Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation



Speaker Biographies


Susan Capalbo

Susan Capalbo accepted the position of Department Head for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University in 2008. She has been involved in the economics of climate change, carbon sequestration, and integrated policy analysis and tradeoff assessment for the past 20 years. In addition to recent research on climate change and carbon sequestration, Dr. Capalbo has been involved in integrating science and economics in addressing issues of sustainable agricultural policies in both developed and developing countries. She co-edited two books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, and received the WAEA Distinguished scholar award in 2012 for her research, mentoring of STEM students, and academic leadership.

Dr. Capalbo has developed an extensive program in the area of interdisciplinary science research and promoting women in the research arena. As the Director of Special Projects in the Montana State University VPR Office, Dr. Capalbo was awarded several diversity and social science research collaborative grants, including an NSF ADVANCE Leadership Award to advance women as research leaders. She was awarded a Marie Tharp Fellowship through the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the NSF ADVANCE program to integrate her research and leadership in the areas of climate change and the economics of clean coal technology on a national and global basis.

Dr. Capalbo received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of California-Davis in 1982. She is currently on the faculty at OSU and serves as Department Head and Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Past positions include Professor at Montana State University, Fellow at Resources for the Future, and visiting appointments at Columbia, UC-Davis, and University of Maryland.




Kenneth Cassman

Kenneth Cassman is the Robert B. Daugherty Professor of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska, and also serves as Chair of the Independent Science and Partnership Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. He was Chair of the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska from 1996-2004.

His research and teaching have focused on ensuring local and global food security while conserving natural resources and protecting environmental quality for future generations. During his 33-year career as a systems agronomist, he has worked on nearly all of the world’s major cropping systems—from the humid tropics, to irrigated agriculture in Mediterranean climates, to rainfed maize-soybean systems of the U.S. Corn Belt, Argentina, and Brazil.


Dr. Cassman received a Ph.D. (1979) from the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture, and a BS degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego (1975). He served on agricultural development projects in Brazil and Egypt (1980-1984), was on the faculty at UC Davis from 1984-1990, and served as Head of Agronomy, Plant Physiology, and Agroecology at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines (1991-1995). He is best known for his publications on crop yield potential and yield gap analysis, nitrogen use efficiency, and global food security, and as co-author of the textbook, Crop Ecology. Cassman has received a number of professional awards for his contributions in research and education, most recently the 2012 President’s Award from the Crop Science Society of America. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.




Christopher Delgado

Christopher Delgado is a Senior Fellow at World Resources Institute (WRI). Previously, he was the Economics and Policy Practice Leader in the Agriculture and Environmental Services Department at the World Bank, where he led the Department’s Agricultural and Environmental Economics and Policy Team. He was the founding Program Manager of the Bank’s short-term Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP) and the G20-requested long term Global Agricultural and Food Security Program (GAFSP). These two programs, which include externally financed trust fund programs, have allocated over $2.5 billion in food-related projects to the poorest countries since 2008, with the majority on a fully additional grant basis.

He was the World Bank focal point for food security issues in the Korean and French G20 Presidencies, and assisted with the same issues under the Mexican and Russian G20 Presidencies. Prior to his time at the World Bank, he spent 26 years at the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). At IFPRI he helped build the organization from a small, private, DC-based NGO into the globally known international organization that it is today. He also led much of the research on livestock and fisheries issues.

Dr. Delgado holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University. He is a former United States Peace Corps Volunteer (Chad), a university researcher (University of Michigan), and part-time teacher (Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies). He has lived and worked widely in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and has published extensively in a number of languages.




Åsa Giertz

Åsa Giertz is an Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice, where she works with the Agricultural Risk Management Team. She currently leads risk management work in Africa, Asia, and Central Asia, supporting countries in identifying systemic risks and risk management mechanisms for their agriculture sectors.

Ms. Giertz has worked with agricultural development in the World Bank for the past eight years in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Central and South Asia. Her main focus is agricultural policy, and she has contributed to numerous World Bank publications, including the 2013 flagship report, “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential for Agribusiness.” She has also supported a wide range of World Bank financed investment projects.

Before joining the World Bank, Ms. Giertz worked for two years for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, and before that for the Swedish Private Sector and for the Swedish Ministry of the Environment. Ms. Giertz has a M.Sc. in Macro and Development Economics from the Stockholm University and a M.Sc. in Food and Nutrition Policy from City University London.





Thomas Hertel

Professor Hertel is a Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, where his research focuses on the global impacts of trade, climate and environmental policies. In 2013, he was awarded the inaugural Purdue University Research and Scholarship Distinction Award.

Dr. Hertel is a Fellow and Past-President of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP), which now encompasses more than 10,000 researchers in 150 countries around the world. This Project maintains a global economic database and an applied general equilibrium modeling framework. These are documented in the book Global Trade Analysis: Modeling and Applications, edited by Dr. Hertel and published by Cambridge University Press in 1997.

Dr. Hertel’s most recent research has focused on the impacts of climate change and mitigation policies on global trade, land use and poverty. During the 2011-12 year he was on leave at Stanford University, where he was engaged in interdisciplinary research on these topics.

Previously, he has conducted research on the impacts of multilateral trade agreements, including the linkages between global trade policies and poverty in developing countries. His book, Poverty and the WTO (co-edited with L. Alan Winters), received the AAEA Quality of Communication award. Other AAEA awards include Distinguished Policy Contribution and Outstanding Journal Article.

Dr. Hertel received a Ph.D. in Applied Economics from Cornell University. He also holds a Masters in Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a B.A. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.




