Global Food Security Symposium 2014

Advancing Global Food Security in the
Face of Weather Volatility and Climate Change


May 22, 2014 | Washington, DC

The Chicago Council is pleased to host a delegation of students from land-grant and research universities that plan to enter the agriculture, development, or food sectors. Students are senior undergraduates or post-graduate-levels. Biographies for all students participating in the delegation are provided here for more information. Follow their Symposium posts on Twitter.

2014 Next Generation Delegation

Social Media Ambassadors

  • Maria Antip, Sorbonne University, international relations, MS
  • Whitney Flatt, Middle Tennessee State University, international relations, BS
  • Allison Hoover, Pennsylvania State University, agriculture and extension education, BS
  • Andrew Lauver, Kansas State University, agribusiness, MS
  • Hanna Rosman, Iowa State University, rural sociology and sustainable agriculture, MS
  • Sarah Sibley, University of Chicago, public policy, MS
  • Stephen Yeboah, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, development studies, MA



Pierre Paul Audate, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), development practice, MS candidate. Pierre Paul is currently a master’s degree student in development practice at Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica. Pierre Paul has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences from EARTH University in Costa Rica. Originally from Haiti, he worked as Training Manager for the Haiti Hope Project with TechnoServe Inc. from 2011 to 2013. He has trained thousands of small Haitian farmers on production and commercialization of mango, and small business administration. Pierre Paul has experience in agriculture, climate change, fair trade and organic certifications, project management, and strategic planning. He has represented youth delegations in several United Nations conferences, such as the UN conference on Climate Change COP and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20. He is also a co-founder of “Youth Adaptation Lab,” a new initiative that invites young people to take action against global challenges.



Patrick Bell, Ohio State University, environmental science, PhD candidate. Patrick is currently a PhD candidate in environmental science at Ohio State University. He received his undergraduate degree in environmental science and master’s degrees in plant and soil sciences and international agriculture from Oklahoma State University. Throughout his college career, he was involved in international development projects in six different developing countries. Patrick’s research focuses on soil quality improvement and the assessment of climate change adaptation by smallholder farming systems in the Uluguru Mountains and the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. This June, he will be relocating to Tanzania to conduct research for 14 months as a US Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security. In addition to his doctoral work, Patrick is working as a consultant on a team for the World Agroforestry Center conducting a systematic review on “Climate Smart Agriculture.” Upon completion of his PhD, Patrick’s goal is to work as a research scientist at an international research organization focused on agricultural development for food security in developing countries.



Marcia Croft, Purdue University, horticulture, MS candidate. Marcia is pursuing a master’s degree in horticulture at Purdue University. Prior to coming to Purdue, Marcia lived and worked at a seed bank in Northern Thailand that focused on collecting and distributing underutilized species throughout Southeast Asia. Her research at the seed bank focused on evaluating low-input methods of seed storage for this seed bank and others like it. Currently, Marcia is studying market dynamics and drought tolerance of leafy vegetables indigenous to East Africa. With a focus on Western Kenya, Marcia has interviewed actors all along the supply chain to evaluate determinants of demand for these nutritious and widely-consumed species. She also compares mechanisms of drought tolerance among improved cultivars of these species to better understand which of them may provide the best resource for farmers dependent on the increasingly unpredictable rainfall of this region. In the future, Marcia hopes to use her background in indigenous and underutilized crop species to help develop more resilient agroecosystems.



Caitlin Grady, Purdue University, ecological sciences and engineering, PhD candidate. Caitlin is currently a PhD candidate in the ecological sciences and engineering program at Purdue University. Her research focuses on water and natural resource management in developing and emerging countries. With a primary interest in evaluation research, Caitlin focuses on analyzing the successes and failures of previously implemented development interventions. This work has led Caitlin to analyze water treatment facilities in East Africa as well as research for development programs and vulnerability issues in Southeast Asia. This work combines a variety of quantitative and qualitative measures of program outcomes. Caitlin holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities, science, and the environment from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a master’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University. Ultimately, Caitlin hopes to apply her interdisciplinary purists and knowledge in the international development community in order to provide more effective and efficient aid and resource provisioning for the world’s most impoverished people.



