Kerry Clark, assistant research professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) and project manager for smallholder productivity for the USAID Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL), has been named director of CAFNR International Programs, effective Aug. 1, 2019.
Clark has worked internationally throughout her career. Through the USAID Soybean Innovation Lab, she works with a multidisciplinary team to bridge seed quality and sociological research for development in Ghana and Mozambique. She worked for 15 years with Costa Rica Seeds advancing University of Missouri soybean lines in a winter nursery in Upala, Costa Rica. Since 2016, Clark has been developing and implementing programs focused on local manufacturing of agricultural equipment across Africa, with operational projects in Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana and Burundi. This fall, she will facilitate implementations in Ethiopia and Rwanda; their work has also been adopted by projects in South Africa, Cambodia and the Dominican Republic. As part of this work, Clark helped develop a multi-crop thresher with their partner organization in Ghana that recently took second place in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers annual Innovation Showcase in Kenya.
“Dr. Clark’s enthusiasm for helping farmers improve techniques across the globe, along with her experience in working on large interdisciplinary international projects, makes her a great fit for this important position,” said Christopher Daubert, Vice Chancellor and Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “Championing global citizenship and engagement is one of the priority areas in our recently launched CAFNR strategic plan.”
To elevate international work in CAFNR, Clark said she will help faculty identify research and education capacity and develop partnerships that contribute to international research, education and development.
“CAFNR researchers and educators have enormous capacity to positively impact global agricultural productivity, which with soaring human population combined with climate uncertainty, is incredibly important,” Clark said. “When a nation cannot feed itself, unrest occurs that affects the security and future of all countries. Developing international research collaborations will help us identify and address some of the most important topics facing agriculture and the future of the earth. It is also very satisfying on a personal level to see your science being used to help someone have a better life.”
Clark has served on the Missouri Soil Health Consortium and the Missouri Smallflows Organization Board of Directors, was the founder and chairman of the American Society of Agronomy Tropical Legumes Community, and has served as founder and co-director of the U.S. Soybean Breeder Technician Annual Meeting. She has received grants from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, among other sources.
Clark has spent her career at the University of Missouri with the exception of her time in the Peace Corps in Mali. She received all three of her degrees from CAFNR – a BS in agricultural journalism, MS in agronomy and PhD in soil science. After receiving her master’s degree, she served as a soybean breeding research associate in plant sciences. In 2012, she joined DASS as a research associate working in sustainable and organic cropping systems; Clark is the co-founder of the organic research program at Mizzou. She was promoted to assistant research professor in rural sociology in 2018.
Clark’s ties to the university even extend to the next generation. Her daughter, Caitlin Steward, just graduated from Mizzou with a master’s in elementary education, and her son, Christopher Steward, is currently a master’s student in atmospheric science and a U.S. Air Force veteran.