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farms names Chief strategy officer

Distinguished North Dakota leader named CSO of new federal award winning coalition

Dr. Hollie J. Mackey to lead group focused on innovation, jobs, and economic growth in agriculture technology


FARGO, ND (February 15, 2024) – In the third week after securing a federal award of potentially up to $160 million over 10 years, Dr. Hollie J. Mackey of North Dakota State University today was named Chief Strategy Officer to lead the regional National Science Foundation North Dakota Advanced Agriculture Technology Engine partnership, Food systems Adapted for Resiliency and Maximized Security (FARMS). FARMS is tasked with accelerating agriculture technology (AgTech) research, entrepreneurship, and job creation to solve problems of food insecurity globally while expanding economic growth in the region. Dr. Mackey has been an instrumental person on FARMS. Her responsibilities and contribution to the project included playing a vital role in developing the direction, content, and strategy for the virtual and in person NSF site visits in summer and fall 2023. Dr. Mackey has demonstrated a deep understanding of the project's potential for North Dakota and how that potential can be leveraged to improve the lives and successes of all people in the state.

 

“Dr. Mackey has been a core partner of our team effort to secure these federal funds,” said NDSU President David J. Cook. “Her extensive work in this field and with Tribal Colleges makes her the perfect fit. She has a track-record of inclusion and building healthy collaboration from every corner of North Dakota. She is ready today to begin the organizational and outreach work that will truly help feed the world. We know she will prioritize research investments that transform North Dakota’s businesses, communities, and the workforce—and can’t wait to get started. She worked tirelessly with the team to bring this award to North Dakota.”

 

Dr. Mackey has held faculty appointments at NDSU and prior to that, the University of Oklahoma. She served in several capacities in Montana with federal and state programs, including in the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. As a Presidential Appointee in 2022, she served as the Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities. 

 

An enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, Mackey has focused her academic career working within communities to advance research interests and has been a central contributor to the FARMS effort.

 

“I’m honored – and humbled –to be the first leader of this groundbreaking collaboration,” said Dr. Mackey. “It’s ambitious, complex and, most of all, inclusive. It’s about science and technology helping our globally recognized growing community produce more nutritious and higher yielding crops, and it’s about rediscovering ancestral crops. It’s economic development that will draw investors and inventors, and it can develop a workforce that will create more and better jobs and draw more and more people to North Dakota. Truly an ecosystem, every part is dependent on the rest of the parts to thrive together. It’s the kind of project I’ve been working towards my entire career, and it is a huge challenge with lofty goals. We’re ready.”

 

Dr. Mackey’s academic scholarship has examined the effects of structural inequity in Indigenous and other marginalized populations in educational leadership and public policy using multiple frameworks and methodologies and she was instrumental in ensuring the FARMS proposal recognized centuries-old Tribal agricultural expertise.  

Dr. Mackey concluded, “We know the importance of our work. And we understand how serious our results could be. The five groups that came together in this groundbreaking partnership will deliver on our goals. We ask that more join us at FARMSfeedstheworld.com.”

 

In its award-winning proposal submitted to the U.S. National Science Foundation, FARMS outlined solutions that will:

 

  • Ignite inclusive, market-driven discussions about food security and equitable agriculture with a focus on North Dakota and Tribal Nation agricultural communities.

  • Develop robust crop varieties and cost-effective sensors to capture data useful to producers.

  • Collaborate with local AgTech leaders, researchers, startups and the global AgTech industry to identify and prioritize opportunities.

  • Accelerate investments and quickly bring solutions to market.

  • Encourage involvement and investment from the private sector, non-profit organizations, and the broader North Dakota agricultural community.

  • Establish a thriving AgTech entrepreneurial ecosystem that significantly enhances food security and equitable agricultural opportunities.

  • Create local and regional high-wage jobs.

  • Propel critical technologies for advanced agriculture through scientific and engineering innovations centered around key areas, including novel genomics studies, advanced predictive climate modeling, scalable on-farm data collection management and utilization including reconfigurable agile data sensor networks and communication networks, edge and cloud computing, real-time analysis of acquired data via artificial intelligence and machine learning, with a focus on last acre connectivity, and will advance understanding of the diffusion of AgTech innovation through human-centered approaches.

 

The NSF Engines: North Dakota Advanced Agriculture Technology Engine is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Award #2315315.

 

About FARMS: The vision of FARMS is a collaborative ecosystem created to solve global food insecurity and to create equitable agricultural opportunities. FARMS is powering ideas that feed the world and will create a global AgTech engine characterized by a flourishing ecosystem where new knowledge is co-designed into new technologies, services, and startups to address stressors impacting food insecurity and to establish equitable agricultural opportunity. Led by NDSU, FARMS is composed of a core group of partners including Grand Farm, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation, and the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. The FARMS ecosystem includes the North Dakota Tribal College System, the North Dakota Tribal communities, North Dakota universities and colleges, industry, non-profits, and other regional research universities. Through AgTech innovations, FARMS holds the potential to improve how the nation produces food for the world.

 

About NSF Engines: The National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with other Federal agencies has managed the NSF Engines competition. Its funding comes from, in part, the CHIPS and Science Act. FARMS was the only agriculture-based project among the final award winners.

 

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