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ARD Dean Candidate - Dr. Manjit K. Misra
Dr. Manjit K. Misra, Director, Seed Science Center, Iowa State University. Public Presentation — Aug. 8, 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Nebraska East Campus Union.
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Well, good afternoon and welcome.
The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
has selected four finalists in its search for the next dean
of the Agricultural Research Division
and Director of the Ag Experiment Station.
The first candidate that is joining us on campus
is Dr. Misra.
Dr. Misra is the Director of the Seed Science Center,
the Founding Director of the Biosafety Institute
for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products,
the Endowed Chair of Seed Science Technology and Systems,
and a Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
at Iowa State University.
He also served as the Director
of the Global Food Security Consortium at Iowa State.
Appointed as the chair of the USDA
National Genetic Resources Advisory Council for two terms
by the USDA Secretary of Agriculture,
he has served on more than 60 local, national
and international boards and committees.
These include the Steering Committee
for Food and Agriculture Organization
International Conference on Biotechnology,
the Scientific Advisory Council
of the American Seed Research Foundation,
the Board of Directors of Iowa Seed Association,
the Iowa Crop Improvement Association,
and the First of Seed Innovation.
Dr. Misra earned a bachelor of science
in agricultural engineering in India,
and a master's in PhD in agricultural engineering
at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
During his tenure
as the Director of the Seed Science Center,
the faculty and staff, excuse me,
affiliated with the center have conducted seed programs
in 70 countries, including 34 countries of Africa.
He has received numerous awards for his leadership,
and I'll mention a few of those,
the Distinguished Service Award
from the American Seed Trade Association,
the Order of Knoll Faculty Award from Iowa State,
the Global Agricultural Leadership Award
from the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture,
the Sukup Global Food Security Award,
and the AE50 Award from the American Society of Agriculture
and Biological Association, which is awarded to the top 50
product innovations in the areas of food, agriculture,
and biological systems.
He's also received a Certificate of Appreciation
from the USDA Secretary of Agriculture for commitment
and dedicated service to the USDA
National Genetic Resources Advisory Council.
Wow, very impressive.
So today we have Dr. Misra with us.
He's going to share with us his vision for ARD,
provide us with a perspective on his leadership philosophy,
and then there will be an opportunity for the audience
to engage in a Q&A session.
We also are streaming today's seminar online
and I think we have over 60 individuals
that have joined us online.
So for those of you online,
if you would like to submit questions,
please submit those to T-H-E-N-G-M-O-S-S2@unl.edu.
Tiffany Heng-Moss' email and I will have my phone.
And so I will be able to share those questions from online.
So with that, please join me in welcoming Dr. Misra.
Can you hear me okay?
Awesome, sometimes I'm an absentminded professor,
I forget to turn it on.
Thank you very much for that introduction.
As you see, my name is Manjit Misra,
it's an all American name.
And this is truly a privilege to speak with you today.
Yesterday we had dinner with Tiffany and Ed
and after the dinner,
I went for a walk in the Innovation Campus
right by the Scarlet Hotel.
I'm in Mitchell room by the way, and I read about Mitchell.
It has quite a bit of irrigation history
and county fair and so on.
I'm a very informal, spontaneous guy,
so I hope you are okay with it.
I'll move around, I will talk, I will listen, and so on,
let's have a conversation.
I think I teach of course at Iowa State.
And so I can talk for 55 minutes on any subject.
But I don't want that, I want a conversation.
So I took a walk around the Innovation Campus,
and I really liked what I saw.
There was just the modernized growth house, greenhouse.
The Food Innovation Center I couldn't get in,
I think they locked me out.
No, just kidding, just kidding.
I would like to see the Food Innovation Center
and they told me that I will have that opportunity,
but it looked like there is a culture of innovation.
What I have heard from people, what I have seen,
I think there is a culture of innovation
and that's going to be pretty much my team, that innovation.
So I'm really feeling good about interviewing at UNL.
I think not only culture of innovation,
it's the culture of collaboration that you have here
that is evident with the groups that I have met so far,
you can see that team spirit, that collaboration,
which I think is a key ingredient for becoming successful.
So I'll also build on that,
how I can enhance that collaborative spirit,
that innovation spirit, and so on.
So let's go ahead and get started.
I want to thank you for the welcome
that you have shown to me.
There is nice, then there is very nice,
then there is Nebraska nice.
You have been Nebraska nice to me, thank you very much.
So here is the outline that I don't want to be in your way.
This is the outline.
I will talk a little bit about the grand challenges,
particularly related to the food and agriculture.
A little bit about myself, my leadership journey,
my leadership philosophy and approach,
the vision and strategies to fulfill that vision.
Building excellence, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness
and resource management.
So what are the grand challenges?
If you look at, there are several list of grand challenges.
The Gates Foundation has one, the World Bank has one,
the NAS, NAE, they all have their list of grand challenges.
But when you look at those lists,
the themes that appear in everybody's list are this,
food and nutrition security, energy, health,
water, and environment.
These are the grand challenges.
And the climate change is going to accelerate
But here is the point I like to make,
agriculture is a key driver of the solutions
to these grand challenges.
So let's take a little journey in my shoes,
where I came from, where I am at now and so on.
So I came to US from India in 1971, I guess I like it here.
After earning a B.S in ag engineering,
received the master degree, I got two degrees and one wife.
Master's in soil and water and PhD in food and process.
Then as I said, met a Missouri country girl through 4-H,
are there any 4-H people here?
See 4-H does more than just head, heart
and all that thing.
(Misra and audience laughing)
Then joined at Iowa State, '79
and became a professor in '91.
Then Director that year also of the Seed Science Center.
Then we founded the BIGMAP, Biosafety Institute
for Genetically Modified Ag Products in 2002,
which was due to, we included it in the farm bill,
and I'll talk a little bit about that journey
and we can do similar things here.
The farm bill is coming up very soon.
In fact, we have some programs that we are going to include
in the farm bill and whether I come here or not,
we could have collaboration.
