Africa-centric Research and Extension

Africa-centric Research and Extension

The college offers widespread research expertise and experience in African nations, all centered around our

Five Strategic Initiatives

While the following represents a core set of faculty, our portfolio extends well beyond the accomplishments of this select group.

Faculty Research

Ray R. Weil, Professor

Working in African ecosystems since 1970, Ray is an internationally recognized expert on soil science, nutrient cycling, soil organic matter, and cover crop systems. His methods for microbial biomass and active soil C have been adopted by USDA/NRCS and researchers worldwide.

Projects include:
• Brassica cover crops for soil compaction alleviation and fertility improvement
• Sulfur management to improve dietary value of legume protein
• On-the-spot soil test kit, “SoilDoc”

Initiatives:
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

Stephanie Lansing, Associate Professor

Stephanie integrates research, teaching, Extension, and mentoring to provide efficient and ecologically sound methods for waste treatment and bioenergy using ecological engineering. Her research is focused in three intertwined areas: anaerobic digestion (AD); microbial and solid-oxide fuel cells (MFC and SOFC); and eMergy and life cycle assessments (LCA).

Projects include:
• Nutrient recovery using algal turf scrubber (ATS) with anaerobic digestion of algae feedstocks to drive a fuel cell
• Antimicrobial resistance, persistence and treatment in dairy and beef manure waste management processes
• Small-scale digesters for the US and developing countries
• Food waste, dairy and poultry manure digestion in Maryland, as well as sanitary waste digestion in Haiti

Initiatives:
• Ensure a Clean and Healthy Chesapeake Bay
• Improve Human, Animal, and Environmental Health
• Optimize Urban Environments Through Design, Green Technology, and Community Engagement

Ken Leonard, Associate Professor

Ken’s research in Africa looks at professionals and households trying to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice.

Projects include:
• Work in Uganda building women’s social networks to increase the probability that women will change their agricultural practices after receiving training from outside professionals
• Work with households in Tanzania demonstrating the process by which households learn by observing each other, slowly judging whether outcomes justify changing their own behavior
• Work with experts in Tanzania and Liberia showing that they are not motivated by service to their clientele as much as by the recognition of their peers: their highly specialized skills can often isolate them from the clients

Initiatives:
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems
• Improve Human, Animal, and Environmental Health

Jianghong Meng, Professor

Under Dr. Jianghong Meng’s leadership, the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems (CFS3) was integrated with the college’s Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) and FDA’s Center of Excellence, expanding partnerships and building collaborative relationships between scientists, faculty, government, and industry.

CFS3 Goals:
• To ensure a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, nationally and globally
• Build partnerships in food safety and defense research
• Foster research collaborations and outreach programs

Initiatives:
• Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security

Bill Bowerman, Professor and Chair

Bill has spent over a year in Africa since 2006, working on environmental health, ecosystem services that vultures provide, and conflicts and interfaces among three economic drivers: agriculture, natural resource extraction, and ecotourism, as well as becoming an elder of the Massai.

Projects include:
• African fish eagles as monitors of water quality in South Africa and Uganda
• Effect on lesser flamingos at Kamfers Dam in Kimberley, South Africa which included human caused stressors such as broken infrastructure (water treatment plant), climate change, and development
• Interactions of African penguins, colonial waterbirds, and vultures with the ecosystem

Initiatives:
• Ensure a Clean and Healthy Chesapeake Bay
• Improve Human, Animal, and Environmental Health

Extension

R. David Myers, Principal Agent

Dave’s Extension responsibilities include field crop and livestock agriculture with an emphasis on fruit and vegetable production and marketing. He is the faculty adviser of ROOTS UMD, a student-led organization that strives to combat hunger and poverty in Africa by promoting innovative and sustainable agricultural practices. His group works in partnership with local communities, farmer organizations, and colleges.

Projects include:
• Pesticide use education
• Protection of natural resources
• Forming partnerships that identify and develop solutions to international agricultural challenges

Initiatives:
• Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

Charles Schuster, Senior Agent

Charles is an expert in commercial horticulture, including commercial landscape, nursery, greenhouse, turf and garden center industries, and fruit and vegetable production. Charles is the main project lead for a pilot Cooperative Extension project near Lwemiyaga, Uganda to help increase farm productivity and food safety.

Projects include:
• Developing soil irrigation, soil fertility, and integrated pest management for common Uganda crops
• Commercial pesticide training and re-certification
• Nutrient management training

Initiatives:
• Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

Taryn Devereux, Faculty Specialist

Taryn has deep experience working in African nations, with extensive research on gender and climate change adaptation among small-holder farms in Kenya, and leadership around gender-based agriculture extension projects in Ethiopia. She leads efforts around the college’s Women in Agriculture program.

Projects include:
• Institutional capacity-building efforts with the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture and newly established public universities in Ethiopia
• Preparing women extension educators working with poor or vulnerable women to improve family food security
• Capacity building among women extension workers, community leaders, students and farmers, creating a reinforcement life cycle

Initiatives:
• Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems