Philip Pardey’s novel, multidisciplinary approach to some of agriculture’s most challenging questions bridges gaps in the fundamental knowledge that is needed for making informed decisions on strategic investments in agriculture research and development. His work affects national and international policies and investments in agriculture in a way few others have achieved.
A native of Australia, Pardey received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Adelaide and in 1986 received his Ph.D from the University of Minnesota in agricultural economics. From 1984 through 1994 he rose to become a senior research officer at the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in The Hague. There he initiated visionary efforts to develop, collect, and to begin analyzing data resources on agricultural productivity and on research investments and institutions globally.
In 1994 Pardey joined the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington D.C., where he became leader of the Institute’s Science and Technology Policy program. At IFPRI, Pardey and his many collaborators began to fully exploit the productivity and research investment databases he had developed through innovative analyses on a range of science and technology policy issues.
Pardey returned to Minnesota in 2002 as a professor at the University of Minnesota, where he continues to blaze new trails in his program. In 2003 he formed the University of Minnesota’s International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) center, which he still directs. Pardey and Stanley Wood, a colleague at IFPRI, began working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006 to provide advice on the potential for investments in agriculture to significantly improve the lot of the poor worldwide and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To date they have been awarded grants totaling almost $13 million from the Gates Foundation to lead a global research evaluation project that they conceived and proposed: the HarvestChoice initiative.
Ultimately, Pardey’s extraordinary successes are a testament to his collaborative nature and perseverance which—as one of his colleagues describes it—“requires not only outstanding intelligence but also a lot of work, rock-solid reliability as a colleague, and the persistence to see long-term projects through beyond completion to application. Pardey does this better than anyone else I know, and he has done it again and again.”