Once a graduate and doctoral student at the University of California, Davis, Helene Dillard is returning to the campus as the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She will assume her new role Jan. 27.
Dillard succeeds Neal Van Alfen, who held the position from 1999 to 2012.
Dillard is a plant disease expert and the associate dean and head of Cooperative Extension at Cornell University. Since receiving her doctoral degree in plant pathology in 1984, she also has worked as an associate professor, a professor, and an associate director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Along with her university career, Dillard has continued her research in biology, ecology and the management of a wide variety of fungal diseases in vegetables. Her major research projects have involved studies of fungal diseases in beans, tomatoes, corn, cabbage and other crops.
Other industry accomplishments include the 2013 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Faculty award at Cornell, the 2013 New York Farmers Medal from the New York Farmers Association. She was also named a National Women of Color STEM All Star in 2008 and a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society in 2006.
Associate Dean Mary Delany, an avian geneticist and professor in the Department of Animal Science, has served as interim dean while the college looked for a permanent leader.
Provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Davis, Ralph Hexter, believes Dillard is arriving at a decisive time for food science.
“Phenomenal challenges related to global climate change and food production face the research and higher-education community. I know that the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will continue to rise under Dr. Dillard’s leadership to equip California and the nation to meet these challenges,” Hexter said in a news release.