Steve Sonka is Emeritus Chaired Professor of Agricultural Strategy at the University of Illinois. Currently he also serves as Fellow at the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland and Senior Economist at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. A co-founder of the Centrec Consulting Group, LLC, in Savoy, Illinois, he was a partner there for more than 25 years.
At Illinois, he was the first faculty member to hold the Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy, funded by Illinois soybean farmers. During his tenure at Illinois, he served as the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement, the first Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory, and the first Director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Post-harvest Loss. He provided research and strategic support for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Waste and Spoilage Initiative and the current YieldWise Initiative.
From an Iowa farm family, Dr. Sonka received a Bachelor’s degree (1970, with distinction) and a Ph.D. degree (1974) in economics from Iowa State University. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1975. Since then, he also has held assignments with the Monsanto Corporation; New Zealand’s AGMARDT Foundation; Arthur Andersen & Co.; and the Institute of Agribusiness, Santa Clara University.
Dr. Sonka’s teaching and research emphasize strategic change and decision making in the food and agribusiness sector. He has authored or coauthored over 220 books, articles and publications. In 1983, he authored Computers in Farming, the first text devoted to computer use in the sector. An internationally known scholar, he has been recognized with national professional awards for the quality of both his teaching and research. Dr. Sonka is well known for his unusual ability to relate that scholarship to practical issues of importance to decision makers. His international experiences include consulting and lecturing on every continent except Antarctica.