Faculty and a graduate student in Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) have recently been elected to leadership positions throughout the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). The AAEA is the leading professional organization in the field and home to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE). AFRE has a long history of leadership and service in the AAEA, with many faculty having served on committees and as editors of the AJAE; AFRE Professor Scott Swinton recently served as President of the AAEA and AFRE associate Professor Songqing Jin is currently an associate editor of the AJAE.
Titus Awokuse, Professor and Chair of AFRE, was elected to a three-year term as a member of the AAEA Board of Directors. As a member of the board, Awokuse will help the association to explore new ways to strengthen the services provided to the AAEA membership while enhancing the quality of communication and level of engagement with our external stakeholders in the public and private sectors.
For Awokuse, “It is a great honor to be elected by my peers and a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to serve the profession. As a board member, I hope to achieve two key objectives during my tenure: 1) Promote effective mentoring initiatives and develop inclusive leadership opportunities for early career professionals in the AAEA; 2) Develop mechanism for more effective communication and collaboration between AAEA Board (and its extensions – journal editors) and department chair/heads on how to better encourage and incentivize targeted nomination and mentoring of colleagues in their departments for leadership roles in the profession.”
Associate Professor Nicole Mason-Wardell was elected Chair of the AAEA International Section. Mason-Wardell is a member of the Department’s Food Security Group and a principal investigator on the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research, Capacity, and Influence. Mason-Wardell says, “I’m extremely honored to have been elected to serve as the next Chair of the International Section of the AAEA. I’ve always enjoyed the AAEA annual meeting sessions and events organized by the International Section and look forward to playing a role in setting those up in the future.” As chairperson, Mason-Wardell hopes to continue the section’s support of international development oriented graduate students entering the job market and to continue to grow the section’s membership.
Assistant Professor Melissa McKendree was elected the Extension-Director of the Northcentral Region of the AAEA Extension Section. McKendree has appointments in research, extension and teaching and specializes in production and livestock economics. McKendree says, “It is an interesting and exciting time to join the Extension Section leadership team. The extension leg of the 3-pronged land grant mission is now more important than ever. Through this role, I hope to facilitate relationships with graduate students and the Extension section to show students how Extension could play a key role in a fulfilling career in agricultural economics.”
In addition to the new leadership positions awarded to AFRE faculty, for the first-time ever, an AFRE graduate student has been voted in as the chair-elect of the graduate student association. Aaron Staples will chair the graduate student section once the acting president’s tenure concludes. Staples is a second-year graduate student researching the economic impacts of the craft beverage industry. Staples says he ran for the chair position because he’s, “eager to serve as an active voice for graduate students across the globe, running on a platform that emphasizes extension, outreach, and information dissemination.” Through his position, Staples hopes to help fellow graduate students better translate their economic insight to public audiences.
For Awokuse, “the recent election results underscore the diversity of our Department’s strengths, including professional leadership, international research, extension and outreach, and a world class graduate program and student body. To be chosen for these roles by our colleagues, most of whom are from other institutions, speaks to the high regard that AFRE is held in by the profession.”