Then Dean's Chair of Distinction
in Agriculture and Life Sciences.
I served as the, well actually, Director of the Institute
for Food Safety and Security.
And that time that institute was not doing well.
So the dean said, "Could you help build that institute?"
which I did.
Then Dean's Chair of Distinction,
Co-Director Global Food Security Consortium.
And this was both a plant and animal issue.
Max Rothschild was the other co-director,
some of you will recognize Max Rothschild.
And then now I'm Endowed Chair, Seed Technology and Systems.
So I serve as the Director of the Seed Center,
Director of the Biosafety Institute
and the Endowed Chair of Seed Science currently.
My research expertise is digital agriculture,
biosensing, and process control,
also non-destructive evaluation of quality using ultrasound
and computer imaging, and so on.
Will you please give me a heads up about five minutes
before my time is up so that I can wrap it up?
Sure, I can just do that, yeah.
Yeah, thank you, thank you.
So the external funding, I have been a PI or Co-PI
for over $155 million.
And over 138 million of that as competitive grants,
and little over 16 million in gifts, donor gifts.
And in fact, I am very interested in fundraising, I love it,
I'm good at it.
I think that that is a source of funding
which we can really harness.
The important thing here
is this funding has come from diverse sources.
We have three grants
from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
We have funding from USAID, from the World Bank,
from the private sector.
And of course the USDA, NIFA and so on.
So it's diverse source of funding.
And I have been involved with both the problem solving
as well as basic research.
Problem solving such as
removing nightshade berry from soybean.
My focus is post-harvest grain handling,
grain storage, and drying and food and so on.
So I have been involved in removing,
let's say, nightshade berry from soybean, scurvy wheat,
the fusarium of wheat from good wheat and mud balls,
soil pads in soybean seed because they carry system matter.
So most of my research has been aimed at how do we market
the product to improve the profitability of the producers?
So for example, there are certain amount you can have
in a lot.
If you don't meet that tolerance, you can't market it.
So it is basically whether you can sell it or not.
So that's where I have focused.
We have also been able to change the rules
and regulations, laws.
One project that we did is maximum allowable variation,
the NIST Standards and Measures,
they measure how much milk can be in a container.
If you don't have the right amount, you can't sell it.
Cheese, how many holes you can have in that cheese?
This is all control.
And so they actually came and said to seed industry,
Now the seed is sold with cornels in a bag
instead of weight, 80,000 cornels in a bag,
they said that you have to have 1.5% maximum allowable
value in a bag.
So we did research and we conclusively established
that it is not possible because seed is a biological object.
The size, shape, everything varies due to weather,
due to genetics, and they simply can't meet it.
So the Standards, Weights and Measures changed the law
because of our laws.
So these are the impacts
that you really need to think about.
External funding right now, pending is over $51 million,
and I'll talk a little bit about that.
Publications, 137, and I am very much interested,
I'm an inventor, like to do new technology.
And we have 10 US and Canadian and European patents.
So here is what I like to show you.
It's not only inventions that you have to make,
but you need to commercialize it.
I'm a systems approach guy and just making invention,
having a patent, writing a publication
in my view is not enough.
The land-grant mission is we are going to do public good.
So if you don't commercialize it,
if the people that really need to use it are not using it,
then you have not completely met your objective.
So here is a flow meter.
This is the one that got AE50 Award
for being one of the 50 innovations in the world.
And what it is, is you see this right here,
that is the flow meter.
So when the product is flowing through this pipe,
it automatically measures how much product is going through.
And that data is being transmitted
to wherever it needs to go.
Previously what they did is if a truck is coming to,
like under that spout, there is a truck loading,
if the truck came for loading, they will load the truck
and then they will go to the platform scale,
they'll weigh it, if it is too much,
they will take some out, they will come back.
If it is not enough, they will fill it
so they'll take three, four times to fill it.
But this one fills it the first time, the correct amount
and then they move.
Now, Jason, how do I get this video?
Just hit next, just hit next.
This is in Fremont, Nebraska, by the way,
not very far from here.
Can I speed it up?
Is that okay?
Okay, I don't want to take entire five minutes.
It takes five minutes to fill a truck.
So I'm going to move to the next slide,
but you see what will happen is
it automatically fills, there is 50,000 pounds in a truck.
It fills 50,000 pounds then closes the gap and it drive off.
So we have now 70 of these flow meters
that are in operation.
And let me go back.
Last month we put the world's biggest flow meter,
I'm talking about world's biggest flow meter
in Gavilon, Minnesota.
That fills at 50,000 bushels per hour
or 50,000 pounds per minute.
So you better not miss a minute of the product
otherwise you'll have a pile.
And that's the world's biggest flow meter as of today.
So I think this land-grant mission
of really developing product for the common good,
and I think private sector is also something
that we need to think about,
this public and private sector partnership.
By the way, that is entrepreneurship also,
this is a startup company,
and I'll talk a little bit about that.
I think we need to think about for economic development,
some of these entrepreneurship activities,
how do we enable the faculty and staff also
to help the state's economy?
It can be an engine for economic growth.
So I think the special skill that I bring to this position
is institution building.
So the Seed Science Center, when I took over,
there were 30 people, today there are 194.
And we increased the budget 18 times for every dollar
that the state gives us, the ratio is 18 to one.
That's a significant ratio.
We operate the largest public seed testing laboratory
in the world.
We test about 300 different types of seeds.
Europe is sending us seeds for testing.
We test about 100 different vegetable seeds,
another 100 different flower seeds.
We have contract with Ferry-Morse from California.
They all do their seed testing with us
because we are considered
the reference laboratory for the world.
See, I think this is what we have to think about.
What is it that you want to be the best in the world?
What is it?
That's what we have to decide.
Here is something that is very important statistics.
We not only do testing for 300 seeds,
we can test for over 250 seed-borne pathogens, over 250.
Nobody in the world can do that.
So the USDA designated the Seed Science Center
to operate what is called the National Seed Health System.
