies related to plant genomics, stems cells, invasive species, and the responsible conduct of science. In her 25+ year career at the Academies she has been involved in a diversity of studies and activities, such as helping the State of Ohio build a biotechnology industry in the state to directing a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that sent US experts and their equipment to Mexico and South America to teach advanced molecular biology courses to young investigators. A native Washingtonian, Robin received a B.S. in biology and chemistry from Frostburg State College, Maryland, and an M.A. in Science and Technology Policy from George Washington University.

Toby Warden
Board on Environmental Change and Society

Dr. Toby Warden is the director for the Board on Human-Systems Integration (BOHSI) and the Board on Environmental Change and Society. Dr. Warden returned to the National Academies after a 2-year period as Director of Scientific Administration for the Department of Neurological Sciences and Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she spearheaded strategic planning efforts to foster research collaboration. At the National Academies previously, she began in 2009 as a study director on climate change and weather related activities with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. She joined BOHSI in 2011 as a study director, and later associate board director, working on a number of activities related to worker safety, safety culture, systems design and organizational performance. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology with an emphasis on Environmental Analysis and Design from the University of California, Irvine. A member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society she also holds a certificate in Business Fundamentals from HBX/Harvard Business School.

Yasmin Romitti
Board on Earth Sciences and Resources & Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Yasmin Romitti is a Research Associate with the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at the National Academies. She previously worked with the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program, supporting projects such as Pathways to Urban Sustainability, Transitioning toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation, and the Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability. Prior to the National Academies, she worked with the United Nations Environment Program, working on workshops and roundtables pertaining to climate change, biodiversity conservation, various environmental treaties and conventions, and the Sustainable Development Goals. She earned a B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Biology at Boston University and a Master of Advanced International Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria.

Jenna Briscoe
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Jenna Briscoe is a Research Assistant and joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in April 2014. She has worked on various past reports including Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology, and A Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. Jenna is currently working with many committees including the Committee on Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area, the Committee on A Review of the Citrus Greening Research and Development Efforts, and the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. Previously, she worked at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science – Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, where she conducted water quality testing on pre-restored and post-restored streams. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Jenna graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2013 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Sociology.  In her spare time, Jenna enjoys baking, traveling, binge watching TV shows, and going to museums and concerts.

Erin Markovich
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Erin Markovich was born and raised in Naperville, IL, a southwest suburb of Chicago. In May 2015, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in August of that year, she moved to Washington, DC to work for the National Academies. Erin has been a staff member of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) and the Polar Research Board (PRB) since then and has provided support to numerous studies in an administrative capacity. Erin remains connected to the atmospheric science community by staying involved in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and exploring new ways to further her education both formally and informally. She strongly supports the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and has shaved her head twice, in 2011 and 2013, to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research. She is a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, enjoys watching films, being crafty, playing the ukulele, and exploring what’s new in science. In the future Erin hopes to continue her education, become a published writer, and to travel all seven continents.