Four Finalists Named in Leopold Center Director Search

September 10th, 2009

AMES, Iowa — Four finalists have been named in the search for a new director to lead the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.

They are Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop and soil sciences at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.; Frank Louws, professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; Ricardo Salvador, director for the Food, Health and Wellbeing program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, Mich.; and David Wedin, professor of plant and ecosystem ecology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.

The nationwide search began in February to find a successor for Leopold Center director Jerry DeWitt, who will retire next Jan. 31. DeWitt is the third person to serve as director since the Leopold Center was created by the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act.

Maynard Hogberg, who chairs the search committee, said he was pleased with the candidates. "All come from an agricultural background, are very familiar with sustainable agriculture and have been active in sustainable agriculture programs," said Hogberg, the chair of ISU's Department of Animal Science.

Each candidate will visit the campus for a two-day interview process that includes a public presentation and meetings with various stakeholders. Candidates will present their vision for the future of the Leopold Center and comment on how their experiences contribute to this vision.

The public seminars for each candidate are as follows:

· Monday, Sept. 28, 2 p.m., Memorial Union Gallery — Frank Louws;

· Thursday, Oct. 1, 2 p.m., Memorial Union Campanile Room — Heather Karsten;

· Monday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m., Memorial Union Gallery — Ricardo Salvador; and

· Monday, Oct. 19, 2 p.m. Memorial Union Gallery — David Wedin.

The seminars also can be viewed live online at the following ISU Web site: . It is recommended that viewers run a test ahead of time to make sure computers and network connections are properly configured. To conduct the test, go to: After each presentation, an archived version will be available on the Leopold Center Web site,

About the candidates

Heather Karsten is associate professor in crop and soil sciences at Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on agronomy, ecology and management of pasture plants, grazing systems, cropping systems, agroecosystems and experiential learning. She joined Penn State in 1998, where she has a 70 percent teaching appointment and developed five new agroecology courses. She has a B.S. in environmental biology from Yale University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agronomy from Cornell University.

Frank Louws is professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, where he develops extension and research programs emphasizing integrated pest management and sustainable agricultural principles and practices for growers of small fruits and vegetables. He attended Dordt College in Sioux Center before earning his B.S. degree in horticulture at the University of Guelph. He has an M.S. in plant pathology from University of Guelph and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Michigan State University.

Ricardo Salvador has been director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food, Health and Wellbeing program since January 2006. He oversees the Foundation's $10 million Food and Society Initiative and a national network of W.K. Kellogg endowed chairs of sustainable agriculture. From 1996 to 2007, he was associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State, where he also served as first chair of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture. He has a B.S. in agriculture from New Mexico State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

David Wedin is professor of plant and ecosystems ecology in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research focuses on grassland and savanna ecology, carbon and nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, landscape ecology and fire ecology. They also include nitrogen-use-efficiency and resource allocation in plants and stable isotope studies of plant-soil feedbacks. Wedin has a B.A. in biology from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota.

The search committee has representatives from ISU as well as the Leopold Center's advisory board, which has members from various sectors including Iowa's public and private universities, state agencies and several farm organizations.

ISU members of the search committee are: Andy Baumert, ISU state relations officer; Paul Brown, ISU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources; Thomas Isenhart, Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Matt Liebman, Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Rich Pirog, Leopold Center associate director; and Hogberg, who also is a member of the center's advisory board. Other advisory board members on the search committee are: Laura Jackson, University of Northern Iowa; Aaron Heley Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union; Jim Penney, Agribusiness Association of Iowa; and Maury Wills, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Following the search process, the center's advisory board will provide a recommendation of qualified candidates to Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy for a final decision, as outlined in the center's founding legislation. The candidate will be tenured in a department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and will report to the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


Maynard Hogberg, Search Committee Chair,, (515) 294-2160

Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications,, (515) 294-5616

Laura Miller, Leopold Center Communications,, (515) 294-5272