MSU AgBioResearch announces two new leaders to assist with oversight of research portfolio

Dana M. Infante and James J. Kells have been appointed to new leadership roles in MSU AgBioResearch.

Dana M. Infante and James J. Kells
Dana M. Infante and James J. Kells

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University AgBioResearch is pleased to announce the new leadership appointments of Dana M. Infante and James J. Kells.

Infante will serve as Associate Director of MSU AgBioResearch and Kells as Assistant Director of the organization. Both position appointments are effective Feb. 1.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to have these two outstanding individuals assist me in leading the direction of MSU AgBioResearch,” said George Smith, director of MSU AgBioResearch since early December. “Dana’s expertise in natural resources and environmental sciences, and Jim’s in plant and soil sciences bring a well-rounded approach to the oversight and management of our critical research portfolio.”

In her new role, Infante is charged with contributing to the development and implementation of the research vision for MSU AgBioResearch, and serves as the primary liaison to stakeholders and state natural resources agencies and initiatives (e.g. Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Michigan Department of Natural Resources). She will also oversee MSU AgBioResearch’s Office of Research Support, contribute to research evaluation and data analytics efforts, and assist with facilities and space management related administrative responsibilities.

Working closely with the director, Infante will also contribute to federal and state advocacy efforts, communications and marketing, and budget and personnel decisions.

A professor in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Infante has served as assistant director of MSU AgBioResearch since 2019. She is the current interim director of the Institute of Water Research within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her primary areas of expertise are in river and stream ecosystems, fish habitats and climate. She is also a lead researcher representing MSU in support of the newly-established Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center intended to promote research and adaptation strategies to conserve land, water, and natural resources in the region.

In his new role, Kells will oversee the plant science programs within MSU AgBioResearch. While he will maintain many of his current responsibilities, including serving as coordinator of Project GREEEN, he will assume additional duties including overseeing the critical inputs of the plant sciences programmatic and operational issues. He will also serve as a liaison to the state’s plant based commodity organizations in collaboration with the director, and will help support the network of 14 MSU research and extension centers throughout Michigan, as well as numerous on-campus facilities.

Kells will serve in this role until his retirement July 1, and then assume a post-retirement position until a new MSU AgBioResearch Assistant Director is appointed. A search will be conducted this fall with an anticipated start date of early 2023.

A professor in the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Kells served as department chair from 2005 to 2019.  He is a Fellow of the North Central Weed Science Society and the Weed Science Society of America.

Both Infante and Kells say they look forward to working in their new capacities within MSU AgBioResearch, which includes the work of 290 scientists at Michigan State University. They join Smith, an animal scientist who has been instrumental in the development of the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture and most recently working to pursue new infrastructure capacities to meet the needs of MSU’s plant science endeavors and the Michigan dairy industry.

“Together, Dana, Jim and I will continue to drive research that contributes to the economic prosperity of Michigan, the importance of our global food system and meeting industry needs in strategic, creative, efficient and resilient ways,” Smith said.


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