|Area Director's Office (1)|
On this page:
Midwest Area Links:
Vision: Leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information
Mission: ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to:
Dr. Matteri earned a B.A. in Zoology at Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA. He completed graduate studies in Stress Physiology and Endocrinology at the University of California-Davis, earning M.S. and Ph.D. (1984) degrees in Animal Physiology.
His graduate work revealed previously unknown mechanisms for the negative effects of stress hormones on reproduction.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the Hormone Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, he uncovered novel relationships between the biochemical structure and biological function of hormones produced by the pituitary gland. In 1988, he began a joint faculty appointment with the NIH Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center and the Department of Meat and Animal Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At Wisconsin, he showed that hormone glycosylation could be selectively regulated to change biological potency and circulating half-life.
Dr. Matteri joined ARS in 1991 as a Research Physiologist in the Animal Physiology Research Unit, Columbia, MO. In 1992, he became the unit's Research Leader. He was named the Midwest Area Early Career Scientist of the Year in 1994 and served a detail assignment as Acting National Program Leader for Animal Production in 1999. While in Columbia, he developed an interdisciplinary cooperative research program between ARS and the University of Missouri and developed a personal research program, which gained national and international recognition in the areas of livestock growth and appetite regulation.
In 2001, Dr. Matteri became Assistant Director of the Pacific West Area in Albany, CA, and in 2009, he was named the Associate Director. In July of 2012, Dr. Matteri was named Director of the Midwest Area (MWA) where he oversees an nine-state Area with over 1200 employees. He has a led a variety of regional and national initiatives in program and management in his administrative career. In his time with the MWA, regional programs have grown in such areas of high-performance computing infrastructure and associated "Big Data" research; technology transfer; and sustainable agriculture, where MWA leads the new USDA Midwest Climate Change Hub and is the only ARS Area to host three sites for the ARS Long-Term Agroecosystems Research Network.
Alberto Pantoja, Associate Director
Dr. Alberto Pantoja was selected as Midwest Area Associate Director in July of 2015. He has the lead responsibility for RPES, incoming agreements, employee relations, ARS-115 Publication Approval, and animal welfare within the MWA director's office. He is internationally recognized for developing practical approaches for the biological control of insect pests. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in scientific literature and 75 lay articles for growers and crop protection specialists. Dr. Pantoja's research has been recognized by the Gamma Sigma Delta-Honor Society of Agriculture, the Florida Entomological Society, the Puerto Rican Society for Agricultural Sciences, and the Puerto Rico College of Agronomists.
Dr. Alberto Pantoja received a B.S. degree in Agronomy and Soils from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus in 1978, and he initiated his career as Pesticides Inspector and Pesticides Liaison Officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture (1978 - 1980). He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agronomy and Entomology from Louisiana State University in 1982 and 1985, respectively. He subsequently (1986-1989) worked as an entomologist for the Puerto Rico Agricultural Experiment Station.
In 1989, he joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in Cali, Colombia, where he occupied the position of Research Fellow and then Chief Rice Entomologist. He trained entomologists from 15 countries in the region and developed area-wide integrated pest management programs for rice in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Pantoja led a multidisciplinary and international team of scientists to publish the first book on integrated pest management devoted to rice management in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 1993, he returned to the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, where he progressed through the ranks to Full Professor, Department Head, Deputy Director for Research, and Associate Dean for Research. At the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Pantoja led research on the biological control of insect pests of rice, coffee, vegetables, and tropical fruits. He became well known as a scientific leader in pest control and a host of a regular radio program to educate farmers on the application of effective technologies for sustainable agriculture production.
He joined ARS in 2003 as a Research Leader and Location Coordinator for the newly-formed Subarctic Agricultural Research Unit (SARU) in Fairbanks, Alaska. Dr. Pantoja led the SARU through a period of significant growth, hiring scientists and developing new programs in integrated pest management, fisheries byproduct utilization, and germplasm preservation. He developed a productive program with national and international collaborations in the area of high-latitude agriculture. While at SARU, he was elected as President of the Circumpolar Agricultural Association and served in the Advisory Board for Alaska's Division of Agriculture.
In 2011, Dr. Pantoja joined the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office in Santiago, Chile as Crop Production and Protection Officer (CPPO) for South America. In 2012, he was appointed CPPO for Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2013 to 2015, he served as Regional Coordinator for one of FAOs five strategic objectives, seeking to increase the Productivity and Sustainability of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of new emergency response programs and initiatives to promote long-term agricultural sustainability and food security in a broad region challenged with the increasing climate variability, newly emerging insect and disease pressures, and provisions of effective technologies to subsistence farmers in remote and isolated regions. From 2014 to 2015, he completed a five months detail in Asuncion, Paraguay as Technical Officer in charge of the FAO-Paraguay office.
JL Willett, Associate Director
Dr. Willett was selected as Associate Director for the Midwest Area in January of 2012. As part of his duties, he serves as the Area Ethics Officer and Deciding Official on personnel matters. He also has the lead responsibility for OSQR and New Scientist orientation and development within our office.
Dr. Willett joined ARS in 1992 as a Chemical Engineer. In 1995, he became Research Leader of the Plant Polymer Research Unit at NCAUR and served in that position until his appointment as the MWA Assistant Area Director on November 22, 2009. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he is an inventor on 11 U.S. Patents. He has served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Bio-Environmental Polymer Society (1999-2001). He has also served on several details within ARS including Acting Associate Director of the MWA, NPA, and MSA, as well as a special assignment with the Office of National Programs. He completed his SES Candidate Development Program in 2011.
Dr. Willett received his BS in Textile Chemistry from North Carolina State University in 1981, followed by a Ph.D. in Metallurgy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1988. After receiving his Ph.D., he became Manager of Research for Agri-Tech Industries, a start-up company developing starch-based biodegradable materials using technology licensed from the National Center of Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, IL. In 1988, he co-founded Fully Compounded Plastics and developed the technology base for the company's starch-based materials.