2009 Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami
1999 Master of Science: Resource Ecology and Management, School for Environment and Sustainability (SES – formerly School of Natural Resources and Environment), University of Michigan Ann Arbor
1995 Bachelor of Science with Distinction: Resource Ecology and Management, SES, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Dr. Robin Currey is an ethnoecologist specializing in biodiversity conservation in small-scale agricultural systems, or home gardens. Robin’s work focuses on food systems at the nexus of community nutrition, agroecology, micro-entrepreneurship and rural finance so small-holder farmers are empowered to build sustainability and resilience into their communities’ development.
Apples, their pollinators, and the role of home garden production in the lives and livelihoods of families and communities in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, is a particular area of expertise. Robin has nearly twenty years of experience in interdisciplinary and applied research focusing on the effective use of natural resources, local economic and agricultural development.
In 2013, Dr. Currey joined the faculty of Green Mountain College as an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems and, in 2015, became the Director of the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems, after serving as Country Director, Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan. Mercy Corps is an international development organization that helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster. Her work with Mercy Corps in Kyrgyzstan grew from her efforts to understand and influence the sustainability and resilience of small-holder agro-pastoral systems to address inequalities in the food system. Robin continues to serve on the Board of Directors for a large bank that specializes in microfinance and agricultural value chain financing in Kyrgyzstan.
Prior to joining Mercy Corps, she was a Fulbright Scholar and a fellow of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results. For two years, Robin was the Science Advisor to Kompanion, a microfinance company, supporting their community development initiatives and, in 2008, assumed the position of Deputy Country Director and then Country Director, Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan
• Sustainable food systems, inclusive of applied research methods and impact evaluation
• Gender, ethnic and racial diversity, equity and inclusion in food system education and international development program design and implementation
• Influences of agricultural diversity and dietary diversity inclusive of culinary nutrition
• Theories, models and practices in rural development and sustainability in U.S. Suburbia and amongst small-holder farming communities
• Local economic development and valuation of small-scale agricultural systems
• Ethnoecology & Ethnobotany (gardens and cultivated plants as cultural artifacts)
• In situ agrobiodiversity and pollinator conservation
Director, Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS), Green Mountain College (GMC), Poultney, Vermont, 2015-present (Assistant Director 2014-2015)
• Founder & Organizer, Sustainable Food Systems Solutions Symposium (3 years)
Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Green Mountain College (GMC), 2013-present
• Chair, Academic Standards Committee, 2015-17
• Member, Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee, 2016-18
• Member, Graduate & Online Programs Steering Committee, 2014-present
• Member, Progressive Program Admissions Committee, 2015-present
• Member, Navdanya Scholarship Committee, 2016-present
Non-Executive Director, Kompanion Bank, Kyrgyz Republic, 2009-present
• Founding Chair, Community Development Committee of the Board of Directors
• Member, Audit Committee of the Board of Directors
• Member, Kompanion Invest Oversight Committee (Islamic Microfinance)
Country Director, Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan, 2011-2013 ($7 million annual budget; 50+ employees). See International Development Program Funding section, below.Deputy Country
Director and Program Manager, Food for Education, The Apple Project, Gardens and Plastics, Rural Waste Management, Emergency Response for Earthquake-Affected Families, Community Based Food Assistance Program (interim director), Peaceful Change Program (interim director), Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan, 2008–11
Scientific Advisor, Kompanion Financial Group & Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan, 2005–08
Agricultural Value Chains Consultant, University of Central Asia, Aga Khan Development Network, Kyrgyzstan, 2007
Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow, Kyrgyz Ethnobotany, Kyrgyz Agrarian Univ., 2004 – 05
EPA Science to Achieve Results Fellow, Florida International University, 2001 – 05
Researcher, University of Michigan Biological Station, MI, 1999 – 2000
Ethnobotany Consultant, Southwest Archaeological Consultants, Santa Fe, NM, 1998 – 1999
Research Assistant, Ethnoecology and Landscape Ecology, UM, 1998 and 1995-1996
Environmental Educator, Lenk Environmental Education Center, Switzerland, 1996
Mentorship Coordinator, University Mentorship Program, UM, 1992 – 1995
Awards and Honors
• Microfinance Centre (MFC) Innovation Award 2017: Microfinance Innovation Award (Winner), Microfinance Centre (2017). Kompanion Financial Group winner, a microfinance company, for initiative I co-developed and co-designed for innovative projects that stand to significantly contribute to financial inclusion within the next two years.
• European Microfinance Award 2014: Microfinance and the Environment (Winner), European Microfinance Platform and Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2014). Kompanion Financial Group winner, a microfinance company, for initiative I co-developed and co-designed; announced November 2014 for microfinance initiatives that represent innovative solutions to global environmental concerns. € 100,000 prize.
• European Microfinance Award 2012: Microfinance for Food Security (Finalist), European Microfinance Platform and Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012). Kompanion Financial Group finalist, a microfinance company, for initiatives I co-developed and co-designed; one of three finalists announced November 2012 for microfinance initiatives that represent breakthroughs in promoting food security.
• Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan’s Director’s Award (2009). Awarded for exemplary program implementation, USDA’s “Food for Education” program (program manager).
• Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan’s Director’s Award (2007). Awarded for exemplary program design and implementation, “The Apple Project,” a home garden development initiative.
• Slavic Language Institute Fellowship (2002). University of Michigan Summer Language Institute. Tuition fellowship for Russian language study.
• Presidential Enhanced Graduate Assistantship for Doctoral Studies (2001-2005). Florida International University. Full support of graduate study awarded based on academic merit.
• Allen Schultz Memorial Wildlife Ecology Award (1999). Awarded to outstanding UM graduate student in wildlife management (foraging theory applied to archaeological studies).
• Xi Sigma Pi (1995 -). National Honor Society of Forest Resource Management.
• Michigan Veteran’s Trust Fund Fellowship (1992-1995). Full undergraduate support.
• Undergraduate Research Assistant, GMC (2016-2017). The Sustainability College Scorecard: Impact Evaluation of GMC’s Food System Initiatives.
• National Geographic Society, Conservation Trust Research Grant. (2005) (C61-05).
• University of Michigan Biological Station, Research Grant (1997). Herbivory and Forest Succession
International Development Program Funding – Primary Authorship and Implementation (selected)
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program (2012 and 2010). Food for Education, Kyrgyzstan. $11.3 million (2012) and $2.3 million (2010). School feeding; nutrition education; catch-up growth research; school feeding program budgeting; education policy; capacity building for Ministry of Education, Sanitation and Epidemiological Control Center and school nursing staff; parent and community empowerment, community-led school infrastructure rehabilitation; income-generation with simultaneous student training at vocational schools. *Implemented FFE 2008-13, though authored FFE 2010 & 2012
- Anonymous Donors (3 organizations) (2010). Micro-Enterprise Restoration. $105,000. See Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for description, below.
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2010). Emergency Response to Refugee Crisis in Kyrgyzstan. $700,000. Pilot re-capitalization grants for micro-entrepreneurs whose micro-enterprises were destroyed/disrupted by communal violence.
- Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), USAID (2010). Restoration of Assets for Families. $700,000. See Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for description, above.
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Food for Peace Program (2010). Emergency Food Assistance for Jalalabad and Osh. $3.9 million. Pilot un-conditional cash transfer program to improve food access for households impacted by communal violence.
- Mercy Corps’ Social Entrepreneurship Fund (2009). Rural Waste Management. $50,000. Community development initiative focused on soil quality improvement for small-holder farmers advocating for organic agriculture as a competitive advantage.
- OFDA, USAID (2009). Community Based Food Assistance Program. $7 million. Pilot local and regional procurement program for chronically food insecure households impacted by global food price inflation and drought. * Authored and oversaw, no direct implementation
- OFDA, USAID (2009). Emergency Response for Earthquake-Affected Families in Alai Region, Osh Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. $50,000.
- Mercy Corps’ Phoenix Fund (2007). Gardens and Plastics. $50,000. Initiative focused on soil quality for small-holder farmers advocating for organic agriculture as a competitive advantage.
- Mercy Corps’ Phoenix Fund (2005). The Apple Project. $50,000. Household and community level sustainable horticultural development initiative focused on agrobiodiversity conservation, food self-sufficiency with marketing strategies and equity in market channel access.
University Teaching (*Course Designed and Taught)
Graduate – Green Mountain College, Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (MSFS)
• Contemporary Food Systems (8 semesters)
• Vegetables & Fruits: Farm to Plate Sustainability (5 sem.)
• Sustainable Food System Solutions: Project Design and Impact Measurement* (2 sem.)
• Turning Traditions into Markets*, Kyrgyzstan, with Dr. John Van Hoesen; (1 sem.)
• Capstone Project: Proposal*, GMC (3 sem.)
Undergraduate– Green Mountain College, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
• Biodiversity Issues in Agriculture: Food and Diets* (3 sem.)
• Biodiversity Issues in Agriculture: Seeds and Trees (1 sem.)
• Culinary Nutrition* with Assoc. Prof. Eleanor Tison (1 sem.)
• Home Gardens: Diversity, Design and Nutrition* (1 sem.)
• International Development* (2 sem.); cross-listed with Sociology
• Pruning and Grafting of Fruit Trees* (1 sem.)
• Unraveling Food Systems* (5 sem.)
Graduate Student Instructor
• Florida International University: Human Biology (2 sem.)
• University of Michigan Biological Station: Ethnobotany with Dr. Richard Ford (4 sem.); Conservation Biology, UMBS (1 sem.)
• University of Michigan (UM), School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS): Woody Plant Biology and Identification, (1 sem.); Wildlife Ecology laboratory with Dr. Terry Root (1 sem.); Introduction to Psychology (1 sem.)
Thesis and Graduate Student Advising
Undergraduate Senior Project/Thesis Chair (Green Mountain College)
- Allan Michel Jales Coutinho, 2016. Student Learning: Can teacher policy such as Fundeb, provide the best student learning outcomes for countries such as Brazil?
- Emma Robinson, 2015. Designing a framework for civic agriculture
Graduate Student Advising (GMC)
Committee Chair (Green Mountain College)
Masters of Sustainable Food Systems, degree conferred (10):
Brandon Meiners, 2018. The cover crop guide for northern climate farmers
Jamie Grant, 2017. The Middle Peninsula food gap: Increasing food access and food sovereignty through farmers’ market creation and programming
Anya Todd, 2017. Digging in the dirt: a pilot study addressing sweat equity and its influence on registered dietitians’ views about the local sustainable food system
Karla Capacetti, 2016. Developing and implementing a community food and farm security value chain: a case study of Farmer Foodshare
Heather DeLong, 2016. Sustainable community-based agriculture development guide: a universal approach to transforming community farming initiatives
Vanessa Skean, 2016. Climate change adaption actions and food security in rural Arctic Alaska
Trinity Storey, 2016. The U.S. Army food system: Cooks, sustainability, and nutrition
Joyce Cielicki, 2015. Guide to agroforestry in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin
Raymond McAvaddy, 2015. Chickens now – Approaches to backyard chickens within restrictive ordinances
Erin Walsh (Shaw), 2015. Effective marketing strategies to combat food insecurity and improve food access in New York’s Capital Region
Committee Member (Green Mountain College)
Masters of Sustainable Food Systems, degree conferred (6):
Christina Folmar, 2018. All the buzz: a guide to support bees in the Northeastern United States as a component of sustainable food systems
Cynthia James, 2018.Sustainable food systems track: Undergraduate course development for Lehigh University
Victoria Sharkey Rossi, 2018. A review of food insecurity in the United States through the lens of a local, Philadelphia, community food program, Kids Bites Mobile Pantry
Sonia Kendrick, 2017. A Food hub analysis and recommendations for systematically building a sustainable local food system in Linn County, Iowa
Erin Meyer, 2016. The role of a chef in supporting sustainable food systems: Chef camp
Kathryn Poppiti, 2015. Mushroom quest: a 4-H project book exploring edible mushrooms
Selected Presentations 2010-2018: Sole Presenter (unless otherwise noted)
Currey, R. and J. Van Hoesen. 2018. Geospatial growth: Geospatial data for financial service organizations. Kompanion Bank. 26 March, 2018. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Currey, R. and J. Van Hoesen. 2018. Homegrown food security: lessons from the Silk Road. Northeast Organic Farmers’ Association – Vermont. Burlington, Vermont.
Ackerman-Leist, P. and R. Currey. 2018. Biodiversity at the core: how the apple created an organic revolution. Northeast Organic Farmers’ Association – Vermont. Burlington, Vermont.
2018. What Green Mountain College graduate students do: Building sustainable food systems from the Silk Roads to Country Roads. Faculty Colloquium, 28 February 2018, Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT.
2018. The power of spatial narratives – stories from the Silk Road. 3rd Annual Sustainable Food System Solutions Symposium. 23 February, 2018. Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT.
2017. Diet, environment and agrobiodiversity: What America can learn from Central Asian Food Systems. Middlebury’s Footprint: Introduction to Food Systems. 9 October, 2017. Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT.
2017. Credit for conservation: an ethnoecological approach to incentivizing sustainable management of agro-pastoral systems in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Falk School of Sustainability, 13 April 2017. Chatham University. Pittsburg, PA.
2017. Theory (of change) into practice: proposal writing. Ethnographic Field Methods/Social Research I, 11 April, 2017. Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT.
2017. Linking biodiversity and diet diversity, Kyrgyz Republic, Central Asia. 2nd Annual Sustainable Food System Solutions Symposium. 17 February, 2017. GMC, Poultney, VT.
2015. Impact Evaluation of an ethnoecological approach to home garden development. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society of Ethnobiology. Santa Barbara, California.
2014. Explaining edible plant diversity in home gardens of the Kyrgyz Republic, Central Asia. Paper presented at the Joint Society Conference of the Society of Ethnobiology and Society for Economic Botany. Cherokee, North Carolina.
2012. Improving food security and incomes through high-impact agricultural value chain development and finance. “Supporting Inclusive Growth: New Opportunities Through Value Chain Financing.” Microfinance Centre. Tblisi, Georgia.
Brown, C. & R. Currey. 2011. Improving food security and incomes through high-impact agricultural value chain development and finance. Cracking the Nut: Overcoming Obstacles to Rural and Agricultural Finance. Washington, D.C.
2010. Can we really apply development principles in practice? InterAction. Washington, D.C.
Currey, R.C.D. 2009. Diversity of Hymenoptera, Cultivated Plants and Management Practices in Home Garden Agroecosystems, Kyrgyz Republic. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Florida. 198 pp.
Currey, R.C.D., Ford, R.I. & Viklund, L. 2000. Plant productivity survey and potential prehistoric use of the [Gachupin-Brackett Mine] Survey Area. In Dorshow, W.B., Mack, S.R., and Scheick, C.L., eds. Cultural Resources of the Gachupin-Brackett Mine: Preliminary Investigations of Cultural Landscapes on the Southern Park Plateau. Southwest Archaeological Consultants, Inc. Research Series 425B. Santa Fe, NM.
Currey, R.C.D. 1999. Pinus edulis in a low-production year: a spatially variable, asynchronous plant-food resource. M.S. Thesis, Sch. Nat. Res. & Env., U. Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 37 pp.
Currey, R.C.D., Ford, R.I. & Viklund, L.1999a. Preliminary report: Ethnobotanical plant productivity survey. Ethnobotanical Laboratory Report No. 596. University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
Currey, R., M. Nuemann & P. Eckford. 2011. A market-integrated response to an emergency in Kyrgyzstan. Humanitarian Exchange Magazine 51: 29-31.
Heinen, J.T & Currey, R.C.D. 2000. A 22-year study on the effects of mammalian browsing on forest succession following a clearcut in northern lower Michigan. American Midland Naturalist 144:243-252.
Books and Booklets
Currey, R. 2016. Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems Capstone Project Handbook. Green Mountain College. Poultney, VT. 19 pgs.
Eckford, P., R. Currey, M. Neumann, & C. Brown. 2011. Beyond Conflict: Micro-Entrepreneurs Lead the Way in Kyrgyzstan. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. 31 pgs.
Currey, R.C.D. 2007. Apples in Home Gardens, Southern Shore, Lake Issyk-kul, Kyrgyz Republic. Kompanion Financial Group & Mercy Corps, Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (English, Kyrgyz, and Russian versions).
Shpakova, A. & R. Currey. 2007. The Apple Project – Kyrgyzstan 2006. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan and Kompanion Financial Group. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. 24pgs.
Consultancy and Assessment Reports
Tison, E., R. Currey, P. Ackerman-Leist & E. Hammond. 2016. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program Review. Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT.
Currey, R. 2012. Energy for All (E4A): Approach to Community Adaptation Plans and Agroforestry Activities. Mercy Corps Timor-Leste.
Currey, R.C.D. & M. Neumann. 2010a. Multi-Sector Assessment Findings July 2010. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
_______2010b. Multi-Sector Assessment Findings August 2010. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
Currey, R.C.D. 2007. Food and Food Processing in the Kyrgyz Republic: Analysis and Recommendations for University of Central Asia. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.
Ostashko, A. and R. Currey. 2007. Household Surveys in the Kyrgyz Republic, 2006: An Economic Profile of Home Gardeners. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.
Currey, R. 2004. Conservation of Kyrgyz fruit tree varieties and yield improvement by educating about proper horticultural techniques. Prepared for The Christensen Fund. Palo Alto, CA.
Select Development Program Reports – 52 reports in total
Currey, R. 2012. Peaceful Change Program, Final Report. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
Currey, R. 2012. Baseline and Endline Surveys. McGovern-Dole Food for Education 2010-2012. Supplement to Food for Education 2010 Report #5. USDA. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
Currey, R. 2012. Learning and Results. McGovern-Dole Food for Education 2010-2012. Supplement to Food for Education 2010 Report #5. USDA. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
Currey, R. 2012. Project Status Report #5. Food for Education 2010. USDA. Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan.
Eckford, P. & R.C.D. Currey. 2011. Restoration of Assets for Families, Final Report. USAID Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance. Mercy Corps, Kyrgyzstan.
Eckford, P. & R.C.D. Currey. 2011. Emergency Response to Refugee Crisis in Kyrgyzstan, Final Report. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mercy Corps, Kyrgyzstan.