Kevin Rice has been named the new director of the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC), effective Aug. 10.

Rice most recently served as an assistant professor of entomology in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri.

“We are very pleased to announce Dr. Rice as the new director of the Alson H. Smith Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. “I am confident that Dr. Rice has the appropriate leadership qualities and experience to continue enhancing the research, Extension, and outreach programs at the Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC and be an effective entomologist in Virginia.”

Located in Winchester, the center serves Virginia’s commercial fruit and value-added horticultural food crops industries through research, educational programs, development of sustainable production systems and technologies, and increased public knowledge of horticultural opportunities and benefits.

Before joining the University of Missouri in 2018, Rice served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, where he examined the foraging and visual ecology of invasive species in small fruit production. He also served as a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State University in the Department of Entomology, and as an Extension agent at the University of Arizona.

Rice earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina Asheville and his master’s degree from Auburn University. He completed his doctorate at The Ohio State University. 

Rice has extensive experience in his field and a strong record of scholarship and graduate student mentoring. He has successfully obtained extramural funding from federal agencies and private industry in support of his research and extension programs.

Rice has served in several leadership roles, including serving as the state Extension specialist in Missouri. In this role, he served as the lead biopesticide expert for the Minor Use Foundation. He directed field trials across 30 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and collaborated with personnel from the Asian-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions, Economic Community of West African States, Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International, USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service, and the American Embassy.

“I am excited to join an excellent intuition with a strong reputation in research and Extension activities,” Rice said.


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