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External Advisory Board

The SMIL External Advisory Board is a competency-based board selected on technical skills and international agricultural experience.

One of the most important roles of the External Advisory Board (EAB) is to contribute to the development of the research portfolio by evaluating concept notes and research proposals. The EAB reviews progress of funded research projects and provides overall guidance on future research priorities. The EAB advises the management entity on networking with the larger scientific community on efforts to leverage additional resources to support program objectives.

Dr. Brhane Gebrekidan

Ethiopian Academy of Sciences

Dr. Brhane Gebrekidan has spent his entire career in sorghum breeding in his native country of Ethiopia. In the most recent past, he has served and currently serves as a member and/or leader of various professional groups. This service has included Vice President, Founding Fellow and Board Member of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS), Chair of the Agriculture Working Group (AWG) of the EAS, Vice Chair of the Professional Advisory Group (PAG) to Colleges of Agriculture of Ethiopian Public Universities, and Vice Chair of the Ethiopian Association of Agricultural Professionals (EAAP). Additionally, he has served as External Board Member of ICRISAT’s Sorghum and Millet Project supported by the Gates Foundation. Currently Dr. Gebrekidan also serves as a member of the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) of Ethiopia.

Dr. Bettina Haussmann

West Africa Liaison Scientist, Researcher and Capacity Development Manager, University of Hohenheim and McKnight Foundation

Bettina Haussmann earned a Master’s degree in agricultural biology from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany in 1990 and her Ph.D. in 1995, studying the effects of heterozygosity and heterogeneity on the adaptedness of sorghum to semi-arid areas of Kenya. She completed her Habilitation in Plant Breeding in 2004.

As a Ph.D. student and post-doctoral researcher, Haussmann conducted research in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Mali. She was a Fellow at the University of Hohenheim in plant breeding where she conducted research on Striga resistance in sorghum. Haussmann was a private lecturer at the University of Hohenheim teaching plant breeding in the tropics, use of genetic resources and planning of breeding programs. She also served as the senior/principal scientist in pearl millet improvement and gene bank responsibility at the ICRISAT Sahelian Centre in Niamey, Niger.

Presently, Haussmann serves as a part-time Capacity Development Manager at KWS Breeding Company in Einbeck, Germany, monitoring and evaluating KWS’ capacity development projects in Ethiopia and Peru. She is also an Extraordinary Professor and private lecturer at the University of Hohenheim’s Institute of Plant Breeding. Haussmann serves as the West Africa Liaison Scientist for the McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), working in funding strategy development, project and proposal evaluation, and teaching and coordination of research projects related to plant breeding in the tropics, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Haussmann also supervises Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. students.

Dr. Tim Lust

Chief Executive Officer, National Sorghum Producers

Tim Lust is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP). In his role with the NSP, Tim works on legislative and regulatory issues that impact the sorghum industry as well as represents the U.S. sorghum industry at events throughout the United States and worldwide. In association with the USCP, Tim works directly with producers, sorghum researchers and marketing specialists to maintain a deep knowledge base of the most current happenings in the industry and to provide increased support for the crop.

Tim grew up on a diversified farming and cattle operation near Lazbuddie, Texas, and received his B.S. in Animal Science from Angelo State University and his M.B.A. from Texas Tech University. He is a past member of the USDA Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Agriculture. Tim and his wife Lea Ann have two sons, Ty and Dru.

Dr. Peter Matlon

Adjunct Professor, Cornell University

Dr. Peter Matlon is an adjunct professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, and chairs the boards of trustees of the Africa Rice Center based in Cotonou, Benin, and the Global Fund for African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) based in Nairobi, Kenya. He also serves on the advisory board of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD) in Ithaca, New York. Before his retirement in 2007, Matlon served as Managing Director for The Rockefeller Foundation Africa programs, Deputy Director of Rockefeller’s Agriculture Program, Chief of the Global Program for Food Security and Agriculture of UNDP, Director of Research at the West Africa Rice Development Association, leader for the West African Economics Program of the International Center for Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University.

During his career, Matlon has served on a number of global advisory panels including the United Nations Millennium Program Hunger Task Force and the InterAcademy Council Panel on African Agriculture. He also chaired the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems, and was Executive Secretary of the Impact Assessment and Evaluation Group of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Matlon earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Cornell University in 1977, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1971, and a B.S.F.S. degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1967.

Dr. Barbara Stoecker

Regents Professor and Marilynn Thomas Chair, Oklahoma State University

Barbara Stoecker earned her Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Kansas State University in 1965. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in nutrition with minors in biochemistry and physiology from Iowa State University in 1970 and completed post-doctoral research in nutrition in 1978. She currently serves as Regents Professor for the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Marilyn Thomas Chair in Human Sciences at Oklahoma State University.

Stoecker has held the role of team leader for evaluation of USAID Nutrition Innovation Lab/Asia and the Nutrition Innovation Lab/Africa for Nepal, Malawi and Uganda. She was a member of the OSU Team for development of the Consortium of African and United States Educators (CAUSE), and was responsible for strategic planning meetings in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya. Stoecker presently serves to support the development of the M.S. degree program in Applied Human Nutrition at Hawassa University in Awassa, Ethiopia and is a contributor to the International Curriculum Development Workshop and graduate instructor for AHuN 513 – Nutrition and Metabolism. She completed extensive research in children’s nutrition in Ethiopia and Kenya, and supervised a Ph.D. project on complementary food development for infants and young children in rural communities in the Sidama region of Ethiopia. Stoecker has also conducted nutritional research in China, Thailand and Iraq.

Stoecker has served as an associate professor of food and nutrition and Coordinator of Academic Affairs at Texas Tech University, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Oklahoma State University, and interim associate dean of research services for the College of Human and Environmental sciences at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Faith Bartz Tarr

General Development Officer, Biotechnology Specialist, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Center for Agriculture-Led Growth

Dr. Faith Bartz Tarr joined the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security’s Center for Agriculture-Led Growth in 2020 as a Biotechnology Specialist and General Development Officer. In this role, she provides technical leadership, USAID Mission support, program management, liaison services, and relationship management. Faith previously served USAID as a technical consultant with the USAID Food Security Service Center II; a Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnership (STIP) Advisor and acting Global Health Security Advisor with USAID Ethiopia; and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the Bureau for Food Security’s Technology Scaling team. Before joining the public sector, she held positions in academia as a Research Specialist Supervisor at Emory University’s School of Public Health, in private sector research and development at Chr. Hansen Inc., and in horticultural production with the Milwaukee County Greenhouses. Faith has a Ph.D. in plant pathology from North Carolina State University, and additional research experience in food safety and nutrition. Driven by passions for food, learning, and human dignity, Faith advances science to serve society, fosters evidence-based policy, and supports innovation to improve agriculture systems and promote prosperity.