Speaking engagements

This is a complete list of the speaking engagements for which I have accepted travel expenses and/or honoraria (unless otherwise noted).


Iowa Food & Family Project (Des  Moines, September 25-27)

This is a project of the Iowa Soybean Association, in which they invite journalists and academics to visit farms and give a talk. I got to see farms ranging from small operations that serve the local community to the more common, large, corn & soy farms. I spoke about the communication problems in the public conversation about agriculture, at Drake University.

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (New Orleans, September 14)

Representatives of each state’s department of ag convene annually. I moderated a panel on the public conversation about agriculture (why are we talking past each other?), with a broad spectrum of opinion and a focus on how each side might better understand the other.

Culinary Institute of America (Napa, August 22-24)

I moderated a panel at the Flavor, Quality, and American Menus leadership retreat (co-sponsored by UC Davis), in which restaurateurs and food service professionals convene to discuss how to better introduce sustainably produced products into their menus.

Institute of Food Technologists conference IFT2017 (Las Vegas, June 26)

The IFT is a non-profit member organization of food scientists from academia, industry, and government, and I participated in two events.  I moderated a panel on the role of processed foods in the American diet (including both critics and supporters), and participated in a session on sustainable agriculture.

2017 Breakthrough Institute Dialog – a panel on sustainable agriculture (Sausalito, CA June 22/23)

The Breakthrough Institute is a think tank that focuses on the problem of climate change and how technological solutions can help address it.  I moderated a panel about what sustainable agriculture might look like, with a focus on weighing efficiency against other factors.

Hunter College screening of the film Food Evolution (New York, NY March 31)

I moderated a panel, including one of the filmmakers, a scientist who appears in the film (both of whom are essentially pro-GMO), and a human rights lawyer (who is much more skeptical).

Williamsburg Farmers Market 15th Anniversary forum (Williamsburg, VA, March 16)

I spoke on a panel about food sustainability — what it looks like and how we might achieve it — with Anson Mills founder Glenn Roberts (who is great fun).

Boston Museum of Science Food Charette (Boston, March 12-14)

The museum convened a group of people from across the food spectrum — academics, chefs, business owners, journalists, scientists — to discuss how the museum could be effective in communicating important food-related issues to its visitors.

Women in food & agriculture retreat at Glynwood Farm (Cold Spring, NY, March 2-4)

Not so much a speaking engagement as a participation opportunity, as Glynwood’s president organized a three-day retreat to bring a group of women involved in food together to talk about food supply issues and define a role for the group.


Panel discussion of the new documentary film, Food Evolution (November 18)

The Cornell Alliance for Science (a Cornell University initiative funded by the Gates Foundation that focuses on using technology — particularly biotechnology — to improve agriculture in the developing world) sponsored a screening of the film, and I moderated a panel discussion with the filmmakers and some of the people interviewed in the film.

James Beard Foundation Food Conference (October 17-18)

I moderated a debate on the role of industrial food in the food movement, between Slow Food CEO Richard McCarthy and former White House chef Sam Kass.  The conference is sponsored by the Foundation, with support from a range of food companies (Bonterra organic wines, Fairlife milk), media (Good Housekeeping, Civil Eats), and a variety of other food-related organizations.

Humane Society of the United States Future of Food conference (Oct. 8)

I moderated a panel discussing the Farm Bill, with a focus on reconciling the needs of the farmers who receive the $20 billion in subsidies, and the taxpayers who provide them, particularly with regard to environmental health and animal welfare.

CIMMYT’s 50th Anniversary conference (Sept. 27-29)

CIMMYT is the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, which works on developing and distributing varieties of those two crops that are appropriate for the developing world. They are part of the CGIAR consortium, the global group of institutions devoted to fighting hunger and poverty.  CIMMYT is funded by government agencies like USAID, international institutions like the World Bank, philanthropies like the Rockefeller Foundation, and industry players like Syngenta.  They asked me to speak about the public conversation about new technologies, and how we might improve it, which I was pleased to do. I find being in a room full of people trying to solve the problems of poverty and hunger very inspiring.

2016 Breakthrough Institute Dialog – a panel on the future of meat (June 23/24)

The Breakthrough Institute is a think tank that focuses on the problem of climate change and how technological solutions can help address it.  The technological solution on display in the panel I moderated was lab-grown meat (from cell cultures).  The panel covered a variety of perspectives, and included an advocate for managed grazing to sequester carbon in pastures, and an animal scientist specializing in cattle genetics. It was an interesting, wide-ranging discussion.

Scientific American workshop: Lost in Translation; how science is presented in the media. (March 31)

Held at the National Press Club, this was an event that was sponsored by the biotech industry (a group called GMO Answers) along with Johnson & Johnson.  I thought this event was too one-sided for me to accept any compensation (including expenses), and several other journalists who participated agreed.  I attended, and spoke, because I wanted to make the point that science communication requires people who disagree to come together and discuss those disagreements; echo chambers like this event don’t improve public discourse.  (I wrote about that event for the National Press Foundation.)


Cornell University’s Alliance for Science

Genetically Modified Organisms – Improving the Interfaces between Scientists and Citizens Workshop, Washington DC (hosted by the National Academy of Sciences)

Food for all: Ecology, Biotechnology and Sustainability, Boston MA (seminar at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy)

South By Southwest, Austin TX (debate between GMO Answers and Ben & Jerry’s)

International conference on Agri-Biotechnology and Biosafety Communication, Nairobi, Kenya (co-hosted by the Kenyan National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

Transgenic Animal Research Conference, Granlibakken CA (co-hosted by UC Davis and Recombinetics)

Biotech Literacy Day, Gainesville FL (hosted by the University of Florida)

Discussion workshop on animal genetics, Nairobi, Kenya (co-hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute and Biosciences for Farming in Africa)

Stewards of the Future: Water for a growing world (hosted by North Carolina State University, Agriculture and Life Sciences Department)

AGree 2015 Partners Forum: Driving Positive Change in Food and Agriculture

American Seed Trade Association annual conference




North American Strategy Conference on Animal Agriculture, Chicago IL (hosted by the Center for Food Integrity)

North Carolina Agriculture and Biotech Summit, Raleigh NC (hosted by the North Carolina Biotech Center and North Carolina State University)

International workshop on the regulation of animal biotechnology, Brasilia, Brazil (co-hosted by the USDA)

Aquaculture and Fish Tech 101, Astoria OR (co-hosted by Delaware Sea Grant)

Biotechnology Literacy Project, Gainesville FL (co-hosted by the Genetic Literacy Project, the Biotechnology Innovation Asoociation [an industry group], the University of Florida, the USDA, and USAID)

A Science-Based Look at Genetically Engineered Crops, first public meeting, Washington DC (hosted by the National Academy of Sciences)