AMES, Iowa – Dr. David Baltensperger, head of the soil and crop sciences department at Texas A&M University, was recently elected as the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, or CAST, president-elect for 2019-2020.
CAST is composed of scientific societies and many individual, student, company, nonprofit and associate society members. The organization’s board of directors is comprised of representatives of scientific societies, commercial companies and nonprofit or trade organizations.
“Dr. Baltensperger is an outstanding ambassador for agricultural science, Texas A&M AgriLife and the state of Texas,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Our scientific experts and their efforts will be well-served by his passionate leadership.”
Baltensperger became department head in 2006 and served as interim head of the ecosystem science and management department for a period, during which he had administrative responsibilities over about 100 faculty on campus and statewide within AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Baltensperger said he has been a member of CAST for most of his career, believing strongly in their mission to build a network of experts that can assemble, interpret and communicate credible, balanced, science-based information to policymakers and the public.
As a past president of the Crops Science Society of America, Baltensperger said he wanted to work with CAST to bring science-based information to legislators in Washington, D.C. and other decision makers.
“It’s about getting agricultural science and technology utilized and to discuss the hindrances to that implementation that arise at the bureaucratic level, whether that is on a federal or state level,” he said.
“I’m an active believer in good science being the backbone of decision-making, and that is the goal of CAST. I hope to provide the leadership to meet that goal.”
Baltensperger said some of the big issues being dealt with in agriculture now surround the rapid increase in new technology.
“Agriculture is big, and sometimes being able to rapidly deploy the new science and technology is difficult. My goal is to change that for the betterment of society.”
At the conclusion of CAST’s fall board meeting in October, Baltensperger will officially assume his responsibilities as president-elect. In 2020-2021, he will become the 48th president of CAST, a singular honor and responsibility dating back to 1972, when Dr. Charles Black, Dr. Norman Borlaug and other committed scientists spearheaded a movement to “bring science-based information to policy making and the public.”
“Building on the Borlaug legacy continues to be a driver for our department and me personally,” Baltensperger said.
His significant background in CAST activities helps guide his vision of the future for the organization.
“I am committed to a strong focus on the science behind our work and want to continue the active engagement of our work groups. We need to continue to focus on the opportunity to leverage our activities with funding through multiple partnerships to continue the mission of CAST.”
In 2018, Baltensperger was named by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to serve on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board, where he is tasked with contributing to effective federal agricultural research, education and economic programs through broad stakeholder feedback and sound science.
He has also been active in several other scientific societies and agricultural advisory boards including the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, Council of Scientific Society Presidents, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Texas State Seed and Plant Board, and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics.
He has served on more than a dozen committees within both the Crop Science Society and Agronomy Society, as well as served as president-elect, president and past president in both. He currently serves as president for the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.
Baltensperger has received numerous awards and recognition, including the prestigious Fellow recognition in the Crop Science Society, the American Society of Agronomy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In addition, he has been honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for administration and the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Plant Protection Association.
Baltensperger earned a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University, a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, and his doctorate at New Mexico State University. He worked for the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska as a plant breeder until assuming his current role with Texas A&M.