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Biographical Sketch of the Administrator's Office
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Chavonda Jacobs-Young

ARS Administrator

Chavonda Jacobs-Young has served as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency since February 2014.

Previously, Chavonda had served as ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs, where she led the Office of National Programs, which manages the research objectives of the Agency, and the Office of International Research Programs, which is responsible for ARS' liaison with its international partners.

Prior to moving into her roles at ARS, Chavonda served as the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist at USDA, where she was responsible for facilitating the coordination of scientific leadership across the Department to ensure that research supported by, and scientific advice provided to, the Department and external stakeholders were held to the highest standards of intellectual rigor and scientific integrity. She also served as the Acting Director for USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Chavonda has also served as a senior policy analyst for agriculture in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where she supported the President's science adviser and others within the Executive Office of the President on a variety of agricultural scientific activities and worked across the Federal Government to improve interagency cooperation and collaboration on high-priority scientific issues.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young is a native of Georgia. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wood and Paper Science and a B.S. degree in Pulp and Paper Science and Technology from North Carolina State University. She also is a graduate of American University's Executive Leadership in Public Policy Implementation Program.



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Steven M. Kappes

Associate Administrator, National Programs

Steven Kappes became the ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs in August 2016. Until his appointment, Dr. Kappes served as the Deputy Administrator for Animal Production and Protection (APP) in the Office of National Programs since 2005. The APP program includes animal production, animal health, entomology, aquaculture and animal well-being research in cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, trout, catfish and salmon. The APP staff also includes the ARS Biosafety Officer.

Currently, Steven is leading the ARS Big Data initiative.  He recently served as a senior advisor for animal protection and production in the USDA Office of the Chief Scientist. He had worked with USDA agencies on issues related to animal health and production, herbicide resistance, and biosafety and biocontainment in high and maximum biocontainment laboratories. 

Previously, he has co-chaired a U.S. Government interagency biosafety taskforce and is a co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Foreign Animal Disease Threats. He also is a member of the USDA One Health Joint Working Group and he is working with USDA agencies and Food and Drug Administration to address issues on antimicrobial resistance.  

Steven's previous positions within ARS were a research scientist at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Nebraska, an ARS National Program Leader for the Food Animal Production national program and Director of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.

Steven Kappes is a native of South Dakota.  He obtained a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science from South Dakota State University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.




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Simon Y. Liu

Associate Administrator, Research Management and Operations

Simon Y. Liu has served as Associate Administrator for Research Management and Operations since February 2015.

He previously served as Director of the National Agricultural Library (NAL), which serves as the central library for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is one of the four National Libraries of the United States. NAL is world's largest and most accessible research library specializing in agriculture.

Before joining NAL, Simon Liu served as Associate Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and Director of the NLM Computer and Communications System. Prior to his service at NLM, he held leadership positions with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury, following work in the private sector where he led information system development and space mission studies to support NASA mission and operations.

He attended university in his native Taiwan and pursued graduate studies in the United States, where he earned master's degrees in Computer Science, Business Administration, and Government from Indiana University, the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University. He has earned two doctoral degrees: an Ed.D in Higher Education Administration and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from George Washington University. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member with graduate school appointments at several of these institutions.

Simon Liu is active in professional societies and associations and have served as the Editor-in-Chief of an information technology magazine and editor of four journals in the past 20 years. Simon has published a book and more than 80 book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers.