Elizabeth Mitcham, UC Davis scientist, was honored by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) as its Outstanding International Horticulturist for 2015.
She accepted the award Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to horticultural sciences for 10 years or more, with emphasis on international activities and impacts.
At UC Davis, Mitcham is director of both the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center programs. As director of the internationally recognized Postharvest Technology Center, she has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries in how best to care for fruits and vegetables after harvest, to reduce food waste and improve food quality. She has hosted numerous foreign scientists and students in her lab at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, where her research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening, understanding calcium deficiency disorders, and maintaining fruit quality after harvest.
Mitcham also leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab, which targets fruit and vegetable research in developing countries to reduce poverty and improve nutrition. Her leadership helps build international partnerships between scientists and develop technologies that meet the horticultural needs of smallholder farmers. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
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Leaders from each of our projects gathered in Zambia last month for an annual meeting, joined by local partners, entrepreneurs, and others interested in horticulture for development. Highlights from this meeting are below, along with some additional program news and opportunities in the world.
In June, representatives from each of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s current projects gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, for the program’s annual meeting. The three-day meeting started with a workday, then grew into a local conference, and ended with a tour of local agriculture.
Workday for current partners
The first day of the three-day meeting was focused on learning about the program’s new portfolio of projects and finding possible synergies between them. Beth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, discussed the broad goals of the projects new phase, and John Bowman of USAID updated the group about changes at the Bureau of Food Security, including upcoming changes to scientific peer review policies and sub-award processes.
Principal investigators from each of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s six current projects and two Regional Centers shared posters and discussion with rotating small groups. Later, the teams networked to discuss ways they could work together and exchange expertise.
From the leaders of our new gender-focused project, of Penn State and Zamorano universities, here are some tips to get you thinking about gender-responsive projects:
Incorporate and mainstream gender considerations from the inception of the project. Avoid “add and stir” approaches to gender, that is, simply adding gender as a factor without thinking through the range of ways it might infuse your work. A full incorporation might have impacts on decisions about staffing, scheduling time “in the field,” timing of outreach efforts, connecting with “gatekeepers,” and designing gender-specific activities.
Be aware of the cultural context. Constraints that women (and others) face vary between and within societies, regions, localities and households.
Be attentive to interactions between gender and other categories such as race and ethnicity, social class, and life-stage.