Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa
My core research area focuses on debates over the potential for Genetically Modified (GM) crops to improve yields and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past fifteen years Africa has emerged as one of the most contentious sites for debates over the potential for GM crops to transform agricultural production for poor farmers.
Digital agriculture refers to a suite of disruptive technologies that leverage big data in order to better monitor, assess, and manage farm-level production.
The hallmark of these technologies is the flow of intensive farm-level data to external entities that seek to make production more precise and more profitable. Proponents claim that by creating a suite of feedback systems that integrate production and consumer data, digital agriculture will enable farmers to make better informed and more timely decisions around how best to manage their plots. This much-heralded transformation in decision-making has significant implications for smallholder farming systems—family-run, subsistence farmers.
Farmer Research Systems
Farmer Research Networks (FRN) refer to a participatory process of co-designing and knowledge among farmers. The aim is to foster collaboration, locally appropriate solutions to agricultural challanges, and knowledge sharing. My research will both use and evaluate FRN as a tool to examine key questions around the appropriate use of improved agricultural technologies as well as alternative approaches such as agroecology.
Teaching with Technology
This area of research stems from my interest in innovative pedagogical approaches. Over the past few years I have worked with my colleague Dr. Elizabeth De Santo to create a full-scale simulated negotiation for our second-year course on global environmental politics. We relied on e-learning technologies to create a highly interactive online component designed to replicate the dynamism that characterizes the real-world negotiation of Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements. We then used pre- and post- surveys to measure the specific knowledge, experience, and skills that are enhanced through the simulation. These surveys have generated rigorous empirical evidence that isolates the specific mechanisms through which simulations influence learning, critical thinking, and skill development. Our results provide insight into the effectiveness of integrating online technologies into the delivery of the simulation, as well as best practices for using e-learning tools effectively.