Neal K. Van Alfen

Neal K. Van Alfen

Neal Van Alfen is professor of plant pathology at UC Davis. His research focuses on fungal molecular biology with the goal of controlling plant diseases using low-input, sustainable methods such as biological control using fungal viruses. He also has expertise on the effects of air pollution on environmental health, having served as a consultant to industry in this area for 15 years. An elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Phytopathological Society, Van Alfen serves, or has served, on numerous national and international committees and boards, including the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation, a foundation that supports about $ 8 million per year in research for Israeli and U.S. scientists. He is editor of the Annual Review of Phytopathology, the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, and on the editorial board of Journal of Integrative Agriculture, the leading agricultural journal of China. He served as president of the American Phytopathological Society, was member-at-large of the Section on Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chaired the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, chaired the Administrative Heads Section of the American Public and Land Grant Universities. Van Alfen served as dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis from 1999 - 2012 during which he led a three-fold increase of extramural research support per faculty member, created a number of research and outreach centers and institutes, including the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Center for Produce Safety. He led fund raising efforts that resulted in creation of 14 new endowed chairs for faculty and resulted in the construction of a $ 100 million academic center for food and beverage research and education. The UC Davis agricultural, food and environmental science programs are routinely ranked among the best in the world. He previously served as head of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University; professor of biology and molecular biology and biochemistry and Cooperative Extension Specialist, Utah State University; and plant pathology research scientist, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven. Prior to earning a doctoral degree in plant pathology from UC Davis, Van Alfen earned bachelor’s (chemistry) and master’s (botany) degrees from Brigham Young University.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of California, Davis, USA