Jan 10, 2022
Surendra Dara leaving University of California to lead OSU’s NWREC

Surendra K. Dara, University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor-Entomology & Biologicals, announced in a Jan. 7 email that he is leaving his position Jan. 17 to join Oregon State University (OSU) as the director of North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) in Aurora, Oregon, and also as a professor in the Department of Horticulture.

He also wrote that he planned to continue his affiliation as an advisor emeritus at UCANR.

“Leaving a higher paying industry job, I joined my current position on Jan. 8, 2009, as the Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor because I wanted to work directly on agricultural issues and contribute to providing practical solutions,” Dara wrote. “I enjoyed working with growers, crop care professionals, ag industry partners, regulatory agencies, and others in addressing several endemic and invasive pest issues as well as agronomic issues. From the initial skepticism I faced for my focus on biologicals to changing my current title to Entomology and Biologicals Advisor has been a wonderful journey through conducting nearly 120 studies, raising a few million dollars for independent and collaborative research, and publishing nearly 400 scientific articles, and most importantly, building strong and lasting relationships with everyone I worked with.

“I would like to sincerely thank each and everyone who supported my research and Extension program and took the time to give you valuable feedback from time to time.

“The past few weeks have been exciting for me with a couple of federal job offers and the OSU offer,” he wrote. “Although all of them are good leadership roles, I chose the OSU one because my vision and their mission aligned very well and I can also continue to work with growers and remain in Extension. I hope we can stay in touch and explore future collaborative opportunities in Oregon.

Dara said NWREC “is a very dynamic research center with 160 acres of research area where very talented faculty are working on several crops including fresh vegetables, specialty seed crops, small fruits, field crops, fruit orchards, hazelnuts, Christmas trees and nursery crops. From the IR-4 Pesticide Registration program to precision agriculture research, the collaborative opportunities are unlimited.

“Please feel free to contact me for both long- and short-term research collaborations or just to say hello. Thank you again for your support!”

Future contact:

Surendra Dara

North Willamette Research and Extension Center
15210 NE Miley Road
Aurora, OR 97002
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 805-720-1700

According to a Jan. 11 news release from Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences, Dara joins NWREC from the University of California Cooperative Extension in San Louis Obispo.

With more than 25 years of experience in research and extension, he brings expertise in IPM, microbial control, biostimulants, and biological soil amendments. Recognized for his development of innovative solutions in sustainable crop production and protection, he is passionate about connecting with both the agricultural community and the general public in raising awareness about food production and promoting equitable food access.

“We are excited to have Surendra join the team and take on the leadership role at one of the most agriculturally diverse experiment stations in the state,” said Alan Sams, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. “His expertise in innovative agricultural production and his passion for connecting with people from all backgrounds is critical to a region that relies on agricultural production for its economic and social vitality.”

Nearly 40% of the $5.7 billion farmgate value of Oregon agriculture is produced within a 50-mile radius of NWREC. The researchers and extension faculty at the station focus their work and programming on some of Oregon’s most important local agricultural crops, including: greenhouses and nurseries, hazelnuts, berries, vegetables and specialty seed production, Christmas trees, orchard crops, and field and grass crops. In addition, four other programs cut across these crop systems – small farms production, organic production, pesticide research, and agrivoltaics.

“Research stations play a critical role in the local economy and how we contribute to the success of sustainable agriculture,” Dara explained. “The densely diverse agricultural production and proximity to an urban center make this station such a unique place to contribute to science and community. So much about this position, the station, and the College align with my values and goals. I am eager to get started and take this opportunity to make a meaningful difference.”

Dara is filling the position left open by Mike Bondi, who recently retired after a distinguished career serving Oregon State University since 1978, including the past 10 years as the director of NWREC.

In addition to his scientific and community contributions, Dara is also a talented poet, writer, lyricists in his native language Telugu and stand-up comedian. He founded Laugh To Live in 2008 and gives talks about finding happiness.

Dara will begin his new role as director of NWREC on January 18, 2022.

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