Advisory Committee

Dr. Steve Pueppke (Co-Chair)
Director of Global and Strategic Initiatives, CANR;   Associate VP for Research and Graduate Studies, Michigan State University

Steven G. Pueppke is Associate Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University, where he has university-based responsibility for a portfolio of environmental research including renewable energy, water science and policy, climate change science, food and agricultural systems, and land use.  He was recently named coordinator for the MSU Global Water Initiative, a major hiring initiative in water science and policy.

He is past president of the Board of Directors of the National Council on Food and Agricultural Research, past chairperson of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, and has served on the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture and on the Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission. Elected Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society in 1998 and a member of numerous professional societies, he has coauthored more than 125 peer reviewed scientific articles.  Dr. Pueppke received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the Republic of France in 2008.

Sherri M. Brown, Ph.D. (Co-Chair)
Vice President, Science Strategy

As leader of Science Strategy, Dr. Sherri Brown brings together Monsanto’s many programs to help grow the pool of talented scientists, promote innovation and collaborations, and engage third party allies in efforts to bring the best science and technology to advance sustainable agriculture and a healthy and abundant food supply around the world.

Since joining Monsanto in 1988, Dr. Brown has held a variety of leadership roles at Monsanto including Vice President, Global Technology Development; V.P. Global Corn Technology;  V.P., Global Oilseeds Technology;  and V.P., Chemistry and Animal Agriculture.   As part of the first Monsanto corn biotechnology team, Sherri played a key role in the development and commercialization of Roundup Ready Corn and the YieldGard family of insect protected corn products.  She has also led discovery programs in her role as Director, Plant Growth and Development with a research focus in phytohormones, pollen biology, and seed development and germination. 

Dr. Brown obtained her B.S. in 1983 in Biology and Chemistry from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and her Ph.D. in 1988 in Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from Indiana University.  She has published numerous scientific papers and patents.   Dr. Brown has been the recipient of several technical awards, including the Edgar Queeny Award, Monsanto’s highest scientific honor.  Sherri serves on several boards advancing science in the community and is active on the St. Louis United Way Women’s Leadership Society Cabinet, Monsanto Women’s Network Advisory Board, and in Zonta International, an organization committed to advancing the status of women worldwide.

Mr. Len Corzine
Grower Member, Illinois Corn Marketing Board (District XI)

Len Corzine is a 5th generation farmer from Assumption Illinois.  Len began his work with the corn growers in 1992 and continues to serve both the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association in many capacities. Len is past President of the National Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Growers Association.  He also was Chairman of the Biotech Working Group for NCGA and helped set policies and protocols that allowed new technologies and investment in corn to continue while addressing customer and environmental safety concerns.  Len participated in the USGC International Biotechnology Information Conference for several years and the joint USGC/NCGA Officer EU biotech missions for 6 years.

While serving as NCGA President, Len helped shepherd the Renewable Fuels Standard and the Energy Bill through Congress in 2005. Len is a member of the Advisory Committee for Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) for USDA and a past member of the Agriculture Policy Advisory Council (APAC) for USDA/USTR. Len is an advisor to the Dudley Smith Initiative at the University of Illinois which explores food, feed, and fuel initiatives within rural communities and various agriculture systems. Len is a past member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Farms and Farm Families in the State of Illinois and is also a Director of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. 

The Abraham Lincoln National Agriculture Award was presented in August 2007 to Len for his work in biotechnology and renewable energy. Prairie Farmer presented Len with the Master Farmer Award in 2008. Len was on the leadership team for the American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology. Len is the Corn Sector Chair for Illinois Council on Food and Agriculture Research.

Dr. Michael Gray
Professor of Crop Sciences,  University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign Extension Coordinator & Asst. Dean for ANR Extension Programs, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

Mike is a native of southwestern, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1977 with a BA in biology and MS and PhD degrees in entomology from Iowa State University in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Following the completion of his PhD, he served as a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota. In March of 1988, he began his extension entomology career at the University of Illinois. His research and extension interests have revolved around the management of the western corn rootworm, especially its adaptation to crop rotation.   Mike is frequently invited to discuss integrated pest management (IPM) issues on national and regional levels related to corn and soybean insect management.  In 2008, Mike began serving as a program leader in the Energy and BioSciences (EBI) Institute at the University of Illinois. His EBI team is focused on discovering pests that may influence the biomass production of perennial grasses such as switchgrass and Miscanthus that may be used as feedstocks for biofuels in the future. In 2008, it was Mike’s honor to serve as President of the Entomological Society of America, the largest professional society of entomologists in the world. He currently serves as a Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences and as Assistant Dean for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Program, College of ACES, University of Illinois.

