Steven Leath’s bio

AMES, Iowa —Steven Leath became the 15th president of Iowa State University on Jan. 16.

Trained as a plant scientist, Leath served at three universities in teaching, research and economic development posts en route to the ISU presidency.

Prior to coming to Iowa State, Leath was vice president for research and sponsored programs for the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. Under Leath's leadership, external research grants and contracts to the UNC campuses steadily increased, and technology transfer activities were streamlined to make the universities more attractive to private sector partners and more responsive to state needs.

While serving as vice president of the UNC system, Leath helped develop the North Carolina Research Campus, Kannapolis, a private-public venture that fosters advancements in biotechnology, nutrition and health.

At North Carolina State University, Raleigh, Leath held several positions, including director of the NC Agricultural Research Service, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, professor, and research leader and plant pathologist with the USDA's ARS.


Leath began his academic career at the University of Illinois, Urbana, as an extension plant pathologist.

Leath has published numerous articles on plant disease resistance, plant breeding and related areas and has presented his scientific work throughout the United States and in numerous countries.

In addition to his graduate school experience in Illinois, Leath has another Midwest connection. As a 2-year-old, he moved with his family from Providence, R.I., to St. Paul, Minn., where his father was a plant pathology graduate student at the University of Minnesota. His father took a job at Pennsylvania State University when Leath was in junior high.

Leath and his wife, Janet, have two sons Eric and Scott. Eric is on the staff of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, N. C. Scott, a junior in management at Appalachian State University, spends considerable time working on the family’s North Carolina Christmas tree farm. Janet built a thriving insurance agency from scratch during their years in North Carolina.

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