The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has a new director, Manjit K. Misra, USDA announced Monday.

Misra, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, has headed the university’s Seed Science Center for 30 years. He will start at NIFA on May 8.

Since 2011, the seed center has run the National Seed Health System, authorized by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Misra also was founding Director of the Iowa State’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products.

NIFA funds agricultural research, extension and education. In fiscal 2022, that investment totaled $2.2 billion.

“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,” Agriculture 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.”

"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's chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics. “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.”

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Misra chaired USDA’s Genetic Resources Advisory Council from 2012 to 2017 and has served on more than 60 local, national, and international boards and committees, USDA said. “These include the steering committee for the UN 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, the Iowa Crop Improvement Association, and the First the Seed Foundation.”

Misra earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering in India and a master's degree and doctorate in agricultural engineering at the University of Missouri. He has 137 publications and holds 10 patents.

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