The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Laureate Joins Faculty at University of Florida



Date: February 22, 2016

By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566,
Source: Jack Payne, 352-392-1971,

Renowned scientists join the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Two acclaimed faculty, internationally recognized for their work in tropical agriculture, have joined the faculty at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Pedro Sanchez has been named a professor in the department of soil and water sciences, while Cheryl Palm will be a professor in the department of agricultural and biological engineering. Both will work with the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Palm to UF/IFAS because of the great work we are already doing in tropical agriculture, and Drs. Sanchez and Palm will help grow our programs,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at UF. “Both scientists bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for agriculture and its impact on the world. They will complement the work we do at UF/IFAS to improve our local and global communities, and will help position UF as a global leader in tropical agriculture.”

Sanchez and Palm both work at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world's most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.

Sanchez is a 2002 World Food Prize recipient, 2004 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Most recently, Sanchez was Columbia University’s director of Tropical Agriculture and the Rural Environment Program and of the Millennium Villages Project, and was a senior research scholar at the Earth Institute. He served as co-chair of the Hunger Task Force of the Millennium Project, an advisory body to the United Nations.  He has served as Director General of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya from 1991-2001. He is also professor emeritus of Soil Science and Forestry at North Carolina State University, and was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sanchez is author of Properties and Management of Soils of the Tropics (rated among the top 10 best-selling books in soil science worldwide), and author of more than 200 scientific publications. He is currently writing the second edition of this book.

Most recently, Palm was a senior research scientist and director of research in the AgCenter at Columbia University. A tropical ecologist and biogeochemist, Palm’s research focuses on land use change, degradation and rehabilitation, and ecosystem processes in tropical agricultural landscapes.

Palm led a major effort quantifying carbon stocks, losses and net greenhouse gas emissions following slash and burn and alternative land use systems in the humid tropics in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, Indonesia and the Congo Basin. She has spent much of the past 15 years investigating soil nutrient dynamics in farming systems of Africa, including options for soil and land rehabilitation.

She is deputy director of Vital Signs Africa, a new project developing and implementing integrated monitoring systems in agricultural landscapes. Palm received her Ph.D. in soil science from North Carolina State University after completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of California, Davis. She a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomists and served as chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) from 2008 to 2011.



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