USDA Names Statistics Alumna New Deputy Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics
Statistics alumna Dr. Shefali Mehta has begun her role as the new Deputy Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics and Acting Chief Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a senior position in the Biden-Harris Administration.
Research, Education and Economics (REE) is a mission area within USDA, dedicated to creating a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food and fiber system. REE supports American farmers, ranchers and foresters and helps build stronger communities, families and youth through integrated research, analysis and education. It is home to the Office of the Chief Scientist, the Agricultural Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Economic Research Service.
“I am truly honored to serve in this role, especially during this historic time at USDA and for our nation,” says Mehta. “Collectively, we have a tremendous opportunity to work more closely with our stakeholders, especially traditionally underserved communities, to help advance science-based, data-driven decision-making and innovative solutions that bolster food security and a climate-smart food system.”
In a November USDA press release, United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack welcomed Dr. Mehta and others joining the USDA, saying “Under the leadership of Shefali, Marcia and Colin, USDA’s commitment to advancing science, research and education and serving the Nation’s farmers and ranchers will only be furthered... Their skills and experience are a welcomed addition to our talented staff.”
Mehta has worked in roles across private, public and non-profit sectors including McKinsey, Syngenta, the Soil Health Partnership. Prior to working with the USDA, she founded and led Open Rivers Consulting Associates, a science and technology and management consulting firm.
While she completed her MS in Statistics from the U years ago, Mehta’s connection to the University of Minnesota School of Statistics remains strong. She currently serves on the School of Statistics Advisory Board, and in 2020 she worked with the Institute for Research in Statistics and its Applications (IRSA) to organize a collaborative conference focusing on agricultural data management and usage.
“Research, statistics and data are fundamental to helping us develop solutions to the complex challenges that face us," Mehta says. "The value of science and data and the ability to transform them to insights is only increasing.”
We congratulate Shefali on her new role and wish her the best!