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David Lobell

David Lobell, PhD

William Wrigley Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Associate Professor of Earth System Science
Deputy Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment

Energy and Environment Building
473 Via Ortega
Stanford CA 94305

(650) 721-6207 (voice)


David Lobell is an Associate Professor in Earth System Science, Deputy Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, and William Wrigley Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. His research focuses on identifying opportunities to raise crop yields in major agricultural regions, with a particular emphasis on adaptation to climate change. His current projects span Africa, South Asia, Mexico, and the United States, and involve a range of tools including remote sensing, GIS, and crop and climate models.

Lobell's work is motivated by questions such as: What investments are most effective at raising global crop yields, in order to increase food production without expansion of agricultural lands? Will yield gains be able to keep pace with global demand for crop products, given current levels of investment? And what direct or indirect effects will efforts to raise crop productivity have on other components of the Earth System, such as climate? Answering these requires an understanding of the complex factors that limit crop yields throughout the world, and the links between agriculture and the broader Earth System.

Current work focuses on three main areas of research.

  1. Food security, crop yields, and climate change - What are the risks that climate change poses to regional and global food production? And what are the specific adaptations that should be pursued to reduce the risk of impacts from imminent climate changes?
  2. Identifying constraints to regional crop yields - One of the most remarkable aspects of modern agriculture is that yields in farmers' fields vary widely, with average yields in a region consistently 30% or more below yields achieved on some fields.
  3. Environmental consequences of food and biofuel production - The major systems of the Earth - water, energy, food, climate, carbon, nitrogen, etc. - are tightly interconnected. This means, for example, that a decision in the energy system has implications for climate and food, and conversely that a change in the food system has consequences for energy and climate.

Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Lobell was a Senior Research Scholar at FSE from 2008-2009 and a Lawrence Post-doctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 2005-2007. He received a PhD in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in 2005, and a Sc.B. in Applied Mathematics, Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in 2000.

Stanford Affiliations

Earth System Science