Skip to main content

dr. cathie woteki

People behind Scientific Innovation at USDA

The past eight years have been an extraordinary time for agricultural science, and for the application of new insights from other fields to enhance agricultural productivity and the overall agricultural economy. As the final days of this administration are approaching, it gives me a great deal of pride to look back at what USDA has accomplished in the areas of research and innovation.

Scientific research is a fundamental part of our mission at USDA. But, ultimately, what's behind all the science is people – people who do the research and people who are affected by it. As USDA's Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, I've met and worked with both as I've traveled across the country and around the world.

President Obama’s Startup America Initiative Helps Agricultural Innovation Create Economic Opportunity

As Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is my privilege to lead the talented researchers and scientists throughout the department. USDA scientists work to solve some of the world's biggest problems in preserving our health through nutrition, feeding a growing planet, and managing our precious land, water, and energy resources.  Every day, I am impressed by the innovation and accomplishments of our scientists.  It is innovation and dedication of this kind that fuels economic growth and the creation of new industries, businesses, jobs, products, and services.

One major driver of successful innovation is technology transfer—the private sector adoption of research outcomes—of federally-funded research from universities and federal laboratories to the marketplace.

Often, research performed by federal scientists or supported by the federal government is leveraged by the private sector to serve the broader public. It creates jobs, spurs economic growth and enhances global competitiveness of the U.S. agriculture sector.

A Great Day at Delaware State University

Last week, I got the chance to address students at Delaware State University’s first-ever Graduate Research Symposium. Delaware State is part of the land-grant university system that is called an “1890 institution,” because it was founded through the second Morrill Act, passed in that year to extend the education system of the land-grants to African-Americans.

I’m a former dean of an agriculture school (at Iowa State University), so talking to students is one of my favorite parts of my job as USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics. I had to agree with Provost Alton Thompson who said, in my introduction, “It’s a great day to be at Del State!”