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Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee for the Saline Futures conference consists of the following members:

Pier Vellinga (Waddenacademy, Netherlands, Chair)

Prof.dr.ir. Pier Vellinga is the Director Water and Climate at the Wadden Academy, Em. professor Climate Change, Water and Flood Safety, Wageningen University; Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Netherlands Finance Organization for International Development, Chairman of the Board of Urgenda Foundation and Member of the Board of the Climate Adaptation Services Foundation.

He received his Ba. and MSc. in Civil Engineering from Delft University in 1976. In 1986 he received his PhD at TUDelft for his work on Beach and Dune Erosion During Storm Surges. In 1988 he joined the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and the Environment. He was one of the co-founders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 1991 he became professor in Environmental Sciences and Global Change and director of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. For some years he combined this work with a position at the World Bank as Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF, of World Bank, UNDP and UNEP). Since 1996 Pier Vellinga has been, on an ad hoc basis, an advisor to the EU commission.
In 2000-2006 he was Dean of the faculty for Earth and Life Sciences and vice rector of the Vrije Universiteit. In 2007 he joined Wageningen University and Research. In 2012 he was part of a group directly advising commission president Barosso on the notion of evidence-based policy. In 2014 he joined the board of the Wadden Academy.

Dionysia Aggeliki Lyra (ICBA, UAE)

Dr. Dionysia Angeliki Lyra works as a Halophyte Agronomist at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai United Arab Emirates since 2013. She has been working on evaluating halophytic germplasm in inland and coastal desert areas exploring multiple uses (food, feed, biofuel production, etc.). She is also working on modular farming systems that integrate agriculture with aquaculture utilizing low-quality water resources such as the reject brine from desalination to grow halophytes. After running a successful project funded by USAID in 2016, Dr. Lyra was announced as one of the 29 global innovators for EXPO2020 of the first phase of the EXPO Live program in 2017 and received a grant for the project “Inland and coastal modular farms for climate change adaptation in desert environments”. The project was a finalist under the category Farm Innovation Award–Agriculture and Food Security / Climate Change Innovation Award at the AGRAME exhibition in 2016 & 2017. She has authored and co-authored over 50 publications, including a technical manual on principles of sustainable agriculture and water management, articles in peer-reviewed journals, conference papers and research reports. Her vision is to develop, through successful partnerships, integrated farming systems tailormade to the needs of farming communities living in salinized areas, utilizing low-quality water and land resources to grow halophytic crops enhancing food, nutrition, water and income security.

Henrik Aronsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

Henrik Aronson pursued his PhD degree in Plant Physiology at the University of Gothenburg. He graduated in 2001 and spent the following year and a half as a postdoctoral student at Leicester University. The next year he spent at Gotland University and Skövde University as a senior lecturer. He then returned to the University of Gothenburg in 2004, where he attained Associate Professorship in 2007, and full Professorship in 2016. As a graduate student, he studied protein targeting of a chlorophyll related protein to the envelope and the thylakoid membrane. He then switched during his postdoctoral period to study the chloroplast protein import machinery with a focus on the components that make up the machinery. Back in Gothenburg his research group also started to study vesicle transport inside chloroplasts. Currently the main project is focused to produce salt tolerant non-GM wheat to increase the crop yield and thereby the daily food intake for the people of countries with high amount of soil salinization. He is leading one of the Work Packages within the EU Interreg project concerning saline farming (SalFar). He is also Head of his Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Anne Asselin de Williencourt (NMBU, Norway)

Anne Asselin de Williencourt is a Social Anthropologist with 15 years of experience in international sustainable development, food security and education with the UN and as researcher. Her research focuses on climate adaptation in coastal communities and governance processes for ocean sustainability. In the Interreg Saline farming project she carries out policy analysis at EU, national and local level and is a researcher with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Anne has initiated a long term research project on climate adaptation and the sustainable use of marine resources. This project seeks to provide insight into how communities adapt to climate changes, in particular the impact on fisheries and aquaculture, their interaction and with stakeholders. Furthermore, how local and national governments carry out marine spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management, and how this changes over time.
She has carried out research and been a guest lecturer with WHO/PAHO and UNICEF in the Caribbean and several Universities in the US, program management and policy development with WFP, FAO and government counterparts in Mozambique and NRC in Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Philippines. In teams and independently she has undertaken evaluations and research with UNESCO in Paris, various organizations in Djibouti, Mali, Burkina Faso and Jordan, and EU policies at the Institute for Policy analysis and development.