What it means is that all seed that is exported from US
need to be tested under NSHS, National Seed Health System,
because everything that goes from US
need to have sanitary, phytosanitary certificate.
And for that, it needs to be science-based.
One point I like to make is there is sometimes politics
that runs ahead of science.
So there are pathogens that people will,
let's say that our ship is in France, in the port.
They will use a different protocol
than what we have tested it with
and there might be difference in result.
So we standardize tests.
In fact, we are now building
international seed health system
from the National Seed Health System.
And we are not only doing for export,
now we are doing it for import.
USDA has now designated the Seed Science Center,
every seed that is imported now also need to be tested
by us, or here is the important thing,
or it can be tested by another laboratory
that is certified by us, private sector.
See, I want to give you the example of the pandemic.
Remember how CDC won't let Mayo clinic test?
But I think we have a model here in agriculture
that we have about 21 private seed laboratories,
Bayer, Syngenta, Corteva,
they all have to be certified by us
before they can do their own seed health testing.
That's a feather in our cap.
We have alliances with national and international agencies.
I'll show that little bit.
The World Food Prize gave the Borlaug Medallion
to Iowa State University.
And the World Food Prize president specifically mentioned
the research at Seed Science Center as one of the reason
why they gave the Borlaug Medallion
to Iowa State University.
And very few institutions, I don't know how many,
I'll have to look it up, but a handful institutions
have got that medallion.
And here is one thing,
I bring global network to this position.
We have worked in 79 countries.
Now, today I was talking with the Drought Mitigation Center,
they have worked in more countries than that.
So you have wonderful things going on here too.
So here are the countries that we have worked in.
And what we do, I won't take a lot of time
because I want to address some of the things I plan to do.
What we do is we go to a country
and this is where the seed system comes in,
we examine their seed system, entire seed system,
the big picture, what are the laws, policies, regulations,
who is producing it, how,
what's the public and private sector partnership.
Then we make recommendations.
And you might say, oh, who are we to do that?
It's because the World Bank may have $400 million loan
that they are going to give to that country,
but they have made it sure
that they reform their seed system.
So they say that go to Iowa State
and reform your seed system.
So we are able to really go there as a friend, as advisor,
as colleague, that's also how you approach,
these things makes a big difference, not what you do.
Okay, so this is actually in your shop, Tiffany, curriculum,
but the region I mentioned, this research can contribute.
And also how innovation, this is a degree in seed science
and business management.
So we have about a dozen professors in business college
that teach seed business management.
Previously the seed companies used to send their employees
to Harvard Graduate School of Management.
And they told me, "Manjit, they understand business,
but they don't understand seed.
Can you develop something like this?"
So we did, and now we have 61 graduate students enrolled
in this from a dozen different countries.
It changes, but we have students from China,
it's 100% distance technology.
So China, Canada, Africa, all over,
the graduate students are enrolled
and they learn from each other, not just from the professor.
They learn from each other.
Their agriculture system in China
way different than what we have here.
But if we want our graduate students
to be functional employees
of various multi-national global companies,
they need to know that culture,
they need to know that system, and so on.
I won't spend a lot of time, but I want to mention
that here is something that we do, how much?
Oh, this creative component is a small research project
every graduate student has to do.
And that's where the research can contribute
to the learning, and so on.
Institution building, the second is the BIGMAP,
As I mentioned, I love talking with legislators,
both state and federal.
So we actually at the time worked with Senator Grassley
and Tom Harkin and so on.
And we made a presentation that look, this bio technology,
there is a center for biotechnology here.
So look in bio technology that times, especially 2002,
there were just enough heat, not enough light,
the way I put it,
there were too much confusion, misinformation.
So we said to the Congress
that we need a national institute
that will be a truth telling machine,
that will be science-based, credible, third party,
and they did.
So we provided recommendations to USDA, BRS and APHIS.
Some of these, our approach, see, we don't take sides,
activists say that there is nothing good in biotechnology.
Sometimes the industry says
there is no problem with bio technology.
The truth is somewhere in between,
as a land-grant institution, we want to tell the truth.
So we suggested that every GM need to be evaluated
on a case by case basis.
Don't talk about the broad brush
that either things are good or bad.
So that's what we do, risk and benefit assessment.
But here is the thing,
risk communication becomes a very major.
It's just not the risk communication in biotechnology,
how are we communicating as scientists?
Our results so that people who really fund us
are saying that, yeah, there is value in it.
I'll come back to that.
And we were able to recruit,
oh, sorry, I'm still getting used to this.
We were able to, Secretary Vilsack was in our faculty.
David Lambert, who served on President Obama's
he was the liaison of US government to FAO.
And Scott Hurd he's an animal scientist veterinarian.
And these are the people that we recruited
as faculty members to BIGMAP.
But we did not neglect.
When you have these big names that does not mean
that you neglect.
See, this is why I want to digress a little bit.
This is why I am interested in the position
because of your strategic plan, your vision.
You say that every person matters,
every interaction matters, that touched me.
So even if you have big names,
you still need to pay attention
to the person you are talking with right now,
that's your customer.
Sometimes people ask questions,
who is your customer?
The person you are talking to right now,
you are all now my customers,
would you buy something from me?
No, just kidding, come on, guys, laugh.
We got to have some fun.
So this Institute for Food Safety and Security,
Dr. Wataki who became the Undersecretary,
she was the Dean of Agriculture at the time, and she said,
"Manjit, would you build this institution?"
Which we did.
And at the time, see, my approach is to really build
an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental,
intercollegiate team, focused on a theme.
That's what I really enjoy doing and good at.
So we had 107 faculty members from 19 academic departments,
then USDA National Animal Disease Lab.
Also the Energy Lab and the Veterinary Services Laboratory.
We received $6 million funding in two years.
And we secure a real estate gift pledge,
which hasn't come in yet, but it will.
The next one that I was involved in building
is the Global Food Security Consortium.
And here, this was a presidential initiative.
