GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The guest speaker for the University of Florida’s 2001 York Distinguished Lecturer Series will be M.S. Swaminathan, professor of ecotechnology for the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and chair of the Swaminathan Research Foundation in Madras, India.
His presentation — “Agricultural and Natural Resources: A Vision for the 21st Century” — will be on Monday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. at UF’s Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center in Gainesville. A reception will follow his lecture. The program is free and open to the public.
“Swaminathan is an outstanding world statesman and visionary in the agricultural and natural resources arena,” said P.K. Nair, professor of agroforestry with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who helped arrange the speaker’s Gainesville visit.
“Trained as a plant breeder and cytogeneticist in India, the United Kingdom and the United States, he served as director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, principal secretary of agriculture to the government of India and director general of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. He is acclaimed as the Father of the Green Revolution in Asia,” Nair said.
Swaminathan has held numerous international honorary positions, including president of the International Federation of Agricultural Research Systems for Development, independent chairman of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Council, chairman of the board of trustees of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and vice president of the World Wildlife Fund International.
Nair said Swaminathan is widely recognized for his accomplishments and services. He has received honorary degrees from 39 universities, and he is a fellow of 17 scientific academies around the world. The president of India has decorated him with the equivalent of high, higher and highest civilian honors.
International awards and recognition include: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971, Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, the first World Food Prize (also known as The Nobel Prize in Agriculture) in 1987, Sasakawa Environmental Prize in 1994, the Global Environmental Leadership Award in 1995, The Volvo Environment Prize in 1999, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award in 2000, and the Plant and Humanity Medal of the International Geographical Union in 2000.
The award he received from the World Wildnerness Trust in 1999 describes him as “a legend in his lifetime.”
The York Distinguished Lecturer Series was established in 1984 by an endowment from E.T. York and his wife, Vam. York is chancellor emeritus of the State University System of Florida.
Each year, at least one recognized leader is nominated and invited to the UF. Swaminathan was nominated by faculty in UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the departments of agronomy and soil and water science. The lecturers are individuals who have achieved outstanding international distinction in agriculture or a related discipline.