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DAA: Robert E. Armstrong

Robert Armstrong

Robert E. Armstrong


Alexandria, VA


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 products. 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 a father. “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.”