A native of Texas, Edward B. Knipling has served as the administrator for the Agricultural Research Service since July 2004. Knipling grew up mainly in Washington DC. His father, Edward F. Knipling, was the USDA’s leading entomologist and was known as the “Enemy of the Screwworm” because his invention of the sterile insect technique destroyed the irksome insect without using pesticides.
Edward Knipling earned his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Virginia Tech University in 1961, followed by his master’s and PhD in plant physiology from Duke University in 1963 and 1966, respectively.
From 1966 to 1968 he served in the US Army, carrying out research on remote sensing of the environment. In 1968 he began his career in the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service as a research plant physiologist in Florida. From 1975-1978 he served as director of ARS in Stoneville, Mississippi, and again in Fresno, California, from 1978-1982.
Beginning in 1982, Knipling served as associate deputy administrator for the National Program Staff in Beltsville, Maryland. In 1996 he served as acting administrator for ARS for a year, followed by his appointment as associate administrator of ARS in December 1997. Knipling continued to climb the ranks, and in 2001 he was appointed acting administrator, before taking over the top spot in the agency.