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Jefferson fellow Peter Davies to spend year in D.C.

Peter Davies, professor of plant physiology in the plant biology and horticulture departments, will serve as an adviser to the U.S. government on agricultural and food policy issues during the 2011-12 academic year as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State.

Davies is one of 13 Jefferson fellows selected from universities all over the United States to spend a year as a science adviser with the State Department or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Fellows may be asked to advise in any area of science (even if it is outside of their area of expertise) and help develop science policy, followed by another five-year commitment as a consultant to the State Department.

The exact bureau location and projects of involvement are not determined until the fellow arrives in Washington and examines areas where his/her involvement would be mutually beneficial. Most likely, Davies will be involved in agriculture at the State Department Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs: Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Textile Trade Affairs or the USAID Bureau of Economic Growth and Trade: Office of Environment and Science Policy - International Research and Biotechnology Team.

He will likely provide advice on formulating and implementing agricultural and global food security goals, while also promoting an understanding abroad of the benefits of agricultural biotechnology. He may also mediate between Cornell and the State Department or USAID.

Davies teaches plant physiology to agriculture and horticulture students, though he has also taught courses on plant growth and development, plant hormones and introductory biology to nonmajors. His area of expertise is plant growth and development, especially the role of hormones, and the regulation of the senescence (deterioration with age) of whole plants. He has published more than 100 papers in these areas, as well as written several books.

In its eighth year, the Jefferson Science Fellows program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between the scientific academic community, professional scientific societies and the Department of State.

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John Carberry