Soil Health Institute Names Dr. Steven Shafer as Chief Scientific Officer

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., April 19, 2016 /CNW/ -- The Soil Health Institute announced today that one of the nation's top agricultural research leaders, Dr. Steven R. Shafer, has been hired as its first Chief Scientific Officer.

"The Soil Health Institute is committed to safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of our soils. To accomplish this mission, high priority, outcome-driven research and education are foundational to our efforts," said Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. "We are thrilled to have Dr. Shafer join our team. The breadth and depth of his research and leadership experience will ensure that the Institute provides world-class research, ultimately increasing agricultural productivity, resiliency and environmental quality by improving soil health."

Shafer began his career as a Research Plant Pathologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), where for 14 years he conducted research on beneficial and pathogenic soil microorganisms and their effects on plants in changing environments. For four years he served as a Deputy Administrator for USDA ARS, leading the agency's research programs in natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems that included national research on soil management, water availability, rangeland systems, air quality, climate change, bioenergy and sustainable agriculture. In his most recent post, Dr. Shafer served as the USDA ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs, leading and coordinating its entire $1.1 billion research portfolio of more than 700 research projects and related international research.   

"Any society or civilization that aspires to a long future must make a concerted effort to sustain its natural resources," Shafer said. "The Soil Health Institute is poised for leadership in the research and education necessary to sustain our soil—a resource that is absolutely essential to production of food and a vast array of other ecosystem services. I consider it a great privilege to join this new organization as we work for today's world and tomorrow's."

Shafer earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in plant pathology from The Ohio State University, and his Ph.D. in plant pathology with a minor in soil science from North Carolina State University at Raleigh. He will begin his work with the Soil Health Institute on May 1, 2016, and will relocate from the Washington, DC, area to the Institute's headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

About the Soil Health Institute
The Soil Health Institute's ( mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of the soil. An evolution of the Soil Renaissance, an initiative established in 2013 by the Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation to advance soil health and make it the cornerstone of land use management decisions, the Soil Health Institute serves as the primary resource for soil health information. It focuses on five pillars - working to set soil health standards and measurement, building knowledge about the economics of soil health, offering educational programs, assisting in policy development, and coordinating research in all aspects of soil and soil health. It works directly with conventional and organic farmers and ranchers, public- and private-sector researchers, academia, policymakers, government agencies, industry, environmental groups and consumers – everyone who benefits from healthy soils.

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SOURCE Soil Health Institute

For further information: Sue Dillon, Paradowski,, 314.584.4715,

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