Dr. Roger Beachy, the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), plans to leave his position on 20 May 2011.  In his two years as director, Beachy led the reorganization of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service into NIFA.  He was also responsible for major changes in the program’s competitive research grants, including targeting half of the competitive research funding for grand challenges like climate change.

According to an email from Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, the agency is “initiating an aggressive search to identify and bring on board a distinguished scientist as NIFA’s next director.”  In the interim, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young will serve as acting director of NIFA.  Jacobs-Young currently serves as Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist at USDA.