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Datu Team

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Marcy Lowe


Marcy Lowe, President of Datu Research, has 25 years of experience in economic analysis and public policy. Currently, the Datu team is providing research and facilitation for the Soil Renaissance, an international effort to make soil health the cornerstone of land use management decisions. In partnership with the National Association of Conservation Districts, Datu is preparing a series of 3-year economic case studies of conservation agriculture practices in various U.S. geographies. Other recent projects focus on incentives for U.S. corn farmers to adopt conservation agriculture, and on creating deforestation-free supply chains for commodities grown in the Brazilian Amazon. Before establishing Datu, Lowe was a senior analyst at Duke University’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, where she mapped out supply chains for carbon-saving technologies and for selected agricultural commodities. As a senior researcher at the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute, she analyzed land use issues. Lowe’s op-eds and more than 40 articles have appeared in Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Technology Review, and others. She received her M.S. in Energy Management and Policy from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania.

Monica La

Monica La


Monica La is an Analyst II at Datu Research, where she specializes in research for effective outreach and advocacy. She is currently providing meeting facilitation services, and research and design for the development of an online tool for the Soil Renaissance initiative. She previously was a Research Associate at Duke CGGC, where she co-authored a report on bus rapid transit and developed an accompanying interactive web-based tool. In her work for environmental NGOs, she developed materials, such as reports, fact sheets, and online communications, and coordinated events for policymakers and the public. She received a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University in 2011, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maryland in 2004.

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Shelby Shelton


Shelby Shelton is a research analyst with a knowledge of soils and agriculture that stretches back to growing up on her family’s farm in California. She earned her Master of Soil Science degree from North Carolina State University in 2016, where her thesis work was a multi-site evaluation of various nitrogen-loss prevention products and appropriate nitrogen rate recommendations for corn and wheat. She has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals on her research. At United Fresh, a fresh fruit and vegetable trade association in Washington, D.C., she gained extensive policy and communications experience on projects related to child nutrition, food safety, immigration reform, and supply-chain traceability. Shelby also served in the Peace Corps as a sustainable agriculture volunteer in Niger and Senegal, working with smallholder farmers to improve crop and soil management. She received her B.S. in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University in 2010.

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Rui Chen, Ph.D.


Rui Chen is a research analyst with more than 10 years of regional development research experience. She received her Ph.D. in Economic Geography from National University of Singapore, specializing in regional development and globalization. Her dissertation focused on how the Chaoshan region in China utilized trans-regional ethnic networks to achieve economic growth within global value chains. Her research has been published in several academic journals. Prior to joining Datu, Rui worked with the Department of Public Policy and the Department of City and Regional Planning in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to build a relational database of technology-intensive entrepreneurial ventures in the Research Triangle. She received her Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her M.A. and B.A. in International Studies from Peking University.

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Owen Cortner


Owen Cortner is a Specialist in the adoption of agricultural practices and the environmental impacts of agriculture. His roots on his family’s livestock operations in the American Southwest have had an undeniable influence on his research passions. He has previously worked as a Research Assistant for Boston University, analyzing perceptions of Brazilian producers and agricultural experts towards integrated crop-livestock systems. He earned his M.S. from the University of California, Davis in 2016 in International Agricultural Development. At the Horticulture Innovation Lab in Davis, Owen managed a variety of international projects working with USAID and smallholder farmer organizations. From 2012-2013, he taught in a rural primary school in Malaysia and helped coordinate the Fulbright program there during a period of rapid expansion. He received his B.S. in Environmental Science from New Mexico State University in 2011.

Angel Cruz, Ph.D.


Angel Cruz is a research analyst with more than 10 years of knowledge and experience in international agriculture research and education. Growing up in a small Appalachian town, surrounded by tobacco and Christmas tree farms, she has roots in agriculture from a young age. She received her Ph.D. in Agroecology from North Carolina State University in 2017. For her Ph.D. research, she used participatory action research (PAR) methods to conduct research with smallholder farmers in rural El Salvador. Her 3-year project evaluated the role of sustainable soil management in improving food security for smallholder farming communities. She used interdisciplinary methods to evaluate soil health and food security and then conducted on-farm field trials with a regional group of young farmers to evaluate the role of different soil fertility and soil conservation practices on food security. Her work may serve as a model for future soil health and food security research throughout Central America. Angel received a Fulbright Fellowship and US Borlaug Global Food Security Graduate Research Award to fund her research. She received her M.S. in Crop Science from North Carolina State University in 2013, researching soil microbial communities in sustainable agriculture systems, and a B.S. in Biology from Furman University in 2008.


