The World Food Prize Foundation

Council of Advisors

Dr. Elsa Murano

Director of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University

A graduate of Florida International University in Biological Sciences, Dr. Murano received an M.S. in Anaerobic Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology from Virginia Tech. She began her career as an Assistant Professor in food microbiology at Iowa State University in 1990, where she conducted research in food safety.

In 1995, she joined the faculty at Texas A&M University as Associate Professor, leading the university’s Center for Food Safety as Director. In 2001, Professor Murano was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the Department of Agriculture, the highest-ranking food safety official in the U.S. government. As a result of her policies and leadership, the Centers for Disease Control’s Healthy People 2020 goals of reducing foodborne illnesses were met six years ahead of schedule, decreasing the rate of illnesses due to E. coli O157:H7 by 42% and the number of recalls of meat products by 74%.

In 2005, Dr. Murano returned to Texas A&M, where she was appointed Dean and Vice Chancellor of Agriculture and Life Sciences by President Robert Gates. During her tenure, she reversed the declining enrollment in the College, secured significant funding from the state and from private industry for the program, and rebranded the agencies to better reflect the important role of agriculture as well as the life sciences.

In 2008, Dr. Murano became the first woman and first Hispanic president of Texas A&M University. Her initiatives resulted in a significant increase in state funding, remodeling of the Memorial Student Center and Military Walk, and construction of the Agriculture and Life Sciences building complex. As a research scientist, Dr. Murano received an average of ~$750K/year in extramural funding, published an average of 4 scientific articles per year, and a total of 7 book chapters in the field of food safety.

Since June of 2012, she has been serving as Director of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, a premier institution within Texas A&M which conducts development projects to lift small farmers out of poverty and hunger in Asia, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. As Director of the Borlaug Institute, she has secured more than $100M in extramural funds.

Dr. Murano serves on the Board of Directors of Hormel Foods Corporation, a position she has held since 2006, where she has been a member of the Audit and Governance committees. She also is a member of the Food Safety Advisory Committee for Ecolab, is a member of the Board of Directors for Food Safety Net Services, and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the premier organization for livestock research in the world. 

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