AAAS Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture

In 2008, the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation (RMF) made a gift to AAAS to endow a Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at AAAS in honor of Professor Riley's legacy as a "whole picture" person with a vision for enhancing agriculture through scientific knowledge.

Working in collaboration with the RMF and the World Food Prize Foundation (WFPF) — an organization whose fundamental goal is to support efforts toward an adequate supply and availability of nutritious food for the burgeoning world population in the 21st century — the AAAS Riley Lecture is a special opportunity to highlight the important role of research and innovation in agriculture, the most basic human endeavor.

"…to promote a broader and more complete understanding of agriculture as the most basic human endeavor and... to enhance agriculture through increased scientific knowledge."

Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation
Charles Valentine Riley Examining an Insect. Undated | Charles Valentine Riley Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland.

About Charles Valentine Riley

Charles Valentine Riley was a prominent 19th century entomologist. In 1878, he was appointed to the post of Entomologist to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was chosen to be the first Curator of Insects for the Smithsonian Institution in 1885. Professor Riley became a member of AAAS in 1868, was elected a Fellow in 1874, and then went on to be the Vice President for the biology section in 1888.

The impact of his work of more than a century ago is still being felt today, not only in the fields of entomology and agriculture but also in other natural sciences. Professor Riley's vision and ability to see the role of agriculture in the productive use of the landscape, as an artistry upon which all society depends, is perhaps his greatest legacy.

For more information, please contact Anne Moraske at or 202-326-6759.


The AAAS Riley Lecture is sponsored by the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Foundation; the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, Forest Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture; DuPont; Mars Incorporated; Purdue University; and Texas A&M University.

2015 Lecture

June 16, 2015
AAAS Headquarters, Washington, DC
4:00 pm

A University President’s Perspective on the Economic Importance of Pursuing a Unifying Message to Make Agriculture a National Priority

Dr. Steven Leath
President, Iowa State University

It’s a monumental challenge – the ability to meet the needs of a burgeoning global population expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050; and compounding this challenge is the U.S.’s alarming lag in investments in food, agricultural, and natural resources research. While this is quite obviously a serious humanitarian issue, the economic consequences are equally concerning.

On the heels of the report, Pursuing a Unifying Message, Iowa State University President Steven Leath will present a unique and compelling perspective on the report’s call to action to pursue a unified message to elevate food, agricultural, and natural resources research as a national priority. As president of a leading land-grant institution that also is a member of the Association of American Universities and a trained plant scientist who has published nearly 100 scientific articles on plant disease resistance, plant pathology, and plant breeding, Dr. Leath will explore how the land-grant legacy of success in innovation and responding to agricultural crises can strengthen this message. He will also discuss how economic development initiatives he has launched at Iowa State can serve as microcosm examples for how public and private entities across multiple disciplines can and must come together to reclaim the U.S.’s global leadership in food, agricultural, and natural resources research before it’s too late.

Following Dr. Leath’s presentation, Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University, will lead a discussion with Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics, and Don Villwock, President of the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Click here to attend.


Past Lectures


2014 Lecture

A Food and Agricultural Research Agenda to Deal with the Asteroids of the Future

The Honorable Daniel Glickman
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture


2013 Lecture

Food, Feed and Fuel from Crops under Global Atmospheric Change: Could we have it all in 2030?
Dr. Stephen P. Long
Gutgesell Endowed University Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences
University of Illinois


2012 Lecture

Why Innovation in Agriculture Matters
Dr. Rob Horsch
Deputy Director for Research & Development
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2011 Lecture

Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food
Dr. Pamela C. Ronald
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology
University of California, Davis
Co-author of Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food

2010 Lecture

Agricultural Research: Changing of the Guard, Guarding the Change
Dr. Roger Beachy
Formerly Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)