Experience and expertise in Asia at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Image courtesy of The World Factbook 2009. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.

Image courtesy of The World Factbook 2009. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.

For further information, please contact Deanna Behring, director of international programs.


Dr. Ed Rajotte (Entomology) has been working in Bangladesh since 1997 in vegetable integrated pest management research via the IPM CRSP . In addition, Dr. Carolyn Sachs (Ag Economics and Rural Sociology) also works on this project evaluating the sociological implications of pest management systems.


A team of researchers, led by scientists in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, will launch a project designed to improve nutrition and empower women in Cambodia by promoting their production and marketing of horticultural crops and rice produced via sustainable intensification practices.

Funding for the $1 million project, titled Women in Agriculture Network Cambodia: Gender and Ecologically Sensitive Agriculture, was awarded by the Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab, which is based at Kansas State University. The program is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Principal Investigator Rick Bates notes that the project has three major objectives:

--To identify and promote adoption of gender-sensitive SI technologies and practices in rice and horticulture value chains, targeted to improve ecological resilience and the nutritional status and income of poor households.

--To identify and foster the conditions and social networks that will enable women to fully participate in the local, regional and international value chains for horticultural and rice-based foods produced via SI.

--To build capacity in local agricultural institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and international universities and research institutes to develop and promote the adoption of innovations in gender-sensitive and ecologically sensitive SI.

The project also includes Penn State co-principal investigators Deanna Behring, Carolyn Sachs, Leif Jensen, Janelle Larson, Ann Tickamyer, and Ed Rajotte, along with researchers from several other universities and research centers, with expertise in areas such as gender and agriculture, international agriculture and development, crop protection and integrated pest management, agricultural economics, agroecology, soil science, agribusiness development, food science, and animal science.

For additional information about this project, please visit Women in Ag Network (WAgN) Cambodia: Gender- and Ecologically-Sensitive Agriculture


Penn State is home to the oldest linkage with a Chinese university.  Our programs in China date back to 1907 when Penn State Professor George Groff went to Lingnan, China, as a middle school teacher. Professor Groff's work eventually led to the development of what is now South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou.  From 1907 until World War II, the two institutions cooperated and exchanged students. In 1980, the program was renewed with funding from USDA. In 2007, the two institutions celebrated 100 years of collaboration with renewal of the original agreement and the signing of a joint laboratory agreement for soybean research.

The College of Agricultural Sciences has 10 current agreements with Chinese universities; we just signed a new agreement with Jilin Agricultural University; we have 3 more under development with Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute, China Agricultural University, and Zhejiang University.   

Dr. Jonathan Lynch (Horticulture) is actively engaged with his Chinese colleagues at South China Agricultural College (SCAC) and has been awarded a prestigious McKnight Foundation grant for joint soybean research. Additional areas of possible collaboration include dairy production and nutrition, horticulture, and plant pathology.

The School of Forestry also has an MOU with the Northeast Forestry University of Harbin, dating back to 1986.

John Carlson (School of Forest Resources) was appointed adviser to the National Laboratory of Forest Ecology, Northeastern Forestry University, Harbin, PRC, in 1994. Dr. Carlson also initiated a collaboration with the Beijing Forestry University with a visit to BFU in June 2006. The visit was hosted by Professor Xinli Xia and BFU President Dr. Yin Weilun. This led to funding of the collaboration through the Chinese national 948 program that supports opportunities for Chinese researchers to access new technologies abroad. In addition to research, the 948 grant supports scientific exchanges, with Dr. Carlson visiting Beijing Forestry University again in 2008 and Professor Xia and her students to visit the School of Forest Resources at Penn State in 2009.

Penn State faculty Gary Petersen and Eric Warner have received a three-year NASA grant to integrate crop productivity modeling with remote sensing estimated canopy biophysical variables. The work will include validation of the estimated canopy properties and yield estimates from rice fields near Nanjing, China. The Penn State researchers will collaborate with the Soil Science Research Institute, housed in Nanjing, to conduct the investigation. The collaboration is another element to an ongoing relationship between Penn State and the Soil Science Research Institute.

Penn State and Jilin Agricultural University just signed an agreement to cooperate in mushroom research.  As a first step,  Prof. Xiao Li from Jilin Agricultural University will be working at Penn State from April 2014- March 2015 to conduct research in the area of microbial ecology as it pertains to mushroom cultivation for the button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).

A new program with Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute will allow our department of Vet and Biomedical sciences at Penn State new opportunities.  GVRI is located in Nanning city of south China, boarders to Lao PDR and Vie Nan.  GVRI is one of few largest regional veterinary research institutes in China. The institute laboratories are well equipped and facilitated in conducting research and diagnostic services in animal diseases and zoonosis.  The GVRI has been very active in promoting national and international collaborations in animal disease investigations, diagnostic development, and related academic activities. Collaborations between the two Institutions will provide the foundation and framework for faculty and scholar exchanges, joint research projects, graduate programs, postdoc stations and internships for students, and the exchange of scientific materials, publications and information.  Collaborations to date include evaluation test of a novel Biosensor for H5N1 AIV detection.

We have had active exchanges with China Agricultural University in the area of Entomology.  Most recently, Professor KC Kim taught a short course on Insect Biodiversity at CAU.  He also hosted Dr.  Zhiqi Liu in his lab for 10 months last year.  Dr. Jay Stauffer, Professor of Ecosystems Sciences, also taught a graduate course in invasive species biology at CAU and is exploring joint projects in aquaculture, native fish species and control of schistosomiasis throughout China.  In addition, we have joint research in the area of plasmodium and malaria and on quantitative risk assessment of Fruit Insect Pests.

Dr. David Eisenstaat and Dr. Dali Guo, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences are conducting various studies associated with the economics of root traits, which can be used to improve scaling of plant functional types to predict ecosystem process.  The two collaborators recently completed a U.S. National Science Foundation grant examining the ecology of root lifespan.  Our work made a substantial improvement to the understanding of variation in root lifespan among species.  A second area of research is in improving our understanding of how roots and their associated mycorrhizal fungi forage for nutrients and variation among species in this regard. 

Dr. David Abler, Professor of Agricultural Economics, is the J. Lossing Buck Visiting Professor at Nanjing Agricultural University where he visits periodically to give seminars and meet with faculty and students. Dr. Abler is also the Chair of the China Section of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and in that connection works with faculty from China Agricultural University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and other universities in China on the China-related parts of the AAEA annual meeting program. Dr. Abler has hosted several faculty and graduate students from China as visiting scholars at Penn State, and will be hosting a visiting scholar from CAAS (Dr. Heguang Liu, an agricultural economist) for a year starting in December 2013.


In April 2001, William Lamont, codirector for the Center for Plasticulture (Horticulture), Tim Elkner (Capital Region, Penn State Cooperative Extension), and Swamy Anantheswaran (Food Science) visited India in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit Gujarat in January, destroying most of the university buildings and resulting in thousands of deaths. The group had meetings to discuss the idea of building low-cost shelters/greenhouses for use in the earthquake-ravaged regions of Bhuj and Bachau and to explore opportunities for collaborative projects between Penn State and Gujarat Agricultural University. As an outcome of that visit, Penn State and the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation won a grant from the U.S.-India Forum to organize an international workshop on plasticulture in India in 2004.

During Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes's visit to India in 2000, the college signed a letter of cooperation with Gujarat Agricultural University. Dr. Anantheswaran accompanied Secretary Hayes and is exploring possible projects related to food processing.

Historically, the College has had a significant presence in India.  Following is an article about Penn State's links to India's Maharashtra State written by past intern Daria Megotz.

To understand the background of the Penn State-Maharashtra partnership, one must be vaguely familiar with the efforts of both the Government of India and USAID to create a number of agricultural universities throughout India.  The Government of India and USAID decided that the best way this could be done is through U.S. technical assistance for higher education in the states that were committed to creating a university.  In order to provide guidance to the newly forming administrations and universities, well-established land-grant universities were asked to begin partnerships with the Indian states to help them achieve their goals. 

In 1966, Maharashtra began the long process of building an agricultural university.  There were already a number of universities that were built or in the planning stages in other states and Maharashtra did not want to miss such a great opportunity.  However, due to a limited amount of U.S. land-grant universities, Maharashtra was turned down by Kansas State in terms of partnership. Penn State had previously declined the offer from USAID and the Government of India to participate in the partnership program due to interests in other projects in other areas of the world.  However, when asked a second time, Penn State agreed to send a team of two men, Russell Dickerson, Associate Dean of Agriculture, and F. W. Peikert, an agricultural engineer, to determine if the partnership with Maharashtra would prove to be viable and worthwhile for the university.  After the two reported back, the university agreed to the partnership with Maharashtra and in October of 1966, the partnership between Penn State and the newly established Maharashtra Agricultural University became official. 

