Cheryl A. Palm is a Senior Research Scientist in the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University where she is also the Science Director of the Millennium Villages Project. A tropical ecologist focusing on land use change, Dr. Palm received her Ph.D. in soil science from North Carolina State University after completing her bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology at the University of California, Davis. She served as Principal Research Scientist of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Program in Nairobi, Kenya from 1991-2001. She has served on the faculties of North Carolina State University, Colorado State University and spent a year as visiting scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. She was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomists in 2005 and is currently the chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).
Dr. Palm’s research focuses on land use change, degradation and rehabilitation, and ecosystem services in tropical landscapes. She led a major effort quantifying carbon stocks, losses and net greenhouse gas emissions following slash and burn and alternative land use systems in the humid tropics in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, Indonesia and the Congo Basin. She has spent much of the past 15 years investigating nutrient dynamics in farming systems of Africa, including options for land rehabilitation. Most recent work includes the Millennium Villages Project, an integrated approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. The approach combines evidence based interventions and community based participation. The team is currently working with the Millennium Villages sites developing carbon offset projects for carbon sequestration in degraded landscapes that will provide additional ecosystem services and benefit local communities.