British conservationist visits Tarleton to discuss global food security

Dr. Alan Bicker, senior research fellow from the University of Kent School of Anthropology and Conservation, provides a lecture on global food security during his two-day visit at Tarleton State University.

STEPHENVILLE (February 17, 2015) — Dr. Alan Bicker, senior research fellow from the University of Kent’s (UK) School of Anthropology and Conservation, visited Tarleton State University while on a two-week tour of Texas.

The international visit was funded by the Tarleton Office of Sponsored Projects and was hosted by the sustainability program within the Department of Wildlife, Sustainability & Ecosystem Sciences (WSES).

Bicker presented guest lectures and established a dialog with College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and WSES faculty regarding study abroad opportunities and research collaborations in the United Kingdom and Europe. He presented a lecture to agricultural students over food distribution and global food security.

“Dr. Bicker’s campus visit was a one-of-a-kind experience,” said student Sarah Murray. “His outlook on the importance of sustainable agriculture was intriguing.”

Bicker also spoke at an open brown bag seminar about supply chain dynamics and the influence of supply chains on agricultural commodities distribution. More than 60 people attended.

“I find it fascinating that the challenges faced by food producers around the world are so similar—whether you are farming in North America, Europe or Africa,” said Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, head of WSES. “Bringing these types of scholars to campus does so much to broaden student understanding of sustainability issues from around the globe. We hope to make sustainability brown bag seminars a regular feature of our program.”

Bicker currently serves as director of the Human Relations Areas Files (HRAF) Advanced Agricultural Research Centre—an internationally recognized research organization, as well as managing director of GFT Consulting Ltd. He holds consultancies with the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council’s Institute of Advanced Studies, the Asplins Producer Organisation Ltd., the National Agricultural Research Centre in Islamabad, Pakistan, and with the University College of Islamabad—of which Bicker served as founding principal from 1990-1992. Bicker also spent a portion of his career as a regional horticulture officer in Zambia and is a writer and contributor to BBC Radio 4 in the U.K.

The guest lecturer also toured the university’s Agricultural Center, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center and Tarleton’s Southwest Regional Dairy Center.

Both undergraduate and graduate students within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences had the opportunity to interact with Bicker. Faculty and Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) research staff met with him during his two-day stay. He was most impressed with the on-going research activities at Texas A&M AgriLife.

“Dr. Bicker brought a great opportunity to Tarleton for collaboration on world food security issues. He has a unique global perspective based on his vast international experiences,” said Dr. Don Cawthon, dean of the college.

Additionally, Tarleton’s Food Fanatics, a student-led group, hosted Bicker for a sampling from the “The Purple Plate,” a collection of tasty snacks that featured roasted beat hummus, white bean dip, eggplant mini pizzas, purple popcorn and purple cactus blossom lemonade. The Purple Plate event was created to give Bicker a taste of Tarleton spirit.

At this time, no formal exchanges between the University of Kent and Tarleton are planned. However, faculty in WSES are sharing professional information with Bicker to continue the dialog concerning future collaborations.

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