All Speakers

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Jorge Torre, Ph.D.

Speaker in plenary “Food Connects Land & Sea: Integrating Oceans into the Future of Food.”

Meet Jorge Torre, Ph.D. General Director and co-founder of Comunidad y Biodiversidad, A.C. (COBI,, a non-governmental organization that aims for marine biodiversity conservation and sustainable fisheries through effective participatory approaches. His work has focused on the development of integral research applied to solve problems in marine conservation and sustainable fishing, always accompanied by the production of science by fishers (citizen science). He has more than 50 scientific and general public collaborative publications. Currently, his interest is to achieve gender equality in the decision-making fisheries management processes and to identify the best way to transmit the knowledge of conservation and management generated in the last two decades to the new generation of fishers to adapt for the global changes that are impacting coastal communities daily.


Ling Cao, Ph.D.

Speaker in plenary “Food Connects Land & Sea: Integrating Oceans into the Future of Food.”

Ling Cao completed her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Growing up on a family fish farm in China and trained as an agronomist and environmental scientist, Ling has focused on interdisciplinary research at the interface between sustainable seafood production and environmental conservation. She was selected as a recipient of the “National Thousand Talents Program for Distinguished Young Scholars,” an initiative of the Chinese government to attract high-level talent from overseas to work full-time in China. In addition, she was also selected as a fellow of the “Shanghai Thousand Talents Program” which aims to recruit top-talent who are leaders in their fields to help enhance Shanghai’s future development and sustainable competitiveness. Ling is now an associate professor in the School of Oceanography at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and continues to work on aquaculture and fisheries research and ocean conservation.

Jo-Ivey-Boufford Photo

Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D.

Speaker in Plenary “Cities and the Planet: How Urban Ecosystems Impact the Planet”

Jo Ivey Boufford, M.D., is President of the International Society for Urban Health (2017-9) and Clinical Professor of Global Public Health at the College of Global Public Health at New York University and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the NYU School of Medicine. She is the immediate past president of the New York Academy of Medicine (2007-2018) and served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from November 1993 to January 1997, and as Acting Assistant Secretary from January 1997 to May 1997. While at HHS, she was the U.S. representative on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1994–1997. She was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Medicine (formerly IOM) in 1992 and served on its Board on Global Health and served two four year terms as its Foreign Secretary from 2003 to 2011. She currently co-chairs the NAM Forum on Public-Private Partnerships for Global Health. She was elected to membership of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2015.

David Vlahov

David Vlahov, Ph.D, RN, FAAN

Speaker in Plenary “Cities and the Planet: How Urban Ecosystems Impact the Planet”

Dr. Vlahov is Associate Dean for Research and Professor, Yale School of Nursing and Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Vlahov was Director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine and the founding President of the International Society for Urban Health. He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Urban Health, has edited four books on urban health, and has published over 666 scholarly papers. He led the Rockefeller Foundation project on the Roundtable for Urban Living Environment Research (RULER) on urban health metrics and a member of the WHO Knowledge Network for Urban Settlements as part of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. He served on the New York City Board of Health, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine currently serving of the Institute’s Board of Global Health.


Susanne Sokolow, Ph.D, DVM

Speaker in Breakout Session surrounding Land Use and Biodiversity Loss

Dr. Sokolow is a disease ecologist and veterinarian at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. As Executive Director of Stanford’s new Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment, she is interested in discovering and promoting ecological solutions that benefit human health and a healthy environment. As part of her research program, she founded The Upstream Alliance, a research initiative joining partners across the globe for reduction of the parasitic disease: schistosomiasis.

Olga Lucia Sarmiento - medicina centro practica _ Nov 24_-11 Olga Lucia Sarmiento, PhD

Speaker in Plenary “Cities and the Planet: How Urban Ecosystems Impact the Planet”

Olga L. Sarmiento is a Professor of the Department of Public Health at the School of Medicine at Universidad de Los Andes (Bogota, Colombia). Dr. Sarmiento research interests include urban health, healthy behaviors, built environment and community interventions among the populations of children and adults in Latin America. Dr. Sarmiento has been a board member of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health and the Global Advocacy for Physical Activity (GAPA) council, the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean and The International Society of Urban Health. She is currently a researcher of international studies including the Urban Health in Latin America project (SALURBAL), the International Physical Activity, and Environment Network (IPEN), The International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment (ISCOLE) the Stanford-Colombia Collaboratory on Chronic Disease (S-C3) and the Our Voice in the city project in Bogotá.

