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Parag R. Chitnis

Associate Director for Programs; Acting Associate Director for Operations
Dr. Chitnis leads strategic oversight and implementation of NIFA’s programs, which invest $1.75 billion for research and extension activities in food and agricultural sciences. Dr. Chitnis is located in Kansas City where he oversees the agency’s staff and functions.
He came to NIFA in 2015 as the Deputy Director for Institute of Food Production and Sustainability. Prior to joining NIFA, he was the Director for the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). At both NIFA and NSF, Dr. Chitnis led initiatives at the interface of different disciplines, including biological sciences, agricultural sciences, physical sciences, computer science, engineering, and social sciences.
In his academic career, Dr. Chitnis was a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology at Iowa State University, and was an assistant professor in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University. As a researcher and educator at these universities, he received more than $7 million in research, education, and training grants from federal and private sources including funding from NIFA, NSF, NIH, US-Israel BARD, Pioneer Hi-Bred, and Iowa Corn Promotion Board. He has authored over 110 peer-reviewed or invited publications in the areas of plant biochemistry, photosynthesis, computational biology, and proteomics. He has mentored over 50 undergraduate students, MS and PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, and AAAS fellows. Dr. Chitnis has a B.S. in botany/plant breeding from the Konkan Agricultural University in India, an M.S. in genetics and plant breeding from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, and Ph.D. in biology from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Topic Expertise
Plant Breeding
Phone Number
(816) 926-1604
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