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K-State Today

May 31, 2022

Guertal named program director for SIIL Haiti initiative on agricultural development

Submitted by Layne Davis

Beth Guertal has been named program director for the Center of Excellence on Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience to Climate-Change in Haiti led by the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab. Guertal is responsible for managing the center's day-to-day operations, supporting the center's vision and goals and serving as a leader in the national education, research and outreach community.

Vara Prasad, university distinguished professor and director of the Sustainable Intensification and Innovation Lab, said Guertal joining the center is the first step toward creating this center of excellence to support institutions in Haiti.

"Beth's experience and knowledge in international agricultural research and education will be extremely valuable in establishing an effective center," Prasad said. "The Sustainable Intensification and Innovation Lab will benefit from having her be part of the team, as will our Haitian university partners from this new initiative. In addition, she will collaboratively work with faculty in Haiti to build master's degree programs and undergraduate training programs."

Guertal will support the development of the individual university plans, oversee the capacity development of the Haitian faculty and provide guidance of the scientific aspects of their applied research. She will also be working with the Haitian universities to help master's students with their research.

Additionally, Guertal will support, develop and implement the broader human and institutional capacity-building activities with the Haitian partners. She will foster agricultural education, training, research, extension, and link farmers with the private sector through improved collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing to address agricultural problems and food and nutritional security in Haiti.

"Throughout my entire career in soil and crop science, I have always wished to be more involved in international work," said Guertal. "This project provides me the opportunity to work with talented colleagues in the United States and Haiti."

Before joining the Sustainable Intensification and Innovation Lab team, Guertal was the Rowe endowed professor in the crop, soil and environmental sciences department at Auburn University. In 2022 she served a one-year assignment with USAID as a Jefferson Science Fellow, one of 15 such fellows selected by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She obtained her bachelor's in agriculture and master's in soil science from the Ohio State University and her doctorate in soil science from Oklahoma State University.

Guertal's research program focuses on soil fertility issues in turfgrass management. She consults and speaks worldwide on issues in soil fertility in highly managed systems. She has served as the editor-in-chief for the Agronomy Journal and as associate editor for Crop Science and the Soil Science Society of America Journal. In 2019, she served as the Crop Science Society of America president. She is a former Fulbright fellow and elected fellow of the Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.

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