Research Partners

Rachel Bezner Kerr
Professor, Cornell University
Role: Project Director
Professor Bezner Kerr’s research interests converge on the broad themes of sustainable agriculture, food security, health, nutrition and social inequalities, with a primary focus in southern Africa. As an SFHC collaborator, she is committed to the participatory, interdisciplinary and social justice focus of the SFHC project. Her work focuses on the historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi, sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa, social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes, and local knowledge and climate change adaptation.


Esther Lupafya
Director of Soils, Food and Healthy Communities
Role: Project Director
Esther Lupafya has been with SFHC since before it started in 2000. She has contributed to the successes of SFHC in food security and nutrition over the years. She has also worked very hard to facilitate the mainstreaming of gender training in the implementation of agroecology. She is greatly committed to improving the livelihoods of Malawians, as evidences by the amount of time she spends on her many projects. She previously worked as HIV/AIDS Coordinator with Ekwendeni Hospital. Esther holds a Master’s degree in Social Development and Health obtained from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.


Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
Professor, University of Würzburg
Role: Lead WP1
Since 2010, Professor Steffan-Dewenter has chaired the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology (Biocenter) at the University of Würzburg. His research interests include animal, population and community ecology, agroecology, tropical ecology, and landscape ecology. He studies the consequences of habitat fragmentation, land use intensification and climate change on insect diversity, as well as ecosystem services and biological pest control.


Katja Poveda
Associate Professor, Cornell University
Role: Lead WP1
Professor Poveda’s research focuses on the ecology of plant-insect interactions in agricultural systems and their interface with natural systems. She focuses on the effect of diversity at local and landscape scales on ecosystem (dis)services important for agricultural systems, and the ecological, physiological and genetic mechanisms of plant tolerance and resistance traits in agricultural crops.


Cassandra Vogel
PhD Student, University of Würzburg
Role: Lead WP1


Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong
Asst. Professor of Geography, University of Denver
Role: Lead WP2
Trained as a human-environment geographer, Professor Nyantakyi-Frimpong is interested in questions at the intersection of two main subfields: the human dimensions of global environmental change, and sustainable agriculture and food systems. His concentration is sub-saharan Africa, with ongoing projects in Ghana and Malawi.


Isaac Luginaah
Professor, Western University
Role: Lead WP3
Professor Luginaah’s area of research interest includes environment and health, population health and GIS aplications in health. His work involves an integrative understanding of the broad determinants of population health and the evidence of environmental and health linkages. He is specigically interested in the human health impacts of environmental exposure, and he is involved in HIV/AIDS research in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.


Laifolo Dakishoni
Deputy Director, Finance and Administrative Manager, Soils, Food and Healthy Communities
Role: Lead WP3
Dakishoni, or ‘Dak’ as he is commonly called, started working with SFHC in 2001. Dak studied at the college of accountancy, Blantyre. He has contributed to the successes of SFHC in food security and nutrition over the years. His passion for community involvement and participation drove him to become involved in with the project. Since 2001, he has enjoyed being part of the project’s evolution, and has been greatly motivated by the farmers’ eagerness to learn and try new things. He is also one of the country managers for the InnovAfrica project.


Udaya Sekhar Nagothu
Research Professor and Director (Centre for International Development), Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Norway
Role: Lead WP4
Sekhar has more than 25 years of research and development experience in natural resource management and environment related areas. His focus is mainly on socio-economics, stakeholder, institutional and policy issues in sectors including agriculture, forestry, water and aquaculture. He has coordinated several large interdisciplinary projects in Norway, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Philippines, the Balkans (Montenegro, Latvia, Macedonia, Albania), and Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa). Published articles in several international journals focusing on interdisciplinary research. He has edited and written five books on Climate change, water, sustainable agriculture and food security.


Chiye Chafuwa
Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources
Role: Lead WP4


Mwapi Mkandawire
Community Promoter, Soils, Food and Healthy Communities
Role: Farmer Representative
Mwapi joined SFHC in 2001 as a youth participating farmer and FRT member. She became a promoter in 2012 because she was eager to train her fellow youth in Agroecology in order to improve food security, soil fertility and good nutrition. She is now one of the promoters doing the research for FARMS4Biodiversity.


Innocent Mhoni
Community Promoter, Soils, Food and Healthy Communities
Farmer Representative
Innocent joined SFHC in 2012 as a participating farmer and FRT member. He became a community promoter in 2014 because of his eagerness to train fellow farmers in Agroecology. He has very good leadership skills. He is one of the promoters in the FARM4 Biodiversity project. During his free time he enjoys chatting with friends.


Stephanie Enloe
PhD Student, Cornell University
Role: Data Coordinator
Stephanie has a B.A. from University of Iowa and a M.Sc. from Iowa State University. Before coming to Cornell, she worked as a Policy Program Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. She is interested in interdisciplinary, participatory methodologies that draws on concepts from environmental sociology, political ecology, feminist geography, systems thinking, and the food sovereignty movement. Stephanie is interested in research that equips agrarian communities to balance near-term goals with long-term climate change adaptation and resilience, seeking to understand how communities already leverage or could leverage local and/ or traditional governance structures to create this balance. She plans to work in communities likely to experience the worst effects of climate change, including areas of rural southern and eastern Africa.


David Banda
Data Entry Clerk, Soils, Food and Healthy Communities
Role: Data Coordinator
David joined SFHC in 2016. He is responsible for entering all the data from different research activities, including all documentation of project activities. He has a diploma in Psychology. 

Institutional Partners

Cornell University
University of Denver
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO)
Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC)
Western University
University of Würzburg