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IBMF director receives FBI award

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Image of Kitty Cardwell


Kitty Cardwell, director of the Institute of Biosecurity and Microbial Forensics at Oklahoma State University, has received the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence in Training and Professional Development.


The objective of the law enforcement training Cardwell has provided along with FBI and other officials is to strengthen the ability to investigate and effectively respond to a biosecurity breech, whether accidental or intentional.  


“Working with the FBI team on the Animal Plant Health Criminal Epidemiology course has been a very interesting experience,” Cardwell said. “Those of us engaged in the technical sciences of agriculture rarely see or interact with the world of law enforcement and criminal prosecution. I have seen both sides evolve to communicate effectively and understand each other’s perspectives. The take-away is that the land-grant mission can put us in a position to be a first detector of new concerns.”


The director’s award is considered the most prestigious within the FBI and recognizes bureau employees and others who make extraordinary contributions to their communities and to the successful accomplishment of the FBI mission.


Through the help of Cardwell, the FBI began the Animal-Plant Health Criminal Epidemiology team to investigate the illicit transportation of chemicals and biologicals across U.S. borders. The team’s work over the past 12 years has reduced the threat posed by illicit transportation of biologicals and theft of intellectual property.


Before coming to OSU, Cardwell worked as the national program leader for plant protection and production at the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture from 2001 to 2016. She spearheaded an initiative to form a network of clinics at land-grant universities to create a deeper system of detection for new problems within the agricultural industry. These clinics are now located across the nation. Cardwell also served as one of the five national plant health champions for the USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service last year.


“Dr. Cardwell’s recognition by the FBI is remarkable and demonstrates how researchers can change lives through their talents, commitment and discoveries,” said Scott Senseman, Associate vice president of OSU Ag Research. “Contributions that she and her team have made through the Institute of Biosecurity and Microbial Forensics continue to advance forensic science and ultimately, the practices of law enforcement.”


OSU Ag Research is Oklahoma's premier research and technology development agency in agriculture, natural resources and the life sciences.

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