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25 March 2020

Interview with Rebecca Nelson, Professor, Cornell University Scientific Co-director, CCRP Programme McKnight Foundation (USA)

A few days before the 27th Science Council of the Foundation, we invite you to get to know the members (past and present) of our Science Council. Interview with Rebecca Nelson, Professor, Cornell University, Scientific Co-director, CCRP Programme McKnight Foundation (USA)


Why did you become a researcher?
My parents were both biomedical researchers. Motivated by an interest in food security, I’ve always wanted to work in agriculture. I became a plant pathologist because plant-microbe interactions are so fascinating at various levels. The “one health” concept appeals to me, combining soil, plant, animal and planetary health, in a holistic approach.

What is a “scientific community”?
My scientific community is a network of people influencing each other. I was delighted to expand my community here in Montpellier last year, during a half-year sabbatical. My community includes people associated with the McKnight CCRP; international, national and local researchers; farmers; and they are all are related. I admire the Montpellier AGRO community in a lot of ways. The community here unique in my experience. I have not seen elsewhere such a number and diversity of institutions in one town, working together. I am pleased to say that my first Cornell graduate is soon going to come to work at INRA.

What are your ambitions and expectations regarding your participation in Agropolis Foundation Science Council?
Agropolis Foundation and McKnight Foundation are very close, so I am really pleased to join Agropolis Foundation Science Council and be exposed to more ideas and debates, and to expand my community. I have a lot to learn, in keeping with the six months I spent in Montpellier last year. Oliver Oliveros is my friend, as is Valérie Verdier, who hosted my sabbatical [former AF board member, new IRD chairman of the Board and CEO]. I am also looking forward to see the scientific council outcomes.