Feeding the Future

Multidisciplinary effort tackles global food insecurity

The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI) will support multidisciplinary expertise at the cutting-edge of agricultural development focused on tackling the global challenges of climate change, poverty and food security. The lab features experts in plant breeding, machine learning, quantitative genetics, gender inclusion and other disciplines.

Stephen Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics in Clemson’s plant and environmental sciences department, has been named director of the laboratory, and Dil Thavarajah, Clemson associate professor of pulse crop quality and nutrition, will co-lead the lab’s trait analysis team.

The ILCI is a collaboration between Kansas State University, Cornell University and Clemson and will be based in Cornell’s International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The project will support and empower national breeding programs in East and West Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and serve as a model for introducing advanced agricultural technologies at scale to countries around the world. The project is funded by a five-year, $25 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, as part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative.

“We are in a critical point in history where booming population growth, climate change and other environmental factors are exposing threats of global food insecurity at an unprecedented scale,” Kresovich said. “Improved varieties of key food crops are one of the surest avenues to reducing risks from economic, environmental and climatic shocks for millions of people in vulnerable and resource-poor populations.”

Trudy Mackay Leads New Center for Human Genetics

Groundbreaking geneticist Trudy Mackay joined Clemson in 2018 as director of the University’s Center for Human Genetics and is building a team of researchers working to significantly advance our understanding of genetic disorders.

Mackay, whose numerous accolades include being a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, received the prestigious 2018 Dawson Prize in Genetics at Trinity College in November.

“This opportunity fits well with my own research and provides a unique opportunity to collaborate with fellow geneticists who are studying important diseases that affect human behavior and communication,” said Mackay, who also holds the Self Family Endowed Chair in Human Genetics in Clemson’s Department of Genetics and Biochemistry.

The Center for Human Genetics is housed in Self Regional Hall, a facility nestled within the sprawling campus of the Greenwood Genetic Center, which has a long history of clinical and research excellence in the field of medical genetics and of caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects.

Mackay is joined at Clemson by her husband, Robert Anholt, who has been named a Provost’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry. Anholt will also have a leadership role in the College of Science as the director of Faculty Excellence Initiatives.



Mark Johnson, former director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, became the founding director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Thomas F. Hash ’69 SmartState Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development.

Former Georgia Tech professor and National Science Foundation program director Chris Paredis joined Clemson as the new BMW Endowed Chair in Systems Integration for Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

Accomplished scholar and cybersecurity expert Sally A. McKee joined Clemson as the
C. Tycho Howle Chair in Collaborative Computing Environments.

Leslie Hossfeld, professor and head of the sociology department at Mississippi State University, joined Clemson as dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.

Keith L. Belli, former head of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, became dean of Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

Wendy York, former associate dean at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, became dean of Clemson University’s College of Business.

Christopher Cox, who has led university libraries in Iowa, Wisconsin and Washington, became dean of libraries.