Jessica_Fanzo.jpg Jessica Fanzo, PhD

Speaker in plenary “Food Connects Land & Sea: Integrating Oceans into the Future of Food.”

Jessica Fanzo is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Global Food and Agriculture Policy and Ethics at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University in the USA. From 2017 to 2019, Jessica served as the Co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report and the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Systems and Nutrition. Before coming to Hopkins, she has also held positions at Columbia University, the Earth Institute, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Programme, Bioversity International, and the Millennium Development Goal Centre at the World Agroforestry Center in Kenya. Jessica has a PhD in nutrition from the University of Arizona.

Erika_Veidis.jpg Erika Veidis

Speaker in Breakout Session on Education

Erika Veidis serves as the Member Engagement and Outreach Manager of the Planetary Health Alliance, working to grow the planetary health community of practice, coordinate global educational efforts, develop global student initiatives, and build public education and outreach-focused projects. Before joining the Planetary Health Alliance, Erika graduated from Harvard University in 2015 with a B.A. in Government and Mind/Brain/Behavior and received an M.B.A. from the California Polytechnic State University in 2016. She has had experience across a range of topics, including political insecurity and governance, social movements, environmental economics, and conservation.

Ruth_Defries.jpg Ruth DeFries, PhD

Speaker in plenary “Burn: Wildfires, Deforestation, and Planetary Health.”

Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics. Her research quantifies how these land use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. A particular focus of her work is in the globally-important tiger landscape of central India, with research that underpins management approaches to reconcile needs of both people and wildlife. She has also developed innovate education programs in sustainable development. DeFries was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s highest scientific honors, received a MacArthur “genius” award, and is the recipient of many other honors for her scientific research. In addition to over 100 scientific papers, she is committed to communicating the nuances and complexities of sustainable development to popular audiences, most recently through her book “The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.”

Roz_Naylor Roz Naylor, PhD

Speaker in plenary “Food Connects Land & Sea: Integrating Oceans into the Future of Food.”

Roz Naylor is the William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science, Professor (by courtesy) in Economics, and founding Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) at Stanford University. She received her PhD from Stanford University in applied economics, her Masters in economics from the London School of Economics, and her Bachelors degree(s) in economics and environmental science from the University of Colorado. Her research focuses on policies and practices to improve global food security and protect the environment. She is currently engaged in a wide range of research initiatives that span oil palm production in Indonesia and West Africa, food-energy-water linkages in India, the impact of climate variability on global food security, and oceans and the future of food. In addition to her many peer-reviewed papers, Naylor has published two books on her work: The Evolving Sphere of Food Security (Naylor, ed., 2014), and The Tropical Oil Crops Revolution: Food, Farmers, Fuels, and Forests (Byerlee, Falcon, and Naylor, 2017). She is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and serves on the scientific advisory boards for Oceana and the Aspen Global Change Institute.

BEATRICE-AKINYI.jpg Beatrice Akinyi

“Lightning Talk” Speaker

Beatrice Akinyi Otieno joined MWA Kenya in December 2016. Previously, she worked for AMREF, ACF-USA, and Save the Children International, where she managed multisectoral nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific programs in partnership with other non-governmental agencies and State Departments both at County and National levels. She has more than 11 years of experience working in both development and humanitarian contexts in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan with interests in project design, management, monitoring, evaluation, documentation, partnership and awards management, and donor liaison. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health and a BSC in Nutrition from Kenyatta University. She is a member of the Kenya Nutritionists and Dieticians Institute.

Kari_Nadeau Kari Nadeau

Speaker in plenary “Burn: Wildfires, Deforestation, and Planetary Health.”

“Wildfires are ravaging the planet. There is no safe distance from a wildfire. All parts of the health of our planets are affected: earth, air, water, flora, and fauna. We are excited about our wildfire symposium to discuss how to mitigate and adapt to wildfires using novel approaches around the globe.”

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