And to do the comprehensive interdisciplinary research
to address global food and nutrition insecurity.
And when I say global, let's not forget the US.
It's very important.
We can't forget Nebraska and just be focused on global.
There is hunger, there is malnutrition in Iowa,
it is in Nebraska, it's every state,
there is actually a number that you can pull
from USDA website.
So I think we also included US, as well as the globe.
We had a network of 19 organization, 10 land-grants,
four international CG centers,
these are like the one in Africa, ILRI,
and then there is one in India, ICRISAT, CMIT and so on,
and four private companies.
I'm a strong believer in private public partnership,
We had 60 experts in plant and animal science,
climate science, engineering, veterinary medicine,
food science, and human nutrition.
We prepared 23 grant applications.
That's the skill I bring,
and I think there is opportunity here in ARD.
(Misra clearing throat)
We had 7.3 million.
We conducted an animal symposium, you not only do research,
you have to communicate, a newsletter and symposium.
We were doing that in conjunction with the World Food Prize.
So you have to see how you can really leverage
what you are doing with something that is more visible.
So we were doing at the World Food Prize.
Here is something that's very interesting.
I am not sure if UNL is a member of PUSH,
Presidents United to Solve Hunger.
Actually, I was very instrumental
in forming that organization.
There are over 70 university presidents
that have signed onto this.
And our President, Dr. Wendy Wintersteen
asked me to represent Iowa State.
So I still represent her in this.
It's primarily a student center, by the way,
they bring students together every year
and try to turn them into visionary leaders
if they want to address food and nutrition.
(Misra clearing throat)
Now, I want to talk a little bit about the diversity
and equity and inclusion.
I think it has to be woven into the fabric
of everything we do.
So you can see the evidence of what we are doing.
This is the 194 faculty and staff,
and you can see the gender equity
and also the national origin.
More important, the women faculty
are leaders in their program, the lead,
that's important as well, it has to be deliberate.
There is a saying that if they can see it, they can be it.
If they see that a woman scientist is leading,
doing things that are wonderful, they want to be like that.
So when Susanna Gochi, our seed physiologist
has certain undergraduate students, they look up to her.
That makes a huge difference.
Seed Science Center in a mini-UN,
and we get visitors every week,
every week we are getting visitors.
We also do a lot of high school students.
We do a lot of popcorn.
Five minutes, okay.
So partnerships, I will go very quickly through,
USDA, NIFA, FFAR, you recognize these things,
FAO, USAID, World Bank, foundations.
Also NGOs, they are also very good partners,
then HBCUs, historically black.
In many mega proposals you have to have HBCU included.
So that's very important.
Also the Native American tribes and nations.
And of course, other universities and institutes,
I talked about this communication,
communication is a very important part of what we do.
So I was very concerned that a lot of young people,
our youth are not choosing agriculture as a profession.
They are going into IT, various subjects, which is fine,
but we also need bright minds to come to agriculture.
So we made a movie and this movie,
I will show you just a little trailer of this movie.
Can I increase the volume?
Seeds were everywhere,
nature, food, spice, industry, energy.
Seeds are where we notice them and where we don't.
They can travel thousands of miles.
They can sleep for years before waking up.
Their wildly diverse shapes, sizes and landscapes
are designed to bring life everywhere.
The story of seeds is the story of the miracle of nature,
but also the story of human innovation.
Seeds are not just the beginning,
but the renewal of agriculture, of all civilization.
The people of seeds, farmers, scientists,
breeders, cooks, public servants, clothiers,
gardeners, dreamers, a grand collaboration between humanity
and nature to feed, cloth and beautify the world.
Come on a journey into the miracle of nature,
into human imagination, into the wonder of seeds.
So you can download this movie from our website.
People from over 70 countries
have downloaded this movie now.
And the thing is it received two Telly Awards.
Telly Awards is like the Oscar
for educational movies, documentaries.
We were competing with CNN and things of that nature.
It's got several hours I don't need to...
But here is my favorite award,
best practices in diversity, inclusion and equity,
because we sent a crew to Africa for,
"Let Seed be Thy Medicine" episode, it has six episodes.
Although it's a movie one hour, there are six episodes,
each episode is 10 minutes.
One episode is "Let Seed be Thy Medicine."
In fact, I want to build on that,
say, let food be thy medicine, you have food for health.
So that one received that award
because of the role of women.
We very clearly articulated in accepting the innovation.
I was talking to a group this morning
that just doing innovation is not enough.
Culturally, are they going to eat it?
They did not eat yellow maize
even if the kids were going blind.
How do you then make it happen?
We can talk about that,
maybe in question and answer kind of thing.
Okay, so building on a tradition of excellence,
what I have seen is you have a tradition of excellence.
So here are the strengths that I did little bit of research,
and I'm going to add to this list due to the discussion
I had yesterday and so on.
So I think certainly, as I mentioned,
collaboration is very evident.
It's very people centered and genuine commitment
to the diversity, equity and inclusion,
that's also very clear.
You have excellent programs in water, in plant sciences,
in biological systems engineering, in meat systems,
rural vitality, and after talking with you,
now, I will put one health, is part of this and so on.
But we need to build on that,
we need to build on our strength.
So here is my, I have liked this very much.
The chief enemy of best is very good.
You are very good, but we need to be the best.
So if you select me, I would like to do certain things
to be the very best.
This is from Voltaire
but Stephen Covey made it very popular.
The chief enemy of best is very good, often very good.
Okay, so here is my vision.
Give me another few minutes.
My vision, as I mentioned I chaired this strategic plan
for the College of Agriculture at Iowa State.
I love doing strategic planning.
It's actually strategic thinking more than planning
because it's not a document that is set in stone,
but it provides you guidelines.
So to influence the future,
one must have a clear and compelling vision.
That actually is how we influence the future.
And it must transcend the visible.
You have to have imagination, you have to stretch
to really set the vision and accomplish it.
The vision must be shared.
The Dean cannot do, just set up a vision and do it.
If you are leading and nobody's following
you are taking a walk.
So you really need to think of,
it has to be a shared vision, it has to be bottom up.
I think this morning, you are talking about the diamond,
that's what it is all about, it's not top down,
it has to be shared vision, come from ground up.
And the link between the vision, this is my definition,
because of the strategic planning exercises I have done,
the link between vision and mission is the strategic plan.
So the vision is where you want to be,
the mission is who you are, and the strategic plan is how.
I like to boil it down to very simple, understandable,
clear, ideology fringes.
So you really need to do the SWAT analysis,
you know all that.
But here is the important thing, strategic plan guides
what to do, but also what not to do, that's very important.
And I like to give an examples of every day to day life,
you are on a highway, sometimes an exit looks so good,
you take that exit, and then you realize that,
"Ah, I'm off my path."
So I think strategic plan can also steer you
so that you don't do things that you are not supposed to do.
So what is the role of the dean in fulfilling this vision?
So I'll talk a little bit about leadership,
my guiding principles, my vision, core values,
share governance and how to inspire others.
I love raising funds, I talked about that.
So it is the grants, gifts, industry affiliation,
and federal appropriation.
These are the various sources.
Communication and promotion,
internal and external stakeholders,
visual arts, such as the movie, picture.
Social media has become so much now.
We are getting really a lot of our promotion
and communication through social media.
And of course, distance education,
distance technology has become almost now,
it's here to stay.
Okay, here is my administrative philosophy.
(Misra clearing throat)
Find the best, this is why I said,
when you said that every person matters,
it really touched my heart.
You need to find the best in each person,
and I didn't write it after your strategic plan,
this is the way I have operated.
It just comes in sync with what you are thinking.
Find the best in each person, build on their strength
to enhance their individual excellence.
They have to be individually excellent
before you can be excellence of teams.
If they have not solved their problem,
how can they help you?
Think about that.
Provide an enabling environment for those individuals
to develop a core excellence, core expertise,
and plant innovation is a core expertise.
So there are individual scientists,
but there is a core expertise in plants,
core expertise in water and so on.
Then I think it is the role of the dean is to facilitate
so that those core teams are connected
to internal and external stakeholders
for bigger and better things.
And you need to have local, national and global impact.
So how do I plan to fulfill this vision?
I want to be strategic, I want to be proactive,
I want to anticipate.
It's like the hockey player said,
I don't skate to where the puck is,
I skate to where the puck is going to be,
that's how you really get success, I'll come to that.
Collaborative, you have to be accountable.
And by fostering a culture of innovation.
So here is the reactive focus.
Reactive focus is, there are two circles
that Stephen Covey talks about,
a circle of concern and circle of influence.
When this circle of influence is tiny
and the circle of concern is big,
you are reacting to things, it doesn't work very well.
On the other hand, if you have a circle of influence
very much as big as circle,
ideally, it'll be the whole thing.
Circle of influence and circle of concern will match.
But of course that's not possible.
We always think of, there are many concerns,
but if you increase that circle of influence by networking,
by connectivity and so on, then you can do things
that is not possible with the reactive focus.
So if we are proactive, if you are anticipatory,
if we are strategic,
then increasing research revenue can be done.
So strategies for competitive funding,
it's not just getting our collaborative teams,
we need to also think of increasing the total funding
that the USDA has, the USAID, has World Bank has.
So influence total funding of federal
and state appropriations, form collaborative convergent,
convergent is now the word NSF is looking for,
which is very similar to what you are doing,
interactive and focused on a theme,
we are preparing NSF engines,
couple of concepts and proposals.
Then strategies also,
that's not for the competitive funding, donor funding.
Here you need to focus on relationships than money,
money will come, money will come.
Now from my experience individual donors are as important
as corporate donors.
In fact, the individual donors
can really make a huge difference.
Capitalize on the expertise of the development officers
and put a human face to the ask.
send the Director of the Drought Mitigation Center,
they know what they are talking about.
So let them accompany you
when you are making a ask and so on.
So these are some of the strategies
to increasing the research, but money is like manure,
it's no good unless it is spread around,
so invest it, invest it.
I like to invest it with seed funding, for example,
how do you leverage?
I talked about we leverage $18 to each dollar.
Now, I understand that certainly everybody cannot do that,
certainly departments cannot do that,
but that's just everybody has to think of leveraging.
So I'm out of my time.
Okay, I will wrap it up very quickly.
I also think that I'm a land-grant guy,
thorough and thorough land-grant mission.
Research extension and teaching,
they need to contribute to each other.
In fact, I would say that
we need to take our land-grant mission to the world, global.
Take the university to the world
and bring the world to the university.
So this is a social contract.
We need to think of science with a human face.
We need to help people.
Research for becoming good, access for all citizens.
Extension needs to really be very active
and quality education for all students.
These are the land-grant contract.
I am going to be involved more on the research side
that I realize and understand.
So the thing is here, relevance.
We need to do research that is relevant to the state need,
to the farmers, to the producers, to the processors.
And we need to commercialize.
I think we need to think that our students will create jobs
than looking for jobs,
so startups, entrepreneurship, and so on.
I have personal experience in that, I can help in that.
Economic development, responsiveness to global competition
and anticipate new opportunities.
So dean's role, renew the covenant.
I think the land-grant philosophy is not,
really we need to rekindle that spirit.
Whenever I go to various countries,
I talk about land-grant mission, and they really like it.
We have a secret here
that we are keeping under bushel basket.
So we need to rekindle that.
And of course, in our facilities,
you have wonderful facilities.
One thing that we need to think about is that
ensure that the salaries are competitive.
So here legislature, because we are losing and you are too,
good people to private sector, quite a bit.
So at least we need to keep it competitive.
Provide opportunities for professional growth,
money is not everything.
There are reasons why people choose public sector, I did.
So there are certain things that we can do
which is not related to money
and facilitate entrepreneurial activities.
Now dean's role in supporting the heart,
shouldn't be college, that's a typo, should be the ARD.
