Congratulations to our new Chair, Dr. Diane Rowland!
Dr. Rowland has exemplified UF/IFAS efforts to progress beyond old paradigms that would put agriculture and natural resources at odds. She has played a central role in our increasing attention to the use of ecological principles in production agriculture. Dr. Rowland helped start our agroecology program, devised much of the curriculum, launched its Ph.D. program, and hosted worldwide delegations of like-minded scientists to advance this as a global model. I approved her proposal to start the Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture as one of her efforts to promote transdisciplinary research. She’s a strong believer in not believing conventional wisdom. Her story of her own career makes the case. She’s proud of busting myths like needing an ag degree to be a good ag researcher or that changing your appointment percentages will narrow your percentages for earning tenure. Another striking thing about her candidate seminar was her insistence that she did not do it alone. She described the roles that her predecessor, her staff, her associate chairs, her department faculty, her graduate students, and her husband have played in her success. Rowland’s team approach to science gives me great confidence in the department’s future. She has already enlisted collaborators worldwide by assembling a 15-nation agroecology network. To increase cooperation within her own department, she recently purchased two mini electric vehicles (along with coveted parking spaces) to bring the four scattered agronomy sites closer together. We look forward to Dr. Rowland’s leadership in making the science of agriculture and of natural resources a single problem-solving approach to the grand challenges of the next few decades.