Advisory Committee

Name Institute Career Country
anne.mbaabu's picture
Anne G. Mbaabu AGRA Kenya
bernard.vanlauwe's picture
Bernard Vanlauwe IITA

Bernard Vanlauwe joined IITA in Kenya in March 2012 to lead the Central Africa hub and the Natural Resource Management research area. In this capacity, he is also having an oversight role in the Humidtropics, the Water, Land, and Ecosystems, and the CCAFS CGIAR Research Programs. Prior to this recent appointment, he was the leader of the Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) program of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility research area of CIAT (TSBF-CIAT). He joined CIAT-TSBF in 2001 and led the development, adaptation, and dissemination of best ISFM options in various agro-ecological zones in sub-Saharan Africa. In September 2010, he obtained a Visiting Professor position at the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala in the Soils and Environment Department. Before, he worked at IITA in Nigeria (1991 – 2000) and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (1989-1991), focusing on unraveling the mechanisms underlying nutrient and soil organic matter dynamics in tropical agro-ecosystems. In that context, he obtained his PhD in 1996 in Applied Biological Sciences. He has published over 140 papers in scientific journals and over 160 in other forms and has (co-) supervised over 40 PhD and over 60 MSc students.

christian.wit's picture
Christian Witt Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Christian Witt is Senior Program Officer in the Agricultural Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He provides strategic direction on innovation in soil health, agronomy, and fertilizer managing a related portfolio of grants aimed at increasing soil fertility and productivity in smallholder farming of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to joining the foundation, he was scientist and project manager in international agricultural research with 17+ years of experience in plant nutrition and soil nutrient management in the tropics.

Witt spent most of his career working in Asia. He was Director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) Southeast Asia based in Singapore and Malaysia from 2004 to 2009 after a long career at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines where he started his Ph.D. research in 1993. Witt holds a doctorate degree in Biology from Justus-von-Liebig University, Germany (1997).

jeff.ehlers's picture
Jeff Ehlers Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation in mid-2012, Jeff worked for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Kenya from 1985-1988 as a legume breeder, then worked breeding wild rice in Northern California for a small seed and farming company for 3 years.  He then joined UC-Riverside, where he spent over 20 years on various projects serving the legume industry in California. With USAID funding he continued to work in Africa with the national cowpea programs of Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mozambique and Ghana that provided support for to the release of 7 varieties with demonstrated economic impact in Africa. While at UC Riverside, from 2007 to 2012, he was funded by the Gates Foundation through the Generation Challenge Program to lead the development of genomic resources and modern breeding of cowpea. Jeff has authored or co-authored more than 65 scientific publications. He currently manages and co-manages several grants focused on improving plant breeding in developing countries and breeding and seed delivery grants in cowpea, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, sorghum and millets at the Gates Foundation, including the Tropical Legumes-III, HOPE-II and the McKnight Foundation co-funded Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP).

Ken Giller's picture
Ken Giller Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR)

Ken Giller is Professor Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University, Department of Plant Sciences. He leads a group of scientists with profound experience in systems analysis and simulation modelling of scenarios of change. Ken’s research has focused on nitrogen in tropical legumes and he is author of the standard text “Nitrogen Fixation in Tropical Cropping Systems” that was published in second edition in 2001 by CAB International. Currently he is scientific leader of the interdisciplinary project "Competing Claims on Natural Resources: Overcoming Mismatches in Resource Use from a Multi-Scale Perspective (”, and he led the EU-funded project on "Exploring tradeoffs around farming livelihoods and the environment: the AfricaNUANCES framework (" from 2004-2008. Ken was formerly Professor of Soil Science at the University of Zimbabwe (1998-2001). Prior to that he held a personal professorship at the University of London (Wye College). He has worked extensively in tropical regions of South and South-east Asia, Latin America and Africa, but his focus for the past 25 years has been on smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Ken has supervised some 68 PhD students, including > 30 from Africa. He has 5 books, more than 250 papers in peer-reviewed, international journals and over 70 book chapters.

The Netherlands
mariangela.hungria's picture
Mariangela Hungria EMBRAPA

Mariangela Hungria is an agronomist with a PhD in Soil Microbiology. She has worked since 1982 for Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária - Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), and has been located at the Center of Soybean, in Londrina, State of Paraná, sourthern Brazil, since 1991. Her main expertise is on soil microbiology and on the N2-fixing symbiosis with legumes, however, as at Embrapa Soja there are few microbiologists and a high a demand for both basic and applied research, she coordinates projects in the following subjects: biodiversity of diazotrophic bacteria; identification of bioindicators of soil quality; genomics an proteomics of bacteria with an emphasis on diazotrophic bacteria; applied technologies; strain selection and identification of plant molecular markers; ecology of indigenous and naturalized rhizobial populations aiming maximization of the N2 fixation process with the soybean and common bean crops in Brazil; biosafety of transgenic plants. Mariangela has more than 120 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, seven books, and more than 100 technical communications for extensionists, farmers, technicians, some of them with more than 7,000 copies distributed in the country. Her contribution has been recognized by promotion to the highest level of National Research Productivity “IA” in 2008, by the CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico-National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and in 2008 has been nominated as a Member of the Brazilian Academy of Science. She is also a professor at the State University of Londrina (UEL), and has successfully supervised more than 50 MSc and PhD students. A detailed CV can be found at “”. 

peter.thorne's picture
Peter Thorne ILRI Ethiopia
rebbie.harawa's picture
Rebbie Harawa AGRA

Rebbie Harawa is currently Head of Soil and Fertilizer Systems with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) responsible for implementing soil health and fertilizer strategy to catalyze an agricultural transformation in Africa. Previously she was Interim Head for Farmer Solutions Program responsible for research and development, and capacity development. Before joining AGRA, Rebbie worked as a Team Leader and Science Coordinator for the UNDP/Columbia University-Millennium Villages Project, a multi-sectoral project which aimed at achieving   the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Rebbie also worked as an Adjunct Associate Research Scholar (part-time) for Global Health and Economic Development, Columbia University. Previously she also worked for World Agroforestry Center as a Research Specialist where she implemented projects on evaluating agroforestry technologies.

Rebbie holds a Ph.D. in Soil Science (with minor in extension) from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in USA. In addition, she received BSc and MSc in Agriculture from Bunda College of Agriculture, University of Malawi. 

richard.jones's picture
Richard Jones AGRA

Richard Jones – Chief of Party for the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership in Africa

Richard, who has more than 30 years of experience living and working in Africa, received a PhD from Reading University in 1989 and subsequently accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the Rockefeller Foundation in Malawi working as a maize agronomist. After Malawi he worked both for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Fertilizer Developmnt Center (IFDC) focusing on how to get superior varieties and better fertilizers into the hands of smallholder farmers. His research interests included the integration of legumes into maize-based systems, seed systems development, and better fertilizer management to increase productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers. Beginning in August 2013, Richard took up an appointment with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as Chief of Party for the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership in Africa that is supported by Feed the Future through USAID. The Partnership works in six countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania – and supports the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition by identifying superior food crop varieties and complementary tchnologies for scaling through competitive grant making with the aim of increasing production of high-quality seeds by 45% and ensuring that 40% more farmers gain access to innovative agricultural technologies.