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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Illinois SesquicentennialCollege of ACES
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International Food Security at Illinois Symposium

April 7&8, 2016

This year's theme was "Using Big Data to Improve International Food Security."

The symposium brought together physical scientists, social scientists, and data scientists who use big data methods, including text analysis, computer learning, and remote sensing, to think about where and how we can use these methods to address international food security. 


Thursday, April 7th


   8:30-9:00                 Welcome

                        Barbara Wilson, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign              

   9:00-10:00               Opening

John McHarris, World Food Programme and Senior Advisor to the Food Security Information Network:     Food Security Analysis and Big Data; from a UN WFP Food Assistance Perspective

 Discussant: Ed Seidel – Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, UIUC

   10:00-10:30             Break – Heritage Room

   10:30-12:30             Session 1:  Resource Use

Chair: Madhu Khanna, Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Econ


Peter Christensen, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, UIUC: The Cost of Conservation in an Emerging Economy: Satellite Evidence from China’s Farmland Protection Program

Tom Evans, Professor, Department of Geography, Indiana University: Rapid Monitoring of Food Security and Resource Use in Africa

Anil Bhargava, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan: Breaking Ground: Unearthing the Potential of Big Soil Data in Understanding Agricultural Profits, Fertilizer Use, and Small Farm Productivity

Discussant: Chris Seifert, Director of Agronomic Data Science, Granular, Inc.

   12:30-1:45               Lunch – Heritage Room (Lunch by previous registration only)

   Speaker:  Marshall Burke, Assistant Professor, Earth System Science, Stanford University:    Measuring Agricultural Productivity and Poverty from Space

   2:00 -4:00                 Session 2:  Food Quantity

   Chair: Jeffrey Brawn, Head and Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, UIUC


Praveen Kumar, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UIUC: Airborne Remote Sensing and High Resolution Modeling for Food Security

Kaiyu Guan, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, UIUC: Integrating Field-Work, Satellite Data, Process Models and Machine Learning to Forecasting Crop Yields

David LeBauer, Research Scientist, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and Fellow, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, UIUC: Opportunities to Improve Cropping Systems with Data                                                                                                                    

   4:00-4:30                 Session 3: Global Food Security, Trade, Big Data and the EU’S Role


Damien Levie, Head of Trade and Agriculture Section, Delegation of the European Union  to the United States: Reflections on Global Food Security, Trade, and the EU's Role

Giulio Menato, First Counselor (Agriculture), Delegation of the European Union to the United States: Reflections on Global Food Security, Trade, and the EU's Role

   4:30-5:30                 Session 4: Using Big Data to Understand Behavior

   Speaker:  Matt Harding, Director, Duke-UNC USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research and Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Economics, Duke Univ: Opportunities and Challenges of Using Big Data to Understand Food Consumption and Design Nutrition Interventions


 Friday, April 8th

      8:30-10:30               Session 5:  Access and Nutrition – Monsanto Room

   Chair: Craig Gundersen, Soybean Industry Endowed Professor of Agricultural Strategy, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, UIUC


Erin Lentz, Assistant Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin: Data Gaps in Measuring Food Security and Nutrition

Karl Schnelle, Strategy Acceleration Leader, Dow AgroSciences: Helping Local Community Leaders Optimize Food Security through Data-Driven Tools and Techniques

                     Jaime Adams, Senior Advisor, USDA:  Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Initiative


Melissa Cragin, Executive Director, Midwest Big Data Hub, UIUC

Scott Althaus, Professor, Political Science, UIUC


   11:00-12:00             Concluding Remarks

  Catherine Weaver, Associate Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

   12:00-12:15             Wrap-Up

      Kathy Baylis, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, UIUC


Sponsored by International Food Security at Illinois (IFSI).

Questions about the symposium can be directed to Ms. Barb Horner, ACES Office of International Programs,


Click here for information and presentations from the first symposium.