LASER Focused Webinar Series - January 12, 2023 - Blockchain Technology & Kenyan Agriculture
Description: Join us on January 12, 2023, as Virginia Tech’s Drs. Ralph Hall and Jessica Agnew share their experiences exploring the use of blockchain technology to improve food security in western Kenya. Learn more about their work, challenges in agriculture in western Kenya, and the potential for blockchain technology to transform food security outcomes. In this fireside chat, Dr. Agnew and Dr. Hall will explore how Embedded Research Translation leads to sustainability and scalability of innovative digital technologies that address strengthening agri-food value chains that support nutrition.
Jessica Agnew has been working internationally for nearly 10 years, building interdisciplinary expertise that spans across the field of agricultural economics, nutrition, behavior change, business, and policy. She holds a PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization with a specialization in International Development Planning and an MPH from Virginia Tech. She also earned her MSc and BA in Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics from the University of Guelph, Canada. Agnew’s research focuses primarily on advancing market-based approaches to nutrition, strengthening behavioral and social change communication to improve nutrition using novel, evidence-based approaches, and development of agricultural value chains in East Africa. In 2020, she received a USAID-funded research grant to investigate the use of blockchain in strengthening value chains for African indigenous vegetables in western Kenya. In addition to her international work, Agnew also works to improve food security at Virginia Tech. Since 2017, she has served as part of the research team investigating the state of food access and security at Virginia Tech, served as part of the task force to identify pathways to improve students’ access to nutritious foods, and assisted with evaluation of The Market at Virginia Tech in its formative stages to help meet students’ needs more effectively.
As the associate director for CALS Global, Agnew convenes collaboration between international partners and students and faculty of CALS to create global impact in agriculture and life sciences fields. She also supports the implementation of strategic priorities for the college and CALS Global to advance the model of the global land grant university.
Ralph is an Associate Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech, where he also serves as the Associate Director of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) and Director of SPIA Undergraduate Studies. He has over two decades of academic and professional experience in applying the concept of sustainable development to socio-technical systems with a specific emphasis on transportation systems in developed regions, and rural water supply and sanitation systems in developing regions. Ralph has published two significant co-authored works on “Sustainable Transportation: Indicators, Frameworks, and Performance Management” (2015) and “Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State” (2018). Ralph is currently developing research agendas around new economics (with a focus on binary economics and community wealth building), food access and security at institutions of higher education, and the use of blockchain technology to improve food security in last-mile agricultural communities.