Published on 10/22/19

Former United Nations World Food Programme director to deliver 2019 D.W. Brooks Lecture

By Merritt Melancon

Former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme Ertharin Cousin has spent her career working to build more robust and sustainable food systems in food insecure countries around the world.

That experience has given her insight into the challenges that tomorrow's leaders will have to tackle to feed a growing world population while protecting the environment. She'll share those insights in the 2019 D.W. Brooks Lecture at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Mahler Auditorium at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

Her talk, “Achieving Food Security and Planetary Health: A Solvable Enigma,” is being sponsored by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“We are excited to bring Ambassador Cousin to campus as this year’s D.W. Brooks lecturer,” said CAES Dean and Director Sam Pardue. “Her long history of working tirelessly to solve the world’s food insecurity issues is an inspiration to our students, faculty and staff. We look forward to engaging with her on this global challenge.”

Cousin currently serves as a distinguished fellow of agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Food Security and the Environment.

During her tenure as the executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme from 2012 until 2017, she guided the world’s largest humanitarian organization, with 14,000 staff meeting urgent food needs for 80 million beneficiaries in 75 countries.

Cousin is a respected leader, visionary thinker and practical problem solver, with more than 30 years of national and international nonprofit, government and corporate leadership experience. A champion and global advocate for longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger, Cousin has published numerous articles regarding agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

In addition to Cousin's talk, which is free and open the public, CAES will present its D.W. Brooks Awards of Excellence at a ceremony after the lecture. This year's awards honor some of the college's most dedicated and creative researchers, teachers and Extension leaders.

The 2019 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research will be presented to Marc van Iersel, Vincent J. Dooley Professor of Horticulture, who has broken new ground in the area of energy efficiency and water-efficient irrigation management of greenhouses and nurseries.

The 2019 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Patricia J. Moore, professor and senior teaching fellow in the Department of Entomology, who was instrumental in “flipping” the introductory biology class she teaches to change how we teach science to include and encourage all students — especially women and historically underrepresented groups —to pursue scientific careers.

The 2019 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Extension will be presented to Alfredo Martinez-Espinoza, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, who has worked for the past 17 years to develop a dynamic Extension and applied research program that focuses on the management of new and recurring diseases of turfgrass, small grains and non-legume forages and delivers relevant information to stakeholders and fellow Extension professionals.

The 2019 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension will be presented to Lori Purcell Bledsoe, Northwest District 4-H program development coordinator, who has become a national leader in youth development practices and has expanded the number of young people served by Georgia 4-H across northeast Georgia.

For more information about this year’s event, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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