Global Food Opportunities Seminar

The Global Food Opportunities Seminar (GFOS)is a seminar focused on bringing diverse intellectual content through a global context. The intention of these seminars is to bring an expert in to a department to work with faculty and students. While on campus, these experts give a 45 to 50 minute seminar on an international topic or issue of importance, followed by a question and answer session. Typically, one to two students present with the invited guest. These students will highlight their international experience in five minutes. Students are invited based on the lecture topic, and also participate in the Q&A session.

For more information regarding the GFOS Seminar, please contact our office director, Vicky Watkins, at



Previous Global Food Opportunities Seminars

Wayne Powell

Wayne Powell, FLSW, FRSE, has shown a lifelong commitment to the application of cutting edge science to deliver practical benefits for agriculture and the rural economies of the developed and developing world. His personal research interests are at the interface of plant genetics, genome science, plant breeding and conservation of genetic resources with a strong emphasis on the delivery of ‘public good’ outcomes. He has published extensively has an extensive national and international network of collaborators and contacts. Wayne’s leadership experience spans the Public, Private and University sectors, with a strong International focus. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Before joining Scotland's Rural College, Wayne was Chief Science Officer at CGIAR. CGIAR is the world’s premier global agri-food partnership dedicated to help achieve the sustainable development agenda of healthy diets from sustainable food systems for all. Prior to this he was Professor and founding Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University where he led the merger of the Institutes of Biological and Rural Sciences of the University with the BBSRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) to form one of the largest groups of academics and support staff in the UK focussing on plant, environment and land based sciences.

He is a senior Fullbright Scholar and worked for the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, where he gained exposure and experience of operating in a global private sector organisation. His current external roles include membership of the Science Advisory Council of DEFRA, the Scottish Science Advisory Council and Convenor of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee of Universities Scotland.


Dr. Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal, Ph. D., is a Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University (1987 to present), and was a soil physicist at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria from 1970 unti accepting his postion in Ohio. He researches soil carbon sequestration, soil health, conservation agriculture, soil restoration, and sustainable management. He has authored 1000 journal articles, 550 book chapters, and written/edited 100 books. He was President of the Soil Science Society of America from 2006 to 2008, and the International Union of Soil Sciences (2017-2018). He holds a Chair in Soil Sciences and Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainability Issues for the IICA, Costa Rica. He is a member of the 2021-UNFSS Science Committee and Action Track 3 with focus on "Coalition 4 Action of Soil Health." Dr. Lal is a laureate of the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (2018), Glinka World Soil Prize (2018), Japan Prize (2019), U.S. Awasthi IFFCO Prize of India (2019), Arrell Global Food Innovation Award of Canada (2020), World Food Prize (2020), and Padma Shri Award (2021) of the Government of India.


Thula Sizwe Dlamini

Dr. Thula Sizwe Dlamini is the Executive Director of the Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC) in Mbabane, Swaziland. He received a B.Sc. degree in agricultural economics from The University of Swaziland and Honours degree in agricultural economics (Cum Laude) from the University of Fort Hare (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa) focusing his research on foreign direct investment in the agriculture sector. He earned his PhD in economics from Rhodes University. Thula’s PhD research focused on the economic implications of monotonous sheep farming in Graaff-Reinert, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. While at Rhodes, Thula served as an assistant lecturer and tutor coordinator. Prior to joining SEPARC, Thula worked as an agricultural economist at the Agricultural Research Council, in Pretoria, South Africa where he conducted research on agricultural science and technology policy. Thula is a recipient of the Cochrane Fellowship (Michigan State University), the South African Agricultural Economics Professional Fellowship (Cornell University) and was, in 2015, awarded Young Researcher of the Year Award at the Agricultural Research Council, in Pretoria, South Africa. Dr Dlamini has published in numerous international journals.

Watch Dr. Dlamini's Seminar 

Paolo Sambo - 

Dr. Paolo Sambo teaches at the University of Padova in Italy as a Professor of Vegetable and Ornamental Production. He received his doctorate in Environmental Agronomy and currently serves as Director of the undergraduate and graduate programs in Agricultural Science and Technology. His research focus is sustainable and organic vegetable production. Dr. Sambo holds many professional memberships, including ISHS, ASHS, and serving on the Steering Committee of the Italian Society of Horticulture Science. In addition to teaching, he is currently in the process of developing a student exchange program with Padova and the University of Arkansas. 

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Martin Gummert - 

Mr. Gummert received his diploma in agricultural engineering from Hohenheim University, in Germany in 1991. Since that time, he has worked as an apprentice, research assistant, researcher, project coordinator, team leader, and a consultant with various organizations. Currently, Mr. Gummert serves as a Senior Scientist 2 in postharvest development and mechanization at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which is located in the Philippines. He began working for IRRI from 1993 to 1997 as a coordinator for the project “Postharvest Technologies for Rice in the Humid Tropics.”  In November 2003 Mr. Gummert began as an International Research Fellow in Postharvest Development. Mr. Gummert has 12 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 4 book chapters, and 21 published conference presentations. He holds many professional memberships including the Asian Association of Agricultural Engineers. In 2010, Mr. Gummert received a medal “For the Cause of Agricultural and Rural Development, Vietnam” by the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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Elizabeth Mitcham - 

Dr. Elizabeth Mitcham is director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab (, a USAID-funded program managed by the University of California, Davis, that advances fruit and vegetable research to support the needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries. As part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, the program has collaborated with more than 18 U.S. universities and 200 organizations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia with projects spanning the horticultural value chain. Mitcham is also a postharvest physiologist on the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries as one of the leaders of the Postharvest Technology Center. 

Watch Dr. Mitcham's Seminar