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K-State Today

August 22, 2016



New hires boost research in Feed the Future Lab for Sustainable Intensification

By Molly McKneight

Left to right: Jan Middendorf, Manuel Reyes and Zachary Stewart

Building on the momentum of announcing its research subawards earlier this year, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification, or SIIL, is enhancing its capacity by adding three new team members to achieve its goals and objectives.

Vara Prasad, director of the lab, said these new staff additions enhance support to SIIL's activities in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

"Given the diverse experience represented by these new hires, I am confident that SIIL will continue to progress toward its goal by working with smallholder farmers to achieve food and nutritional security and support the Feed the Future initiative led by USAID," Prasad said.

The three new team members:

Jan Middendorf, associate director, brings more than 25 years of experience in project development, management, implementation and evaluation of multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programs and projects in national and international settings. She will lead research activities related to monitoring and evaluation, understanding barriers of adoption, impact assessment, program effectiveness and integrating social science to guide and support the vision and objectives of SIIL. She also will oversee and help in managing, evaluating and organizing activities to facilitate technical and administrative goals of SIIL.

Manuel Reyes, research professor, has more than 30 years of experience working with water quality modeling, natural resources management and conservation agriculture. Reyes has extensive expertise across the globe in research, extension, teaching and project implementation. Reyes will focus his efforts in Cambodia working with the Royal University of Agriculture and University of Battambang to enhance human and institutional capacity to conduct research and training of scholars and youth. He will facilitate partnerships with other Feed the Future Innovation Labs, international organizations and private industry in Cambodia.

Zachary Stewart, research associate, has a multidisciplinary background that enables the advancement of agricultural production while keeping in mind the well-being of those impacted. He has conducted extensive research on crop physiology and production as well as worked with smallholder farmers in East Africa on agronomic and human health topics. Stewart will conduct research related to global food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers, opportunities for scaling of interventions and impact on livelihoods. He also will lead the knowledge management and communication efforts of SIIL.

"With the SIIL management entity fully staffed, we are well positioned to expand our activities and create an enabling environment for success of our subawards and consortia," Prasad said.

"The progress made by SIIL and the other three Feed the Future Innovation Labs — sorghum and millet; post-harvest loss; and applied wheat genomics — at Kansas State University strategically positions our college and university to continue to make advancements in addressing the challenges of food safety, food security and nutrition security across the globe," said John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture.