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K-State Today

December 8, 2020

Vara Prasad awarded International Agronomy Award from American Society of Agronomy

Submitted by Layne Wilson

Following years of dedication to the agriculture community and numerous contributions to research and development, university distinguished professor and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification at Kansas State University, P.V. Vara Prasad, received the International Agronomy Award from the American Society of Agronomy.

The award is given to only one agronomist each year who has made contributions in research, teaching, extension or administration outside of the United States. Prasad is passionate about each of these areas and is additionally interested in building human and institutional capacity.

Prasad's research involves studying the responses of crops to climate change factors and producing strategies that can improve and protect yields. Overseas, in Africa and Asia, Prasad is involved in programs focused on improving livelihoods and providing food and nutritional security to smallholder farmers. His work with the Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Identification involves providing leadership to the team and overseeing the research, capacity building, knowledge sharing and communication activities that go on within the lab.

"Since the beginning of his work, Dr. Prasad has elevated the importance of understanding crop plant responses and adaption to changing environmental conditions," said Chuck Rice, university distinguished professor of soil microbiology at K-State. "The effort in his research helps us all better understand the importance of international sustainable agriculture to combat some of the most pressing challenges of our time, including food and nutritional security.

"Through the dedication of his research, Dr. Prasad has made a positive impact on many lives and his contributions have gained him the respect of peers and colleagues across the globe," Rice said. "Dr. Prasad is an outstanding example of dedication and service to the disciplines of agronomy, both nationally and internationally."

In addition to his work at Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Identification, Prasad is an elected fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Recently, Prasad was elected to serve as the president of the Crop Science Society of America and to serve on the International Commission on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification.

"Dr. Prasad has provided outstanding support and service to several new initiatives in research, education, outreach, and institutional building in Cambodia, particularly to the Royal University of Agriculture," said Professor Bunthan Ngo, rector, or president, of the university. "The RUA has undergone scholarly transformation since Dr. Prasad and his team started to engage with our faculty and students and helped the establishment of Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition. I do not doubt that this a significant and positive milestone in the history of our university."

"I have interacted with several scholars and leaders around the world," said Hamidou Traore, director of the Institute for Agriculture and Environmental Research. "I see Professor Vara Prasad as one of the most sincere and dedicated scientist and leader who is fully committed to help scientists, students and smallholder farmers and build capacity at local institutes and universities. I appreciate his leadership and what he has done in Burkina Faso and across other countries in West Africa and Asia."

In addition to his significant contributions to international agronomy through teaching and research, Prasad has also published 260 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His research has been cited more than 13,200 times and he has trained over 150 students and scholars. Prasad has given more than 100 invited talks in 40 countries. In total, he's received over $120 million in grant funding and donations.

"Dr. Prasad was given the opportunity to go to college through scholarships from foundation and institutions, and has devoted his career to helping global agriculture, family farms and training next generation of scholars around the world," Rice said.