Polly Ericksen is the innaugural Director of the Food Systems Research Center. Ericksen has been recognized as an early pioneer in the field of food systems research and is a seminal scholar using interdisciplinary approaches to solve complex food systems issues in the context of global environmental change. She has spent much of her career working across disciplines to link science with development policy and resource mobilization.
For more than two decades, Ericksen has worked at the nexus of research and development relating to agriculture, food systems and climate change across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She joins UVM after having spent the past nine years as the program leader for sustainable livestock systems with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya where she led a research program of more than 40 staff across East and West Africa and South Asia and managed an annual budget of $10 to $15 million.
Ericksen holds a Ph.D. in Soil Science, an M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College. She brings extensive leadership and management skills to the research center, as well as expertise on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, natural resource management, disease, and social equity.