Clara Inés Nicholls, University of California Berkeley, USA

Agroecology: a viable path for food production in a planet in crisis

Clara Nicholls is a Colombian agronomist with a PHD from UC Davis. She has taught “Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Development in Latin America” at UC Berkeley, Stanford University and Santa Clara University since 2002. She also teaches at various universities in Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Spain and Italy. She teaches future professionals involved in rural development to understand that the challenges of agriculture go beyond technical problems and include socioeconomic, environmental, cultural and political dimensions. Solutions may involve activities at all levels from local to international. Dr. Nicholls is deeply committed to participatory research, where farmers not only help shape the research agenda but also conduct and evaluate the research and use the results.

Currently she serves as honorary president of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA- and is the Co-Director of the Centro Latinoamericano de investigaciones agroecologicas ( promoting educational and research projects on agroecology to enhance food sovereignty and resiliency of farming systems to climate change. Her research has centered on enhancing plant biodiversity of farms to provide habitat and foster natural enemies of insect pests in a range of farming systems. She is also working on methodologies to evaluate the resilience of farms to climate change and based on such assessments in designing agroecological interventions to enhance the adaptability of farming systems to climatic extremes. She is the author of 4 books (among them Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agrecosystems) and of more than 50 scientific journal papers.