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Meet our Advisors

Updated: Aug 17

To advise us as we produce a groundbreaking new State of the Field for Agricultural Research landscape report, Juno has assembled a distinguished team of researchers, advocates and development leaders from leading global institutions.

Ramya Ambikapathi

Dr. Ramya Ambikapathi is a Senior Research Associate in the Cornell CALS Department of Global Development. Her research broadly focuses on how environmental and ecological factors translate to poor nutrition outcomes, and efforts to mitigate these negative impacts. This research has led her to explore gender equity, men’s engagement, family food choices, food environment, informal economy, food systems, and consequently, metrics and methods to measure these complex factors as they relate to nutrition outcomes. Before joining Cornell, Ramya was a Research Scientist at the Department of Public Health at Purdue University. Ramya completed two postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard Chan and Purdue University working on two cluster randomized control trials in Ethiopia and Tanzania. She has led the “DECIDE study," a Drivers of Food Choice grant exploring family food environments, family diets, and informal food environments in urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Dr. Brenda Boonabaana, a human geographer by background, is a lecturer and Gender and Qualitative Research Specialist based at Makerere University, Uganda. She holds a Ph.D in Gender and Sustainable Tourism from the University of Otago, New Zealand, a Masters of Arts degree in Land Use and Regional Development and B.A. in Education (Geography major), both from Makerere University. With over 10 years’ experience, Brenda’s research expertise focuses on gender, women empowerment in agriculture, sustainable development, including tourism, environmental conservation, climate change and resilience. She has worked as an Associate Coordinator and Trainer for a global gender and agriculture training programme: Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT), managed by Cornell and Makerere Universities. Brenda is a Fellow of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Washington DC, that has rolled out tools for measuring women empowerment in agriculture. She was part of the expert team selected by the IFPRI GAAP2 team to develop and test the qualitative protocols for the project specific-Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI). Brenda has worked for the United Nations Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as a Regional Field Expert for Africa, towards producing the Second Global Report on Women in Tourism and was part of the team that won a global award of excellence for human development reporting in 2016. Over the last two years (2021-2023), she has been a Provost Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin.

Jill Guerra has more than 10 years of professional and academic experience advancing evidence-based agriculture and food systems policy, programming and research through international and domestic initiatives. Since 2019, she has been a Senior Food Systems Advisor at Global Affairs Canada working within the international assistance portfolio. In this role, she provides policy and technical advice and co-manages a machine learning project seeking to deliver greater insights on Canada’s agri-food systems programming. She led Canada’s engagement in the UN Food Systems Summit, and contributes to Canada’s response to the current food crisis. She holds a B.A. from the University of Guelph in International Development and a Master’s from the University of British Columbia focused on sustainable food systems. Her thesis research explored the extent to which Brazil’s National School Feeding Program was able to create incentives for family farmers to transition to agroecology and organic agriculture through guaranteed price premiums. She has led policy and research efforts focused on Canadian agri-food systems in roles with the Canada Organic Trade Association, the Canadian Organic Growers, the Ottawa Food Policy Council and as an advisor on various food systems-related research projects including with Food Secure Canada.

Dr. Preet Lidder is Technical Adviser in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Chief Scientist Office. She has more than 15 years of experience with international organizations, including FAO and CGIAR, in agricultural research and development, technical analysis and guidance, and policy advice in support of efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems. Her expertise spans multiple domains, in particular climate change, biodiversity, technology and innovation, foresight, science-policy interfaces, and science communication. She has published extensively, organized numerous scientific conferences and fora, and served on various advisory panels, steering committees and task forces, providing comprehensive support on complex processes. Her current work focuses on opportunities to leverage science, technology and innovation for transforming agrifood systems, enhancing constructive dialogue on science by bringing to bear the foremost knowledge on contentious issues, as well as strengthening science and evidence-based decision-making. Preet played a pivotal role in the development of FAO's first-ever Science and Innovation Strategy and FAO’s new knowledge product, the Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook (ATIO). Preet, an Indian national, trained as a molecular biologist with an M.S. in Plant Molecular Biology from the University of Delhi, a Ph.D in Cell and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University, followed by postdoctoral research at New York University.

Dr. Lauren M. Phillips is an international political economist and currently Deputy Director for the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Prior to joining FAO in 2021, she worked in a variety of policy, strategy and advisory roles at another specialized agency of the United Nations, at the International Fund for Agricultural Development from 2015-2021, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics (2008-2014), as a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (2005-08), and in a variety of private finance roles in the City of London and New York. She holds a Ph.D in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics and Master and Bachelor degrees from Stanford University. Lauren is also an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy, and has published widely on finance and development.

Dr. Valeria Piñeiro is the acting head of the Latin American region and Senior Research Coordinator in the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Her recent work includes modeling the impacts of agricultural support policies on emissions from agriculture and reviewing the evidence on incentives for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and their outcomes. Her work in Latin America and the Caribbean region includes development strategies and economic growth, trade policies, effects of economic downturn, migration, and tax policies to reduce obesity. She has significant experience working in the areas of economic development and growth using General Equilibrium Models (CGE) as an analytical tool and has for the last several years led courses in many countries teaching the theory and application of CGE models. Valeria received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Monica Schuster is an Economist in the Resilience Index Measurement and Analysis Team (RIMA) at FAO. Monica conducts research in the field of agriculture and food security, employment and rural labor markets, natural resource management and sustainability. Monica has more than 10 years experience working with international organizations and NGOs such as FAO, IFPRI, GIZ, and WWF, where she has contributed to research, technical support, capacity building and policy advocacy on fostering resilient, inclusive and sustainable agri-food systems. Her primary objective has been to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and practical implementation and policy, as well as environmental sustainability and economic development. Dr Schuster has published in various peer reviewed journals and holds field experience from Burundi, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Peru, and Uganda. She holds a master’s in Economics from Bocconi University in Milano, Italy and a Ph.D in Agricultural and Development Economics from the University of Leuven, Belgium.

Dr. Hale Ann Tufan is an Associate Professor with the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. Her work focuses on critical analysis of crop improvement research ecosystems, building gender responsive crop improvement systems, through curriculum development and training, leading research on priority setting, market research, gender research and on-farm testing. She has a multidisciplinary background spanning Ph.D.-level research in molecular plant pathogen interactions at the John Innes Centre, UK, plant breeding with CIMMYT, international agricultural research for development program management, and gender capacity and strategy development across SSA. She is co-Director of the Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project, Priority Setting co-lead for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, Principle Investigator for the Muhogo Bora project, and survey division lead for the NextGen Cassava project. Dr. Tufan was awarded the Borlaug Field Award in 2019 to recognize her work to ensure women farmers and researchers are fairly represented in agricultural research for development.

Kelly Witkowski leads the hemispheric Agriculture Climate Action and Sustainability Program at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, directing vision and implementation strategy for the Institute and its 34 offices for promoting a more resilient, sustainable and low-emissions agriculture sector in the Americas. She works at the tecnical adn political levels to foster a more active and informed participation of the agricultural sector in national and international processes related to climate change and to mobilize climate finance to enable climate action in agri-food systems. She is based in Costa Rica and has master’s degrees in sustainable development and international affairs.

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