Dr. Rob Horsch recently retired from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which he joined in November 2006 to develop and lead the science and technology initiative of the agricultural development program. He managed a team of program officers and other staff that makes and managed a large and diverse portfolio of research and development grants aimed at improving the productivity of small holder farmers by improving the crops that poor farmers raise, and poor consumers eat. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, and as an Advisor to the Global Commission on Climate Adaptation.
Rob is a leader in the effort to create agricultural technologies that help improve yields and incomes for farmers around the world. He joined Monsanto in 1981 and led the company’s plant tissue culture and transformation efforts until 1995. In that capacity, he contributed to the development of the Bollgard, Yieldgard, and Roundup Ready traits in broad use today and directed an expanding research group to apply genetic transformation technology to many important crops, including potato, tomato, cotton, soybean, corn and wheat. From 1996 to 2005 he led the companies programs for International Development Partnerships with responsibility to help small-holder farmers in developing countries gain access to better agricultural products and technologies.
Rob received his Ph.D. in Genetics at the University of California, Riverside, in 1979, and then conducted postdoctoral work in plant physiology at the University of Saskatchewan. He has served on the editorial boards of several leading journals in the plant sciences and as an advisor to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. He was awarded the 1998 National Medal of Technology by President Clinton for contributions to the development of agricultural biotechnology.