As an associate professor at the University of Illinois, Sarah Lovell interacted with the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry (UMCA) often on a variety of projects. Lovell’s research focuses broadly on the analysis and design of multifunctional landscapes, with an emphasis on agroforestry and urban agriculture, so working with UMCA was a no-brainer.
Lovell is now joining the Center for Agroforestry as its new director. Lovell officially began her duties as the H.E. Garrett Endowed Chair Professor and director of the Center on Aug. 12.
“I’m thrilled to be moving into this exciting role,” Lovell said. “The Center for Agroforestry has an outstanding reputation throughout the nation – and on an international stage as well. I’ve been connected with the Center for Agroforestry for quite some time, and my interactions were always so positive. I’m excited to get to know the great faculty and staff involved with the Center.”
The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry was established in 1998 and serves as one of the world’s leading centers contributing to the science of agroforestry. Agroforestry practices help landowners to diversify products, markets and farm income; improve soil and water quality; sequester carbon, and reduce erosion, non-point source pollution and damage due to flooding; and mitigate climate change.
Lovell’s research ties right in to agroforestry practices.
“My research focuses on the broad concept of multifunctional landscapes,” Lovell said. “I think about rural agriculture landscapes as being more than just production oriented. I consider how we can bring in ecological and cultural functions, as well. All of that ties right into agroforestry, which requires a lot of intentional planning.”
Lovell grew up in Illinois and earned all three of her degrees from the University of Illinois. Her bachelor’s degree was in agricultural science and her master’s degree and Ph.D. were in agronomy. Lovell also earned her master’s in landscape architecture (MLA) from the University of Illinois. She served as an assistant professor at the University of Vermont for three years before joining the University of Illinois as an assistant professor. Lovell has been an associate professor at the University of Illinois for the past four years.
“I actually studied general biology for two years at (Truman State University), but I didn’t really know what I was going to do with that degree,” Lovell said. “I thought studying agriculture would better fit my interests, so I transferred to the University of Illinois. It was much more applied, more solution based. I definitely found a passion for that type of work.”
Lovell is interested in everything related to sustainability, including the economic and social aspects. She’s also done numerous projects related to urban agriculture.
“I’m more of a generalist,” Lovell said. “I really like seeing all of the pieces come together. Agroforestry is such an exciting science because it brings together multiple disciplines.”
Lovell will work closely with the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center (HARC) in New Franklin as well. She is hoping to continue her urban agriculture and sustainability work and learn more about Missouri agriculture.
“Missouri features a diverse landscape, so I’m excited to learn more about the state,” Lovell said. “HARC, in particular, is an extremely valuable asset. There are very few sites like it, so I’m excited to learn more about all the Center does.”
“We’re so happy to welcome Sarah to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources,” said Shibu Jose, interim associate dean for research. “Sarah brings a unique perspective to the Center for Agroforestry, and I know she will do a great job leading our team.”