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USDA Welcomes Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy as the New NIFA Director

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

By Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act this year, I am very pleased to announce a new director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) who has years of experience in the Land-Grant University System and understands the importance of these universities for the future of this nation. Today, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy joins NIFA as its director.  I am confident that he can lead NIFA into its next era and help USDA continue to address some of the most pressing issues we face today.

Sonny joins us from Oregon State University (OSU), where he served as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences since 2009. While at OSU, he led the college’s academic programs and also directed the research programs at the main campus and at 11 branch experiment stations. In addition to his tenure at OSU, Sonny held faculty positions at other universities. Equipped with leadership capabilities and research expertise, Sonny is certainly well-prepared for his new position and I know he is looking forward to the days ahead.

At USDA, we’re also looking toward the future. Our food and agricultural research system is facing unprecedented challenges and addressing these challenges is one of our top priorities. We’re focusing our research on societal challenges such as food security, food safety, sustainable bioenergy, helping farmers adapt to variable weather patterns and preventing childhood obesity. These are the driving factors in the research done through both the intramural and extramural science agencies at USDA.

The food and agricultural research our Land-Grant university partners conduct is vital to maintain our nation‘s safe and secure food supply. These complex challenges require a multi-faceted research approach and our 150 year-old Land-Grant System is pivotal in coordinating partnerships across the public/private landscape.  Sonny achieved great success at securing research funding at OSU and will greatly strengthen USDA’s collaboration with researchers at Land-Grant and other universities.

I look forward to working with Dr. Ramaswamy as NIFA continues to be a strong support for research nationwide. He has proven his commitment to students, to the research community and to furthering scientific knowledge over his long career, and I’m confident he will carry that commitment with him every day at USDA.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).