My Annual Review – 2014 Edition

This year was a mixed bag for our family. We welcomed a new grandchild: Geo Jones Benaderet, who was born to Shie and Leigh in February in Seattle. Amazingly, Geo already walks and babbles away to himself in a language we will soon learn to understand. His 18-month-old Bostonian cousin, Arlo, loves dancing and music; he is an accomplished singer and is already speaking. Adelaide, the “princess”, is a 14-month-old charmer. She loves her “Baba”, a stuffed lamb, whom she dresses and tends for on a daily basis. Even though we are far apart, Skype, Google Plus, my frequent flyer miles, various sponsors and events kept us close. We hope that our grandchildren will support the Warriors wherever they are. This year, all of us enjoyed the growing success of the Warriors-at least some of the family will come to Berkeley during the 2015 play-offs.

The new generation has become the best clientele for Leorah’s knitted creations ( Leorah also enjoys coaching young writers and training adult volunteers. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law’s health has deteriorated, and she moved in with us in October. I really admire Leorah’s gentle care of and dedication to her mother. We appreciate all the support we have received from family and friends.

This was a good year for me professionally. We have completed and published the results of two studies: one documenting the economic gain from cheaper food because of adoption of GMOs, and the other, the large social loss resulting from banning golden rice.[1] It seems that people are slowly starting to accept that we have to take advantage of the best science can offer to deal with our greatest challenges, but unfortunately, I expect the GMO debate to continue for a while. I presented our new findings in a wonderful conference of our Global Bioeconomy consortium in Safari Park Hotel in Kenya. It was a great venue with excellent food and fantastic facilities, and it was part of a long trip to Africa, Israel and Turkey. On this trip, I really appreciated the growing global connectivity—watching the World Cup and Skyping my grandchildren during a week- long tour of cocoa farms in rural Ivory Coast. My travels to Africa and China helped me to realize how fast modernization is spreading, including amazing high rise buildings and internet towers, yet, pollution is rising and poverty persists.

David in Shanghai

I immensely enjoy my work with both the BEAHRS Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and the Masters of Development Program (MDP) that aim to address some of these global challenges. We had about 45 participants in the ELP this year, including some professionals and young students. For the first time, we had a mix of young undergraduates with mid-career professionals. This mixture of young and old made it especially enjoyable. We continued to receive hundreds of applicants to the MDP, and we accepted a third cohort of 33 students so now we have about 50 students enrolled in the program. Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that the MDP is three years old. Actually, our first cohort graded last May, and thus far, some have already found good jobs, and the rest are on the path to a professional career . Keeping up with the MDP students and ELP participants is both exciting and overwhelming, and I really appreciate the contributions of George, Eunice, Anita, Scott, Angie, Madhyama, Mio, Dean Gilless and many others who shared the heavy load.

I am very fortunate to have this career in science. In a way, I am like a professional athlete, I get paid to do what I enjoy most. I am also blessed; I have wonderful family and friends.

Happy New Year Everyone.

[1] They appear in a special issue of Environment and Development Economics (, as well as in a survey in the Journal of Economic Perspective (

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: