News from the National Academy of Sciences

Date: July 13, 2016


NAS Announces New Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

WASHINGTON – The National Academy of Sciences announced today the creation of a new prize, the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences, to be presented annually beginning in 2017 with an award of $100,000. The prize is being endowed through generous gifts from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences will recognize research by a mid-career scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. The prize may also be shared by two or more scientists who collaborated closely on the discovery or accomplishment to be recognized. For the purpose of the prize, areas of science with applications to agriculture include plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science, soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. Nominations for the inaugural prize will be accepted online until October 3, 2016, at

"Scientific discovery has the power to transform how we live through the food we eat," said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. "The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is proud to partner with the Gates Foundation to establish this important prize recognizing, for the first time at the Academy, mid-career food and agricultural scientists for research achievements leading to cutting-edge technologies and practices that impact how we produce and deliver nutritious food around the world."

"Food and agricultural research has been a key foundation of advances in human nutrition and economic growth, and will continue to be essential to future growth, resilience, and conservation of resources and the environment," said Rob Horsch, deputy director of agricultural development of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This new prize will acknowledge, reward, and encourage major contributions to the field."

"Endless discovery and innovation is essential in the quest to improve the quality of nutrition for all humans while recognizing inherent limitations in land, fresh water, and environmentally safe levels of fertilizer application," said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. "This new prize allows the National Academy of Sciences to recognize and support scientists whose research has the potential to improve our global food system."

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. The foundation was established by the Farm Bill passed in 2014 and changed with complementing and furthering the important work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Leveraging public and private resources, FFAR will increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and fighting hunger and poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the nation.

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Molly Galvin, Senior Media Relations Officer
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail
Twitter: @theNASciences

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