Melinda Smale joined Oxfam America in 2008 as Researcher, Agriculture and Trade. From 2002, as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), she led a global research program aimed at promoting the sustainable utilization of crop genetic resources in developing agriculture, initially as a joint program with Bioversity International in Rome, Italy.
Research addressed the impacts of biotech crops, agricultural biodiversity, local seed markets, and underutilized crops. From 1989 to 2000 in Malawi and later in Mexico, she analyzed the adoption and impacts of improved wheat and maize seed as an economist for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
During the 1980s, Melinda worked in Pakistan, Somalia, Mauritania and Niger on short-term assignments for CIMMYT, Chemonics International, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), and USAID.
Melinda earned her PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1992, her MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1983, an M.A. in International Studies (Africa Area) at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1979, and a B.A. in History/French at Duke University in 1977.
She is an Honorary Fellow with Bioversity International, serving on the Advisory Committee of the Collaborative Crops Research Program of the McKnight Foundation, and on editorial committees of several journals.