Derek Byerlee has dedicated his career to agriculture in developing countries, as a teacher, researcher, administrator and policy advisor. He has lived and worked for a total of 20 years in the three major developing regions-Africa, Asia, and Latin America. After beginning in academia at Michigan State University, he spent the bulk of his career at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). There as a economist and research manager he made notable contributions in forging a new spirit of collaboration between scientists, economists and farmers. He also published widely on efficiency of research systems, spillovers, and sustaining productivity in post green revolution agriculture.
After joining the World Bank in 1994, he has applied his experience of research systems to finding innovative approaches to funding and organizing agricultural research, including emerging challenges in biotechnology policy. Since 2003, he has provided strategic direction and led policy world for the agricultural and rural sector in the World Bank.
Over the years, he has made important contributions to other areas, notably risk and uncertainty, labor migration and labor markets, and agricultural policy analysis. Throughout his career he has served as adviser and mentor for numerous graduate students, especially from the developing world.