The 2022-2023 Best Global Universities rankings have been released by U.S. News and World Report. For the third year in a row, the University of Massachusetts Amherst ranks #1 in the U.S., and #5 in the world for Agricultural Sciences.
Several departments in the College of Natural Sciences contribute to the research being done in agriculture, with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture being central to that mission. Says Stockbridge Associate Director and Professor Dan Cooley, "Our consistently top ranking is due to an overall effort in the College of Natural Sciences, tackling the existential challenges of safe and sustainable food production in the face of pollution and climate change.”
Since its establishment nearly 160 years ago, agriculture has been at the core of the educational mission of UMass Amherst. Over time, the Stockbridge School has evolved to meet society’s needs for sustainable food and landscapes. Emphasizing hands-on education and the application of the scientific method to agriculture, Stockbridge, now a modern department of plant and soil sciences, is the only part of UMass to offer a 2-year Associate of Science degree in 5 majors, as well as bachelors and graduate degrees,
Stockbridge integrates three research focus areas: sustainable food and landscapes; soils and the environment; and plant health.
Stockbridge researchers address critical issues in global food security, specifically with research on soil health and fertility, plant stress, pest impacts on growth and productivity, and identification and mitigation of soil and water pollutants. Stockbridge is led by Dr. Xing, one of the Most Highly Cited Researchers in the world (Clarivate, 2021),
Recent examples of how Stockbridge contributes to this mission include Dr. Om Parkash Dhanker's convening of subject experts to craft a report for the USDA, advising the federal government how to address food safety issues such as the presence of arsenic in baby food; Dr. Baoshan Xing's research into the potential effects of microplastics in the human digestive system; and Dr. John Stoffolano's research into the role played by flies in spreading disease-producing pathogens. Stockbridge faculty also research best practices for farming sustainably, and how to apply the principles of sustainability and permaculture design to fields such as landscaping, arboriculture, horticulture, and turfgrass management.
The Stockbridge School's emphasis on experiential learning gives students opportunities to work in world-class research labs, plus multiple internship and practicum opportunities at research farms, private businesses, and non-profits. Stockbridge graduates quickly find satisfying employment in their fields of study.