Dr. Paul Sebesta is the director of the USDA ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, commonly known as the Ag Lab. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more than 100 research facilities throughout the country, and NCAUR is one of the agency’s largest. Approximately 250 federal employees work at NCAUR, about 100 of which are Ph.D. scientists. The AgLab has an annual budget of more than $31 million.
He is responsible for planning, coordinating and evaluating overall research programs designed to fulfill the goals of a complex national strategic plan for agricultural research within the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). He provides leadership and accountability for those programs and related activities, and coordinates the integration of the center’s research with associated interests of universities, other federal agencies, public entities and institutions in the private sector.
Dr. Sebesta began his research career in 1980 as an Assistant Professor of Agronomy and winter wheat breeder at North Dakota State University. In 1982, he assumed the position of project leader with HybriTech Seed International, Inc., a Monsanto subsidiary. Dr. Sebesta began his administrative career in 1987 as a unit head with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University, where he was responsible for intellectual property rights management, plant materials licensing as well as foundation seed production, distribution and marketing. From 1995 to 2004 he served as the Director of the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) in El Centro California. While at DREC his research focused on the use of sugarcane and sweet sorghum as feedstocks for the production of ethanol, electricity and other value-added bioproducts. In 2004, Dr. Sebesta was employed by the National Audubon Society as a program director. He began his tenure with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in June of 2005 and served as the director of the USDA-ARS Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas from 2005 to 2008. In 2008, he joined the Center for Agricultural Utilization Research as the Center Director.
Dr. Sebesta earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University.