Professor ROBERT L. THOMPSON holds the Gardner Endowed Chair in Agricultural Policy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he carries on an active program of classroom- and extension-education in public policy. He serves on the USDA-USTR Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade and the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council.
From mid-1998 until late 2002 Thompson was at the World Bank where he served as its Director of Rural Development, with administrative responsibility for the Bank's worldwide agriculture, forestry and rural development programs. He also served as the Bank's Senior Advisor for Agricultural Trade Policy. Thompson holds honorary doctorates from the Pennsylvania State University and Dalhousie University (Canada). He is a fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and of the Ukrainian Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In 1982, Thompson was the first recipient of Purdue University's Agricultural Research Award. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave him its Superior Service Award in 1989, and its Justin Smith Morrill award in 1995, for "demonstrated leadership and significant contributions to food and agricultural science." In 1999, the American College of Nutrition presented him with its Humanitarian of the Year award.
Thompson is a Bachelor of Science graduate of Cornell University and received its outstanding alumni award in 1988. Thompson earned both his Master of Science and doctor of philosophy degrees from Purdue University. He was raised on a dairy farm near Ogdensburg, New York. He is married to the former Karen Hansen of the Danish island of Bornholm.