Valérie Verdier has just been appointed Chairwoman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD-France), by the Council of Ministers meeting on12th February 2020. The appointment is in response to the nomination by Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the government bodies which supervise the IRD. Valérie Verdier will chair the IRD Board of Directors and oversee management of the institute. She succeeds Jean-Paul Moatti, who has served as interim president of the IRD since his term ended in spring 2019.
At the time of her appointment, Valérie Verdier was working as Director of the Interactions Plants Micro-organisms Environment (IPME) joint research unit and headed up one of the five IRD scientific departments: Ecology, biodiversity and functioning of the inland ecosystems (ECOBIO). In this capacity, she contributed to the strategic positioning of the IRD's scientific policy in favour of sustainable development and fair partnerships with researchers and research institutions in the with the researchers and institutions in the Global South.
She also served as the scientific adviser to the IRD delegation to Occitanie and monitors dialogues with government supervisory authorities and all the scientific and institutional partners of the IRD. She represents the IRD at the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB), MUSE I-SITE and the International Phytobiomes Alliance.
A phytopathologist by trade, Valérie Verdier holds a doctorate in plant science from Université Paris-Sud (1988) and an accreditation to direct research (HDR). She studies the interactions between phytopathogenic bacteria and tropical plants, an understanding of which is crucial to food safety. She has co-authored over 100 scientific publications and is world renowned for her fundamental contributions to understanding the mechanisms by which bacteria cause diseases, especially those afflicting cassava and rice and to the approaches developed to control them.
Valérie Verdier completed various short and extended international missions over the course of her career, including an assignment as the IRD representative in Colombia from 1998 to 2000. She has conducted research in Central Africa, West Africa, Latin America and the United States. In particular, she was an associate researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia from 1995 to 2001, associate researcher at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) in 2007, guest researcher at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability from 2012 to 2013, and affiliate scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI-BeCA) in Kenya in 2013. Valérie Verdier was an associate expert at ANSES (French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety) from 2015 to 2018, and has been an associate researcher at Colorado State University (United States) since 2012. She is mother to two children.
Valérie Verdier received the Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission in 2010 and the Excellence in International Service Award from the American Phytopathology Society (APS) in 2014. She was appointed to the rank of Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 2016.
Valérie Verdier worked as a coordinator of the JEAI programme to mentor young researchers. She is deeply committed to training young researchers in developing countries, especially women.