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Julie Suarez has been named the inaugural director of translational research programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Suarez will remain CALS’ associate dean for land-grant affairs while she fulfills the five-year, renewable director position.

The new position is intended to increase access to state, federal and private-sector funding and to assist Cornell in providing purpose-driven science to fulfill the university’s Land-Grant mission and commitment to New York state, said Benjamin Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. Both of those needs were identified as focal areas for the college’s Roadmap to 2050 strategic plan. 

“Julie’s experience positions her perfectly for this critical new role, in which she will help maximize the real-world impact of our state-funded research programs and centers,” Houlton said. “Already adept at establishing partnerships and securing grants, Julie will provide strategic support and guidance, evaluate and advance synergies among programs in areas of mutual interest, and increase opportunities for new sources of external funding.”

Directors of 17 state-supported centers, institutes and programs will now report to Suarez, and this reorganization will allow for a higher level of coordination and support from the CALS leadership team, Houlton said.

“CALS’ real-world impact in New York state communities is tremendously inspiring to me,” said Suarez. “I’ve seen firsthand the progress that’s been made through CALS’ partnerships within many different areas of food, farming, equity, youth development and our natural environment.

“It is both a privilege and an incredible responsibility to work for CALS, New York state’s Land-Grant institution that has been deeply embedded in the fabric of our communities for over 150 years,” Suarez added. “CALS touches everywhere in New York state – urban, suburban and rural – and my goal in this new position is to work in even greater partnership with our program leads to maximize our collective effectiveness.”

As associate dean for land-grant affairs for the past decade, Suarez has worked to strengthen the ties between New York state communities and CALS faculty and extension professionals, ensuring that the science-based solutions developed at the college are extended beyond campus boundaries. She has also supported a host of college initiatives, including the establishment of the Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture and the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell AgriTech; the New York State Hemlock InitiativeNew York Soil Health; the Cornell Small Farms Program’s FarmOps veterans project and Equitable Farm Futures Initiative; and the expansion of two flagship outreach programs: Cornell PRO-DAIRY and the New York State Integrated Pest Management program.

Before coming to Cornell, Suarez spent 15 years with the New York Farm Bureau and four years with the New York Senate, directing the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

Suarez has a long history of service in the state. She serves on the governor’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy, and the Dairy Think Tank, in addition to her role representing the college on the Agriculture and Forestry Subcommittee of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioner’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. She also volunteers on the board of directors of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and is the policy co-chair of the Northeast Carbon Alliance, among many other public and private service roles.

“While we face considerable challenges in the years ahead, CALS has incredible scholarship and a spirit of intellectual curiosity and optimism that embraces challenges to find science-based solutions,” Suarez said. “Creating additional opportunities to synergize our efforts and grow our collective ability to achieve positive change for New York state’s communities is quite simply an honor for me, and I appreciate the opportunity to deepen my service to CALS.”

image of julie suarez
Julie Suarez, the director of translational research programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Krisy Gashler is a writer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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