North Central Weed Science Society 2016 Distinguished Achievement in Industry Recipient

     Not having grown up in an agricultural area, Rick Cole initially began what turned out to be his life work when, as a Master Degree student in the Biological Science Department at the University of Kentucky, students from the Weed Science group came to his lab to investigate mechanisms of action of diphenyl ether herbicides. After graduation with a MS in Biology in 1979 and.a year with the University of Kentucky Medical Center, he took a research position with the Weed Science team under Dr. Bill Witt, followed a year later with enrollment in the Weed Science PhD program. After his PhD degree in Crop Science in 1985, Rick went to work as a Field Specialist with PPG Industries, in Mahomet, IL. His primary function was evaluation of new compounds and sales support of commercial products. In 1988 he was uprooted when Chevron purchased PPG and joined with Sumitomo Corporation to form Valent, USA. Rick moved to Walnut Creek, CA and worked through successive roles in Regulatory Science, Contract Research Management and Corporate Strategy and Planning. After 8 years, he returned to the Midwest and joined Monsanto Company in 1996 as a Technical Services Manager, responsible for the technical management of all acetanilide products globally, with a focus in the U.S. He transitioned to a newly created role of Technology Development Manager, focused was U.S. products, including Crop Protection products and new corn traits, such as the YieldGard brands.
     Rick also led the development and launch efforts for a new encapsulated corn acetochlor herbicide, branded as Degree. The product was transformational in that the encapsulation technology had not been used before in agriculture and provided a new level of crop safety. This safety allowed for use in soybeans and cotton, where previously acetochlor had been considered too damaging to the crop. Even though he met internal opposition to the product, he convinced management that this would be an advantage for growers and subsequently became a significant tooI to manage weed resistance.
     As weed resistance issues developed, Rick took the lead for the technical teams at Monsanto to address the issue from a company and grower viewpoint. First and foremost was driving change in Monsanto from previous positions on weed resistance, which were not sustainable, and development of tools to help provide weed management solutions for growers. The most significant commercial tool became Roundup Ready PLUS Weed Management Solutions platform.
     Rick led the Monsanto efforts with academic engagement on resistance issues, providing leadership and funding for the 6 year Benchmark Study, culminating in dozens of presentations, position papers and peer-reviewed articles authored by team academics.
     Rick was the face of Monsanto for numerous media inquiries about weed resistance, including interviews with ABC News, NHK in Japan, Iowa Public TV, various radio shows and news articles in the U.S. and abroad.
During the final five years of his career, he led the Crop Protection Technology Development Manager team, which was responsible for development, technical leadership and support of all Crop Protection products in the U.S. Late in his career, he also engaged as a key member of various regulatory and strategy teams for new products.
     Rick and his spouse of 34 years live in the St. Louis area, where they enjoy the pleasures of living in a lake community. Both children, Allison and Logan, are married and enjoy the benefits of having a retired father.