Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS)
USDA's Office of the Chief Scientist provides scientific leadership to the Department by ensuring that research supported by and scientific advice provided to the Department and its stakeholders is held to the highest standards of intellectual rigor and scientific integrity. It also identifies and prioritizes Department-wide agricultural research, education, and extension needs.
The role of Chief Scientist is held by the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE), as established by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which also created an office within the REE Mission Area to support that role.
Dr. Catherine Woteki is currently USDA's Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. The office is staffed by a Director as well as a small staff of Senior Advisors and agency scientists who advise the Chief Scientist and the Secretary in the following areas of science:
- Renewable energy, natural resources, and environment
- Food safety, nutrition, and health
- Plant health and production and plant products
- Animal health and production and animal products
- Agricultural systems and technology
- Agricultural economics and rural communities
Since their work supports larger goals of scientific prioritization and coordination across the entire Department, federal agencies either provide the Senior Advisors to serve temporary rotations (details) in the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) or allow the Senior Advisor to split time between the OCS and their home agency.
To further facilitate cross-Departmental scientific coordination and collaboration, the Office of the Chief Scientist regularly convenes a USDA Science Council.
On April 29, 2013, the US government released their community for Food, Agriculture, and Rural Data. This serves as a hub for relevant data, statistics, and tools relevant to food, agriculture, and the rural economy.
On October 18, 2012, USDA's Office of the Chief Scientist released a summary of USDA's role supporting the science behind the Bioeconomy (PDF, 199KB).
On July 24th, 2012, USDA's Office of the Chief Scientist released peer-reviewed science papers that elaborate on USDA's Action Plan for science (PDF, 486KB) in several key areas:
- Global Food Security (PDF, 113KB)
- Bioenergy (PDF, 201KB)
- Nutrition and Childhood Obesity (PDF, 82KB)
- Climate Change (PDF, 114KB)
- Food Safety (PDF, 113KB)
- Sustainable Agricultural Systems (PDF, 103KB)
To learn more about these papers, check out the USDA blog.
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