Alicia Smith


Alicia Smith comes to Datu with over 25 years of accounting experience in government, for-profit and non-profit organizations. Her administrative roles include office manager, human resource manager, purchasing agent and event coordinator. Alicia received her Master’s in Accounting in 2012 and is planning to sit for her CPA.


Phillemon Mushi

Phillemon Mushi

Arusha, Tanzania

Phillemon Phillip Mushi is Principle Agricultural Field Officer at the Arusha-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), which operates under the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, andCooperatives. He has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural development. Named an Outstanding Partner by the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Mr. Mushi has applied his technical background in genetic engineering to supervising and participating in the release of numerous varieties of maize, pigeonpea, and chickpea in Tanzania. His work includes an Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-funded project to use demonstration plots to scale up soil-health technologies, evaluating pigeonpea varieties for ICRISAT, working with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) to study Quality Protein Maize (QPM), and collaborating with various companies to evaluate maize varieties. Mr. Mushi is also involved in farmer capacity-building to support livelihoods and has conducted surveys to identify farmer challenges.

Ingrid Mujica

Ingrid Mujica

Ingrid Mujica is an economist with over seven years of experience in research and policy analysis to promote international economic development, social upgrading and environmental sustainability. She has worked with a number of donor organizations including USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, DFID and CRS. She has ample experience in project management and evaluation. She analyzed and evaluated 150 projects of the Multilateral Investment Fund’s 1993-2011 portfolio to gauge potential for impact in poverty reduction. During her time at the IDB she coordinated the Latin American and the Caribbean Public Debt Management Specialists Group, and was in charge of promoting cooperation between 26 public debt management offices and partners. Ingrid also has extensive knowledge and experience in value-chain analysis. She was part of the Capturing the Gains group of researchers investigating linkages between economic and social upgrading in global value-chains and the effects of public and private governance on labor conditions. She was a co-author on the USAID/CARANA “Improving competitiveness in the textile-apparel industry in Nicaragua and the United States” report. Ingrid holds a BSc and an MA in Economics from the University of Montreal and the University of Toronto respectively, and an MA in Public Policy from Duke University. She is fluent in Spanish and French.


Joonkoo Lee

Seoul, South Korea

Joonkoo Lee is Assistant Professor of Organization in the School of Business at Hanyang University, Seoul. In 2011-2012, he was a postdoctoral research scholar in the Social Science Research Institute, Duke University. He received his PhD in sociology at Duke University with his dissertation to compare the historical development of the animation industry in Korea and India. His research interests include globalization and development, economic and organization sociology, global value chains and political economy in Asia. His research involves multiple sectors, including agrofood, information communication technology, mobile telecommunication, and cultural industries. His work has appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the Journal of Supply Chain Management. He graduated Seoul National University with his BA and MA in sociology.

Lixia Mei

Mei Li Xia

Wuhan, China

MEI Lixia was born in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Lixia earned her Ph.D in Geography from Peking University, Beijing, in 2009, and currently she is affiliated with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, China. From 2007 to 2008, Lixia visited Duke University in Durham, NC as a visiting scholar where she worked with Marcy Lowe and other colleagues at the Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC). Lixia’s research interests focus on industrial clusters, innovative enterprises, and regional development. She has published over ten academic papers on various journals, and one book (“Transformation of Traditional Industrial Clusters under Globalization Fluctuation: the Case of Chinese Bicycle Industry,” 2010, in Chinese). During the last two years, Lixia has been involved in an international research network, CTG (Capture the Gains: Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks), which is led by CGGC at Duke and the University of Manchester. Lixia is now teaching several courses to both undergraduate and graduate students, such as Globalization, Innovation Management, Multinational Corporation Management, and Assets Valuation, at the School of Business Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.