Dr. Richard Hellmich
Assistant Professor & USDA Research Entomologist, Iowa State University

Dr. Hellmich has been a Research Entomologist with the USDA–ARS, Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Laboratory in Ames, Iowa for nineteen years.  The mission of this lab is to develop sustainable ways to manage insect pests of corn.  His research focuses on European corn borer ecology and genetics, insect resistance management, and evaluation of non-target effects of genetically-engineered maize.  Previously, Dr. Hellmich studied Africanized honey bees in Venezuela and Guatemala while working for eight years at the USDA–ARS Honey Bee Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA.  Dr. Hellmich has had the opportunity to work in three high profile areas: Africanized bees, Bt corn and insect resistance management (IRM), and Bt corn and monarch butterflies.  Dr. Hellmich received his BA (1977) in Zoology from DePauw University, and MS (1980) and Ph.D. (1983) in Entomology from The Ohio State University.  Dr. Hellmich also is a Collaborator Professor with the Iowa State University Department of Entomology.  Dr. Hellmich was co-recipient of a 2002 USDA Secretary’s Honor Award for leading a consortium of scientists that investigated Bt corn and monarch butterflies.  He authored or co-authored five papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA related to this topic. Dr. Hellmich also was the Agricultural Research Service, Midwest Area, 2002 Scientist of the Year. 

Dr. B. Rogers Leonard
Associate Vice Chancellor for Plant and Soil Science Programs Louisiana State University Agricultural Center 

Dr. Leonard is a native of Louisiana and received his B.S. (Agronomy), M.S. (Entomology), and PhD. (Entomology) degrees from Louisiana State University. He joined the AgCenter as a research and extension scientist in 1989 with appointments at Research Centers across Northeast Louisiana and also in the Department of Entomology on the Baton Rouge Campus.  During his 26 year career, he has authored or co-authored over 980 scientific, technical and outreach articles, mentored 63 graduate students, and received more than $7.6 million in grants and contracts to support his research on field crops IPM and pesticide toxicology.  In 2006, he was named to the Jack Hamilton Regents Chair in Cotton Production.  During the fall of 2012, he was selected to serve as the Associate Director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station with a focus research project management.  In 2013, he became the Associate Vice Chancellor with oversight of statewide research and extension programs for plant and soil sciences. Dr. Leonard has been served the Entomological Society of America at both the regional and national levels and was elected to represent the Plant Insect-Ecosystems (P-IE) Section as President in 2012.  

Dr. Paul D. Mitchell
Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Extension State Specialist in Cropping Systems and Environmental Management

After growing up on a farm in northeastern Iowa, Paul earned his B.A. in History from Iowa State University, an M.A in Classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and PhD in Economics from Iowa State University.  He was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of Agricultural Economics before taking his current position in 2004.  He has been a faculty affiliate of the Agroecology program at the University of Wisconsin since its inception in 2005.  In 2011, he became co-Director of the Nutrient and Pest Management Program in extension.  At the University of Wisconsin, Paul conducts research, teaches in both the graduate and undergraduate program, plus conducts outreach as part of his extension program.  His research focuses on the economics of insect and weed management, including resistance management, as well as risk management, agricultural policy, specialty crop economics, and agricultural sustainability.  He teaches farm management in the undergraduate program and the economics of managing agricultural production systems in the graduate program.  His outreach program focuses on extending his research to the numerous stakeholders (input suppliers, farmers, crop consultants, grower organizations, government agencies, industry scientists, media, etc.).  In 2007 he was awarded the Professional Achievement Alumni Award by the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University.  In 2011, he was part of the European Corn Borer IPM Team that received the Integrated Pest Management Team Award from the Entomology Society of America. 

