Elisabeth Simelton

Climate Change Scientist & CCAFS Project Manager

Joined December 2010


 Elisabeth joined the team in 2010, and transitioned to the role of climate change scientist in 2015.

She is ICRAF Vietnam’s leader on adaptation and the Consortium Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS). Currently, she leads the Climate-Smart Village project in My Loi, Ha Tinh province, and three regional CCAFS projects on climate-smart agriculture technologies, seasonal weather forecasts, and scaling processes.

Her roles encompass the entire project management cycle, including resource mobilization, research design and proposal development, fieldwork, data analyses, publications, policy dialogues, and research communication. Above all, Elisabeth enjoys the close collaboration with local organizations and farmers, and supervising university students.

In 1996, Elisabeth interviewed ethnic minority farmers about their interest in soil conservation methods for her bachelor students. This motivated her to return to the region, working for two years on an aquaculture project in northwestern Vietnam. She now holds a PhD in Geography from Gothenburg University, in Sweden. To this day, Elisabeth still finds the greatest highlights of her work in seeing new ideas evolve in farmers’ or students’ eyes, and in meeting farmers who have been able to change their lives for the better.

Elisabeth was drawn to ICRAF by a desire to work in applied research. As a geographer, she sees herself as an interdisciplinary scientist, who specializes in climate change impacts and adaptation, land use, and the development of participatory tools to engage farmers. Her favorite output so far is the Talking Toolkit, which facilitates group discussions about extreme events and adaptation strategies. The Toolkit is now used by several universities and research organizations. Agroforestry, and her role at ICRAF, allows Elisabeth to explore solutions for issues such as environmental degradation and natural hazards, while working naturally and directly with the people impacted by them. Her previous work at ICRAF ranged from on-farm agroforestry experiments to extension training, and ecosystem services.

Having previously worked in Africa and China, Elisabeth is all too familiar with the challenges of living and working with language barriers. Because of this, she is forever grateful to the Muong farmers in Hoa Binh province who helped her develop near-fluency in Vietnamese. She is now able to communicate independently, and farmers enjoy being able to correct the spelling errors of a scientist!