Agrobiodiversity Accelerator


Carl Jones

Plant Sciences Director

Mars Advanced Research Institute at Mars

Agrobiodiversity Accelerator

As the Mars Advanced Research Institute’s (MARI) Plant Sciences Director, I am responsible for developing science and technology to support ecological and economically sustainable agriculture.

My focus of interest is fostering innovation and sustainability across food systems, agriculture, plant breeding and genetics. My expertise includes vegetable crop genetics, accelerated genetic improvement, and managing large R&D programs. I’m a passionate leader and industry executive with more than 25 years’ experience and take great pleasure in seeing innovation solve real problems for growers while increasing sustainability.

Originally from New Jersey, I studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, and it was my environmentalism and love of nature that drew me out of the studio and darkroom into farming and graduate studies.

At Mars we have a deep commitment to science. I sit within MARI, which provides Mars with capabilities, connectivity and resources to be on the cutting edge of science and technology trends. Our mission is to drive long-term science and technology breakthroughs that have the potential to unlock crucial innovation. Leveraging a global network of external academic, research, and scientific partners, MARI links external expertise and innovation with business units across Mars.

We know that agriculture is faced with many challenges that require action today. At Mars I leverage science and technology to support sustainable agriculture that protects land and preserves natural resources. For example, along with IBM and the US Department of Agriculture, we published the preliminary version of the cacao genome, helping advance farmers’ ability to plant more robust, higher-yielding, and drought-and disease-resistant cacao trees. We’re also elevating nutritional research to understand bioactive compounds in cocoa flavanols – which are found in the cacao plant – and their potential benefits for human health. In 2018 we were part of a collaboration that published groundbreaking results showing that corn can acquire a significant amount of the nitrogen it needs from the air by cooperating with bacteria. Through these cases, and many others, we’re applying the best-available science to our strategies.