Food for Progress Sustainability Assessment Faculty Bios

By: Britta Hansen
Collaborative Research Specialist

The SBC is working closely with The Improve Group to refine our evaluation questions and to plan our evaluation. We are conducting stakeholder interviews with past project participants, project staff, collaborators and others involved. With these insights we will be designing our methodology to accommodate local needs and constraints. We are excited to announce our faculty partners who will participate in all areas of the evaluation process: they will be proposing questions, refining methods and will participate in field visits and data collection this spring.


Dr. John R. Vreyens, Ph.D. University of Minnesota Extension Director, Global Initiatives. As Director of Global Initiatives, John coordinates extension programs in Morocco, Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil.  He supports UM Extension staff to build capacity with our international partners across all program areas of Extension. John supports faculty and staff to enhance or transfer cross-cultural communication skills from these international experiences to working in the kaleidoscope of communities now found in Minnesota. John has degrees in Animal Science, Agricultural Education and International Vocational Education and Training.  His longer-term international experience includes serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer working for a cattlemen’s cooperative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer improving rice production with women in Senegal—the basis of his doctoral dissertation; and Director of Programming and Training for Peace Corps, Kenya.

Dr. David Wilsey’s research and practice focus on development of integrated natural resource conservation and livelihood programs, generally focusing on forest- and farm-based livelihood systems. A particular interest is the role of non-timber forest products in food and livelihood systems, and in the development of market-based interventions to support livelihood and lifestyle goals. Dr. Wilsey is the Director of the MDP program at the Humphrey School, University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the program, he spent five years as an associate Extension professor and educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences. David’s international work is primarily focused in Latina America, with work and research experiences in Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador.

Dr. Dean Malvick Is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology. Plant diseases caused by fungi, Oomycetes, and bacteria can dramatically reduce yield and quality of crops. They are serious economic problems as well as fascinating biological puzzles that can clarify the complex interactions between microbes and plants. Dr. Malvick seeks to improve plant disease management and diagnosis via problem-solving research. He is also heavily involved in developing and delivering educational programs for producers, extension educators, and other agricultural professionals regarding the occurrence and characteristics of crop diseases as well as strategies for their management using effective, economic, and environmentally sound tactics.


Dr. George Annor: Assistant Professor of Cereal Chemistry and Technology, UMN Department of Food Science and Nutrition. He is also the chair for the General Mills Endowed Professorship in Cereal Chemistry and Technology. George hails from Ghana and has done extensive work there where he was a professor of Food Science and Nutrition at University of Ghana, Legon-Accra. George has worked extensively throughout west Africa, including Benin. Related publications here, here and here.

Dr. Julie Grossman is faculty in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota, and a recent visiting Senior Researcher and Fulbright Scholar at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. Julie received her PhD at the University of Minnesota in Agronomy and Soil Science. She was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, and faculty at North Carolina State University in the Department of Soil Science, prior to arriving to UMN in 2014. Julie’s research explores management of plant-soil-microbe relationships to enhance soil fertility, especially the process of biological nitrogen fixation in legume cover crops. Julie has a strong interest in soil science education and is former Chair of the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. At UMN, Julie is the Organic Program Coordinator, and an affiliated faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change.

Dr. Paul Porter is a Professor, Cropping Systems Agronomist Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics and the UMN. As a cropping systems agronomist, Paul has researched crop rotations, alternative cropping systems, rye as a cover crop, and agronomic issues related to local food systems – often from an agroecological perspective. He has taught several courses annually, including “World Food Problems,” “Agroecosystem Analysis Summer Field Course,” “Agroecosystems of the World,” and “Strategies for Agricultural Production and Management.” Paul also taught two innovative adventure learning courses (“Food and Agriculture from Cairo to Cape Town at 10 mph” and “Food and Agriculture from Buenos Aires to Lima at 10 mph”) while bicycling over 18,000 km across the two continents. Paul was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has worked on many USAID projects throughout Africa, and is the Co-founder and consultant with the Somali Agriculture Technical Group (, and has been in Somalia and Somaliland on numerous occasions in the last five years. Related publications here.

Sri Lanka

Dr. Dean Current: Director of the Center for UMN Integrated Natural Resources and Agriculture Management. Dean has over forty years of experience in a variety of cultural and geographic settings working with research, implementation, and evaluation of forestry and agricultural activities.  These include; community-based natural resource management/community forestry, policy evaluation, and economic and environmental impact assessments. He supervises Master in Development Practice students and leads research projects in Vietnam, Guatemala, Nepal and Ecuador. He has consulted for USAID, FAO, the Center for International Forestry Research, the EU Programme for Belize among many others. Dean teaches 2 international development and sustainable natural resources courses, and has taken students on multiple international trips.

Dr. James Bradeen Is the Department Head for Plant Pathology and co-Director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health. Jim studied horticulture at Michigan State University (B.S.) and Plant Breeding & Genetics (M.S., Ph.D.) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed postdoctoral research at Rutgers University and USDA-ARS.  Jim’s research focuses on the genetic improvement of disease resistance in crop plants to reduce the need for chemical inputs. At present, he and his research team are developing informatics tools to visualize evolutionary patterns of disease resistance genes in the Rosaceae (apple, peach, strawberry), leveraging observed patterns to discover novel genes for apple scab resistance.  Jim also teaches graduate courses including molecular plant pathology, molecular plant-microbe interactions, and scientific communication.