Cynthia Donovan

Cynthia Donovan

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Associate Professor
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics



Ph.D., Michigan State University
M.S., University of Minnesota
B.A., Swarthmore College

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Dr. Donovan is a fixed-term associate professor in International Development in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, having joined MSU in 1999. She has been involved with research, training and outreach in developing countries since 1981, including research positions with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA, now known as Africa Rice) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. 

Dr. Donovan is Deputy Director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research and a member of the Core Faculty of the African Studies Center at MSU. With the Legume Innovation Lab Director, she currently manages a $13.6 million multidisciplinary research and training portfolio with US and developing country researchers, across selected countries in Central America and Africa. She has been a part of the Food Security Group in AFRE since 1999, and has been the extensively engaged with projects in Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, and Angola.  She was the in-country coordinator for the MSU Mozambique Food Security project, a USAID-funded policy research and development project in Mozambique working with the Ministry of Agriculture and University of Eduardo Mondlane during 2010-11. Large sample survey research design, implementation, and data analysis are key skills applied in her research. She has extensive experience in West, East, and Southern Africa, as well as Asia and Latin America. She is also a returned Peace Corps Volunteer. While currently engaged primarily in program management, Dr. Donovan brings over 30 years of agricultural development experience to the program.

Research and Outreach Interests

  • Market development and smallholder participation
  • Agriculture and nutrition linkages
  • Impact assessment of policies, investments, and shocks
  • Legume systems in sustainable development