Clara Nicholls is a Colombian agronomist that studied her B. Sc. in agronomy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin. She holds a M.Sc. from Colegio de Postgraduados in Chapingo Mexico and a Ph.D. from UC Davis both in entomology with emphasis in biological control and integrated pest management. Her theoretical training has been enriched by more than 20 years of experience in pest management, initially in banana production in Uraba, Colombia, afterwards with biological control in the flower industry in Antioquia and later as consultant, advisor and researcher with various institutions (farmers organizations, NGOs, research centers and universities) involved in ecologically based pest management in various temperate, sub tropical and tropical cropping systems all over Latin America and also in California, Spain and Italy.
Her teaching experience spans from formal undergraduate and graduate courses at Universities in California and in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Chile and Colombia, to short courses and other training activities to agricultural professionals, NGO personnel and farmers. Since 2002, she has taught “Perspectives on sustainable rural development in Latin America” at the University of California, course that she also offered at the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University (2000-2004) and since 2005 at Santa Clara University.
Her courses analyze the ecological, socio-economic and policy challenges and opportunities facing the rural population of Latin America in today’s globalized economy. After a critique of the impacts of conventional, agro-export development models of agricultural development (green revolution, non-traditional export crops, biotechnology, etc) the elements of a sustainable agroecological development path is discussed, a path that emphasizes local production for food security, poverty reduction, cultural identity and natural resource and biodiversity conservation. Technical, institutional, policy and market requirements for a sustainable agriculture are also analyzed in detail.
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Presently, she is a Professor of Agroecology and Rural development and the President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA).