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Mark Rasmussen began work June 1, 2012 as permanent director of the Leopold Center. His appointment followed a long and successful career as a research microbiologist at the National Animal Disease Center, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Ames, Iowa; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine in Laurel, Maryland. He comes to the Center with extensive and diverse experience in teaching, administration and private industry and has farmed full-time in Nebraska.
In addition to serving as director of the Leopold Center, Rasmussen is a tenured professor in the Iowa State Department of Animal Science. He plans to establish a director’s research program at ISU, reflecting his current interests in microbiology and climate change.
Prior to his return to Ames, he was supervisory microbiologist and research director at the Center for Veterinary Medicine. In that position he provided technical guidance and research support for regulatory decisions on drugs, feed additives and contaminants in animal feeds. While at the center, he focused on the microbiology of animal feed, including work on distiller’s grains, and the use of plant secondary compounds to prevent bacteria in an animal’s gastrointestinal tract from becoming resistant to antimicrobial drugs.
From 1988 to 2006, Rasmussen was a scientist and later research leader at the USDA-ARS National Animal Disease Center facility in Ames. He managed food safety research including projects on E. coli, Salmonella, antibiotic resistance, plant toxins and gut microbiology/ecology. He holds two patents (1995 and 1999) related to his research, notably for optical scanning instrumentation that detects contamination on beef carcasses. This imaging technology recently was recognized by ISU as ranking 14th in lifetime earnings generated for the university as a result of technology transfer activities.
Rasmussen grew up on a farm in northeastern Nebraska, west of Sioux City, Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture (1976) and a master’s degree in animal science (1979) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Ph.D. in dairy science (1986) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA degree (1996) from ISU.
He has held research positions in private industry including development of methods to cultivate algae for capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired utility plant emissions. He received the USDA Honor Award for Food Safety in 2004, the ARS Award for Superior Technology Transfer Achievement in 2003 and a 2001 Iowa “da Vinci” citation for science, engineering and technology development.
Rasmussen’s professional and scientific expertise extends to various areas of agriculture, microbiology, food safety, animal health, ruminant nutrition, and antibiotic resistance.
Read his full bio [PDF]
A longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture, he shares an appointment as Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center and as President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. He also continues to manage his family's 2,600-acre certified organic farm in south central North Dakota.
He is a professor in the ISU Department of Religion and Philosophy and holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has held numerous appointments, including the USDA's National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and funded by Pew Charitable Trusts.
In April 2010, the University Press of Kentucky published a book of Kirschenmann's essays, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, that trace the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.
He converted his family’s farm in North Dakota to a certified organic operation in 1976. He developed a diverse crop rotation that has enabled him to farm productively without synthetic inputs (fertilizers or pesticides) while simultaneously improving the health of the soil.
Kirschenmann’s farm has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, the LA Times and Gourmet magazine. In 1995 it was profiled in an award-winning video, My Father’s Garden by Miranda Smith Productions, and is still widely used as a teaching tool. Kirschenmann also has been advisor for several documentaries including American Meat and Symphony of the Soil.
Kirschenmann served as the Leopold Center's second director from July 2000 to November 2005 and has been recognized widely for his work. He was one of the first 10 recipients of the James F. Beard Foundation Leadership awards in 2011 and will receive the 2012 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Watch a January 2012 Tedx talk, Soil: From Dirt to Lifeline
Interim Marketing and Food Systems Initiative Research Programcchase@iastate.edu
ISU Extension farm management specialist Craig Chase is serving as interim leader of the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative. He also leads the statewide Local Food and Farm Initiative program funded by the Iowa legislature to increase availability of Iowa-grown products. He is a member of extension's Iowa Food System Working Group and the Regional Food Systems Working Group that includes 17 regional food groups throughout Iowa.
Chase has 27 years of experience in extension programs, including food crops, niche markets and alternative agricultural enterprises. He has worked with the Leopold Center on several projects, including development of regional food systems. Last fall Chase began working more closely on regional food systems as part of an expanded effort by ISU that included hiring two new positions with responsibilities in fruit and vegetable production.
More about his publications and presentations [ISUE websites]
Ecological Systems Initiative Research Program,firstname.lastname@example.org
Areas of Responsibility: Oversees various outreach activities and other work in the Center's Ecological Systems and Research Initiative. Conducts research on the development of ecologically friendly systems that are more resilient and less costly to farmers, communities and the environment. She also oversees the Center's grassland agriculture program that began in 2004, and represents the Center on several multi-state, landscape-level programs including Green Lands, Blue Waters.
From 1993 to 2001 she coordinated the Center's competitive grants program and research issue teams. Her previous experience includes work in several capacities for Ralston Purina, Cargill, and Quaker Oats companies in Missouri, Texas, and Iowa. She holds a bachelors degree in Grain Science and Milling Management from Kansas State University and a master's degree in International Development Studies from Iowa State University. Her agrarian roots are in Kansas, where her parents are still actively farming. Outside interests include cycling, skiing, and slow food.
Areas of responsibility: Manages the Center's grant accounts and finances
Heather Scott joined ISU in April 2013 with a full-time appointment that is split between the Leopold Center and the Iowa Pork Industry Center. She works at the Leopold Center primarily in the afternoons, and also provides backup office support for payroll and purchasing. She is an Enrolled Agent with a background in public accounting and tax work. Before coming to ISU, she worked 31/2 years as staff accountant at the Allen L. Kockler Company in Nevada, Iowa, where she prepared financial statements and corporate and individual tax returns. She also mentored five interns and created a training program for the company. Scott has a degree in Accounting from Iowa State University (2010). She grew up on a farm near Ferguson in Marshall County, where her father and brother manage about 5,000 acres of farmland. She lives in Ames.
Secretary and Office Managerbluemaas@iastate.edu
Areas of Responsibility: Provides secretarial support to the Director and Distinguished Fellow, as well as general support for other members of the Center staff. She also answers the telephone, fields inquiries and requests for publications, makes arrangements for meetings, maintains the Center's extensive database, and helps the staff with various mailings and other projects. She joined the Center staff in October 2006.
Cross-Cutting Initiative Research Programmalcolmr@iastate.edu
Areas of Responsibility: Provides assistance in applied economics for Leopold Center research initiatives and special projects, and co-leader of the Leopold Center's Fruit and Vegetable Working Group and the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group. He is developing methodologies to assess externalities of various production systems, including niche pork and organic flax, and ways to track improvements to crop-livestock diversity. He also is working with the Center's grassland agriculture program to help document enterprise budget information for alternative crop and livestock enterprises.
Joined the Center in May 2006, after working two years as partnership program manager for the ISU College of Agriculture's Corn and Soybean Initiative. He is a native of Zimbabwe, where he has experience as an irrigation engineer for the greenhouse and agricultural export industry, and owned a drip and micro-irrigation company. He was senior horticulturist for the country's largest chemical company for several years, and introduced integrated pest management practices to the company's sales force and growers. He holds a master's degree in agricultural and applied economics from Clemson University in South Carolina.
Outreach, Policy Initiative Research Programmadams@iastate.edu
Areas of Responsibility: Oversees various outreach activities as assigned by the director, acts as Center's Advisory Board liaison, and assists with Policy Initiative activities. Editor of annual report and technical writer for summaries of completed Leopold Center-funded research projects.
Her previous writing and editorial experience includes positions with Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), Iowa State University Press, University of Illinois Press, and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). A graduate of ISU's department of journalism and mass communications, she grew up on an Iowa dairy farm.
Areas of Responsibility: Edits and designs The Leopold Letter, the Center's quarterly newsletter, monthly Notes e-newsletter and the quarterly Research Results newsletter; works with news media; prepares materials for displays, other publications and the Center's web site, and oversees general communications for the Value Chain Partnerships (VCP) project of the Leopold Center.
Joined the Center in 1998, after more than 10 years working as editor and communications consultant for ISU Extension and the Safe Farm program. Also worked as food editor for the Ames Tribune and reporter and editor for several Kansas City newspapers. A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, she received a master's degree in mass communication in 1993 from Iowa State. Grew up on a small farm in Grundy County, Iowa, where her parents still live.
Areas of responsibility: Conducts project- and center-related evaluations. Manages evaluation-related data collection activities including design and delivery of survey instruments, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, and focus groups. Develops coding schemes, codes data, and conducts statistical and qualitative analyses of results. Writes evaluation reports and presents findings.
A transplant from Alaska with a Geography undergraduate degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Corry moved to Ames in 1998 where she earned an MS in Rural Sociology at ISU. She joined the staff of the Leopold Center in 2009. For eight years between graduate school and the Leopold Center, she worked as an assistant scientist for the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. In her free time, she volunteers as an organizer for Farm to Folk, a 200 member multi-producer Community Supported Agriculture organization based in Ames.
Areas of responsibility: Assistant coordinator of the statewide Local Food and Farm Initiative (LFFI) program, led by Craig Chase, who also directs the Leopold Center's marketing and Food Systems Initiative. She also works with the Regional Food Systems Working Group, a coalition of 17 different local food organizations working throughout the state; and the Iowa Food Systems Working Group, educators and specialists with ISU Extension who are developing programs and resources.
A native of Indiana, Heuss has lived in Iowa for many years. In 2003, she started Connection Café that offers free meals and other resources in downtown Des Moines five times a week. Other past positions include development director at the Iowa Food Cooperative, working with beginning farmers in the Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter in Des Moines and as a resource for Midwest farm-to-school programs. She has an undergraduate degree in religion from Grandview College in Des Moines and has studied theology at Notre Dame. She is enrolled in the public policy master’s degree program at ISU and is a program coordinator for Women, Food and Agriculture Network.
Areas of responsibility: Research associate in local and regional food systems. Work includes the aggregating and summarizing local food system research findings for the Local Food and Farm Initiative, the Leopold Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, Iowa Food Systems Working Group, and special projects conducted by researchers and Extension personnel. She also will assist in the development of a statewide, local food campaign logic model and evaluation plan for Iowa.
She moved to Iowa from upstate New York in 2011 to study Sustainable Agriculture and Sociology at Iowa State University. She was a graduate research assistant at the Center during the two years she spent earning her Master's degree. Laura received her M.S. in Sustainable Agriculture in May 2013 and began her current position the same month.
Areas of responsibility: She works as an evaluation assistant for various Leopold Center programs and projects including the Regional Food System Working Group, the Iowa Food System Working Group, the statewide Local Food and Farm Initiative coordinated by the Leopold Center and the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative where the Leopold Center is a partner organization. Tasks include conducting interviews, creating surveys, analyzing data analysis and writing reports.
Arlene grew up in on a small, diversified farm in north central Iowa. She received undergraduate degrees from Iowa State University in agricultural biochemistry and agronomy and later received a master's degree in rural sociology from the University of Missouri. Between degrees she spent five years working in community development in the Dominican Republic, where she gardened with children and opened a women’s center. She also helps her husband in his work as manager of an apple orchard in northeast Iowa, where they live.
Communications Graduate Research Assistantmelissal@iastate.edu
Areas of responsibility: Assists in communications, including writing news releases, designing the Leopold Letter and other outreach materials, updating the website and managing the Center's Facebook page.
Melissa L. Sevigny (nee Lamberton) is a native of Tucson, Arizona. She received a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and worked in science communications for the Water Resources Research Center and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She joined the Leopold Center in 2011 and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University.