Jessica Fanzo is an American research scientist whose work addresses questions of nutrition and food security in developing countries. The hallmark of her career has been her determination to fight malnutrition through a resolutely multidisciplinary fieldwork approach.

She has developed and coordinated large-scale applied research projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for Columbia University’s Earth Institute, for such United Nations agencies as the FAO, the WFP, WHO and UNICEF, and for Bioversity International, member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Her projects seek to understand the links between the nutritional, environmental, on-farm, social, economic and political components of development. The central thrust of her work focuses on the interaction in food systems between nutrition, ecology and agriculture so as to propose innovatory solutions that can be replicated on a large scale and benefit the health of populations.

Jessica Fanzo has published widely in academic reviews and has written numerous books and reports. She also teaches nutrition and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York.

“We must continue to promote sustainable foods and diets, through our contributions in the field of nutrition and health. As a global community, we have reached a critical point, with a society that is financially, politically and ecologically on its knees. As a matter of urgency, we must make changes to our food systems, in order to ensure that everyone has an adequate diet, (i.e. healthy food in sufficient quantity and quality) and do this in an ecologically sustainable manner. The world’s population continues to rise: how can the current global food system, and our planet, keep up with this growing demand? I hope that my modest contribution will provide a partial response to this question.” Jessica Fanzo

An examplary career

Born in 1971 in the United States, Jessica Fanzo received her PhD in nutrition in 2000 at the University of Arizona. She then directed her research towards nutrition and health at Columbia University, first as coordinator then as nutrition director of the Earth Institute Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED). Here, she managed operational, research, education and policy programmes, whose purpose, in her own words, was to “create bridges between, on the one hand, food and nutrition and, on the other, health, food security, agricultural practices, environmental sciences and economic development.”


On 26 November 2012 in Madrid, the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation awarded the first-ever Premio Daniel Carasso to Jessica Fanzo. Backed by the Foundation which helps her promote her research over a two-year period, Jessica Fanzo is currently its world ambassador for sustainable food and diets. She is presently also working at the Earth Institute as assistant professor.