Wil Miller
Grower Member and Southern Corn, Soybean and Cotton Grower

Dr. Steve Naranjo
Director of the USDA-ARS, Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona

Dr. Steven Naranjo is the Director of the USDA-ARS, Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona. Dr. Naranjo is internationally recognized for his research in insect sampling and decision aids, integrated pest management, conservation biological control, insect population ecology, and environmental risk assessment of transgenic crops. He was a key architect in the development and implementation of a highly successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for sweetpotato whitefly in Arizona cotton that has been widely adopted in other parts of the world. He conducted one of the first long-term field studies to document the non-target effects of transgenic Bt cotton with specific emphasis on natural enemy abundance and function. He also led and collaborated on several large meta-analyses to evaluate and quantify non-target effects of Bt crops worldwide. Dr. Naranjo received a Ph.D. (1987) in Entomology from Cornell University, an M.S. (1983) in Entomology from the University of Florida, and a B.S. (1978) in Zoology from Colorado State University. He has authored over 200 scientific papers, books and book chapters, technical reports and extension bulletins. Dr. Naranjo served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the international journal, Crop Protection, from 1995-2006 and currently serves as Subject Editor for Environmental Entomology, covering the topic area of Transgenic Plants and Insects. Dr. Naranjo holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona. 

Dr. Pat Porter
Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Professor, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

Patrick Porter is an Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Professor, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University. His extension work includes statewide responsibility for corn entomology and work in corn, sorghum, wheat, sunflower and other crops. His current research focuses on resistance management in transgenic corn with emphasis on Lepidoptera, and other research includes the effect of drought stress in corn on insects and mycotoxins. He received his Ph.D. (1993) and MS (1985) from Mississippi State University. He has a BS (1982) in agronomy from Colorado State University.


Dr. Blair Siegfried
Charles Bessey Professor of Entomology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Dr. Siegfried received his Ph.D. in Entomology from Pennsylvania State University in 1989. His research program is directed at quantifying the ecological risks of pesticide use and advancing our understanding of insecticide resistance evolution. Recent focus has been on transgenic maize hybrids that express insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), currently attempting to increase genomic resources of important insect pests that are targeted by transgenic Bt maize through transcriptome sequencing of midgut tissue which is the target site for Bt toxins. The goal is to develop the resources for identifying changes in gene expression associated with toxin exposure and with resistance evolution. He is also actively pursuing methods to achieve gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) in order to elucidate gene function, identify and validate novel target sites, and to examine the potential for RNAi to serve as a direct pest management tool. This work will provide a gateway for improved resistance detection, for quantifying the effect of resistance genes on reproductive fitness and ultimately, for improving our understanding of the insect midgut as a novel and safe insecticide target site.

While much of his research is focused on insecticide resistance evolution, he has also been involved in a number of projects to document effects of pesticide contamination on non-target organisms. Most recently, he has begun an active collaboration with the apiculture specialist at the University of Nebraska to investigate the role of in-hive pesticides used for controlling parasitic Varroa mites in explaining widespread losses of honey bee colonies across the U.S. and Canada.

Dr. Rick Vierling
Research and Business Development, National Corn Growers Association

Dr. Rick Vierling became the National Corn Growers Association’s director of research and new uses in December 2010. In this role, he serves as lead staff for the Research and Business Development Action Team, which is part of the Production & Utilization Department. Maize trait and new product development, corn processing technologies, functional genomics and federal research spending will be among Vierling’s areas of program responsibility.

Prior to joining NCGA, Vierling worked as director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association’s Genetics Program. ICIA is a non-governmental organization composed of agricultural and biotechnology firms interested in seed production and crop improvement.  In addition to providing services to the seed industry, Vierling served as an adjunct professor in Purdue University’s Department of Agronomy.

Among the many accomplishments Vierling has achieved as an administrator and scientist, his research literally reached new heights when he led a team of industry and university scientists that designed three soybean gene transfer experiments conducted on the space shuttle, the first by astronaut John Glenn during his return to space. Vierling also is the developer of several patented technologies for plant disease and pest resistance that have been licensed to industry.