Dr Sonja Vermeulen

Associate Fellow, Sustainability Accelerator, Environment and Society Centre


Sonja Vermeulen is director of programs at the CGIAR System Organization, leading on coordination of the delivery, performance and results of the shared CGIAR research portfolio, plus assisting the One CGIAR Executive Management Team with future strategies for effective agricultural research for development.  

Dr Vermeulen has previously served as Global Food Lead Scientist at WWF International, head of research at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), director of the program on business and sustainable development at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and research fellow at the University of Zimbabwe.

Her career has bridged academic and applied research, and natural and social sciences, with a strong focus on linking science with public policy and private sector strategies, particularly in Africa and Asia. She has led the design and implementation of research programs on climate change, agriculture, land use, food security, bioenergy, forestry, conservation, land governance and business practice.  

Dr Vermeulen was also a Commissioner on the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. She holds a BA and MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Tropical Resource Ecology from the University of Zimbabwe and a PhD in Population Biology from Imperial College London.

Past experience

2018 - present Global Food Lead Scientist, WWF 
2010-17 Head of Research, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
2008-09 Director, Programme on Business and Sustainable Development, IIED