The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Catherine Larochelle, a research assistant professor in agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for important research on how improved agricultural technologies make an impact on poverty, food security, and nutrition.
Her work focuses on impact evaluation of agricultural research on factors that drive or constrain the adoption of new agricultural technological, agricultural productivity, and policies affecting economic development and poverty reduction in developing countries, such as in east Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Virginia Tech and other research centers study the genetic improvement of various crops, including some intended for developing countries, but in some cases social and economic impediments stand in the way of the adoption of crops that could be highly beneficial.
Larochelle’s work bridges the gap between best strategies and whether they are actually executed. The ultimate goal is to understand incentives around the adoption of crops that may be better adapted to a given environment, or that may be more nutritious, or that may have other advantages.
Recently she performed an ex-post impact evaluation of modern improved bean varieties among rural households in Rwanda and Uganda and assessed changes in poverty profiles in Zimbabwe.
As a 2011 doctoral graduate in agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech, her work titled, “Three Essays on Productivity and Risk, Marketing Decision, and Changes in Well-being over Time” received the 2012 outstanding dissertation award from the graduate school in won the social sciences category. The work examined the relationship between natural resource use and poverty reduction in rural areas in Bolivia and Zimbabwe.
Her work has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other non-governmental agencies.
She received her master’s degree in resource economics and policy from the University of Maine and her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Laval University in Quebec, Canada.