UC San Diego professor Jennifer Burney conducts research that addresses how to achieve global food security and mitigate the effects of climate change. Burney is also dedicated to alleviating poverty; much of her fieldwork occurs in developing nations, and harnesses the power of technology to effect positive change.

In Africa, she’s helped develop solar irrigation systems that allow farmers to produce more fruits and vegetables. This helps improve nutrition and increase income. And it’s also sustainable: the solar-powered systems don’t require batteries, gas or kerosene.

Burney is also looking at how cooking contributes to the mix, and has done fieldwork in India assessing the effectiveness of fully combusting eco-stoves.

Christine Clark reports for the UC San Diego newsroom:


“Cooking uses about 8 percent of global energies,” Burney says. “The biggest footprint comes from developing nations. Traditional cook stoves rely on biomass fuels such as wood and dung,” she explains. “Combustion is incomplete, so a lot of black carbon (soot) is emitted. Inside homes, the sooty air causes terrible respiratory infections and cardiovascular problems. Outside, it can alter monsoon cycles, speed glacial melting and almost equal the impact of longer-term greenhouse gasses. In contrast, the improved ventilation and efficiency of fully combusting eco-stoves significantly limit emissions and cut fuel use by up to one half.”


Burney is among the University of California researchers focusing their efforts on one of the most compelling challenges of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population. To learn more about the University of California’s Global Food Initiative, click here.