Until June of 2003 Robert W. Herdt was Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation and currently serves as advisor to the Director of Cornell's International Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Management. Herdt received his undergraduate and Master's degrees at Cornell and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
His career has been focused on improving the well-being of poor, agriculturally-dependent people in developing countries through increasing the productivity of their farming systems. His work on intellectual property rights, the economics of technological change and the management of agricultural research is designed to foster understanding of the role of new technology as an important force generating agricultural productivity and income gains over the past century.
He served on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York for 17 years, through June of 2003. From 2000 to 2003 he was Vice President for Program Administration, responsible for the Foundation's budget and for oversight of its agricultural, health and overseas programs. From 1987 through 1999 he was Program Director in charge of the Foundation's work on agriculture.
From 1983 to 1986 he was Scientific Advisor to the CGIAR Secretariat at the World Bank in Washington and for 10 years before that (1973-1983) he was Economist at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Philippines -- for the last 5 of those years, Head of the Institute's Agricultural Economics Department.
From 1969 to 1973 he was on the faculty of the University of Illinois in Agricultural Economics with responsibility for teaching international agriculture and introductory agricultural economics. Prior to and while studying at the University of Minnesota, he spent two periods of nearly two years each in New Delhi, India, one with the Rockefeller Foundation at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and the other with the Intensive Agricultural Districts Program of the Ford Foundation.
He is a currently a member of the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology in the 21st Century, and a member of the External Evaluation Panel of the Bean-Cowpea CRSP.
Dr. Herdt is author/editor or co-author of six books and over 80 journal articles and book chapters on agricultural development, including: Rice Research in Asia: Progress and Priorities, Ed. by Robert Evenson and Mahabub Hossain, C.A.B. International and IRRI, (1996); The Rice Economy of Asia, with Randolph Barker, Resources for the Future, Washington, D. C. (1985). His recent paper “Enclosing the Global Plant Genetics Commons” is available on the Rockefeller Foundation Internet site.