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USDA Scientist Dr. Steven Mirsky Honored for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Science and Engineering

Contact: Autumn Canaday
Email: Autumn Canaday

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2021 – Dr. Steven Mirsky, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has received the 2020 Arthur S. Flemming award for his outstanding achievements in applied science and engineering.

Dr. Mirsky is a research ecologist with ARS’ Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. He is one among 12 award recipients from across the federal government. The Flemming Award was established in 1948 to reflect Dr. Arthur S. Flemming’s desire to recognize early to mid-career public servants who go beyond what is expected and whose federal government achievements have a broad, positive impact on society. Together with the Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission, George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration presents the awards annually in recognition of the outstanding achievements of Federal employees with three to 15 years of service.

“Dr. Steven Mirsky’s commitment and achievements to applied science and engineering has directly supported ARS’ mission of finding solutions to national and global agricultural challenges," said ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs -Young. "We are grateful that the nation’s agriculture directly benefits from his contributions of scientific excellence and innovative research.”

Among his accomplishments, he is a leading researcher on precision and sustainable field crop production system techniques and has also developed technology transfer pathways to operationalize these approaches into practice for farmers. Dr. Mirsky accomplished these goals through longitudinal and spatial studies at his research station and through leading and collaborating on regional, national, and global teams. He has been instrumental in leading a technology team that designs and builds the tools (e.g., computer vision and learning systems for monitoring climate, plants, and soils), cyberinfrastructure (i.e., web applications and structured databases), and communities of practice necessary for creating real-time communication, data and protocol standards, and automated data acquisition, aggregation, analytics, and visualization systems.

He demonstrates personal and professional imagination and vision through his use of technology and a systems approach to integrating genetics, climate, soils, pest management, and ecology. Dr. Mirsky conceived, obtained funding, and co-leads the Precision Sustainable Agriculture (PSA) network, which consists of a national team of more than 100 scientists, farmer partners, non-governmental organizations, private industry, and commodity boards conducting on-farm and on-station research in 25 states.

In addition, he co-led the establishment of the Northeast Cover Crops Council, and currently chairs this diverse stakeholder network and outreach organization. These efforts have been particularly pivotal in helping to support the increase of cover crop acreage in the past eight years from 10 million to 20 million acres.

Dr. Mirsky’s diverse research accomplishments have significantly advanced agricultural production with its focus on site-specific management and is creating environmental, economic, and social benefits. By removing barriers associated with data acquisition, integration, and sharing, Dr. Mirsky has established networks of researchers and farmers that promote a common goal of simultaneously feeding the world while also maintaining environmental health.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.