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The Sterling B. Hendricks Memorial Lecture was established in 1981 by ARS to honor the memory of Sterling B. Hendricks and to recognize scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the chemical science of agriculture.

Dr. Hendricks contributed to many diverse scientific disciplines, including plant physiology, soil science, mineralogy, agronomy, geology, and chemistry. He is most frequently remembered for discovering phytochrome, the light-activated molecule that regulates many plant processes.

The 2019 Sterling B. Hendricks Lecture will be presented during the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego on August 27, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.

2019 Sterling B. Hendricks Memorial Lecturer

John W. Finley, School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

The Evolution and Future Needs of Food Chemistry in a Changing World

The agricultural system is tasked with the responsibility to deliver adequate quantities of food that meet national needs, provide health benefits, and are delivered in an environmentally sustainable system.  Efforts by the food industry to deliver safe and nutritious foods that improve health and wellness must keep up with a constantly changing landscape.  For example, in the 1980’s and early 90’s when fat was considered an unhealthy food component, the industry responded by developing low- and non-fat foods.  The dietary guidelines in the 2000s have evolved to reflect greater concern over simple sugars and starches as negative sources of calories in an environment of increasing obesity.  The community also now places increased emphasis on prebiotic and probiotic interactions to promote health. Concomitantly, interest in foods rich in antioxidants evolved to include the food bioactives that reduce markers for inflammatory diseases. Consumer aversion to additives and agrochemicals have fueled the  “natural” and “organic” food industry, which now also must be part of sustainable food production.

With the world population approaching 9 billion individuals by 2050, food production–which relies on large amounts of water and energy–must become more efficient.  The food production and distribution system must also find innovative ways to reduce food waste, environmental pollutants, and greenhouse gases.  Solutions to these issues also must include sustainably produced, safe, and wholesome foods with appealing taste and shaped by culinary input. Ultimately, the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water is and will continue to be a major emphasis for the scientific community.  It is critical to use clear and consumer-friendly communication to explain the utilization of modern technology in food production. 

Call for Nominations

2020 Sterling B. Hendricks Memorial Lecture

The Agricultural Research Service is seeking nominations for the 2020 Sterling B. Hendricks Memorial Lecture. The lecture is a forum for a presentation on a scientific topic, trend, issue, or policy issue related to the chemical science of agriculture. The award includes an honorarium of $2,000, a medallion, and expenses to present the lecture.

The 2020 Award will be presented on August 18, 2020 at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco, California, prior to the lecture. The Divisions of Agrochemicals (AGRO) and Agricultural and Food Chemistry (AGFD) co-sponsor the lecture, and in 2020, AGRO will host the lecture.

Nominees may be outstanding senior scientists in industry, universities, or government positions. Current ARS employees are not eligible.

To nominate someone, please send a letter explaining the nominee’s contributions to chemistry and to agriculture and the nominee’s current curriculum vitae to

The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2020.

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