Fresno State professor elected chair of ICSC

For students that make their way to campus driving down Chestnut, Fresno State’s farm may seem to be nothing more than just that.

With the confusing odor of cow manure mixed with the sweet smell of the newly budding blossoms, it may seem that not much else but animal and plant upkeep happens down on the farm.

But Dr. Ganesan Srinivasan, director of the University Agricultural Laboratory, sees Fresno State’s farm as a hidden gem, used for much more than growing crops and livestock.

Srinivasan has directed the 1,000-acre university farm since 2005, utilizing his time and world experience in crop science, making Fresno State’s working farm a breeding place for international research.

Most recently, Srinivasan has been elected as the chair for the International Crop Science Committee (ICSC), a committee dedicated to the research and education of crop science for countries around the world.

“One of the main duties and purposes is to look at the international crops issues facing crop scientists internationally,” Srinivasan said.

“We will also look at issues faced by sustainable cropping systems and suggest some solutions.”

International board takes on sustainable farming

Srinivasan said that the biggest problem scientists and farmers face today is how to feed the ever-growing population while still maintaining the environment.

“Sustainable cropping systems just means figuring out how we can feed the world while retaining our natural resources,” he said.

“How do we take care of this planet — the quality of air, water and soil — but still produce food to feed the multitudes of people?”

This year the 12-member committee consists of 10 members from across the U.S. and two international members from Costa Rica and Italy.

Srinivasan was appointed by Kenneth Quesenberry, president of Crop Science Society of America (CSSA).

“The appointment is based on experience in international agriculture, service to crop science society and a willingness to spend the time necessary to serve,” Srinivasan said.

“I am honored to have been elected.”

A global education

Srinivasan was also accepted as a 2008 Fellow of the Crop Science Society of Amerca last October.
Using his more than 20 years of experience in the field and his current residency in the Central Valley, Srinivasan plans to use his knowledge to immerse his fellow committee members in the potential future of crop science.

“Because of my exposure and experience working with different countries around the world and now currently working in the Valley, it makes it very unique for me to be able to lead this,” Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan grew up in India where he later graduated from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, leaving with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture.

He then received his doctorate in plant breeding from the University of Hawaii.

As if these credentials weren’t enough, Srinivasan also attended Purdue University and earned an executive M.B.A.

Prior to coming to Fresno State, Srinivasan spent time in the field at the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement in El Batan, Mexico.

Since moving to Fresno, Srinivasan said that he as learned the importance of the research he does here and how it can have an impact worldwide.

One saying that Srinivasan lives by is ‘think globally, but act locally.’

“What we produce here gets exported, so we can’t just be looking at what is required in the local market, but rather look at global issues,” Srinivasan said.

“We have to think globally, but act locally — meaning we have to produce the crop based on the local conditions, but still look at the implications worldwide.”

Srinivasan: Work is its own reward

Because the committee members come from all over the world, Srinivasan said that the team, as a whole, will only meet one time and until then conduct meetings over the phone, through e-mail and with video conferences.

“We will have our one-time meeting this year in October, in Pennsylvania,” Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan said that one of the main purposes of the one-time meeting, besides discussing crop solutions, will be to create more membership for the committee and to decide who will receive the crop scientist of the year award.

“I will be helping the committee members strain nominations, score them and then select the recipient of the award.”

The award goes to scientists who have made an outstanding contribution in any area of crop science.

While the committee and end-of-the-year conference will consist of professional scientists only, Srinivasan said that the future of this area of study impacts students of all fields.

“Not only does this help to encourage international students to become members and participate, but also helps them, and the students we have here, promote sustainable cropping systems.”

“In fact, we have many of the sustainable cropping systems right here on campus, impacting students university-wide.”

While Srinivasan is excited about receiving the award, he said he is more enthusiastic about getting to work with some of the best scientists in the business.

“The thing that really excites me is being able to interact with experts around the world who are part of the committee,” Srinivasan said.

“I’m excited to pick their brains and try to do the best we can in solving the global food crisis issue.”

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