Amongst some issues surrounding state arguments regarding the location of the headquarters for the university, Dickerson, now the lead on the project, began working alongside the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Maharashtra Agricultural University, H. G. Patil in January of 1968.  They began to look at other universities established throughout India to determine what were the best administrative and educational programs to follow.  After determining the needs of Maharashtra, Dickerson and Patil decided on the team they would like to bring from Penn State.  Hazel Hatcher (home science), J. L. Gobble (animal science), M. R. Lynch (extension education), F. J. McArdle (agricultural technology), and F. W. Peikert (agricultural engineering) were all brought to aid the university in its short-term set-up and were partnered with Indian staff members that would become their individual counterparts.  When the advisors’ tour ended in 1969, they had already outlined the main planning documents for the university and efforts surrounding the search for administrative employees had already begun.

There were some slight setbacks caused by the Legislative Assembly of the Maharashtra Government when a second agricultural university, Punjabrao Agricultural University, was also created in the state and the Maharashtra Agricultural University became the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth Agricultural University, which is its current name today.  Dickerson and the rest of the Penn State team believed this was a poor decision and that funds should have been focused on one state university rather than two.  However, Penn State, at the advice of USAID, kept its focus on the original partnership. 

After Dickerson’s term, another problem that was encountered by the new Penn State staff that took over the project was the disproportionate progress in physical building and educational development.  In addition, the state government decided to open two additional state universities, limiting the resources available for the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth Agricultural University.  By 1971, the fate of the university seemed to be dark but a new Vice Chancellor was appointed with more experience then Patil. His name was M. S. Pawar.  Unfortunately, in a short period after Pawar took over, the team received news that the Penn State-Maharashtra partnership would be phased out in 1972-1973.  After finishing their projects, the Penn State team began its departure that was complete by the end of 1973. 

For additional information on the College's work in India, please see the flyer, PSU in India.


Matthew Kaplan (Ag and Extension Education) received funding from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership to conduct the Japan-U.S. Partnerships to Promote Intergenerational Programs and Practices program, a two-year initiative aimed at promoting collaboration between intergenerational practitioners in the United States and Japan.

In the first year of the grant (2006), 290 people attended an international conference held in Tokyo. The event was organized by the Japan Intergenerational Unity Association (JIUA) in conjunction with Penn State and more than twenty partnering organizations and agencies in Japan. The following year, ten intergenerational professionals from Japan took part in a study tour of model intergenerational programs in the United States.


Wayne Myers (School of Forest Resources) is conducting a collaboration in remote sensing to enhance capabilities for managing tropical coastal environments at Koleg Universiti Sains Dan Teknologi, Malaysia. He has conducted a series of workshops, seminars, and cooperative research in Malaysia.


Ed Rajotte (Entomology) has been working on the USAID IPM CRSP in Philippines since 1994 in collaborating with scientists from the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute to develop new integrated pest management tactics for rice-vegetable rotational systems.


In 2004, Liwang Cui (Entomology) received a five-year training grant from the Fogarty International Center titled "Enhancing Vivax Malaria Research in Thailand." Thailand, as do many other malaria-endemic countries, still faces the problem of increased burden of malaria--especially vivax malaria, which has been on the rise and has become the predominant malaria species in many regions of the country. Unfortunately, there is a deficiency of scientists who focus their research on vivax malaria. In realizing this need, Penn State faculty will train young scientists (doctoral students and postdocs) to work on vivax malaria. The training site will be based in the Faculty of Sciences, Mahidol University, one of the best universities in this country. The research projects will cover parasite culture, parasite inter- and intraspecies interactions, population genetics, and molecular biology of the parasites. Mentors involved in this training are experts in malaria research from four U.S. institutions and two Thai institutions.

Dr. John Carlson was appointed scientific adviser, ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Center, Bangkok, Thailand, in 1999.


In 2002, Dr. Ed Rajotte, in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, explored methods to assess IPM usage in Vietnam.