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Jon Hellin

Jon Hellin

Platform Leader - Sustainable Impact through Rice-based Systems


With a PhD in Geography, an MSc in Forestry, and a BA in Modern History, Jon's interdisciplinary background has informed his holistic approach to agricultural research-for-development (AR4D). He has thirty years’ interdisciplinary research experience on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and transformation; soil and water conservation; and agricultural innovation systems from Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

Jon has fifteen years’ experience of fostering interdisciplinary research teams and building transdisciplinary networks with policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, public and private sectors, advanced research institutes, and multilateral organizations.

Since June 2018, he has led research on Sustainable Impact at the IRRI. As a senior manager at IRRI, he promotes the internal organizational changes required to incentivize scientists to work in more holistic and interdisciplinary ways. These include interactive seminars; interdisciplinary publications; providing ‘safe spaces’ for exploring different development discourses; and defining better scientists’ roles and modus operandi in theories of change.

He is also involved in fostering transdisciplinary networks in response to climate change challenges. Examples include i) sea level rise and Asian mega-deltas, and ii) crop management and land use to reduce the impact of crop residue burning in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) in northern India.

He has authored and co-authored two books and 90 articles in peer-reviewed journals including Nature, Nature Climate Change, Science, Lancet, Lancet Planetary Health and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, he has written a further 100 articles and book chapters targeted at a non-specialist audience.

Prior to joining IRRI in 2018, Jon worked for thirteen years in the Socio-economics program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico but with extensive work in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to joining the CGIAR in 2005, Jon worked for the UK NGO Practical Action (formerly ITDG) and also the Natural Resources Institute (NRI). 

Jon holds a PhD from Oxford Brookes University, and an MSc and BA from the University of Oxford.