NASA scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a renowned climatologist and an agronomist who founded a global project for modeling the impact of climate change on the food supply, was announced Thursday as the 2022 World Food Prize laureate.

Rosenzweig, a former farmer who conducted the first assessment of the impact of climate change on agriculture in 1985, was later a lead or coordinating lead author on three global assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) that she founded is a global, transdisciplinary network of climate and food system modelers who work to improve predictions of the effects of climate change on agriculture.

Rosenzweig “has spent four decades cultivating our understanding of the biophysical and socio-economic impacts that climate change and food systems have on each other,” World Food Prize Foundation President Barbara Stinson said in announcing the award at a State Department ceremony.

Rosenzweig’s work shows "that data-driven strategies curb climate change impacts and enhance sustainable food production at the same time,” Stinson said, calling AgMIT the “global gold standard for climate and food systems modeling.”

Rosenzweig, who said she was "thrilled and honored to receive the World Food Prize this year because food systems are now emerging as a key component of climate change," is a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a professor at Barnard College and a senior research scientist at Columbia University's Earth Institute. 

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According to a bio provided by the foundation, Rosenzweig’ developed her interest in agriculture after she and her husband, Arthur, moved to Italy and started a farm, growing vegetables and fruits and raising chickens, goats and pigs.

When they returned to New York in 1972, she got a two-year degree in agriculture from a technical college, and then the couple started Blue Heron Farm in New York to grow sweet corn, Indian corn and cucumbers.

That ag background helped her “understand the importance of centering farmers in agricultural research,” Stinson said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking in a recorded message, described Rosenzweig as “one of the first scientists to document that climate change was already impacting the cultivation of our food supply. “

She started AgMIP “to significantly improve agricultural models and scientific and technological capabilities for assessing the impacts of climate variability and change, as well as other driving forces on agriculture, food security and poverty, from local to global scales,” Vilsack said.

Gabesa Ejeta, who chairs the WFP selection committee and is the 2009 laureate, said Rosenzweig’s work has shown "the growing power and importance of scientific collaboration to impart greater understanding of the effects of climate change on agriculture and food systems, as well as the value of utilizing scientific evidence to inform decisions made about local, national, and global mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

The prize comes with a $250,000 award. 

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