Kusum Hachhethu, Tufts University, food policy & applied nutrition, MS candidate. Kusum is currently a master’s student in the food policy and applied nutrition program at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, MA, and will graduate in May 2014. At the Friedman School, she is specializing in international nutrition interventions: design, operation and management. Her interest in agriculture, food security and nutrition stemmed from growing up in Nepal, a severely food deficit country with one of the world’s worst nutrition and poverty indicators. She enhanced her interests by pursuing a bachelor’s in environmental studies with a minor in economics from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. At Knox, she focused her academic research on food security and the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security. Her current interest is in the management of maternal and child malnutrition through integrated, nutrition sensitive, and nutrition-specific programming. She also worked as an intern for the UNICEF country office in Nepal, where she conducted an in-depth study looking at the seasonal trends of community management of acute malnutrition performance indicators. Having seen the effects of food insecurity and malnutrition first-hand in Nepal, Kusum is motivated to design innovative and integrated strategies to reduce and eradicate the alarming rates of malnutrition in the world.



Felipe Jimenez Medina, University of Chicago, public policy, MPP candidate. Felipe is currently pursuing a master public policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico. A native of Mexico, Felipe is passionate about local business regulation and the encouragement of economic development through innovation, investment, and productivity. He has worked in local federal government in Mexico, and was a member of the Task Force of Food Security at the B-20 in 2012. He is also interested in public finance and energy. Currently, Felipe is working as a consultant at the International Finance Corporation at the World Bank Group, and as a research assistant at the Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago. His ultimate career goal is to eventually transform Mexico’s agricultural sector and increase the country’s food production.



Jennifer Lane, DVM, University of California, Berkeley, public health, MPH candidate. Jennifer graduated from Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 and spent six years practicing equine and small animal medicine in Pennsylvania and Delaware before moving to California in 2013. In July 2013, she began a Master of Public Health program with a global health concentration at the University of California, Berkeley. Her time living on a beef cattle farm and working at an organic vegetable farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, inspired her interests in sustainable food systems and agroecology. She has worked as a veterinarian in developing countries across the world, including the Dominican Republic, India, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Montserrat, and Costa Rica. Through her travels, she has seen the impact that animals have on the health, welfare, and economic survival of communities around the world, and believes that animal health is an essential component of a healthy ecosystem. She is very interested in One Health approaches to care, particularly in rural and marginalized areas with a focus on smallholder farmers. Following graduation from her MPH program in May 2014, she hopes to work at the intersection of global health, nutrition, food security, and sustainable development.



Robyn McCallum, Dalhousie University, agriculture, MA candidate. Robyn is a first year master’s student studying native pollinators in wild blueberry fields. She is examining techniques aimed to increase native bee abundance, including providing habitat and food. Outside of school, she began a partnership farm of corn and soybeans. Currently, she serves as the president of the students’ association and is engaged in various leadership aspects. She enjoys visiting schools to speak about agriculture awareness and hopes to develop a program for schools focused on agricultural education.



Silvano Assanga Ocheya, Texas A&M University, plant breeding, PhD candidate. Silvano is currently pursuing a PhD in plant breeding at Texas A&M University. Prior to enrolling at Texas A&M University, he obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nairobi. Previously, he was a research associate at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), where he worked in the Global Maize Program and covered wide variety of projects for developing countries. At CIMMYT, he contributed to poverty eradication through development of climate change resilient maize hybrids for farmers in developing countries. He also held a position of a research officer in Kenya’s National Research Program, where he helped develop nutritionally enhanced maize, commonly known as quality protein maize. He holds several distinguished awards including outstanding research presentation at the 2009 African Crop Science Society conference in South Africa. Recently, his proposal was recognized as one the best globally, and he was awarded the prestigious scholarship by Monsanto’s Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars to pursue a PhD program in plant breeding. Silvano is a member of Crop Science Society of America, Agronomy society of America, and University of Nairobi Alumni.



Lauren Pincus, University of California, Davis, horticulture & agronomy, PhD candidate. Lauren researches soil fertility management in Uganda as a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis. She received her MS in international agricultural development from U.C. Davis. She has traveled extensively in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America and is particularly interested in participatory agricultural research and extension, which links together farmers’ and scientists’ ideas to improve adoption of good agricultural practices. Currently, she is investigating the impact of combining organic and inorganic fertilizer sources at varying ratios on yields in Uganda. The study will improve scientific understanding of fertilizer dynamics in acidic soils and will offer new management strategies for farmers in Uganda’s central region. She also conducted a year-long extension program which improved smallholders’ ability to practice effective soil management and allowed her to study how extension messages and farmer trainings can better target this population.



Deepak Premkumar, Iowa State University, economics and global resource systems, BS candidate. Deepak is a senior at Iowa State University, studying economics, global resource systems, and mathematics. Growing up in two worlds—an Iowa college town and the India of his family’s heritage—and his experiences seeing poverty firsthand in India ignited his passion for service. His interests prompted him to pursue development research in Tanzania and India, hoping to contribute his skills to serving others. In Tanzania, Deepak and a fellow student analyzed the resource constraints present in three food-insecure, rural villages, attempting to determine the optimal interventions for development agencies to undertake. In India, Deepak worked as a research assistant for the International Growth Centre’s North India team, analyzing methods to mitigate groundwater depletion in Punjab. Graduating Iowa State in spring 2014, Deepak will continue his studies at U.C. Berkeley, pursuing a PhD in development economics. Deepak hopes to use his research to alleviate poverty and ameliorate health around the world.



