Dr. Steven Leath
National Science Board
Over a 35 year career, Dr. Steven Leath built an extraordinarily distinguished record of leadership, research and administration at a number of leading Land Grant universities in America. Dr. Leath served as the 19th President of Auburn University and the 15th President of Iowa State University. Now retired, he was appointed to the National Science Board. Beginning on January 1, 2021, he will serve as the Executive Director of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports.
As the leader of a university renowned for its exceptional student experience, Dr. Leath championed programs that positioned Auburn students to become leaders in their professions and engage in their communities. Under his leadership the university’s enhanced commitment to research and academic discovery earned it the Carnegie R1 designation, placing Auburn among the country’s elite research institutions.
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Dr. Leath served for more than five years as President of Iowa State University (ISU), one of the nation's top research institutions with an international reputation in science and technology. While president, Iowa State achieved its highest student graduation rate, lowered student debt, grew research expenditures, set fundraising records and secured the university's largest private gift for an academic facility. He also led efforts for the 200 acre expansion of ISU's research park, creating new jobs and attracting new companies, industry partnerships and government collaborations.
Trained as a plant scientist, Dr. Leath served at three universities in teaching, research and economic development posts en route to his positions at Iowa State and Auburn.
Dr. Leath was Vice President for research and sponsored programs for the 16 campus University of North Carolina system. Under his leadership, external research grants and contracts steadily increased and technology transfer activities were streamlined to make the universities more attractive to private sector partners and more responsive to state needs. He also helped develop the North Carolina Research Campus, a private-public venture that fosters advancements in biotechnology, nutrition and health.
At North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Dr. Leath held several positions of increasing responsibility and prominence. Those positions include Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Associate Dean of the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Professor, and research leader and plant pathologist with U.S. Department of Agriculture's ARS.
Dr. Leath began his academic career at the University of Illinois, Urbana, as an extension plant pathologist. He has published numerous articles on plant disease resistance, plant breeding and related areas and has presented his scientific work throughout the US. and in numerous countries. he holds a B.S. in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, M.S. in plant science from the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Leath and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Eric and Scott, and a Yellow lab named Quill.
World Food Prize Board of Directors Member