Rachel Bezner Kerr

Principle Investigator

Rachel Bezner Kerr is a Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University. She is the Soils, Food and Healthy Communities Research Coordinator and Project Director of the Malawi Farmer to Farmer Agroecology project. Her research focuses on 1) historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi; 2) sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa; 3) social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes and 4) local knowledge and climate change adaptation.


Aaron Iverson

postdoctoral associate, department of entomology, cornell university

Aaron is a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Scott McArt in the Department of Entomology at Cornell and is collaborating with the Bezner Kerr lab on the FARM for Biodiversity projects[i1] . He is an agroecologist interested in the intersection of biodiversity conservation and human livelihood in agricultural landscapes. In particular, his research addresses the question of how farms can be managed for promoting wild biodiversity and how that biodiversity (including beneficial insects and the plant communities that support them) can benefit farmers through pest control and pollination services. He has conducted this research in temperate and tropical regions, and is excited to work with farmers and collaborators in Malawi. He received his PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. Aaron and his wife, Emily, have two young children, Andre and Virginia.


Marianne V. Santoso

phd student, International nutrition

cornell university

Marianne V. Santoso is a PhD Candidate in International Nutrition at Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences and expects to graduate in May 2019. Her dissertation research explores the role of intra-household gender equity, especially on household decision-making and task division, in the impact of an agriculture intervention on child nutrition. She also manages Singida Nutrition and Agroecology Project (SNAP-Tz), a participatory research project engaging farmers in Singida, Tanzania in sustainable agriculture practices (agroecology), nutrition, and gender roles.  


Jeff Liebert

PhD student, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University

Jeff is currently researching the scalability of ecological farming practices among fruit, vegetable, and grain growers in the United States. Through this research, Jeff and his interdisciplinary team of collaborators aim to improve our understanding of how motivations and barriers for the use and disuse of ecological practices—such as diverse crop rotations, intercropping, and insectary plantings—differ across farm size, management approach (organic and conventional), and cropping system (specialty crops, field crops, grains, and forages). If ecological practices are to be meaningfully scaled out and scaled up, there is a need to find solutions for agronomic and economic challenges on the farm, as well as overcome the sociocultural and political barriers that significantly affect decision-making in ways that are often outside of a farmer’s control.


Stephanie Enloe

PhD student in Development Sociology, Cornell University

Stephanie’s work explores how farmer knowledge systems interact with multi-scalar political-ecological forces to influence how people perceive and interact with agricultural biodiversity. She has been working with the FARM for Biodiversity project and exploring  Malawian farmer perceptions toward arthropods and birds. Stephanie is particularly interested in applied, participatory research wherein researchers, farmers, and practitioners co-construct strategies to preserve biodiversity while bolstering farmer well-being. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with SFHC farmers and leadership.

Prior to attending Cornell Stephanie was a policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, where she worked after completing an MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University. 


Ibukun Owoputi

PhD Student in International Nutrition, Cornell University

Ibukun is interested in maternal and child nutrition programs, especially the effects of gender relations on nutrition and the use of participatory research methods. She is currently working on the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Survey as part of the Malawi Farmer to Farmer Project (MAFFA). For the SLM survey, she is assessing the impact of participatory agroecological methods and community-based nutrition educational methods on household food security and maternal nutrition. 


Sidney Madsen

MS/PhD Student in Development Sociology, Cornell University

Sidney received her B.S. in 2013 from Cornell University in Biology and Society and International Agriculture and Rural Development. Since then, she has worked on a coffee-diversification project in Bolivia and Fulbright-funded research in Guatemala examining seasonal food insecurity, agrobiodiversity, and the CADER extension system in smallholder communities. She is interested in food sovereignty, agroecology, and solidarity economies. Her current work builds on long-term participatory work with smallholder farmers in Malawi. She is collaborating with SFHC staff and farmer promoters of the Carasso project to conduct participatory qualitative interviews to understand agroecological pathways to food security.