Adam Riesselman, Drake University, biochemistry/cell and molecular biology, BA. Adam is completing his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry/cell and molecular biology with a minor in computer science at Drake University, and will be graduating in May 2014. Growing up on a small farm in rural western Iowa, Adam experienced agriculture firsthand. During his senior year of high school, he organized a native prairie on school grounds. Adam stayed active in hunger politics with the World Food Prize throughout his undergraduate career and had professional experience in agriculture with the USDA, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and DuPont-Pioneer. Adam was named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar and the Oreon E. Scott class valedictorian from Drake University. Adam is particularly interested in high-throughput genomic research utilizing datasets from next-generation sequencing technologies. Politically, Adam advocates for food security, sustainable agriculture, computer science and biology ethics, and gender equality issues. He will be continuing his education in the bioinformatics and integrative genomics PhD program at Harvard University.



Herbert Sserunkuma, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, plant breeding and genetics, MS. Agriculture is the major economic activity in Uganda where Herbert was born and raised. Although he grew up in the city where not much of the farming was done, he was still exposed to agriculture especially during the school holidays, which he would spend on the family farm. He always had a passion for science and was elated when he got the opportunity to study for a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. He was intrigued by why there were differences in production in different areas of the country at different times of the year. The explanations provided by the difference in technologies, techniques, soils, environments, and other social economic factors were incredible. He was captivated by the solutions provided through science and research, and this drove his ambition to be an agricultural researcher to find and provide innovative and relevant scientific solutions to the ever-changing challenges faced by agricultural production. These challenges include diseases, unstable markets, labor, changes in soil fertility, and weather and climate change among others. Herbert’s motivation and ambition is to empower agricultural communities towards improved livelihoods through improved incomes and in turn boost the development of agro-based economies in the world. 



Sharlene Yang, New York University, international policy and management, MPA candidate. Sharlene is completing her MPA degree with a specialization in international policy and management from New York University and will graduate in May 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington. She served on a consulting team for her graduate capstone project with Accelerating Market-Driven Partnerships and Carbon War Room to conduct a feasibility analysis on opportunities and challenges for agricultural waste-to-energy technologies with fieldwork in Brazil. She interned within UNDP's Innovations and Development Alliances Group for the Business Call to Action program, and researched inclusive business approaches in agriculture. Prior to these experiences, she interned at Rainforest Alliance in sustainable agriculture and provided program support for a maternal health NGO in Ethiopia, with exposure to the challenges of food security in rural Tigray. Her research projects dealt with value chain analysis for tea production in Kenya, sustainable agricultural development in Ethiopia, and impact evaluation design for an agricultural mobile program in Indonesia. Dedicated to public service and building partnerships within international development, Sharlene is interested in collaborative and innovative initiatives especially in the areas of agriculture, global hunger and food security, economic, and sustainable development. She brings a diverse set of experiences in project management, program development, cross-sector partnerships, strategic planning, and research.


Social Media Ambassadors

Maria Antip is a policy analyst for the International Fertilizer Industry Association where she is responsible for producing and analyzing an array of technical and policy documents, including briefs, reports and position papers pertaining to agriculture and rural development. Her duties include undertaking advocacy work and side-event organization at UN agencies in New York, Rome and Nairobi. Maria holds an MA in economics and philosophy from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland and is currently pursuing an MS degree in international relations from the Sorbonne University, with a research focus on US food and development aid in Sub-Saharan Africa. Having lived in six countries across three continents, she is fluent in French, Portuguese and Spanish. She also works as a communications specialist for the Farming First coalition and is a member of the Development Task Force at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Follow Maria on Twitter: @FertilizerNews.



Whitney Flatt is a 2014 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in international relations. An active participant in Model United Nations, Whitney served as a delegate to conferences at Georgetown, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. She has also served as a board member for the United Nations Association of the United States of America Cordell Hull Chapter, as well as held a three-year position as president for the United Nations Student Alliance of MTSU. She studied abroad in Czech Republic, Honduras, and Israel. Whitney’s passion for food security and international agricultural development took shape while working with Honduran youth on agricultural projects in the summer of 2012. After her time in Honduras, Whitney began an internship with the Global Food Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies where she contributed research on the report The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Recently, Whitney accepted a Project Coordinator position with the 2Seeds Network and will be moving to Korogwe, Tanzania in August of 2014. In this role, she will live and work alongside smallholder farmers, helping to strengthen and diversify agricultural output. Follow Whitney on Twitter: @WhitneyF.



