Meet our Ambassadors
Applying big data solutions to transform the agriculture industry is an exciting but complex task. If we, as collective members of this innovative new sector, are to influence real change we need to be having the right conversations. To help drive this initiative, we have selected big data Ambassadors from across the CGIAR for their expertise to help advise the sector, set the agenda and to foster the conversations that will lead this movement in the right direction.
We hope this list serves as a valuable resource.
Intellectual Property Manager
With dual legal/scientific training (PhD Law, M Int’l Law, MSc Plant Biology, BSc Microbiology) specialized in intellectual property, Carolina Rao is part of the legal team at CIAT and provides support to the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture on legal issues. Carolina has a long-standing interest and hands-on experience in plant genetic resources, including regulatory frameworks as well as in-depth expertise in IP rights, patent landscapes and freedom-to-operate (FTO) aspects related to agricultural biotechnologies.
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Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Data-Driven Agronomy Community of Practice Coordinator, CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
Daniel Jiménez is a pioneer of using artificial intelligence techniques for agricultural research in developing countries. He is an award-winning scientist with more than 10 years of experience in research for development, project management, fundraising, ensuring science impact, strategic positioning, and establishing international scientific collaborations. He holds a PhD in Applied Agriculture from Ghent University.
Ex ante and foresight lead at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), and Socio Economic Data Community of Practice Lead at the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
Gideon Kruseman is a development economist by training, through work on a variety of subjects such as water management,soil degradation and non-point source pollution versed in environmental and ecological economics, and in complex models and data analysis. He has worked as development and environmental economist in international agricultural research (CIAT, IFPRI, CIMMYT), academia (Wageningen University and Free University Amsterdam), for development NGOs and in the Dutch national agricultural research system on a wide variety of topics. He holds a PhD in development economics from Wageningen University.
Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington D.C., USA
Jawoo Koo leads the Spatial Data and Analytics Theme at IFPRI, managing a team of multidisciplinary backgrounds to work on geospatial data and modeling analysis for promoting food security and nutrition outcomes. He is the Geospatial Data Community of Practice Lead of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida.
John Agboola is a farmer and an agricultural specialist who is passionate about agricultural research for sustainable development in Africa. He is a value chain catalyst, agricultural mechanization and communication expert with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension. He has served as the communication focal person for YPARD Nigeria, he is an Africa Lead Champion for Change and joined the first cohort of Youth in Data for the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture. In 2019, he organized the first ever Youth in Soil campaign where 13 young Africans were sponsored for a training on agricultural communication and attended the Global Soil Week 2019.
Research Fellow at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Julian Ramirez-Villegas is a researcher with expertise in crop-climate modelling, climate change impacts, adaptation, conservation of biodiversity and plant genetic resources. He holds a Ph.D. on Climate change impacts and adaptation from the University of Leeds.
Chief Data Officer at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Leroy Mwanzia is a results-oriented Chief Data Officer and technology professional with extensive background in data, information, management and knowledge systems. He has expertise in leading teams working on data engineering, software engineering, and open science (includes open source, open access, open data, open review, open methods and more).
He is responsible for and overseeing center wide data governance, data management, and research method, with a primary focus on organizing and using data as a strategic asset in international agricultural research.
Lillian Petersen is a high school student who analyzes large data sets to answer socially relevant questions. She has created an early warning system to predict crop yields in every African country, applied machine learning techniques to predict the prevalence of acute malnutrition, and analyzed the supply chain efficiency of specialized nutritious food distribution. She has given talks at IFPRI, USAID, USDA, GEOGLAM, FEWS NET, and the 2018 and 2019 CGIAR Conventions on Big Data in Agriculture.
You can find her work at: https://lillianpetersen.github.io/
Senior Research Fellow at the International Food policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Module Lead at the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
Medha Devare is a cropping systems agronomist with significant management experience, familiarity with fieldwork in the US and developing countries, and expertise in agricultural research for development, microbial and molecular ecology, bioinformatics, data and knowledge management, and ontology development and semantic web technology. She led a large Open Access/ Open Data Initiative from 2014-2016, working with knowledge managers, data managers, scientists, and leaders across 15 CGIAR Centers to coordinate a consistent approach to Open Access and Open Data and facilitate the ‘translation’ and wider discovery and use of CGIAR research outputs. She holds a Ph.D. in Crop and Soil Sciences from Cornell University.
Nutritionist and research scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Mercy Lung’aho is a nutritionist and research scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. Her research includes a landmark study documenting evidence that eating beans biofortified with iron can reduce iron deficiency in women of reproductive age. Her current work is on a Nutrition Early Warning System based on innovative machine learning algorithms that will alert decision-makers to nutrition threats ahead of a crisis and provide options for nutrition interventions and resilience building in national and regional food systems. She holds a Ph.D. in food science and international nutrition from Cornell University, USA.
Senior Scientist for Integrated Modeling at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Steven Prager is a researcher in geographic information science with emphasis on understanding the dynamics and interplay between networked systems and geographic space. He has long-term interest in better understanding ecologically sustainable economic development. His specialties include large-scale databases, network theory, modeling and simulation, representation and ontology. He hold a Ph.D. in Geography from Simon Fraser University.