National Program Leader
Institute of Food Production and Sustainability
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
ASHS member since 2001; BS 1986, University of Dschang, Cameroon; MS 1990 Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; PhD 1999, Laval University, Canada.
Positions: Assistant Professor with tenure, University of Dschang, Cameroon 1990–95; Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California–Riverside, 1999–2001; Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, 2001–07; Associate Professor, Michigan State University, 2007–12; Professor, Michigan State University, 2013; National Program Leader, USDA-NIFA 2013–present.
ASHS Activities: HortTechnology Consulting Editor, 2006–present, HortTechnology Ad Hoc Consulting Editor, 2004–05; Chair-elect and chair, Organic Horticulture Working Group 2003–05; Chair, Weed Control and Pest Management Working Group, 2003; Secretary, Vegetable Crops Management Working Group (2012–present). While serving as chair of these working groups I organized two workshops and oversaw the publication process for the proceedings in HortTechnology. These were: 1) Curriculum development for organic horticulture and 2) Historical perspective on weed control and pest management in horticultural crops. In addition to my role as consulting Editor for HortTechnology I routinely serve as reviewer for HortScience. I maintain a regular presence at ASHS conferences and contribute through volunteer presentations, invited presentations, session moderation, and participation at various working group meetings. I use ASHS journals, especially HortScience and HortTechnology, as preferred journals for publication of my research results.
International Activities: My journey in international activities has been facilitated greatly by my ability to speak multiple languages, including French, a personal asset that I had never realized before. This was particularly critical for my initial work in Mali and currently in Benin. I have collaborated with colleagues on research projects in Turkey, funded by Tubitak (equivalent of USDA). I worked with institutions in Cameroon, Benin, France, India, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania, and Turkey and this collaboration led to the awarding of one of the five pilot projects from USAID under the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (http://www.bionetagro.org/). The project is ongoing and has more than 20 students at the undergraduate and graduate level in France, Benin, and Kenya. By serving as co-advisor on their guidance committee, I see myself privileged to serve as an academic ambassador thousands of miles away from USA. In the area of extension, I have conducted collaborative on-farm demonstration plots in Benin, Kenya, and Turkey. In 2009 I visited Peru with a group of 14 asparagus farmers and industry leaders from Michigan. Peru is a major player in the world asparagus business and the goal of the trip was to share information about asparagus production in the US and Peru and find ways for synergistic collaborations. At Michigan State University, I hosted many Fulbright and other international scholars and served as major advisor for many international students. Many of those students and visiting scientists have become my major collaborators on international grants and they are all willing to host US scientists and students. This network of scientists and former students is a tremendous asset for international outreach and promotion of ASHS activities. We routinely publish our international work in HortTechnology and HortScience. Without this connection it would have been difficult for those colleagues to publish in our journals because of the language barrier and the scientific and technical rigor of those journals.
Awards: My various appointments over the years have included research, teaching and extension. In the area of extension I received the Award for Outstanding Extension Specialist from Michigan Extension Specialist and State Staff Association (MESSSA) in 2009. This award recognizes MSU Specialists and State Staff who have made outstanding contributions to the Michigan State University Extension program, Michigan State University, and to the citizens of Michigan. In the area of teaching, I received the recognition for outstanding service as a mentor by Undergraduate in Plant Science Program at Michigan State University, in 2004. In the area of Research I received the best grant proposal award, by Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station in 2002, and my graduate students were awarded best presentation at ASHS and other scientific and extension meetings.
Statement: My ultimate vision is to keep ASHS at the forefront of Global Food Security. One of the biggest challenges of our century is to provide safe and nutritious food for a rapidly growing world population. For many nations, including the United States, food security is increasingly recognized as a national security issue. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global agricultural output needs to expand by at least 70% to meet the food needs of the population expected in 2050. In the US and other developed economies, most increases in crop and livestock production will come from lands currently under production. For those agricultural systems it is critical to develop and deploy innovative strategies for sustainable intensification. In emerging nations, where there are still opportunities to bring new lands into production, the challenges are of a different magnitude. For example, almost 33% of the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) population, close to 200 million people, is undernourished according to FAO. Fruit and vegetable consumption in SSA remains 22%–82% below the intake value threshold of 400 g/day recommended by the World Health Organization and FAO. This severe malnutrition leads to many chronic diseases among the populations. In those countries, development of sustainable production practices that reduce cost, maximize yield while minimizing the environmental footprint of agriculture, are critical.
In the United States and around the world, ASHS continues to be a key player in global food security initiatives. Through activities in the area of research, extension, education, and leadership development, the work of ASHS continues to promote new innovations and discoveries that translate into new tools with global applications. The desire to serve the horticulture community at the global level is clearly indicated in the organizational structure of ASHS with a high profile division—the International Division—headed by one of the society’s Vice Presidents.
