Crop & Climate Adaptation in the Face of the Climate Crisis

Dr. Cary Fowler
20 Oct 2022
12:40 PM
1001 Troxel Hall
Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)

Dr. Cary Fowler is perhaps best known as the “father” of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described as an “inspirational symbol of peace and food security for the entire humanity.” This facility provides ultimate security for more than 1 million unique crop varieties, the biological foundation of agriculture and the raw material for all future plant breeding and crop improvement efforts.  

Dr. Fowler is the former Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an international organization cosponsored by Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Prior to leading the Crop Trust, he was a Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and a senior staff member of Bioversity International. Earlier, he oversaw the UN’s first global assessment of the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources. He was responsible for drafting and negotiating the first FAO Global Plan of Action on the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, formally adopted by 150 countries in 1996. Following this, Dr. Fowler twice served as Special Assistant to the Secretary General of the World Food Summit and represented the CGIAR in the multi-year negotiations on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. 

In 2015, Dr. Fowler was appointed to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development by President Obama. He is a former board member of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and former chair of the Livestock Conservancy. 

Dr. Fowler has been recognized with several honorary doctorates and many awards including the Thomas Jefferson Award for Citizen Leadership, the Heinz Award, the Meyer Medal from the Crop Science Society of America, the Wm. Brown Award from the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Proctor Medal from the Garden Clubs of America. He has been profiled by The New Yorker, on CBS 60 MinutesCBS Sunday Morning and other media, and is the subject of the documentary film, Seeds of Life

Born and raised in Tennessee, Cary Fowler served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Rhodes College in Memphis. He earned a B.A. with honors from Simon Fraser University in Canada, and his Ph.D. from Uppsala University in Sweden.  

This event was recorded and will be available for two weeks on the Lectures website at