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Recipe for success: Anderson earns award from alma mater

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The Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Senior Director of Research, Ed Anderson was recently awarded a top honor for alumni from the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. (Submitted photo)

Lauren Houska, communications specialist

Take one part industry and one part academia, mix it with a thirst for knowledge, a background in farming and a passion for biotechnology and engineering, and therein lies part of the perfect recipe for the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Senior Director of Research, Ed Anderson.

Those ingredients plus Anderson’s outstanding leadership skills and dedication to solving real-world agronomic problems were showcased last month when he received the Column Award for Distinguished Alumni from the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Division of Plant Sciences. 

“Ed has excelled in a career that has been divided between academia and industry,” said Jim Schoelz, professor of plant sciences at Mizzou, who nominated Anderson for the award.

“He is known for his honesty and his commitment to solving real-world problems faced by agricultural producers,” Schoelz said.

The Column Award is the only award specifically for alumni presented by CAFNR. The awardees include one graduate from each of CAFNR’s six divisions, reflecting the six historic columns at the University of Missouri.

“This is the highest honor from CAFNR for alumni,” said Vice Chancellor and Dean Christopher R. Daubert. 

“I’ve been lucky in my career to work with people and organizations that are appreciative and supportive of research,” Anderson said. “Our farmers fund a lot of really cool, innovative research through the checkoff and many of those funds are matched by grants or private sector support.”

Anderson has been helping shape research priorities for soybean producers in Iowa with ISA and the Midwest as the Executive Director of the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) since 2013. However, he spent prior years as a research leader, cultivating relationships and communicating science through work in both academia and industry.

Alumni recipients were recognized Saturday, Sept. 22, at an event at Reynolds Alumni Center on the Mizzou campus including ISA’s Director of Research Ed Anderson. (Submitted photo)

He was a member of the research team that developed and field tested the first transgenic virus-resistant crop plants, a joint research effort between Monsanto and Washington University in St. Louis. 

Anderson received his Ph.D. in Molecular Plant Virology–Plant Pathology from Mizzou in 1991. There he made key discoveries toward understanding virus genes as well as how genetics and the environment influence virus infection. 

A well-rounded researcher, Anderson has tackled agronomic issues in more than just row crops, conducting research on citrus and vegetable crops. Those experiences help him look at problems from unique angles. 

Transitioning from academia to industry, Anderson joined Pioneer Hi-Bred Intl. in 1997 (now Corteva Agriscience). He was responsible initially for leading a diverse team that developed automation for laboratory and greenhouse processes as well as engineering and informatics projects. He eventually became a senior strategy manager for disease and output traits on the Enterprise Trait Strategy Team.

Now in his role at ISA, Anderson explained that he enjoys a whole host of aspects, from working directly with farmers, to being part of an excellent team of researchers, to interfacing with outstanding university and company scientists. 

“I grew up on a farm and I have spent time between academia and private sector research — ISA is really all of that, plus more, rolled into one,” he said. “We’ve got a great team here that is constantly thinking through new ways to do things and how to bring innovation and benefit to farmers and the soybean industry.” 

A passion for biotechnology, a tremendous thirst for knowledge and a team-centric attitude has lead Anderson and the ISA research team to excel in three ways:

  • Fundamental research — expanding knowledge of agronomic and environmental sciences, tools and technology to spur new ideas.
  • Applied research — working with farmers to find and implement immediate and long-term cropping systems and conservation solutions.
  • Analytics — harnessing the power of data and technology to capture, interpret and publish meaningful results and communicate ISA’s work.

“My goal is to help this team continue to reinvent ourselves,” Ed concluded, “to be cutting edge and always be trusted leaders in the industry.”


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For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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