Motivating faculty and staff for higher productivity,
improve physical infrastructure.
Here is what I think is important, shared governance.
This is what you are saying, Dr. Ben in the morning,
this is the shared governance.
So strengthening the partnerships with colleges,
UNL colleges, centers, and units, external constitution,
partnering with extension, surely, that is very important.
Making sure that the farmers are part of this mix.
Sometimes we have a tendency to not think of the farmers,
not just agribusiness, but also the farmers.
I chaired the global round table of farmers.
Here there are farmers, very successful farmers
from many different countries gather
and they share their experiences.
So as I mentioned, research needs to contribute
to teaching and learning.
Now, what are the new frontiers of science?
Where are you going to be the best?
For example, gene editing,
maybe you know a lot more about that than me.
But what I'm saying here is biorenewables, food for health,
I have already now seen
that you have a lot of these elements.
But what I'm saying is how do we bring them together
for mega proposals?
You see, I have been very successful
in being part of 25 million, 50 million.
We applied for 100 million, we didn't get it,
and it was with one of the university,
Nebraska Lincoln faculty member,
but our reviews were very good.
So we need to think big.
Okay, so what are the indicators of research excellence?
I think you are now ranked, if I am correct,
I looked in the internet, of course,
if I am wrong, please tell me, but you are ranked 21st.
I think we can get there in top 10.
You need to set a target.
If you don't know where you are going, as somebody said,
you will end up somewhere,
but you want to really set a target.
I think we can be within top 10.
You are now ranked in the world, 55.
I think we can be in top 25.
You have funding, grants and contracts
that they were very nice to share with me, 66 million.
I think we can get it 200 in three years,
you have to put a timeline, you can't get it quickly.
The foundations, there is 3.6 spending gas,
I think we can get 10 million.
Publications and patents,
I do not know exactly what those numbers are,
but these are the yard sticks measuring sticks that we have.
And how about the National Academy of Science
and National Academy of Engineering members?
We need to think about that
because that goes into the ranking most often.
Oh, okay, here are a couple of examples
of what we are working on.
One is cybersecurity for smart agriculture.
That's a big issue.
It's coming down the pike, that's anticipatory.
Well, not anymore anticipatory, it has already happened,
but we are working on this thing
about three, four months back.
And we are going to think about seed centers,
we have already established one in Africa.
We are thinking each continent need to have a seed center.
And we can make that happen.
And here is the very recent one, the Ukraine Seed Head.
As you know, I mean this is a senseless war,
there is no need for this war
and there is lot of suffering that is going on.
So we are going to lift 20,000 metric tons subsidy
to Ukraine and the USDA is completely on board.
We have actually submitted a proposal to USDA
for 49 million to do this
so that we will take the seeds from US companies,
and last week, European Seed Association joined our,
so now Europe is also going to.
So we can now send the seed through land route,
through Poland and so on.
The cyber security for agriculture, we are going to do that
through the farm bill.
In a nutshell, what I bring to the table,
I'm sorry I took a little bit longer time,
but I wanted to give you a comprehensive view
of what is going in my mind, I hope that's okay with you.
What I bring to the table is this,
an ability to create a culture of innovation,
and in your case, I would say not create, enhance,
because you have already.
This slide was before I came here
and I didn't have time to change it.
A proven record of institution building,
a strong spirit of entrepreneurship,
motivate faculty and staff to hire productivity,
solve problems with the systems approach,
because there are unintended consequences.
If we're successful, you may have problems,
I'll talk about that
if you have a question and example or two.
Commitment to the land-grant mission
and commitment to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion
in the workplace.
So here is my pledge, my pledge is that ARD-UNL
is where we will develop collaborative research,
that learning I'm talking about,
again, contribute to learning,
technology transfer network to protect and enhance
food, water, energy, public health, safety,
and security of Nebraska communities.
That's the first, the nation and the world.
Thank you very much.
All right, now we are ready for the Q&A session
of the interview process.
So just as a reminder, Jason, would you be able
to put the slide up for those that are on Zoom
so they know how to reach my email address
and submit questions?
Okay, question from someone in the audience to kick it off.
Just so everyone that's online has the benefit
of hearing the Q&A time,
we'll ask Andrea to share a question.
So I'm Andrea Cupp from Animal Science.
And one of the things that you talked about
was making faculty more productive.
And I guess I'm coming from a point where I feel like
I work all the time to get done what I can get done.
So I guess I'd like to hear your viewpoint
on how you could help us be more productive.
But are there things that we're missing perhaps
or ways that we could get there
where maybe we're not spending as much time
as we are now on what we do?
Yeah, I think this is a good question.
I think you may have answered your own question
when you said that maybe I won't be spending so much time.
It's not working just hard, but working smart.
What I mean by that is if, first of all, couple of things,
the faculty are good in ideas.
You see, so if we can let them take care of ideas
and provide the support for certain follow-up activities.
Let's say that you are preparing a proposal.
Instead of you doing quite a bit of work,
we get a grant writer, we do that all the time,
we facilitate the key people
and then we capture their ideas.
Somebody prepares the first draft, and then it comes to you
for review what you can contribute.
So we are taking our way things that is not adding value
to your portfolio.
But you are still getting the value
without doing the repetitive work, so that's one way.
The second is of course, using technology many times,
can also take some of this burden out of your hands.
Basically empower you to do the ideas,
than actual follow-up and implementation,
and that's for proposal writing.
For your work, maybe we can think of facilities,
There is a biotechnology instrumentation center here,
that instrumentation could be something that will do things
much faster, much cheaper, things like that.
So I think we need to deliberately think about
not overloading you, that's what you are saying,
because you have a family, you want to do the work,
and then you go back to your home
and there is a balance between work and family.
So I'm not talking about adding time, but I am talking about
just utilizing the time that you are spending
in a different way, does that answer some at least?
Okay, another question.
We'll go to Rebecca then Andy,
and we have our first question online after that.
Thanks, I'm Rebecca Roston from Biochemistry.
