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George Norton

George Norton, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, has a distinguished record of research, teaching, and outreach in integrated pest management (IPM), agricultural research evaluation, and agricultural development. One hallmark of his research is close collaboration with scientists in other disciplines such as entomology, plant pathology, and plant breeding, in which he employs economic tools to assess research plans and impacts of their implementation. He has played a pivotal role in standardizing and spreading methods for evaluating IPM, including its environmental, health, and poverty-reducing effects. He designed, and has helped direct, a large, global IPM program for over 25 years. This program has involved more than 160 U.S. and host-country scientists and 200 graduate students of various disciplines in more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe.

Norton’s contributions to agricultural research evaluation represent a blend of the path breaking and the practical. He has developed and applied methods for assessing agricultural research priorities and  evaluating agricultural maintenance, social science, and biotechnology research. His priority-setting methods have been applied in a dozen national agricultural research systems in developing countries. His book (with Julian Alston and Phil Pardey) Science under Scarcity: Principles and Practice for Agricultural Research Evaluation and Priority Setting (Cornell University Press, 1995) is widely cited. His research and outreach efforts have led to tangible economic and health benefits for tens of thousands of farm families around the world.     

George is an outstanding graduate student advisor and mentor, known for his patience and time devoted to each student. He has advised 80 graduate students, almost all supported by his grants, and most of whom have published articles or book chapters out of their theses. Half of his advisees have traveled abroad to collect their research data. Three have won AAEA Outstanding Ph.D. dissertation or M.S. thesis awards.  Several have taken faculty positions or have become officials or researchers in international institutions.

Both graduate and undergraduate students give Professor Norton high praise for his effectiveness as a teacher. They appreciate his story-telling style that helps them understand and remember concepts, as well as his approachability which makes them feel comfortable in seeking advice. George has been instrumental in internationalizing agricultural programs at Virginia Tech and has involved scores of undergraduates in his research projects at home and abroad.

Norton is a highly skilled author. His undergraduate textbook (co-authored with Jeffrey Alwang and William Masters), The Economics of Agricultural Development: World Food Systems and Resource Use (Routledge, 2006, 2010, 2015), has been widely adopted. His book, Hunger and Hope: Escaping Poverty and Achieving Food Security in Developing Countries (Waveland Press, 2014), demonstrates his ability to reach a broad audience with a clear message on causes of hunger and ways to alleviate it.

George also has an extensive record of professional service. He has chaired the U.S. Council for the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), the AAEA Senior Section, the AAEA Awards Committee, and the C-FARE Blue Ribbon Panel for Agricultural Development. He also has served on the C-FARE board, the National Extension Committee on Policy -- National IPM Task Force, a Scientific Advisory Panel for USEPA, and a National Research Council committee for the Board of Engineering of the National Academies.