Faculty Director

V. Ernesto Méndez serves on the leadership team of the Institute for Agroecology as the Faculty Director and is a Professor of Agroecology at the University of Vermont’s Department of Plant and Soil Science. His research and teaching focus on agroecology, agrifood systems, smallholder coffee systems, participatory action research (PAR), and transdisciplinary research approaches.

At UVM, he is also a faculty member of the Food Systems Graduate Program, fellow and steering committee member of the Gund Institute for Environment, and also active in advancing issues of justice, equity, anti-racism, diversity and belonging. He has over 25 years of experience working with smallholder farmers and Indigenous communities in Latin America and collaborating in agroecology efforts in a wide diversity of regions. Recently, these efforts have expanded across the world and currently include education and research initiatives in the Northeast U.S.A., Latin America, Africa, and Europe. Since 2022, he serves as vice-president of the board of directors of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA). He has authored or co-authored over 65 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, as well as edited three books. Most recently, he joined his former UCSC mentor, Professor Emeritus Steve Gliessman, as co-author of the fourth edition of the textbook "Agroecology: Leading the Transformation to a Just and Sustainable Food System" (CRC Press).

Ernesto was born and raised in El Salvador and maintains deep connections with his Central American roots.


Gliessman, S.R., V.E. Méndez, V.M. Izzo and E.W. Engles (2022) Agroecology: Leading the transformation to a just and sustainable food system. 4th Edition. Ed. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis: Boca Raton, FL.

Guzmán Luna, A., C.M. Bacon, V.E. Méndez, M.E. Flores Gómez, J. Anderzén, M. Mier y Terán Giménez Cacho, R. Hernández Jonapá, M. Rivas, H.A. Duarte Canales and Á.N. Benavides González (2022) Toward Food Sovereignty: Transformative Agroecology and Participatory Action Research With Coffee Smallholder Cooperatives in Mexico and Nicaragua. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 6:10.3389/fsufs.2022.810840 Link

Cuéllar, M., D.López-García, A.Azevedo-Olival, N.P.Laranjeira, V.E. Méndez, S.Peredo, C.A.Barbosa, C.Barrera-Salas, M.Caswell, R.Cohen, A.Correo-Humanes, V.García-García, S.R.Gliessman, A.Pomar-León, A.Sastre-Morató, G.Tendero-Acín(submitted)Cuéllar, M., D.López-García, A.Azevedo-Olival, N.P.Laranjeira, V.E. Méndez, S.Peredo, C.A.Barbosa, C.Barrera-Salas, M.Caswell, R.Cohen, A.Correo-Humanes, V.García-García, S.R.Gliessman, A.Pomar-León, A.Sastre-Morató, G.Tendero-Acín. 2021. Building Agroecology with people. Challenges of participatory methods to deepen on the agroecological transition in different contexts. Journal of Rural Studies, 83. Link.

Méndez, V.E., M. Caswell, S.R. Gliessman & R. Cohen. 2017. Integrating Agroecology and Participatory Action Research (PAR): Lessons from Central America. Invited Article for a Special Issue on “Agroecology at the Crossroads: Challenges for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems”. Sustainability [open access] 9(5):705. Link.

Méndez, V.E., C.M. Bacon, R. Cohen and S.R. Gliessman (2015) Agroecology: a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach. Advances in Agroecology. CRC Press/Taylor and Francis. Link

Awards and Recognition

Distinguished Graduate Alumnus Award (2020). University of California, Santa Cruz.

Hubert W. Vogelmann Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship (2015).College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont.

Lynne Bond Outstanding Faculty Service Learning Award (2015). Community and University Partnerships Office (CUPS), University of Vermont.

Associations and Affiliations


  • Faculty Fellow, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, UVM
  • Affiliated Faculty  Food Systems Graduate Program, UVM
  • Adjunct Professor, M.S. Agroecology/Sustainable Rural Development, Universidad Internacional de Analucía
  • Adjunct Professor, PhD. Environment and Society, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain
  • Affiliated Researcher  Community Agroecology Network
Headshot of Ernesto Mendez

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Agroecology, Participatory Action Research, Food Security and Sovereignty, Transdisciplinarity, Agroecology Principles


  • Ph.D. in Agroecology and Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz (2004)
  • M.S. in Agroforestry, Tropical Agriculture Research & Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica (1996)
  • B.S. in Crop Science, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (1994)


  • (802) 656-2924
Office Location:

225 Jeffords Hall

Office Hours:

225 Jeffords Hall, by appointment