Biographies of Miguel Altieri and Clara Nicholls

Miguel A Altieri studied agronomy at the University of Chile, where he received a BS. He also obtained a Masters at the National University of Colombia. He graduated with a Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Florida. In 1981 he became Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and after 37 years of service he is now Professor Emeritus. HP

At Berkeley he taught agroecology and urban agriculture, but he also  serves as guest professor in numerous Universities in Latin America, Spain and Italy. He has conducted most of his research in California and Latin America Chile working closely with farmers to implement principles of agroecology to design productive, biodiverse and resilient farming systems.

Altieri served as a Scientific Advisor to the Latin American Consortium on Agroecology and Development (CLADES) Chile, an NGO network promoting agroecology as a strategy for small farm sustainable development in the region. He also served for 4 years as the General Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Agriculture Networking and Extension Programme which aimed at capacity building on agroecology among NGOs and the scaling-up of successful local sustainable agricultural initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia. He was the chairman of the NGO committee of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research whose mission was to make sure that the research agenda of the 15 International Agricultural Research Centers benefited poor farmers. He was Director of the US-Brasil Consortium on Agroecology and Sustainable Rural Development (CASRD), an academic-research exchange program involving students and faculty of UC Berkeley, University of Nebraska, UNICAMP and Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina. He also served as scientific advisor to the Food and Agriculture Organization Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) program, which is devoted at identifying and dynamically conserving traditional farming systems in the developing world. He was the President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (

In 2015 Altieri was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa at the Universite Catholique du Lovain, Belgium. In 2017, he became Honorary Professor of the University of La Frontera in Chile. In February 2018 he was inducted to the Earth Hall of Fame by the Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. In December 2018 he received from the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico the prize “Biodiversidad, Sociedad y Territorio”.  He has written more than 250 scientific articleses and more than 20 books among them Agroecology: the science of sustainable agriculture, Biodiversity and pest management in agroecosystems and Agroecology: science and politics.  He is currently co-director of the Centro LatinoAmericano de Investigaciones Agroecologicas (CELIA  – based in Colombia.

Clara I Nicholls is a Colombian agronomist with a Master in Entomology from the Colegio de Posgraduados, Chapingo, Mexico and a Ph.D. in Entomology and Biological Control of Insect Pests from the University of California Davis. She is a Permanent Lecturer on Sustainable Rural Development in Latin America at the University of California, Berkeley. She also teaches at Santa Clara University in California and various universities in Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Spain and Italy.  She served as the president of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA- and  as the Regional Coordinator of REDAGRES ( a network of Latin American researchers exploring ways to evaluate and enhance resiliency of farming systems to climate change. LINK

Nicholls’ research has centered on enhancing plant biodiversity of farms to provide habitat and foster natural enemies of insect pests in a range of farming systems. She is also working on methodologies to evaluate the resilience of farms to climate change and based on such assessments in designing agroecological interventions to enhance the adaptability of farming systems to climatic extremes. She is the author of 4 books ( among them Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agrecosystems) and of more than 50 scientific journal papers. She is currently co-director of the Centro LatinoAmericano de Investigaciones Agroecologicas (CELIA  – based in Colombia.

Clara and Miguel talking about agroecology during their visit to NPO Tokushima Conservation Biological Society on May 22, 2019

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