You mentioned you wanted to really improve our rankings
as a college, and I know you don't know all the facts
about us yet,
but obviously those rankings are based on set criteria.
Which criteria were you thinking about targeting and why?
Each ranking has their own criteria.
And see, as you said, I don't have really enough knowledge
about what are your indicators,
so where the improvement can take place.
I know that for example, the National Academy of Science
and National Academy of Engineering,
I don't know how many you have, for example.
So I think the ranking is certainly based on a metrics.
I mean, I know you guys are got out of the AAU
because of similar kind of situation, we did too.
So ranking is based on certain criteria,
you have to look at those criteria
and see where we can make the improvement
with the strength we have.
So I think amount of publication, amount of patents,
amount of research funding,
how many publications are really being used,
those criteria that you have to really...
I have not really detailed answer for this kind of thing,
but I think you have to look at that
and this is a quantitative measure.
So you have to just play the numbers game.
But I think we also have to think of qualitatively.
Getting there, is this going to overload the faculty?
You have to ask that question as well.
So I think that's how I shall approach it.
It's how you approach the answer to a question also matters.
So I think we have to see, do we want to be in top 10
or do we want to be in top 15?
I don't know, but that is something
that we can have a target
and then we need to think discuss together.
That's where I think shared governance comes into picture.
As I said, the dean is not going to set all those things.
The dean's role is to facilitate that conversation
and see what you want to become
and how the team can help you to get there.
So one of the things that seems to be missing
from metrics oftentimes
is we count publications and patents,
but we don't include commercialization.
'Cause patents are no good
unless you actually commercialize it.
And so how you plan on facilitating that sort of endeavor,
which is not necessarily an easy thing to do?
And then related to that, what are your thoughts around
building cultures of innovation?
How do you do that?
Yeah, the first question that you have,
I don't know how you put commercialization into the mix,
but when you do commercialization
there are other good things that happen
that could be put into the mix.
Think of this, Wageningen is number one right now.
There are just a completely research university.
I have been in Wageningen three times.
If you look at their operation,
they are not a land-grant university.
So it is easier for them because it's the research metrics
that they are looking for, you see?
So when you see UC Davis, which is below,
they have lot more activities.
I was in UC Davis just last week giving a talk
and they were complaining that Wageningen
is really number one,
but what are they doing in transferring the technology
in commercialization and so on?
What are they doing for public good?
Is very much elitist intellectual exercise.
So I think we have to be careful also
that what is our mission?
We have to be mission oriented.
And if our mission is to help for public good,
then we have to keep that in the forefront
and improving our ranking and not necessarily the numbers
that we are talking about.
And the second question you had is how do you basically
do a culture of innovation?
You are already there in my view,
because what I have seen is you have that willingness.
Think about this, what is innovation?
I have a very different definition of innovation
that what many people think of innovation
is developing a new machine, a new instrument, new process,
and that kind of thing.
But to me, innovation is overcoming your fear
of trying something new, that's my definition.
And that's why every person matters.
An office assistant who is developing a new method
to make that process more efficient is innovating.
Isn't that the case?
Think about that.
I took a lot of training on lean process.
You really can make a lot of these things more efficient
and more effective because there is a lot of duplication
that is going on.
You think you are busy, but you are doing the same thing
again and again and so on.
In our seed testing, when I became the director,
we did the time management,
we broke down the entire testing into little chunks,
and we say how much time it takes to do this,
how much time it takes to this, do this, so on,
we call it the process management,
I do a lot of business innovation into the academics.
So the process management we have written
actually nine manuals on process management.
So what you do is you just basically flow chart the process,
and then you try to improve in each step of the way.
And it's interesting that if you have the process right,
the product turns out to be very good.
If you focus on the product quality,
you are looking for defects, that's what a lot of people do,
they try to minimize the defect.
But instead, if you improve the process,
then the defect at the end of the line,
it's much smaller and you can deal with it.
So I think one of the thing that one can do innovation
is improving the process, what you are doing.
So a person who has been doing things day in and day out,
when they think of doing it slightly differently
in a new way and overcome that fear,
take little risk, that's innovation in my mind.
I hope that jives with you.
So it's not just developing a non-destructive machine
that will just tell the quality of the seed in minutes,
Shakespeare said, if you can look into the seeds of time
and tell which one will germinate and which one will not.
So it is not that big idea of developing a technology
that will be a billion dollar thing,
but you can innovate in what you are doing.
So that's how you do the culture of innovation.
You encourage that spirit of trying things
that you have not tried before.
It could be a new way of doing business,
it could be a new way of marketing,
it could be a new organizational structure,
So I think that's how you do.
You encourage people to speak, to think differently,
that's where the diversity and inclusion thing
also comes in.
I don't need to really listen to the people
who look like me, who talk like me, who think like me,
then I won't learn much.
But I think just simply talking, sharing,
listening to people who are different
is how you really create a culture, which you already have,
but perhaps we can enhance it.
Okay, we're going to take an online question
from John Rubenson.
So what do you see as sources of increased funding?
Are there novel targets beyond the typical
federal, state company sources
that you would encourage us to pursue?
Yeah, I think even in federal, when we say federal,
most people think it's the USDA and so on.
But even within federal,
you can think of non-traditional sources.
Department of Energy, NIST,
National Institute of Standard and Technology.
We have got funding from them,
DHS, Department of Homeland Security,
DIA, Department of Intelligence Agency.
we are actually going to those places
for the cybersecurity kind of funding.
So it's not just when we think of federal,
most food and a people think of the traditional ones.
So that's one.
Then the second thing is there are a lot of associations,
they have funding.
It's very interesting, the biggest project we got
is from a state government in India, $50 million.
You see, the state governments they have money
that the budget, that they have is billions
and billions of dollars budget.
So to them, 25 million is not a big deal.
So you could think of the state government,
and then you need to think of alumnus
who might be international.
There are many that are very wealthy, that are overseas.
So you could think of that.
You could think of the nonprofits.
