Science and CSU

New Director Aims to Advance Ag Efforts




Mark Shelton, associate dean of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, was recently named executive director of the CSU’s Agricultural Research Institute (ARI). ARI is a comprehensive applied agricultural and environmental research program that partners the CSU’s colleges of agriculture with the state’s ag industries.

In his role as executive director of ARI, Shelton works closely with systemwide CSU leadership, as well as faculty and staff from each of ARI’s member campuses – Chico, Pomona, San Luis Obispo, and Fresno. He’ll also be leading efforts with the ag industry and agency partners to promote and advance ARI.

Shelton has served as Cal Poly’s campus ARI coordinator since the initiative’s inception in 1999.

“It’s been rewarding to see the program benefit faculty and students,” Shelton said. “Over the past 13 years, I’ve seen this program build ties between CSU campuses, and provide critical funding, research and equipment needed to advance the industry and education.”“When a research need surfaces, we can now call on literally hundreds of scientists in the CSU and industry to work together to solve pressing problems,” he said.

Even though he has picked up a new role, Shelton will continue to serve as associate dean of graduate programs for Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

As ARI director, Shelton reports to a governing board composed of the presidents of each member campus, the UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, and four agriculture industry leaders. Leaders that are influential in strengthening California’s status as the nation’s biggest crop producer, Shelton says.

“We have a strong network of people from the ag industry,” Shelton said, adding that one of his main goals is to utilize that network to build up relationships with agricultural stakeholders.

“California is number one in agriculture,” Shelton said. “We want to increase the visibility on the importance of the industry’s economic impact to our state and country.”