Ricardo Salvador

Director, Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Ricardo Salvador is an agronomist who has worked over 30 years in academia, philanthropy and advocacy to shape a more sustainable and socially equitable food system. Born and raised in southern Mexico, he completed his higher education at New Mexico State University and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

As director and senior scientist of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo leads a team of 12 scientists, economists and policy analysts to make the case that modern, sustainable practices can be highly productive while also protecting the environment, producing healthy food, and creating economic opportunity for all.

Before joining UCS in 2012, Ricardo served as a program officer for food, health, and well-being with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Prior to that, for 18 years he was on the faculty of agronomy at Iowa State University. While at ISU, Ricardo taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university, and his graduate students conducted some of the original academic research on community-supported agriculture and the ecological footprint of row crop agriculture. He also worked with students to establish ISU’s student-operated organic farm, and with other faculty to develop the nation’s first sustainable agriculture graduate program in 2000, becoming that program’s first chair.

Ricardo’s writing on food policy has been featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Des Moines Register and The Guardian. Some of his distinctions include various awards from Iowa State University: Early Career Achievement (1995), Master Teacher in Distance Education (1997), Visionary Award (2000), International Service Award (2001); and more recently: NBC-Latino’s Innovator: Champion of Food and Agriculture (2013) and the James Beard Foundation’s Leadership Award (2013.)