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Wellesley College Professor Will Give William Henry Hatch Lecture in Honor of Agriculture Experiment Stations Founder

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

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2013— Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced today that Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College and Adjunct Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, will present the 2013 William Henry Hatch Memorial Lecture on Nov. 10 in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

The William Henry Hatch Lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by NIFA and APLU honoring three historic Land-Grant University figures: Seamen A. Knapp, Justin Smith Morrill, and William Henry Hatch. Nominations for this prestigious award are submitted by the Land-Grant University system, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations.

The Hatch Lecture commemorates the foresight of William Henry Hatch in leading the movement to establish national support for agricultural science based at land-grant universities. Not only was this the first significant program of federal support for science, beginning in 1887, it established the role of American public universities as centers of discovery. The Hatch Lecture provides a forum to challenge our thinking about university research programs, especially in agriculture, and propose opportunities and challenges for the future.

“Hatch was a visionary in providing support for agricultural research, and his work is represented by 59 agricultural experiment stations across the country today that contribute to important innovations in food and agriculture production,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “As we move toward a more global society, Professor Paarlberg’s lecture will challenge us to rethink the context of our research and policy goals and how they can have an impact around the world.” 

His lecture will emphasize what governments in Africa should be learning from America’s successful model of public support for agricultural research. “African farmers today need exactly what Hatch gave to American farmers 126 years ago,” said Paarlberg.

Paarlberg’s principal research interests are international agricultural and environmental policy. His book, Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa, explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically-engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. Just this fall, Oxford University Press published the second edition of his book, Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Paarlberg received his B.A. in government from Carleton College in Minnesota and his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. He recently served as a consultant to the International Food Policy Research Institute, USAID, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  He previously served as visiting professor of government at Harvard, as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as an officer in the U.S. Naval Intelligence Command.

The lecture series began in 1980 with the Knapp lecture featuring Lester Brown and his speech entitled The Role of Land-grant Universities in Creating a Sustainable Society. Since that inaugural year there have been thought provoking lectures by many outstanding contributors to agriculture research, education and extension.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at


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