Smith to lead MSU AgBioResearch as new director

George W. Smith has been named the director of MSU AgBioResearch and senior associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, effective immediately.

George Smith headshot 2019
George Smith, director of MSU AgBioResearch

EAST LANSING, Mich.George W. Smith has been named the director of MSU AgBioResearch (ABR) and senior associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), effective immediately.

As director of MSU AgBioResearch, Smith will have numerous responsibilities including strategic direction and administrative oversight of ABR operations, budget and personnel.

“In all sincerity, I believe this is one of the best director positions in the country,” said Smith. “I look forward to continuing to grow our research portfolio and expand public knowledge of our research endeavors promoting healthy and resilient agriculture and food systems, natural resources and communities.”

He replaces Doug Buhler, who will be moving to a full-time role with the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

“I am delighted that George has been selected as the next Director. It’s been a privilege to work with George over the past several years and he is well-prepared to lead AgBioResearch into the future,” said Buhler.

Smith has served as associate director of MSU AgBioResearch since January 2015, and as the associate dean of research for CANR since January 2016.

CANR Interim Dean Kelly Millenbah said she is extremely pleased with the appointment of Smith to lead MSU AgBioResearch.

“Dr. Smith is a highly regarded animal scientist, professor and administrator, and has worked diligently to develop strong partnerships with researchers and administration that enhance our research portfolio, not only in our College, but across the University,” said Millenbah. “I look forward to his leadership as the new director of MSU AgBioResearch.”

Among many accomplishments at MSU, Smith has been instrumental in development of the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA) in partnership with animal agriculture and allied industries and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  M-AAA provides funding for applied research and Extension projects directly tied to immediate priorities of animal agriculture in Michigan. Smith’s leadership has resulted in the procurement of $11.3 million in state funding support for the program (in collaboration with industry partners) since 2017.

Most recently, Smith has been working to pursue new infrastructure capacities to meet the needs of the Michigan dairy industry, as well as MSU’s plant sciences endeavors. He has also been heavily involved in other federal and state legislative efforts.

“I was a farm kid who raised livestock in Idaho. Being a veterinarian was my first career choice, but then I was bit by the research bug and haven’t looked back since,” said Smith.  “I know there are a few other institutions who like to claim they’re the first land grant, but I consider MSU the premiere land grant and the AgBioResearch director position a tremendous opportunity.”

Smith holds a bachelor of animal science degree from the University of Idaho, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physiology of reproduction both from the University of Missouri. He came to MSU in research and teaching capacities in 1997. His area of research expertise is in reproductive physiology with an emphasis on ovarian function and early embryonic development in cattle.

During his academic career, he also helped establish the MSU Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program and served as its Director and Co-Director before transitioning to research administration.

Partnerships with stakeholders in agriculture and natural resources within Michigan, including commodity groups and state agencies will continue to be one of Smith’s highest priorities. He said being “strategic, creative, efficient and resilient” are all top of mind.

“I’m not a change for sake-of-change person,” he said. “I look forward to continuing the impactful work we’ve accomplished. The partnerships and our great many partners in agriculture, natural resources and communities are key to that success and our ability to grow our research portfolio and increase impact of the work of our scientists.”

Addressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is also one of Smith’s priorities. He said “DEI is a responsibility, not an opportunity.”

“It’s important that our research enterprise reflects society as a whole,” he added. “We can all benefit from that.”

MSU AgBioResearch is a preeminent research enterprise with a university-wide research mission supporting 350 scientists from eight MSU colleges. It is also responsible for overseeing and facilitating research at 14 outlying centers throughout Michigan, as well as numerous on-campus facilities and sites.

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