Babcock named Iowa State's Cargill Chair and leader of the Biobased Industry Center

AMES, Iowa - Bruce Babcock is ready to focus on the bioeconomy as Iowa State University's next Cargill Endowed Chair in Energy Economics and director of the university's Biobased Industry Center.

Babcock, an Iowa State professor of economics and current director of the university's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, assumes his new position Oct. 1. He succeeds James Bushnell, who is now an associate professor of economics at the University of California Davis.

An interim director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development is expected to be named soon.

"I'm looking forward to the new position," Babcock said. "I've been moving toward bioenergy analysis and policy for the last few years. And this is a good opportunity for me to focus directly on bioenergy."

As director of the Biobased Industry Center, Babcock will also work with 15 companies and organizations - from fuel producers to agribusinesses to auto manufacturers - interested in the latest bioenergy research. The center was established in 2008 and is part of Iowa State's Bioeconomy Institute. It supports interdisciplinary studies of the business, policy, infrastructure and supply chain issues facing the bioeconomy.

"I'm also looking forward to engaging more companies in the Biobased Industry Center and getting some research started that addresses the costs and benefits of advanced biofuels," Babcock said. "We want to learn how the marketplace will play out with both corn ethanol and advanced biofuels."

Babcock's goal is for the Cargill Chair and the Biobased Industry Center to develop complementary research programs that investigate policy and market issues.

John Schroeter, Iowa State professor and interim chair of economics, said he's happy to see Babcock taking the Cargill Chair.

"I think this is an ideal fit," he said. "Bruce is a distinguished scholar and nationally recognized for a long research career in agricultural economics, energy economics and the economics of biofuels."

Babcock has been at Iowa State since 1990 and has directed the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development since 1998.

Robert C. Brown - an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, the Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering, the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of Iowa State's Bioeconomy Institute and a member of the executive team of the Biobased Industry Center - said he's pleased Babcock will be the next Cargill Chair.

"The essence of the Biobased Industry Center involves its ability to evaluate the economic potential of the bioeconomy," Brown said. "Bruce is extremely well qualified to lead this effort and explore new opportunities for the center."