“With Leon Kochian’s research pre-eminence and leadership, supported by the Global Institute for Food Security, our $37.2-million Canada First Excellence Research Fund program in food security, and the world-class facilities and expertise in our renowned agri-food cluster, we are poised to provide transformative and sustainable research solutions to help feed a growing world.”
― Peter Stoicheff, President, University of Saskatchewan
Leon Kochian is an internationally recognized authority on plant mineral nutrition and crop adaptation to marginal soils. He joins the University of Saskatchewan from Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead the CERC program aimed at improving global food production.
In addition to holding a faculty appointment, Kochian will serve as associate executive director of the university’s Global Institute for Food Security, a partnership founded in 2012 by PotashCorp, the Saskatchewan government and the University of Saskatchewan.
He holds a PhD in plant physiology from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1997, he has been director of Cornell’s Robert Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, an internationally respected centre of excellence for crop genomics research.
His research has greatly increased understanding of the genes and associated functions enabling crop root systems to deal with poor soil, where crop production is limited by insufficient mineral nutrients or toxic metals. For the past 10 years, he has led an international team of crop researchers from developed and developing countries; together, they are using molecular breeding to produce cereal crop varieties with improved yields in the highly acidic soils that limit crop production in developing tropical countries.
Kochian has been elected to the Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame, recognized for his pioneering work using molecular biology, genetics and plant breeding to improve crop yields on marginal soils in developing countries. He is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Plant Biologists.
One of the world’s most highly cited scientific researchers, he has published more than 210 peer-reviewed articles in high-profile journals including Nature, Nature Genetics, PLOS Genetics, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as more than 40 reviews, book chapters and conference proceedings.
In 2015, the global news firm Thomson Reuters named Kochian to its 2015 list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, a citation analysis identifying scientists whose global impact within their respective fields of study has been most significant.