Margaret Zeigler has been tapped to serve as the interim president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation after Thomas Grumbly announced he will retire from the helm June 14.

Zeigler joins the SoAR team after serving as the executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative, which focuses on improving agricultural productivity around the world. In her career, Zeigler has served as the deputy director of the Congressional Hunger Center and currently sits on the board of directors of AG Salon.

“Hunger and hopelessness are some of the primary triggers for political instability anywhere in the world,” Zeigler said in a release. “Political leaders ignore this at their own peril. With a sharp focus on science, we can understand how climate change will impact weather patterns, the growing seasons, water resources, even soil salinity and land degradation.

Agricultural research can be pivotal and make a difference for farmers and consumers, but only if we invest more now,” she added.

Grumbly, SoAR's president since 2014, will become chairman of the SoAR board upon his retirement.

He has over 50 years of experience in the science and public service sector. In 1997, he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award for his work in reducing international commerce in nuclear weapons material when he served as undersecretary at the Department of Energy. 

In his career, he has held senior operating and staff positions at the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, was the staff director for the House Science and Technology Committee and was vice president for energy and security services at the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

In addition to the leadership changes, SoAR has announced an expanded mission. In addition to a focus on increasing the profile and funding of competitive agricultural research in the U.S., the group will also work to expand the overall investment in agricultural research around the world with the ultimate goal to bring more solutions to the changing climate and the growing hunger crisis. 

“As we enter a new phase for the SoAR Foundation, our mission has to expand,” Grumbly said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has halted the progress we have made in ending hunger just as climate change tightens its grip on the agricultural sector around the world. Science can solve this urgent crisis, but only if we invest now. We cannot rely on yesterday’s solutions and a business-as-usual approach to see our way through.” 

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