Ed Barrett-Lennard (Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia, Australia)

Ed Barrett-Lennard works in the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Rural Development (DPIRD), at Murdoch University and at The University of Western Australia (UWA). He has been involved in the work of two national Cooperative Research Centres and 2 state Centres of Excellence. He was a project leader in the Sustainable Grazing on Saline Lands on Saline Lands (SGSL) initiative which was the CRC’s Association project of the year in 2002. He has also been involved in international projects with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam.

Ed’s research and that of his students focuses on various aspects of saline agriculture at the intersection between the disciplines of soil science, plant physiology and agronomy. He has had particular interests in the use and domestication of Atriplex species as saltland pastures, in the interaction between salinity and other abiotic stresses, especially waterlogging and drought, and in crop salt tolerance. A current theme of his international work is the sustainability of agriculture in the world’s mega-deltas.

Gary Bosworth (University of Lincoln, UK)

Dr. Gary Bosworth is Deputy Head of the School of Geography at the University of Lincoln, UK. Previously, he worked in Lincoln International Business School as a Reader in Rural Enterprise and before that he completed his PhD and Research Masters in Rural Social Science with the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University.  
Gary is passionate about the fortunes of rural places and his research interests focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and rural development.  Along with a range of publications on rural economic development, he has also published an edited collection “Interpreting Rurality; Multi-disciplinary Approaches” which showcases the diverse meanings and representations of rural places today.
As environmental change threatens the resilience of some, especially coastal, rural regions he brings to SalFar an economic modelling approach to evaluate the risks of salinity to rural economies along with an understanding of the need for innovation processes that can create new, sustainable futures for agriculture.

Bas Bruning (Saline Farming, Netherlands)

Bas Bruning is a scientist working at Saline-Farming, a company on Texel.  He did his Ph.D on the effect of salinity on symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes and the potential for legumes in saline agriculture. After finishing his Ph.D, he has been working at Saline-Farming since. At the company Saline Farming, located on the island of Texel in The Netherlands, lies a large test facility where crops are irrigasted with water of seven different salt concentrations, from fresh water to seawater and five intermediate levels of salinity. This test facility allows the scientists of Saline-Farming to carefully study the response of different crops and different crop varieties to increasing salinity levels, as well as to study any effects of different fertilizers, soil amendments, seed treatments etc. on crop yield under saline conditions.
They use this knowledge to help farmers all over the world to increase their crop yields in salt affected areas. As part of a team of three scientists in the company, Bas Bruning regularly travels to a number of different farmers where he trains local people in how to best grow crops on salt affected lands, often via a ‘train the trainers’ concept. Doing this, Saline-Farming often manages to improve yields of local farmers by 50-100%.

Redouane Choukr-Allah (Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II)

Dr. Redouane Choukr-Allah is a horticultural, soil and water environmental expert with more than 35 years of experience in coordinating and managing field-based projects and technical teams involved in the use of saline water and the use of pre-treated sewage in Horticulture.
He holds a Master degree in Agronomy from the Institute of Agronomy and veterinary Hassan II Rabat, Morocco, and a PhD in environment Horticulture from the University of Minnesota, St Paul USA. As a senior level professor at the Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Hassan II since 1978, has designed and taught classes on non-conventionnel water, the use of pre-treated sewage, Fertigation, soilless culture and saline water in agriculture. He served as head of the Horticulture Department from the period 1983 to 1996, and a head of the salinity and plant nutrition laboratory since 1996. He has written numerous authoritative texts and books in the field of non-conventional water.

Dennis Corwin (USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Laboratory, USA)

Dr. Dennis Corwin is a Research Soil Scientist with the Water Reuse & Remediation Research Unit, USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, CA. His expertise is (i) modeling and mapping of nonpoint source (NPS) pollutant distributions in the vadose zone using geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing techniques; (ii) measuring, monitoring, and mapping of soil salinity across multiple scales (field to regional scales) with proximal and remote sensors; and (iii) characterization of the spatial variability of soil physical and chemical properties using geophysical methods (i.e., electrical resistivity and electromagnetic induction) for applications in NPS pollutant transport modeling in the vadose zone, soil quality assessment, precision agriculture, monitoring management-induced change from degraded water reuse, and assessing climate change impacts on agriculture and the environment.  He has served as Associate Editor (2000-2001), Technical Editor (2002-2007), and Editor (2008-2013) of the Journal of Environmental Quality.  He is the recipient of the Cox Visiting Professor Award from Stanford University (2000) in recognition of his pioneering contribution to the application of GIS to the modeling of NPS pollutants in the vadose zone. Dr. Corwin is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.

Jeroen De Waegemaeker (ILVO, Belgium)

Dr. Jeroen De Waegemaeker is a senior researcher at the Flemish Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) and has a background in urban design, landscape planning and regional development. His research focuses on climate adaptation in peri-urban territories: how do we prepare these territories for climate challenges such as floods, droughts and heat stress? The research of Jeroen De Waegemaeker explores the current role and the future potential of farmland in the development of climate-proof territories. Moreover, his research studies the added value of a design process in the governance of climate adaptation.
Jeroen De Waegemaeker was responsible for research by design on climate adaptation at the Flemish coastal area in the research project CcASPAR. Next, he obtained a doctoral degree in urbanism and spatial planning at the University of Antwerp for his research entitled ‘Climate-proof through design. Research and design for climate adaptation in peri-urban territories’. Today, he is working on the project SalFar, financed by Interreg North Sea Region. He is responsible for the participatory research; awareness raising about salinization of farmland, and capacity building for saline farming.

Theo Elzenga (University of Groningen, Netherlands)

Theo Elzenga is a professor in Plant Ecophysiology at the Groningen University since 2001. His specific areas of expertise are plant stress physiology, plant developmental processes, membrane transport processes and root physiology. The main focus of his research is currently on the role of micro-organisms, both fungi and bacteria that interact with plants, in the resistance of plants to stresses like drought and salinity. His group combines field studies with detailed physiological, processed based studies, down to the molecular and single transport protein level. Several of his projects are related to making crop plants “climate-robust”, studying the physiological mechanisms that make plants tolerant to the effects of changes in the environents, like spells of limited rainfall, heavy rainfall that lead to short periods of water-logging of the soil and increased soil salinity. He has active collaborations with several companies and with several European groups, but also with research groups in countries like Ethiopia, China and India.

Leena Karrasch (University of Oldenburg, Germany)

Leena Karrasch is PostDoc in the interdisciplinary Ecological Economics Group at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Combining knowledge of natural and social sciences, her research interests are in social-ecological systems, stakeholder engagement, governance and social learning processes, ecosystem services and climate adaptation. She is an expert in inter- und transdisciplinary participatory planning processes to design sustainable land use and water management in coastal areas. Her current research focuses on groundwater salinisation and innovative approaches to strengthen flood resilience in North Sea coastal areas. Leena is project coordinator of the DFG funded project SALTSA (Groundwater salinisation following sea level rise as a societal challenge of climate adaptation – The case of North-Western Germany). Additionally, she is working in the Interreg VB project FRAMES (Flood resilient areas by multi-layer safety).
Leena holds a Dr.rer.nat from the University of Oldenburg, and M.Sc. degrees in Water and Coastal Management (University of Oldenburg) and in Environmental and Infrastructure Planning (University of Groningen).

Maria Konyushkova (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia)

Senior researcher, PhD (Agriculture), Eurasian Center for Food Security at Lomonosov Moscow State University

Maria Konyushkova is a soil expert in the Eurasian Center for Food Security at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. She studies geography and cartography of salt-affected soils in arid regions using computer-based analysis of space-borne imagery and digital soil mapping. She organized / was involved in expeditions to the semidesert and desert areas in the south of Russia and Central Asia (Kalmykia, Dagestan, western Kazakhstan, Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous region of China, Aral area of Uzbekistan, Golestan province of Iran). She is an author and co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed papers. She served as a contributing author of the Handbook for Saline Soil Management (FAO 2018), which accumulated the experience of the post-Soviet countries in the assessment, mitigation of negative impact and amelioration of salt-affected soils in this vast part of the world. Since 2018, Maria is an expert of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) of the FAO Global Soil Partnership.

Sara Marjani Zadeh (FAO, Turkey)

Sara MarjaniZadeh is the Land and Water Officer for the FAO Sub Regional Office for Central Asia, where she oversees the coordination and management of FAO Land and Water related programs and projects in the region. She joined FAO in 2014, prior to that she had managerial and technical positions at different national and international organizations in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America such as Ontario Ministry of Environment, International Water Management Institute and International Committee of the Red Cross.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Engineering from Tehran University and a PhD in Land and Water Resource Management and Engineering from BOKU University, Vienna.

Laurids Siig Christensen (Taste of Denmark/VIFU, Denmark)

Laurids Siig Christensen, MSc & DSc is a researcher in molecular biology and molecular evolution.
Since 2007, part time farmer and food producer on a small island (Sejeroe) with agriculture and production of free-ranging geese and ducks. At present establishing the first test site in Denmark for cultivation of salt-tolerant and halophilic plants.  
Since 2014, Chairman of the board of Smagen af Denmark (Taste of Denmark, ToD) which is a non-profit branch organization of innovative food producers. ToD is involved in R&D projects in which rural development and development of the food landscape is combined.  The vision is to facilitate that innovative food-SME’s with ideas to develop new qualities in food and increased sustainability in production methods pass the threshold of success.