2015-2016 Kirchner Food Fellows

David Byrnes

David Byrnes is a PhD Candidate in Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University in the Plant Breeding and Genomics track. Byrnes’s dissertation is on selecting African leafy green vegetables as a delivery mechanism for problem micronutrients.

Byrnes has three years of experience contributing to projects in East and Southern Africa using agriculture as a tool for economic growth and improvement of nutritional status for smallholder farmers. Byrnes was named a Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security in 2013-2014, has authored AgriSETA registered training materials for farmers in Zambia, and has assisted in the planning and installation of low-cost drip irrigation kits for community farms.

While in East Africa, Byrnes observed that the majority of food producers are unable to adopt cost-effective technology due to their inability to access financing, resulting in unstable regional production. This led Byrnes to recognize the fundamental role of capital management on the food supply. By bridging the gap between technology and capital, Byrnes hopes to have a meaningful impact on food security.

Eamonn McGuinty

Eamonn McGuinty is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Commerce in Food and Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph under the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC). While managing his time with school, work and extracurricular activities, he will be starting a Master of Science (MSc) program at the University of Guelph in the fall of 2015. He is currently working full-time as an Intern with Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s leading export finance organization, that is helping small and medium-size enterprises export to emerging markets and access international business opportunities. His graduate program will involve scaling-up and evaluating distribution strategies for low-cost agricultural innovations for smallholder farmers in rural and hill-side areas of Nepal.

Eamonn has been involved on and off campus, representing his university at national and international business case-competitions, such as the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) competition in Kansas City, USA, and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) in South Africa. Most recently, he was a Teaching Assistant at the University of Guelph implementing a hands-on approach for freshman and sophomore students working with big data in agriculture, as well as teaching important business fundamentals.

He believes that business can be used as a force for good and through the power of entrepreneurship improvements can be made by disrupting our current modes of thinking. He is a big advocate of stepping out of his comfort zone and finding new ways to solve problems and find solutions. Eamonn hopes to work in an international setting. More importantly, he’s excited to be a Kirchner Fellow for 2015-2016 and is committed to shortening the time until every person on the planet has reliable access to healthy food.

Sarah Piccini

Sarah is a first year student at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where she studies food security and the world food economy. She holds bachelors degrees in Business Administration and International Studies from North Carolina State University, where she graduated with honors. Sarah’s passion for food security and international development began while working with a farmer’s cooperative in the Ecuadorian Highlands.

Sarah spent three years a Consultant with Deloitte Consulting in Washington DC. As part of the Deloitte Emerging Markets Group, she served on public financial management projects in Latin America and the Middle East. Later, Sarah relocated to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to focus on food security and development. In HCMC, Sarah implemented development programs, gave a lecture series on food security, and served as an independent consultant to start-up social enterprises.

Sarah believes that private enterprise and investment can push the boundaries of today’s food security initiatives and deliver new solutions to the world’s most pressing challenge.