VERNON – Dr. Richard Vierling has been selected to lead the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center and Texas Foundation Seed, both headquartered at Vernon, according to Dr. Craig Nessler, AgriLife Research director in College Station.
Vierling will start Feb. 1, filling the vacancies left by the retirement of Dr. John Sweeten and the death of Steve Brown, longtime Texas Foundation Seed director.
“We feel very fortunate to have Dr. Vierling join our Texas A&M team, bringing with him a tremendous amount of experience and expertise,” Nessler said. “His knowledge of the grain industry and working with outside investors will serve us well moving forward.”
“I look forward to working with the faculty and staff at the AgriLife center and Foundation Seed as we look to the future,” Vierling said. “The agricultural industry is on the verge of disruptive changes in how we do research, business and interact with our stakeholders. These disruptive changes bring incredible opportunities for us all.”
Vierling has served as the National Corn Growers Association director of research and business development for the past six years. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Purdue University and director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Genetics program.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri and his doctorate from Texas Tech University.
While with National Corn Growers, Vierling was responsible for business development for farmers and agricultural companies, writing the vision and business plans for the research team along with coordinating national and state research programs and initiatives.
He led all aspects of research advocacy with federal agencies and technical staff for congressional lobbying, as well as managed national research programs including the grant process, yearly budget development and management of consultants.
Additionally, he formed the Cross Commodity Research Group to bring together research directors from corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean and wheat to align production research.
While at Purdue, he was tasked with turning around a struggling genetics testing program. This included writing two strategic plans and multiple business plans as well as negotiating technology acquisition agreements with Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA and the Indiana State Chemist’s Office.
Under his supervision, the Indiana Crop Improvement Genetics program was the first research laboratory to be ISO 9000:2001 certified, which primarily deals with quality management systems.
When working with NASA, he was selected team leader for three experiments performed on space shuttle missions. He built a team consisting of scientists from two NASA centers, industry and three universities.
The first plant transformation experiment was performed on STS-95, which was the launch on space shuttle Discovery in December 1998 with Sen. John Glenn, who performed the experiment. The second experiment was launched in April 2000 and the third was lost as a result of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Vierling also led the soybean research group that won the Dean’s Team Award for interdisciplinary research at Purdue University. His soybean pest resistance licensed technology won the 2000 FinOvation Award as the best new agricultural technology.
He, in collaboration with three other faculty members, developed the world’s first useable, broad-based, complete soybean cyst nematode, or SCN, resistant germplasm. The SCN-resistant material was highlighted in a 1999 Purdue Research Foundation report as one of the top 10 commercialized technologies from Purdue University.
Vierling also was key in licensing soybean peroxidase technology for diagnostics. The soybean peroxidase conjugate for medical diagnostics has been licensed to American Qualex and is now available to medical researchers and diagnostic kit manufacturers. He wrote the patent applications and continually works with licensees to aid their efforts to use the technology.
Additionally, he licensed a patented enzyme technology for the human clinical diagnostic testing industry.
Vierling is a member of and has served on the research board of the American Seed Research Foundation and with multiple committees of the American Seed Trade Association.