Alexandria, VA | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2007
Two beliefs are among those guiding
Robert Armstrong’s life: the need for
lifelong learning and agriculture’s
commanding role in the world, which
today is marked by the imperative to
develop a bio-based economy.
Armstrong’s own extensive and
ongoing education began with a
bachelor’s in psychology and has
included two master’s degrees, a
doctorate in agronomy, and his latest
achievement, graduating from the Army
War College in 1999.
After earning his Purdue doctorate in
1985, he spent six years as a life sciences
intelligence officer with the Central
Intelligence Agency, focusing on
agricultural and natural resources;
spending time in Africa, the Persian Gulf
and Southeast Asia; and briefing senior U.S.
and allied governments policy makers.
From 1993 to 2000, he held executive
posts at the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Alternative Agricultural
Research and Commercial Corp.
He helped structure $40 million in rural
American equity investments for new
crop/new use startups, worked with private
lenders to attract $120 million in funding,
and helped establish the Bio-based
Products Coordinating Council, leading to
government purchases of bio-based
Today, Armstrong is a senior research
fellow at the Center for Technology and
Natural Security Policy at the National
Defense University. He focuses on
biological issues important to national
security, particularly the need to shift
from a geology-driven to a bio-based
economy. “That’s the future,” he says.
Throughout his life, he has served in the
U.S. Army Chemical Corps and U.S. Army
Reserve, most recently as colonel commanding
the 1,000-person 455th Chemical
Brigade based in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Of all of his many achievements,
Armstrong says he’s most proud of being
“We must continue to learn throughout
our lifetimes, not just in the scientific
and technical fields, but about life in general.
Your last final at Purdue is not your last exam.”