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Kyle Davis - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Kyle Davis

Assistant Professor, Geography and Spacial Sciences | University of Delaware


Prof. Davis' work focuses on food systems, water sustainability, and global environmental change.







Kyle Davis: Measuring the Sustainability of Food Production Systems: Exploring the Solution Space Resilient diets: Can we define a diet that demonstrates resilience in the face of shocks & extremes?



Dr. Kyle Davis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and a Resident Faculty in the UD Data Science Institute. His work focuses on food systems, water sustainability, and global environmental change. His current research in India, Nigeria, China, and the US combines environmental, economic, and social considerations with direct stakeholder engagement to inform agricultural decision making and to improve nutrition, environmental sustainability, and climate adaptation strategies. He also explores other human-environment interactions through projects on: the environmental and livelihoods impacts of large-scale land investments; variability and shock propagation through food trade networks; the relationship between human migration and global environmental change; and farmer coping strategies for climate variability and extremes.

​Prior to joining UD in 2019, he was a Data Science Fellow and Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia University (New York) and a NatureNet Science Fellow with The Nature Conservancy. He earned his PhD in Environmental Sciences with a focus on Hydrology from the University of Virginia and is a proud graduate of UD.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (7)

Human Migration


Global Environmental Change

Food Systems


Geospatial Data Science

Foreign Land Investments

Media Appearances (5)

Global land rush threatens biodiversity

Earth.com  online


TALSLAs have surged since the beginning of the century due to the global food crises from 2008 and 2010, which led to sudden spikes in food prices and export bans. “Because of those events, many countries that rely on food imports realized that they were potentially vulnerable to these kinds of global or remote disruptions,” said study lead author Kyle Frankel Davis, an assistant professor of Geography and Spatial Sciences at UD.

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Examining the ongoing global land rush

Phys.org  online


Kyle Davis, assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, as well as a resident faculty member with UD's Data Science Institute, served as the lead author on the paper and Saleem Ali, the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment at UD, chair of the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, who holds a secondary appointment in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration, was a co-author on the paper.

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Tropical forest loss and the global land rush

Springer Nature  online


This century has seen a surge in land-based investments in the Global South, particularly in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. This rapid rise in long-term land contracts, often referred to as the global land rush, has meant that once remote ecosystems are now increasingly embedded in networks of local and international actors and expanding global commodity trade.

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Sea levels in Bangladesh could rise twice as much as predicted

New Scientist  online


Bangladesh and parts of India could be hit by sea level rise almost twice as high as previously thought due to land subsiding, even if the world takes ambitious action on climate change.

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Switching Cereals

University of Delaware UDaily  online


The study was led by Kyle Davis, assistant professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment’s Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. Davis explained that while the reliance on rice during the Green Revolution succeeded in feeding a large population, it also pushed out a lot of traditional cereals that are still consumed in India but to a lesser extent.

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Articles (5)

Mitigating risk of exceeding environmental limits requires ambitious food system interventions


2023 Transforming the global food system is necessary to avoid exceeding planetary boundaries. A robust evidence base is crucial to assess the scale and combination of interventions required for a sustainable transformation. We developed a risk assessment framework, underpinned by a meta-regression of 60 global food system modeling studies, to quantify the potential of individual and combined interventions to mitigate the risk of exceeding the boundaries for land-system change, freshwater use, climate change, and biogeochemical flows by 2050.

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Crop switching can enhance environmental sustainability and farmer incomes in China


2023 Achieving food-system sustainability is a multidimensional challenge. In China, a doubling of crop production since 1990 has compromised other dimensions of sustainability. Although the country is promoting various interventions to enhance production efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, there is little understanding of whether crop switching can achieve more sustainable cropping systems and whether coordinated action is needed to avoid tradeoffs.

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Combining socioeconomic and biophysical data to identify people-centric restoration opportunities

npj Biodiversity

2023 Designing restoration projects requires integrating socio-economic and cultural needs of local stakeholders for enduring and just outcomes. Using India as a case study, we demonstrate a people-centric approach to help policymakers translate global restoration prioritization studies for application to a country-specific context and to identify different socio-environmental conditions restoration programs could consider when siting projects.

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Transnational agricultural land acquisitions threaten biodiversity in the Global South

Environmental Research Letters

2023 Agricultural large-scale land acquisitions have been linked with enhanced deforestation and land use change. Yet the extent to which transnational agricultural large-scale land acquisitions (TALSLAs) contribute to—or merely correlate with—deforestation, and the expected biodiversity impacts of the intended land use changes across ecosystems, remains unclear. We examine 178 georeferenced TALSLA locations in 40 countries to address this gap. While forest cover within TALSLAs decreased by 17% between 2000 and 2018 and became more fragmented, the spatio-temporal patterns of deforestation varied substantially across regions.

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Compound heat and moisture extreme impacts on global crop yields under climate change

Nature Reviews Earth & Environment

2022 Extreme heat, drought and moisture excess are increasingly co-occurring within a single growing season, impacting crop yields in global breadbasket regions. In this Review, we synthesize understanding of compound heat and moisture extremes, their impacts on global crop yields and implications for adaptation. Heat and moisture extremes and their impacts become compounded through crop-physiological interactions, heat–moisture couplings in the climate system and crop–atmosphere interactions. Since around 2000, these compound extremes, and hot droughts in particular, have been linked to especially poor harvests (up to 30% yield losses) in regions such as India, Ethiopia, the USA, Europe and Russia.

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Accomplishments (4)

NatureNet Science Fellow (professional)

2016 The Nature Conservancy

Maury Environmental Prize (professional)

2016 University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences

Environmental Resilience and Sustainability Fellow (professional)

2015 University of Virginia

USAID Research and Innovation Fellowship (professional)


Education (2)

University of Virginia: PhD, Environmental Sciences 2016

Concentration: Hydrology

University of Delaware: BS, Biochemistry 2010

Affiliations (1)

  • Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems : Editor

Event Appearances (5)

Assessing climate-resilient and nutritious staple crops in Nigeria

Centre for Sustainable Development  University of Ibadan, Nigeria

A multidimensional approach to food production decision making

American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting  New Orleans, Louisiana

The water-energy-food nexus of unconventional fossil fuels

American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting  New Orleans, Louisiana

A multidimensional approach to food production decision making

Earth Institute Postdoctoral Symposium  New York, New York

Towards climate resilient and nutritious cereal crops in India

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting  Boston, Massachusetts