I am running for this office because I truly believe that our society is uniquely positioned to impact global food security. Given my experience working with researchers, students, and agriculture leaders across the world, I will be able to positively impact and pursue the mission of the International Division of ASHS if I am given the opportunity and privilege to serve our society in this capacity. I will promote the great work that ASHS has always done in scientific advancement, leadership development, and capacity building at the global level. As members of ASHS, we are all privileged to work for this great organization.
Michael A. Dirr Endowed Chair Professor of Horticulture
Department of Horticulture
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia, USA
ASHS Member since 1994. BS 1983 and MS 1989 (1st) in Forestry, Central South Forestry Univ.; MS 1994 (2nd) and PhD 1998 in Horticulture, University of Georgia.
Positions: Assistant Lecturer, Central South Forestry Univ., 1983–84; Tenured Lecturer, Central South Forestry Univ., 1984–87; Assistant Director and Curator, Herbarium of Central South Forestry Univ., 1989–91; Visiting Scholar, University of Georgia, 1991–92; Assistant Professor, University of Maine, 1998–2004; Associate Professor, University of Maine, 2004–2011; Professor, University of Maine, 2011-2012; Putnam Fellow of Harvard University, 2002; Michael A. Dirr Endowed Chair Professor at the University of Georgia, 2012-present.
ASHS and ISHS Activities: Outstanding International Horticulturist Award Selection Committee, 2007–09, Chair, Outstanding Researcher Award Selection Committee, 2011–14; Working Group of Asian Horticulture, Chair-elect 2000–01, Chair 2001–02; Editor (Acta Horticulturae 620, 769); Convenor, ISHS Symposium, 2002, 2006; Workshop Coordinator, Colliqoium Organizer, Graduate Student Competition Judge (NE-ASHS); Graduate Student Poster Competition Judge, Moderator; and Reviewer.
Honors and Awards: Putnam Fellow, Harvard University, 2001–03; Successful Educator, 2001; Outstanding Instructor, 1990; Excellent Researcher, 1988; Science and Technology Award, 1987 and 2005; Xiaoxiang Friendship Award (2010) and Contribtion Award (2011), Hunan Provincial Government in China; “Donglin Zhang” Scholarship (2013), Maine Landscape and Nursery Association and the University of Maine.
Other Professional Activities: Horticultural Specialist, Chinese Government, 2001–04; Advisory Committee member for USDA NE-09 programs, 1999–2012; Guest Professor, Central South Forestry University, 2002–present; Graduate Faculty, Beijing Forestry University, since 2002; Keynote Speaker, the 3rd International Symposium on Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants, 1998 (Edinburgh, UK) and The Symposium on Plant Conservation, 2003 (Wuhan, China); Founder and organizer of Chinese Horticulturists in North America (now Working Group of Asian Horticulture under ASHS); Board Member, International Heath and Heather Society; ex-officer, Maine Landscape and Nursery Association and Ornamental Horticultural Council; Members of Josselyn Botanical Society, Chinese Society for Horticultural Sciences, and International Plant Propagator’s Society. A total of 19 professional trips and research collaborations were conducted with European and Asian countries and I work closely with Asian horticulture professionals on horticultural plant resources and society’s business.
University Activities: Currently teaching (37.5%) undergraduate and graduate courses in Plant Propgation, Also taught Horticultural Science, Ornamental Plant Materials, Greenhouse and Nursery Management; Dendrology, Botany, Plant Classification, Geobotany, and Advanced Plant Systematics; advising about 20 undergraduate students per year and committee chair and member for MS and PhD students; Graduate admission committee member. Research (62.5%) interests are ornamental plant resources (native and imported), breeding, propagation, production; applications of molecular markers and sequences on horticultural crops. Authors of books, book chapters, referred papers, non-referred publications, and abstracts.
Statement: Horticultural business is a global business! My goal is to promote this mentality for our ASHS members and eventually horticulturists around the world. To further our collaboration and communication with horticulturalists worldwide, the International Division of ASHS should continually focus on increasing the international awareness and recruit more international horticultural professionals to the annual ASHS conference and provide international horticultural information to our members.
During my international professional trips and collaboration in recent years, I have learned that many international horticultural colleagues would like to know more of the American Society for Horticultural Science, especially as an active member or affiliate member, and how to publish their research findings in our journals. To better reach our future ASHS members, we should share our society and the membership benefits to our prospective international members with different languages, using their native language if possible.
“Word of Mouth” from our current members is an important way to increase the number of our ASHS members. Through the annual gathering, international symposia, and international travels and lectures, our current members should manage to share their pride as ASHS members to international audiences. At meantime, our current members are encouraged to sponsor one or more affiliate members.
The ASHS International Division should further foster research collaboration and horticultural crop exchange with current and prospective international members. My experience as a convener for “the Symposium of Asian Plants with Unique Horticultural Potential: Genetic Resources, Cultural Practice, and Utilization” brought many new horticultural plant resources and practical techniques to our concerned members through presentations and publications. I am pleased and honored to better serve our society as a candidate of Vice President for the International Division. Your trust and support are highly appreciated.