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Making progress takes a good idea, a sound strategy, a wise investment, and — most important of all — sustained leadership.
Building on the St. Louis region’s existing private and academic strengths in the plant sciences — that was the good idea born in the late 1990’s.
Founding a dedicated research facility to accelerate discoveries — that was the strategic decision that led to establishing the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center later that decade.
Committing millions of dollars for the Center’s development and operations — that was the wise and generous investment made by the Danforth Foundation.
But the final ingredient — leadership — came from Dr. Roger Beachy, named the Plant Science Center’s first president in 1999. Then director of the Scripps Research Institute in California and also a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Beachy has provided superb leadership to this venture. He has attracted outstanding researchers, vigorously promoted the Center’s mission, and in just a decade, made the Center an internationally recognized facility.
Now Dr. Beachy is off to a larger stage. He will be the first head of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a new federal initiative to address the world’s growing dietary needs. He leaves behind a thriving research center, one that has made St. Louis a considerably larger force in agricultural innovation. Thanks, Roger, for all you have done for St. Louis’s economic development and the world’s battle against hunger.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.