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 an important opportunity to explore the environmental and societal challenges facing our planet through the lens of agricultural innovation and its applications in a global context.

"…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.


The 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; and Mars Incorporated.

Join us on June 15 for the 2017 AAAS Riley Lecture

Click here to Register

Joining Forces to Protect the Future of Agriculture and the Planet
Presented by Robert Fraley
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Monsanto Company

Dr. Fraley will address the need for collaboration and disruptive innovation to meet the world’s food security and environmental challenges, with a collective push for increased R&D funding and better communication with society about science-related issues.

He is executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto. He has been with the company for 35 years, and currently oversees the company’s global technology division which includes plant breeding, plant biotechnology, ag biologicals, ag microbials, precision agriculture and crop protection.

Often recognized as the father of agricultural biotechnology, he developed the first genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the early 1980s as a solution for farmers battling pests and weeds that threatened their yields.Throughout his career, he has contributed to years of agricultural development through a number of significant activities, including authoring more than 100 publications and patent applications relating to technical advances in agricultural sciences.

Dr. Fraley’s discoveries and applications of science are also routinely recognized for the tremendous impact they’ve had in supporting farmers and the agriculture demands of our planet. Some of his most distinguished honors include being recognized as a World Food Prize Laureate in 2013, receiving the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1998 and receiving the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science for his work on crop improvement in 2008, among other recognitions. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in microbiology/biochemistry from the University of Illinois, an executive degree in business management from Northwestern University, and was a Biophysics postdoctoral fellow at the University of California – San Francisco.

Immediately following the lecture, Dr. Fraley will join a panel discussion with:

Lisa Ainsworth, Research Scientist, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Chair, AAAS Section on Agriculture,  Food and Renewable Resources (Moderator)

Gregory Bohach, Vice President, Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University

Mary Bohman, Administrator of the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Andrew W. LaVigne, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Seed Trade Association, and President, National Coalition for Food and Agricultural  Research

The Lecture will be held in the AAAS Auditorium (1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC) at 4:00 pm with registration to open at 3:30 pm.

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


Past Lectures

2016 Lecture
The Role of U.S. Research Universities in Meeting the Global Food Security Challenge
Dr. Randy Woodson
Chancellor of North Carolina State University

2015 Lecture
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

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)

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.