Skip to main content

About the Office of the Chief Scientist

The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) provides leadership and coordination to ensure that research supported by, and scientific advice provided to the Department and external stakeholders is held to the highest standards of intellectual rigor and scientific integrity.

The OCS strives to inform policy and programmatic decisions within the Department by providing the best available scientific advice and input; establishing appropriate linkages between the USDA and other science-performing organizations in government (U.S. and abroad), academia, and industry; and ensuring the dissemination of science performed by the Department to policy makers and decision leaders across the spectrum of policy making nationally and internationally.


  • Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting USDA Chief Scientist
  • Dionne F. Toombs, Director, Office of the Chief Scientist
  • Richard Derksen, Deputy Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist

Senior Staff/Advisors (Permanent)

  • Jaime Adams, Senior Advisor for International Affairs
  • Neena Anandaraman, Veterinary Science Policy Advisor
  • Rena Bannister, Administrative Assistant
  • William C. Trenkle, Departmental Scientific Integrity Officer (DSIO) / Research Integrity Officer

Communications Staff

  • Damon Thompson, Director of Communications
  • Justice Wright, Deputy Director of Communications
  • Karen Gibbs, Agricultural Communications Fellow

Senior Advisors (Rotating)

  • Paul Zankowski, Senior Advisor for Plant Health & Production and Plant Products


  • Sarah Federman, Agriculture Science Fellow