ACES celebrates 10 years of the Global Academy

February 23, 2017

The College of ACES recently celebrated 10 years of its unique faculty training program, the Academy for Global Engagement (Global Academy). At this showcase event, Academy alums and other ACES faculty and staff were joined by colleagues from across the campus to reflect on the impacts directly attributable to this program.   

The attendees, warmly welcomed by Dean Kidwell, learned more about the Academy, listened to testimonials from previous participants, and met the new cohort of scholars.

Dr. Alex Winter-Nelson, director of the ACES Office of International programs, explained, “The Global Academy is rooted in the idea that there is great promise to increasing the impact of our activities by broadening the scope of application beyond our national borders. But there are barriers to international engagement, so the Academy aims to enable scholars to more easily overcome those barriers and achieve greater impact. Half of what we try to do is build capacity of individuals for international engagement. The other half has to do with the capacity of the institution.”

Winter-Nelson noted the program has evolved over the years and that it will continue to evolve. He acknowledged the Arlys Conrad Estate for the gift that allows the Global Academy to exist and said he hoped the event would lead to conversations about engaging units outside of ACES.

Suzana Palaska, associate director of the Office of International Programs and manager of the program, explained how the Academy themes and immersion locations are selected each year and how the cohort is assembled.

“Early intervention is very important when it comes to cohort recruitment. Putting the Global Academy program on incoming faculty’s map, so to speak, ensures that they plan for it from the very beginning. It also allows for us to get to know them at the start of their careers in ACES and learn about their professional interests and goals as they relate to international engagements,” said Palaska.

Palaska then introduced several former Academy fellows who shared testimonials of their experience.  

Academy Testimonials

Dr. Mindy Mallory, associate professor and director of undergraduate programs in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, participated in the Global Academy in 2010. Mallory reflected on how beneficial it was to learn about India’s commodity markets in India and how her participation in the Academy launched an international component to her research. “The Academy provided invaluable perspective that has guided my research efforts ever since,” she said.

Dr. Juan Andrade, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, participated in the 2012 Global Academy. Now working with the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) on using the soybean for better nutrition in Ghana, he reflected on the value of having already met his current SIL colleagues during the Global Academy trip.

Ms. Jan Brooks, an instructor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, said her experience, also with the 2012 Global Academy, has especially impacted her teaching, giving her a global perspective and the background to push her students towards international involvement.

Mr. Gary Letterly, an educator for UI Extension, and a member of the 2013 Global Academy, discussed the benefit of seeing a different type of extension system in Taiwan. He praised the program for including extension staff because it gives “a new perspective and context in which to view our own work.” He further noted that the experience led to collaborations with faculty members in the cohort.

Dr. Erick Sachs, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences, was thankful for the opportunity as part of the 2014 Global Academy to re-connect with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where he had worked 14 years prior. He said, “The Global Academy was an outstanding experience. It was a well-timed as we had just started having a number of PHD fellows from Southeast Asia, and I had the opportunity to meet the IRRI advisors for these students as well as build relationships with IRRI staff who can potentially be Borlaug fellowship advisors for our graduate students.” Thanks to these renewed connections, Sachs is now partnering with IRRI to identify genes that confer flowering‐stage heat‐tolerance in rice.

Dr. Juan Loor, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, emphasized the value of being able to sit down and talk when making international connections. Thanks to his participation in the 2015 Global Academy, he was able to establish connections with several scientists in Mexico and is now collaborating with the University of San Luis Potosi to improve sheep nutrition.

Dr. Michael Miller, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, also spoke of specific outcomes related to his participation in the 2015 Global Academy, including a new collaboration with the Autonomous University of Queretero on Listeria monocytogenes and Hispanic-style fresh cheese.

These testimonials are just a small sampling of the many success stories, from the dozens of program alums, including publications, collaborations, and funding received that are attributable to the ACES Global Academy.

2016-17 Academy headed to Cuba!

Finally, the newest cohort of the Academy was announced. These scholars are currently participating in an on-campus curriculum and will travel to Cuba during spring break to explore academic partnerships for ACES.

The 2016-17 scholars are:

  1. Dr. Christensen, Peter, ACE
  2. Dr. Dall'Erba, Sandy, ACE
  3. Dr. Pittelkow, Cameron M, Crop Sciences
  4. Dr. Riggins, Chance, Crop Sciences
  5. Dr. Raffaelli, Marcela, HDFS
  6. Dr. Miller, Daniel Charles, NRES
  7. Million, William J, Extension
  8. Hannah Christensen, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE)

-Senior Fellows-

  1. Dr. Brawn, Jeffrey D, NRES
  2. Dr. Nickols-Richardson, Sharon, FSHN
  3. Dr. Mike Ward (NRES)

For more information about the ACES Global Academy, visit:

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