URBANA, Ill. ­­– Richard Cooke, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award for the 2020-2021 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Cooke will conduct research with faculty and graduate students from several departments at Njala University in Sierra Leone. His research is an integrated approach to lowland development, focusing on increasing rice productivity by introducing efficient water management, rainfall harvesting techniques, and improved rice cultivars. He will also investigate the impact of improved agricultural practices on farmers’ socio-economic conditions in the context of Sierra Leone, specifically targeting women and smallholder farmers in order to improve their living conditions and tackle gender issues.