News Release Distributed 05/07/14BATON ROUGE, La. – David Picha, professor of horticulture in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, has been named director of LSU AgCenter International Programs. In his new role, Picha plans to broaden the footprint of the AgCenter's international activities by expanding program efforts and engaging more faculty, staff and students.
Ensuring the AgCenter is connected to issues affecting agriculture globally not only offers opportunities to improve the quality of life in developing countries using scientific knowledge, but it also helps strengthen the domestic agriculture industry.
"Our vision is to expand the role and scope of international agriculture development activities, while at the same time benefiting Louisiana agriculture," Picha said. "Involvement in International Programs activities strengthens the AgCenter's research and extension by establishing relationships with new sources of agriculture expertise, allowing us to draw on the knowledge of scientists in other countries and improve accessibility to grant funding through international development projects."
Picha said he will prioritize activities that help faculty recruit international graduate students and visiting international scholars and obtain funding for assistantships. Nurturing relationships and strengthening linkages between the AgCenter and international research institutions, universities and ministries of agriculture will be of mutual benefit, he said.
Domestically, Picha wants to build relationships with international programs offices at other universities, which will help the AgCenter obtain grants and contracts that require multi-institutional involvement. Expanding the portfolio of international activities and obtaining more graduate student and visiting scholar support for faculty on campus and at research stations statewide is another priority.
Picha, who has been with the AgCenter for more than 30 years, is no stranger to International Programs. As a horticulture professor, he participated in numerous short-term assignments that focused on crop production, postharvest care and market development work on fruit and vegetable crops in more than 90 countries.
The International Programs office offers valuable personal and professional learning experiences, Picha said, which are essential to the AgCenter's mission to make innovative knowledge useful to people.
"It increases our professional human resource capacity — our knowledge and experience that are very relevant to what we do in Louisiana," he said. "We become aware of technologies that are used in other countries that are applicable to our situation here. We also establish networks with scientists and extension professionals that lead to opportunities for further grants and access to international grad students. It expands our ability to be better researchers, extension specialists and teachers."Olivia McClure is a student worker in Communications
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