USAID Fellows

Photo: Rodney Choice

The Development Impact Lab (DIL) is working with the USAID Office of Science and Technology to pilot a USAID Fellows program that enables agency personnel to spend between two weeks and three months with the Blum Center at UC Berkeley. The program serves as a professional development opportunity for USAID staff in international missions and Washington bureaus as well as an opportunity for academics to engage more closely with development practitioners.

While at Berkeley, USAID Fellows will raise development issues and problems that need solutions and share their real-world expertise with the campus community. At the same time, USAID staff will learn about and experiment with new tools and methodologies for innovation. As part of these rotations, Fellows can audit classes and speaker series, attend group meetings for research projects in the DIL portfolio and pipeline, deliver lectures and seminars, and otherwise engage with the university community. Fellows can also work directly on specific DIL or Blum Center initiatives, such as BigIdeas@Berkeley or the new Designated Emphasis in Development Engineering.


Sheila Desai

Senior Science and Technology Advisor for the USAID India Mission’s Center for Innovation and Partnerships

Dr. Desai was at UC Berkeley Oct 28-Dec 6, 2013.

BIO: Sheila E. Desai arrived in India in September 2012 to serve as the Deputy Director for the Office of Food Security within the USAID/India Mission. She has since transitioned to serve as USAID India’s Senior Science and Technology Advisor sitting within the Mission’s Center for Innovation and Partnerships. She regularly coordinates with USAID Washington DC initiatives to increase cooperation between U.S. Universities and visiting U.S. scholars/scientists with Indian organizations.

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Prior to this position, she was seconded from USAID to the International Security Assistance Forces where she served as the Senior Economist for the Stability Development Unit in Kabul, Afghanistan. Before joining USAID, Dr. Desai worked as a Management Consultant and Transfer Pricing Economist for Price Waterhouse Coopers and Accenture. Her international experience includes serving as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay and leading household survey development in rural Mexico. She speaks Spanish and French and holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics. Originally from Minnesota, she recently relocated to India and Florida. Sheila will relocate to the UC Berkeley campus from Monday October 28th to Friday December 6th and is looking forward to connecting with students and departments across campus. If you are interested in meeting Sheila or having her speak to your student group or department, please contact dil-ecosystem[at]