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Jacobs-Young Announces Shanower as Acting NIFA Director

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2018 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, Economics and Acting Chief Scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young announced today that Thomas Shanower will become Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Shanower will be replacing outgoing NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.

“Dr. Shanower brings more than 20 years of experience in scientific research and management, and he will maintain a steady hand at the helm of NIFA,” said Dr. Jacobs-Young. “NIFAs’ support of the best and brightest scientists has resulted in groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, explore new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. We salute Dr. Ramaswamy for his tireless enthusiasm at NIFA in support of agriculture-related research and education.”


Dr. Shanower comes to the post from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), where he served as the Associate Area Director for the Pacific West Area (PWA). From 2007 to 2015, he served as the Center Director for ARS’ Center for Grain and Animal Health Research in Manhattan, Kansas.

Raised in Naperville, Illinois, Shanower received a B.S. in Biology from Marietta College in Ohio, followed by a M.S. in Entomology from the University of Illinois. As a member of the Peace Corps, he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests in the Kingdom of Tonga (South Pacific) for 2½ years. After returning to the United States, he attended the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in Entomology in 1989.

Dr. Shanower worked 8 years at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, and 2 years at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cotonou, Bénin, West Africa. In 1998, he accepted a research entomologist position at the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney, Montana, where his personal research focused on biological control of the wheat stem sawfly. He was research leader for the Pest Management Research Unit at NPARL from 2000 to 2007.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.


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