Skip to main content

National Institute of Food and Agriculture director to offer 2018 Davis-Michael Distinguished Lecture

Sonny Ramaswamy

A leader in improving global food security and advancing agricultural research is this year’s Davis-Michael Distinguished Lecturer at the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will present “Transformative Innovations and the Future of Food” Wednesday (April 11) at 11 a.m. in G06 Agricultural Sciences Building.

“Dr. Ramaswamy is a distinguished agricultural scientist and academic and, for nearly six years now, our nation’s senior leader at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the broad realms of research, education and extension,” said Daniel J. Robison, dean of the WVU Davis College.

In 2012, Ramaswamy was selected by President Barack Obama as director of NIFA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides funding to catalyze transformative discoveries, education and engagement to solve social challenges.

During his tenure with NIFA, Ramaswamy has led the nation’s drive toward improving global food security through NIFA’s mission of investing in and advancing agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges.

“He has been the voice of inspiration for cutting-edge research and innovation in all those regards,” Robison said. “As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, he has continued to position the organization at the forefront of solving important issues for the U.S. and worldwide. To have him here at WVU is an honor and an opportunity.”

Prior to his appointment, he held a number of academic positions including dean of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, director of Purdue University’s Agricultural Research Programs, distinguished professor and head of Kansas State University’s Entomology Department, and professor of entomology at Mississippi State University.

A successful scientist, award-winning educator and administrator, his illustrious career in higher education included receiving grants from federal and state agencies, commodity groups and industry for his research in the area of integrative reproductive biology of insects.

He has published more than 150 journal articles, book chapters and one book. He was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Fellow of the Entomological Society of America.

During his tenure in academia, Ramaswamy had excellent success in capital campaigns and fund-raising to create endowments for faculty professorships, student scholarships and fellowships, including creation of the Leadership Academy at Oregon State.

He also garnered support for research, extension and outreach, infrastructure improvements, and construction of new facilities for research, education and outreach, including the Insect Zoo at Kansas State.

Ramaswamy received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master of science in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India. His earned his doctorate in entomology from Rutgers University, and graduated from Harvard University’s Management Development Program.

His lecture is free and open to the public.

The Davis-Michael Distinguished Lecture series was made possible through a generous gift from the late Gladys Gwendolyn Davis and Vivian Davis-Michael, Morgantown sisters who made the bequest to promote the improvement of veterinary medical care in West Virginia.



CONTACT: Lindsay Willey; WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design 304.293.2381;