So I think there are so many possibilities.
You just have to keep that network going
and then things will happen.
Okay, we'll take another question from online.
This is from Dustin Loy.
"So given your experience at the Seed Center doing service,
how do you see these types of efforts
supporting or integrating the research mission?
Would you repeat that question please?
So given your experience at the Seed Science Center
doing service, how do you see these types of efforts
supporting or integrating with the research mission?
I'm still not sure
how do you support the research mission?
So for example, Dustin is a faculty member
in the School of Veterinary Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences,
and also supports our Veterinary Diagnostics Clinic.
So talking about service is being an important part
as you've talked about local, national, global.
And so he's curious about what role does service play
in advancing the research mission.
I understand now.
Yeah, I think for example, we get about $4 million
from our seed testing service every year.
And we plow that fees into,
I will develop some of the ideas here, graduate students.
If we want to do a new testing research,
then the seed testing service
pays for that graduate student, post docs.
I talked about the seed health.
We have seed health professors that are plant pathologists.
Part of their salary comes from that revolving funding.
So the service fees are actually,
it's just like any business, you have a cost of production,
but then you have a selling price.
Is the margin there correctly done?
If the margin is correct, you can put that money
into research and innovation.
And we do that all the time, and here is what happens.
Then it gets plowed back into the service.
For example, Gary Munkvold, who is our seed pathologist,
he will develop a new seed health testing method.
Now, the seed companies are sending their seed
for that testing in a service more,
which might just bring hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So it's both ways, the service supports the research,
the research supports the service.
Perfect, one last question from the group here
in the Great Plains room.
All right, Rebecca, firsthand to go up.
Thanks, so one of the things you talked about
was the importance of strategic planning
and planning from the ground up.
Sometimes though that has a cost and the cost is time.
And there are things certainly which have happened
in the last couple of years
that were beyond anybody's strategic plan.
So I'm wondering, at the expense of suggesting
another national pandemic.
If something unexpected that could be something
like a pandemic, came up, what would be your strategy
for dealing with that in the immediate near future?
Who would be at that first meeting
where you were trying to figure out what the plan would be?
If there is another pandemic or?
Or another calamity that is not planned for.
Right, I think this is what I was saying, proactivity.
You don't want to sell Christmas trees in January, do you?
So you don't really do things.
Sometimes you have to, but you don't do things
when the calamity has already come upon you,
this is extremely important,
this is why we are doing surveillance and so on
so that we have some inkling of who should be involved.
It goes back to even proposal writing.
I didn't mention it because of time,
but we don't wait until the RFP comes.
When a RFP for 25 million, 50 million comes,
it's too late to form a team, it's too late.
But what we do is we develop lot of concepts.
You see, that are in the mill, so to speak,
that's number one,
because we are constantly scouring the environment,
what is important, what is happening.
I travel to Washington, DC every couple of months.
And I simply have courtesy visit with USAID,
with World Bank, with NSF, with NIH.
Well, NIH has more money in their increase
than the entire project that USDA has.
So you make rounds.
You find what is happening and you are prepared.
Now, if a calamity comes, then you can call on those people.
The Ukraine project, it's a calamity for Ukraine, isn't it?
We build that team in three months
and we are going to send the seed,
20,000 metric tons of seed to Ukraine.
The State Department is involved.
Biden's administration is involved, USDA is involved,
seed companies are involved, and it's trust,
it's building and developing that trust
with your collaborators.
The 79 countries that I talked about,
we could pick up the phone and say,
"Hey guys, we have this situation.
Can you send me a page or two pages?
This is our focus, can you do that?
They will stay up in the night
and they will send you something.
We did that for soybean rust, you remember soybean rust?
We prepared the State of Iowa when soybean rust was coming,
we had about 25 people at the Seed Science Center.
The college asked me,
"Could you develop basically a strategy?"
If we find soybean rust, what will we do?
So we set up the trials, how you will test
and all that kind of thing.
So what I'm saying is this is where the proactivity comes
and establishing networks and connections and so on,
so that you can really build that team, if you have to.
I'll give you another example.
I love to tell stories, you can tell.
This Ukraine project, we talked to the Governor,
I worked quite a bit with Governor's office
and the Governor office said, "Ah, this is a good project,
we are going to be very supportive,
but let me tell you something Manjit,
their intelligence is that the agriculture fields are mined.
The Russians have mined the fields."
Said, "You can't even get there,
what do you mean about planting seeds?
People are going to be blown up, particularly children."
So what we did, because we already have some networks,
I called Roots of Peace.
Roots of Peace, Heidi Kuhn and her husband
have formed an organization called Roots of Peace.
They have been active in Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan.
They call it Mines to Vine Program.
They clear the mines, then they go on to the agriculture.
And who clears the mines?
A group in the UK called Mines Advisor Group, MAG.
So I think if you have established this connection,
so I called after two, three days Governor's office.
I said, "Look, we have a way of clearing mines."
They said, "That's fantastic."
So they are going to be very, very supportive.
So I think you have to have this network,
you have to mobilize that network.
So Roots of Peace, the person who is the vice president
is Pat Sheik, she used to be in charge of FAS in USDA.
She retired and then went to Roots of Peace.
So I knew Pat very well.
So I said, "Pat, we need your help."
And she said, "Normally we don't work unless we have MOU,
but I trust you, so we are going to work with you."
So that's how you do, when there is a calamity.
You have to have some advance building relationships.
Then you are more likely to be able to solve it than not.
Perfect, well, please join me in thanking Dr. Misra.
And as a reminder, there is an open reception this evening
at 6:30 in the links between Innovation Campus
and the Food Industry, Food Innovation Center.
I should have gotten innovation
right after your presentation today.
So you have an opportunity to connect with our candidate.
And then tomorrow we have a forum on innovation
and entrepreneurship in the morning,
and then that will be followed by another session
in the afternoon on culture,
climate and inclusive excellence.
So again, thank you all for joining us
and thanks for those joining us online also.
Thank you very much.
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