Allison Hoover will graduate from Pennsylvania State University in May 2014 with a BS degree in agricultural and extension education, concentrations in international agriculture, sustainability leadership, engineering and community engagement, and Spanish. Allison’s passion for global food security was sparked by her attendance at the 2011 World Food Prize and Borlaug Symposium. Allison lived in different areas of Costa Rica during her undergraduate studies where she gained immersion and research experience, completed a semester study abroad, and more recently, a student teaching internship. She also traveled to Thailand and Cambodia to learn about food security strategies for smallholder farmers in rural areas of Southeast Asia. Allison has a passion for helping others and greatly enjoys serving as a bible study and spiritual leader in the Navigators, a Christian student organization, along with other leadership positions in agricultural organizations at Pennsylvania State University. In August 2014, Allison will serve as an AgriCorps volunteer in Liberia for one year, where she will teach agriculture and develop youth leadership and entrepreneurial skills in rural villages. Follow Allison on Twitter: @allihoov.



Andrew Lauver grew up on a family grain and livestock farm near Lake City, Iowa, where he developed a passion for agriculture at a young age. He continuously strives to invest in agriculture because it has given so much to his family and quality of life. Presently, Andrew is a Frank Ross International Business Emerging Leader at DuPont Pioneer. In the first phase of his business assignment, he spent six months in Johnston, Iowa. Now in the second phase of his assignment, Andrew works in the Western Canada Business Unit, where early maturing corn hybrids are being introduced to many growers for the first time in agricultural history. He is also pursuing a master’s in agribusiness at Kansas State University, an award-winning distance education graduate degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. He graduated from Iowa State University in December 2012 with a BS in agricultural studies and a minor in agronomy. Prior to his role at DuPont Pioneer, he worked for Senator Charles “Chuck” E. Grassley in Washington DC as a legislative intern. He also completed agricultural internships with Pioneer Hi Bred International, Monsanto Company, and MaxYield cooperative. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewLauver.



Hanna Rosman is originally from a small town in southwest Iowa. She received her BS in anthropology with honors at the University of Iowa in 2013. She is currently studying in the MS program at Iowa State University, co-majoring in rural sociology and sustainable agriculture. In May 2014, Hanna completed her first year in the program and worked for the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, was involved in the graduate and professional student government at Iowa State University, and worked for the Iowa Farmers Union as their Communications Coordinator. Her research focuses on increasing the resilience of agricultural production systems and adapting to climate change-related weather extremes and variability while reducing off-farm impacts such as nutrient runoff into Iowa waterways. She believes in the importance of farmer-centered production strategies, real world solutions, and community outreach. Hanna believes that to think globally we must be proactive within research institutions to find ways to understand decision-making and how to integrate more innovative tools in agriculture. Follow Hanna on Twitter: @hannarosman.



Sarah Sibley is currently completing a master of public policy degree at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where she focuses on policy communications and food security policy. She began her career in domestic anti-hunger policy as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow. She then worked in government and politics for six years in the White House, on the Obama for America campaign, and in the US Congress. Sarah has since returned to graduate school and grown her knowledge of food security policy to international development and urban agriculture through coursework and internships at the US Department of Agriculture, Feeding America, and Alternativas, a Bolivian food security non-profit organization. She also serves as Editor in Chief of the Chicago Policy Review, the student-run policy journal of the University of Chicago Harris School that strives to close the gap between academic research and policy. Upon graduating in June 2014, Sarah hopes to work in Chicago in a socially-conscious organization where she can use her skills in project management, writing, editing, communications, and capacity building. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahsibley.



Stephen Yeboah, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, development studies, MA candidate. Stephen’s research expertise interests include agriculture, natural resource governance, and sustainable development in Africa. His current research looks at the nexus between gold mining and agriculture and the implications on smallholder farmers in Ghana. He is the Managing Editor for Development Mail and has more than 90 publications on aid, agriculture, mining, and oil and gas. Stephen is also the Head of Research on Mining, Oil and Gas for Center for Social Impact Studies, an advocacy non-governmental organization based in Ghana. He is currently a Research and Communications Assistant for Africa Progress Panel (APP), a non-profit organization which advocates at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa and is chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. As part of his work for the APP, Stephen engages in research and media communications that result in the publication of policy-oriented articles and delivery of compelling media contents across the world. Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephen_yeboah.

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