Michael J. Mulvaney is the new Edgar E. and Winifred B. Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy at Mississippi State University.
Mulvaney enters his MSU position after having worked as a cropping systems specialist at the University of Florida. A certified crop advisor with international agronomy experience, he has conducted research with the Global Conservation Agriculture Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.
He also served as the associate program manager for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management at Virginia Tech, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Over his career, he has received more than $30 million in research funding for agricultural research.
Mulvaney previously worked as a medicinal chemist conducting drug discovery research after receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut. He then discovered his interest in and aptitude for agronomy as an agricultural Extension volunteer with the Peace Corps Bolivia before enrolling in the agronomy and soils doctoral program at Auburn University. He has become a leader in his field with an extensive catalog of publications and numerous honors and awards.
In 2013, the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board invested in the creation of an MSU endowed chair in soybean agronomy. This allowed the university to leverage funds from Monsanto and Syngenta, along with a standing research endowment from the Hartwig family, to create the Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy.
Dan Reynolds, MSU associate vice president for International Programs and weed scientist, previously served as the Hartwig Chair.
Edgar Hartwig had a 47-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research Service in Stoneville, developing many of the soybean varieties grown both in the southern U.S. and in similar climates worldwide.
“The position was a natural fit for me,” Mulvaney said. “Mississippi farmers grew over 2 million acres of soybean in 2020, making it the second largest agricultural commodity behind poultry. For something so economically important, I am excited to design a research program that’s responsive to the needs of farmers.”
Mulvaney’s goals as chair include identifying inefficiencies and designing research to improve production. He sees agricultural solutions as being site specific, instead of one-size-fits-all, as the state has diverse regions with different soil types and production practices.
“As chair, I want to be responsive to the soybean industry. I will sit down with stakeholders and have conversations before designing a research program,” he said. “I look forward to working with the growers and specialists. I plan to build multidisciplinary teams to produce applied, field-based research that is centered around soybean questions that are relevant to farmers.”.
Darrin Dodds, professor and head of MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, spoke to the importance of the Hartwig Chair in Mississippi agriculture.
“We have over 3,000 farms that grow soybeans in the state, producing over a billion dollars in value,” Dodds said. “The Hartwig Chair is designed to coordinate our research and outreach efforts in soybeans so that we can deliver information to our growers to help them improve profits and yields. I am confident in Dr. Mulvaney’s ability to lead our research and outreach programs and know he will be a tremendous asset to our farmers.”
Mulvaney conducts research with the university’s Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, engages in outreach with the MSU Extension Service, and has teaching responsibilities in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Mulvaney may be followed on Twitter @TheDirtDude.