On Oct. 31, Roger Beachy was named founding director of the new World Food Center (WFC) on campus. Beachy will assume his position as director on Jan. 1, 2014. Beachy is known for his internationally-renowned work as a plant biologist.
“Under Roger Beachy’s leadership, the center truly has the potential to help keep California in the forefront of providing products and technology that help feed and nourish the world, offering tremendous economic value to our state,” said UC Regent Fred Ruiz at Beachy’s appointment.
Associate Director Josette Lewis said that Chancellor Katehi and her advisory committee considered candidates both on and off campus before deciding on Beachy.
“Dr. Beachy’s experience with the national food and agriculture industry will bring international visibility to the World Food Center,” Lewis said.
The WFC will gather faculty and experts from all fields at the UC Davis campus. Research will be used to discover new and efficient ways to meet the rising demand of food production as the world’s population grows.
“The World Food Center will elevate the impact of research at UC Davis,” Lewis said. “We would like to help expand the agriculture and food systems on an international level.”
Founding Director Roger Beachy said the WFC will combine the expertise and knowledge across various disciplines at UC Davis in order to address global food security. UC Davis is internationally known for its agriculture programs, which will help bring awareness to the programs that the WFC will promote.
“UC Davis’ extensive experience in this area shows what’s possible through discoveries and innovations applied in a real world setting,” Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross said at the appointment.
The exact goals of the WFC will be established over the next year, according to Beachy. One main goal that the WFC is currently working on and will be working on during the duration of the center is to collaborate with faculty.
“The World Food Center will assist faculty to achieve goals through collaboration to impact the food and sustainability of agriculture,” Beachy said.
Different groups of faculty from all of the UC Davis Colleges will be brought together to create new and efficient ways to enhance food production. One group that will be helping is the Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC), which works to enhance communication between UC Davis and seed industries in order to discover new ways for seeds to be used for agricultural and consumer benefit.
Director Kent Bradford said that one way the SBC will be helping is through hosting a networking program with other seed improvement programs, such as Seed Central. Seed Central is an initiative started by the SBC to energize the seed industry around UC Davis and ensure a collaboration between the university and the seed industry.
“We have programs around the world,” Bradford said. “One of the big things we can do is commercialize through those, because it will tie in with the goals of WFC.”
Bradford also said that Beachy’s previous experience with plant science will be a great help to getting the WFC started.
“Roger Beachy is well-known in the plant community,” Bradford said. “He will be able to make connections with different plant scientists from all over.”
Beachy has previously worked as a professor of plant science and biotechnology. He held the position of founding president of Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Beachy also conducted research in collaboration with Monsanto, Inc. that led to the world’s first genetically modified crop.
“Roger Beachy brings the perfect blend of scientific acumen, experience and vision that are critical for launching the new World Food Center on its proper trajectory,” said Chancellor Katehi at Beachy’s appointment.
Beachy said his background will help with directing because of his knowledge of plant science and also because of his experience with government policies.
“Knowing about the pressures brought to bear to change policy will help in doing this job,” Beachy said. “My hope is that we will be able to influence policy and have an impact globally.”
According to Beachy, Chancellor Katehi provided the WFC with a loan to get started on their work. Funding beyond that depends on the mission and goals that the WFC creates. Beachy also said that some of the funding will come from the private sector and that they also hope individuals will help sponsor the WFC once the goals have been established.
Lewis said that short-term goals for the first year of the center’s existence include engaging the campus more broadly, advancing fundraising and to put operational systems in place.
“We’re going to work on relating to other organizations on campus and getting them involved,” Lewis said.
Beachy said he looks forward to getting started and working with the Chancellor and faculty.
“We want consumers to look at how they think about agriculture and their food,” Beachy said. “This will help us all understand more about food systems.”