Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Nodira Kurbanbaeva (left) of Uzbekistan thanks Ed Mabaya (center), director of the fellowship, on behalf of the 2022-23 Humphrey Fellows at Moakley House in April.

Students, experts collaborate on global development solutions

For the first time, a new research collaborative brought together undergraduates and experts from around the world to work on development issues from reducing plastic waste in Kyrgyzstan to empowering women farmers in Tanzania.

The global development students get direct experience with real-world projects, while the experts, representing diverse fields from 12 countries across the Americas, Asia and Africa, gain research assistance from the students.

The Humphrey PACT (Practitioner Assistant Collaborative Training) Program promotes research collaboration between undergraduates and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows, midcareer professionals specialized in agriculture, rural development and natural resource management, who spend one year at Cornell for professional development. The Humphrey programs are housed in the Department of Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Each year, the Humphrey Fellows bring a wealth of expertise to Cornell,” said Ed Mabaya, director of the fellowship and research professor in the Department of Global Development. “We are thrilled to draw on the fellows’ expertise and provide students with an opportunity to learn from practitioners who have direct experience leading local initiatives around the globe.”

In its inaugural year, the PACT Program supported 12 research partnerships, ranging from agricultural development finance and climate finance in South Africa to science communication strategies for biofortified crops in Zimbabwe. The program is the first formalized opportunity for Humphrey Fellows to step into a leadership role at Cornell.

“The PACT program has been a transformative experience thanks to my mentor, Diana Ulloa Jimenez, who has equipped me with the skills, knowledge and network necessary to excel in my work in Latin America and my vision to make a positive impact,” said Serena Moscarella ’25. Their research project focused on how youth and women can become more involved in water access and water management strategies on island states in Latin America.

“Working with Serena inspired me to believe in the future that we can create together for women in Latin America,” said Ulloa Jimenez, a 2022-23 Humphrey Fellow from Ecuador and co-founder of Adaptation Latin America and governing board member of Red Agua Ecuador (Ecuador Water Network). “Serena reminds me how we all need to listen to the voice of the optimistic young leader that each of us has inside ourselves.”

Several research pairs co-wrote op-ed articles that explore an issue and their approach:

“Students in Global Development are enthusiastic about making a difference in the world,” said Sarah Giroux ’03, M.S, 06, Ph.D. ‘11, associate dean of academic affairs and strategic programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and professor of the practice in the Department of Global Development.

“The experience students gain through the PACT Program not only provides them hands-on development experience right here on campus, but it also gives than an opportunity to make a true impact on an issue that they care about.”

For nearly 50 years, Cornell has hosted accomplished professionals from countries with emerging economies as part of the Humphrey Fellowship, an international enrichment opportunity in leadership and public service. The Humphrey Fellowship Program is a Fulbright exchange funded by the U.S. Department of Stateand administered by the Institute of International Education.

Kelly Merchan is a communications specialist in the Department of Global Development.

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