New MSU AgBioResearch assistant director named
James Averill, a Michigan State University alumnus and longtime leader in Michigan agriculture, has been named assistant director of MSU AgBioResearch effective July 1.
Since 2021, he has served as the director of outcome assessment and continuous quality improvement in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). In this position, he is responsible for the college’s implementation, coordination and evaluation of the academic aspects of its professional curriculum.
With CVM, Averill has also led the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory as interim director.
In his new role with AgBioResearch, Averill will be tasked with overseeing on- and off-campus research facilities, including the South Campus Animal Farms and 15 AgBioResearch centers across the state.
Additionally, he will lead internal grants programs geared toward advancing Michigan’s agriculture industries. Given Averill’s expertise in animal agriculture, his initial focus will be on providing guidance for the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture (M-AAA).
The M-AAA is a partnership among MSU, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and animal agriculture industries aimed at boosting the animal agriculture economy.
Averill will manage an MDARD grant that provides funding for M-AAA’s competitive grants program.
“AgBioResearch has a strong reputation in advancing Michigan agriculture while fulfilling MSU’s land-grant mission,” Averill said. “Being part of such an organization is exciting and provides an opportunity to engage in innovative research to enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world.”
Programmatic responsibilities for the plant science research portfolio will be led by AgBioResearch director George Smith.
“Dr. Averill brings a wealth of knowledge to AgBioResearch, and we’re fortunate to have him join our leadership team,” Smith said. “He will be a great addition to our organization using his extensive experience in Michigan agriculture as he works with faculty, academic units, partner colleges, MSU Extension, plant and animal commodity organizations, local government officials and donors to advance our mission.”
For more than two decades, Averill has been affiliated with MSU in some professional capacity. From 2002 to 2006, he was a research assistant in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, where he has also been an adjunct faculty member since 2007.
Prior to joining MSU on a full-time basis in 2020, Averill worked for more than a decade at MDARD in a variety of roles. He served as bovine tuberculosis coordinator and later as state veterinarian before ultimately becoming deputy director, providing administrative direction, policy development and stakeholder relations.
Averill earned a bachelor’s degree from MSU in veterinary science, as well as his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He later completed a doctoral program in epidemiology and public health at MSU.