Robert Mendelsohn

Robert Mendelsohn has written over one hundred peer-reviewed articles and edited six books. The focus of his research has been the valuation of the environment. He has developed methods to value natural ecosystems including coral reefs, old-growth forests, non-timber forest products, ecotourism, and outdoor recreation. He has also developed methods to value pollution, including emissions of criteria pollutants (such as particulates and sulfur dioxide) and hazardous waste sites. His most recent work values the impacts of greenhouse gases, including the effects of climate change on agriculture, forests, water resources, energy, and coasts. This research carefully integrates adaptation into impact assessment and has recently been extended to developing countries around the world. He has also been involved in studies of nonrenewable resources, forest management, and specifically carbon sequestration in forests.

He is currently a Professor in the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and Ph.D. from Yale University.





Julie Morris

Julie's work focuses on the interagency development of a decadal U.S. Global Change Research Program Strategic Plan that links new research and improved capabilities to societal use, and its implications for implementation planning. She works with USGCRP leadership and staff to: develop the framework and process for strategic planning to ensure that the Strategic Plan reflects the breadth of USGCRP priority activities; coordinate support for the interagency Writing and Integration Teams tasked with producing the plan; facilitate multi-agency, NRC and public review of the draft Strategic Plan; and provide input to implementation planning.



Julie comes to the USGCRP National Coordination Office from NSF, where she served a four-year rotation as Director of the Ocean Sciences Division. She served as an Acting Co-chair for the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, and contributed to development of the decadal Interagency Ocean Research Priorities Plan, the first Inter-Agency Ocean Priorities Memo, and the initiation of a 12-agency NRC study on "Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030." She also served as NSF's representative to the Ocean Policy Task Force's Working Committee. At NSF, Julie established new funding lines for Ocean Acidification in 2007; contributed to NSF's Climate Research Investment solicitations; developed white papers for a possible NSF emphasis on societal, physical, and biological science research in coastal regions; and completed the planning and initiated construction for a new research vessel to operate at the ice edge and an in-situ ocean observing system oriented toward priority research needs.





Martina Newell-McGloughlin

Martina Newell-McGloughlin directs the University of California (UC) Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program (UCBREP), which covers all ten campuses and the three national Laboratories. She is co-director of an NIH Training Grant in Biomolecular Technology and co-director of the NSF IGERT training program in Collaborative Research and Education in Agricultural Technologies and Engineering, a UC/Ireland collaboration.  Prior to this she was director of the UC System Life Sciences Informatics program and the local UC Davis Biotechnology Program. She helped contribute to the formation of Science Foundation Ireland and is now a member of its Board of Directors.

Martina's personal research experience has been in the areas of disease resistance in plants, scale-up systems for industrial and pharmaceutical production in microbes, and microbiological mining. She has a special interest in Developing World Research and is part of the USAID Applied Biotechnology Research Program. She speaks frequently before scientific and other associations, testifies before legislative bodies, and works with the media.

The UC Davis Academic Federation selected her to receive its 2001 James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2003, the Council for Biotechnology named her one of the DNA Anniversary Year, Faces of Innovation. In 2005, was awarded the 'Irish America Lifescience Awards' as one of the top contributors to Irish American Life Science. Her science training is from Trinity College, Dublin; University College Dublin, and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.





Sara Scherr

Sara Scherr is an agricultural and natural resource economist specializing in land management policy in tropical developing countries. Founder of EcoAgriculture Partners, she now serves as its President and CEO. In 2011 she led the founding of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, for which EcoAgriculture Partners now serves as secretariat. She currently serves on the board of the international agricultural biodiversity research organization Bioversity International, on the advisory board of Food Tank, on the Scientific Advisory Board for the ASSETS (Attaining Sustainable Services from Ecosystems) research program, as a member of the UN Agri-food Task Force, and on the design team of the Solutions from the Land initiative. She is also a member of the scientific editorial boards of the journals Agroforestry Systems, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, and Land Use Policy.

Before founding EcoAgriculture Partners, Dr. Scherr held positions as Director of Ecosystem Services at the non-profit Forest Trends; adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA; co-leader of the CGIAR Gender Program; senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C.; and principal researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya. She was previously a Fulbright Scholar (1976) and a Rockefeller Social Science Fellow (1985-87). Dr. Scherr received her B.A. in Economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and her MSc and Ph.D. in International Economics and Development at Cornell University. Dr. Scherr is widely published in the scientific and policy literature, and has been a leading voice globally in promoting the restoration of degraded agricultural lands and new approaches for integrated landscape management.





Charles Walthall

Charles Walthall is the National Program Leader for the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Climate Change, Soils and Air Quality Research Program. He also oversees ARS remote sensing and geospatial research, plant and environmental process modeling research and development of data management systems for ARS natural resources projects.

Dr. Walthall was introduced to climate change science as a graduate student during 1983, and has interacted with climate research communities throughout his career. He is the lead author of the first USDA Climate Change Science Plan, the “Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation” report for the National Climate Assessment, and the ARS Climate Change, Soils and Emissions National Program Action Plan. He also contributed climate change and soils sections to the USDA Research Economics and Education Strategic Plan. He serves on interagency working groups on climate change, earth observations, air quality, and soils, and is frequently invited to speak on climate change topics by domestic and international organizations.

Dr. Walthall has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland; an M.S. in Forest Science with a specialization in remote sensing from Texas A&M; and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Meteorology and Climatology with a specialization in remote sensing from the University of Nebraska. Prior to joining the ARS Office of National Programs during 2005, Dr. Walthall conducted research to develop remote sensing technologies for urbanized area change detection, rangeland ecology, forestry, agriculture, and land-surface climatology. Dr. Walthall is ranked among the top 100 authors cited in the remote sensing literature. Prior to joining USDA-ARS in 1994, Dr. Walthall worked with NASA, the University of Maryland and the World Bank.