VFRC Staff and Network

 Dr. Prem Bindraban  

Prem_Photo_(1).jpg Dr. Prem Bindraban is the Executive Director of the VFRC. Prior to joining the VFRC, Bindraban was the director of ISRIC World Soil Information at Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR) in the Netherlands since 2009. He has also been a lecturer in Future Planet Studies at the University of Amsterdam since 2009 and leader of international research at Agrosystems Research PRI at WUR since 2008. He served as a professor in crop modeling at the University of São Paulo (Brazil) from 2008 to 2010 and as head of the Natural Resources unit of WUR’s Plant Research International from 2000 to 2008. He also served as a researcher at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) from 1993 to 1996 and at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1991. Bindraban earned a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Tropical Crop Science from Wageningen University and an MBA from European University. 


Dr. Upendra Singh

Dr. Upendra Singh is the Interim Science Officer of the VFRC. Singh has more than 27 years of experience in soil-plant-nutrient dynamics research and development/application of crop simulation models focusing on improving nutrient use efficiency and application of decision support systems for site-specific fertilizer recommendations. Singh’s doctorate degree in soil science and master’s degree in soil chemistry are from the University of Hawaii, and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry is from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.


Dr. Christian Dimkpa 

Christian Dimkpa is the Research Scientist, Plant-Soil Biology. He coordinates the research activities of VFRC collaborators working to develop novel fertilizers and fertilizer delivery strategies. Prior to joining VFRC in March 2014, Christian was a Research Assistant Professor at the Biology Department of Utah State University Logan, Utah, United States, where, as a co-Principal Investigator on a United States Department of Agriculture-funded project, he investigated the interaction of plants and plant-associated microbes with metallic nanoparticles. In June 2009, he obtained his doctorate in Natural Sciences (plant-microbe-metal interactions) at the Friedrich Schiller University/International Max Planck Research School, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology Jena, Germany. In September 2005, he obtained his MSc in Plant Molecular Biology from the Inter-university program, Vrije University Brussels & University of Leuven, Belgium; and in 1998, his Higher National Diploma in Crop Production Technology at the College of Agriculture, Owerri, Nigeria. Between 1999 and 2003, he was a Research Supervisor at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria, where he was involved in crop improvement research on plantains and bananas. He has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters, most on the interaction of plants and/or plant-associated soil microbes with metallic micronutrients. He has given numerous scientific presentations in both national and international meetings and conferences.   


Amber Hammock

Amber Hammock is the Interim Program Office Administrator of the VFRC. Hammock’s experience includes facilitating recruitment and onboarding of staff; maintaining personnel records and benefit plans; interpreting policies and procedures; processing G4 visa applications and renewals; and maintaining a registry of staff with the Office of Protocol. Hammock holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Alabama, Florence, Alabama, USA.


Scientific Collaborators


Anjali.jpgAnjali completed her M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology from Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India. She has worked as Senior Research Fellow since 2011 in the project entitled “Development of soil quality index under different land use system in the Chandrabhaga watershed of Tehri Garhwal” sponsored by Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi. Her responsibilities included analysis of different physico-chemical and biological parameters of soil. Currently, she is working as Research Fellow in the VFRC collaborative project with IARI “Nutrient delivery system in crop plants to augment acquisition, translocation and utilization efficiency” with Dr. Mandira Barman at ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.

Christy van Beek

Ms. Christy van Beek is a senior scientist at Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands. Her expertise is in the field of nutrient management and (restoring) soil fertility in depleted and/or degraded soils to increase the productive capacity of soils and, eventually, food security. She is the scientific coordinator of the CASCAPE project on capacity building, scaling up and validation of best practices in Ethiopia and Programme Coordinator Food Security of Alterra. Christy holds a PhD in nutrient management and is closely involved in policy processes e.g. she used to be theme-coordinator on ‘scarcity and distribution’ for the former Dutch Ministry on Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries. 

Dr. Mandira Barman

Barman-(1).jpgDr. Mandira Barman is a Scientist in the Division of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India since 2012. Her area of research is chemistry of micro-nutrients in soils in relation to their availability to plants and nanotechnological applications to enhance nutrient use efficiency. She is also involved in the VFRC collaborative project at IARI as Co-investigator. Dr. Mandira completed her Ph.D. on nickel nutrition of plant from ICAR-IARI, New Delhi. She is serving as Joint Secretary cum Treasurer in Delhi Chapter of the Indian Society of Soil Science.

Chris Blok

Chris Blok MSc is coordinator of the soil physics lab of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture. He is a Wageningen graduated tropical soil scientist with 13 year industry research experience for a rooting media producer and a plant propagator. He is involved in applied research on rooting media, plant nutrition and water, concentrating on industry research and missions in Africa and the Middle East. He is ISHS member and convened the ISHS symposium on Rooting Media and Compost in 2013, published trade press articles, patents, peer reviewed papers and two book chapters. Chris Blok is currently involved in organic matter characterisation and total nutrient recirculation.

Priyanka Borah

Borah.jpgMs. Priyanka Borah obtained her M.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Tezpur Central University, Assam, India. Currently, she is pursuing Ph.D. from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and working as a Research Fellow in the VFRC collaborative project at ICAR-Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi, India under the supervision of Dr. Renu Pandey. Her research interest is “Identification of long non-coding RNA (lnc-RNA) in nitrogen-efficient rice genotypes”.

Prof. Dr. Ellis Hoffland (WUR)

Ms Ellis Hoffland is professor at Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) and expert on soil plant interactions with 48 papers published in international peer-reviewed scientific journal (h-index 22). She has supervised several PhD projects on plant nutrition and is an internationally acknowledged expert on Zn deficiency with a strong network. She reviews papers on Zn deficiency for Plant and Soil, is in the management team of current EU COST Action FA0905: Mineral-Improved Crop Production for Healthy Food and Feed, was convenor of theme “Rhizosphere Processes, Root Biology and Nutrient Acquisition” of the recent Plant Nutrition Colloquium (Istanbul, 2013) and active participant in the 3rd International Zinc Symposium “Improving Crop Production and Human Health” (Hyderabad, 2011).


Dr. Bas Kempen

Bas Kempen holds an MSc in Soil inventory and Land Evaluation (2004) and Geo-Information science and Remote Sensing (2005) and a PhD (2011) in digital soil mapping from Wageningen University. Bas has expertise in (digital) soil mapping, soil classification, error propagation analysis and the design of  sampling strategies for field data collection. Bas joined ISRIC – World Soil Information in 2012. He is in charge of the SOTER programme, is involved in various digital soil mapping projects, and is the coordinator of the annual ISRIC Spring School on soil mapping and soil assessment. 


Dr. Michiel A. Keyzer

Dr. Michiel A. Keyzer is emeritus Professor in Mathematical Economics. Until July 2014 he served as Director of the Centre for World Food Studies of VU University (SOW-VU), a research institute that provides support, at both national and international level, to the formulation of food and agricultural policies and policies aiming at poverty reduction. Since 2003 he is also Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CCAP). Michiel Keyzer combines his scientific with leading and executing applied policy projects in developing countries in the field of food, agriculture and economic development. He has published widely in economics and agriculture related fields, including an MIT Press handbook on applied general equilibrium models, and a contribution to the Handbook of Development Economics. He is currently scientific leader of a project that develops a multi-country water management model for the full Jordan Basin and conducting research in theoretical economics, including topics such as the reduction of the present imbalance between nature, culture and commerce, and selected subtopics in this domain.


Thomas W. Kuyper

T.W. Kuyper holds a personal chair at the department of Soil Quality of Wageningen University. His main research interests include the ecology of mycorrhizal fungi (both ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) in natural and agro-ecosystems in temperate and tropical ecosystems, the role of soil organic matter (including recalcitrant soil organic matter such as biochar, as occurring in Amazonian dark Earth) in soil fertility and carbon sequestration, the contribution of soil biological and functional diversity to soil quality, and the way soil quality management as part of agricultural land management is shaping human – nature interactions and transforming landscapes. He has published over 150 scientific papers and book chapters. 


Dr. Renu Pandey

Dr. Renu Pandey, Senior Scientist is a plant nutritionist in the Division of Plant Physiology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India. Since 1997, including her doctoral thesis, Ms Pandey has focussed on understanding the basic mechanisms of phosphorus uptake and utilization in crop plants at physiological and molecular levels. Phosphorus nutrition under climate change has also been incorporated. Ms Pandey holds a doctorate in plant physiology from IARI, New Delhi and post-doctoral training in molecular biology from Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, MO, USA. She is serving as Treasurer in the Indian Nitrogen Group-Society for Conservation of Nature (ING-SCON) and as an Editor of Indian Society for Plant Physiology.


Dr. Kalimuthu Senthilkumar

Born in 1977, India. He completed his BSc in Agriculture (1995-99) and MSc in Agronomy (2001-02) with distinction from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), India. He did his PhD (2003-2008) on water-saving rice production technologies at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. As a post-doctoral researcher, he worked on ‘Global food security studies’ at PRI, Wageningen, Netherlands; worked on ‘Modelling phosphorus cycles at the country and regional scale for France’ for more than 2 years in INRA-Bordeaux sciences agro; and for a year on ‘Modelling maize agronomic adaptation to climate change in south-western France’ at INRA, Toulouse, France. From October, 2012 onwards, he is working as an agronomist in Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) focusing on improving rice-based farming systems in Eastern and Southern Africa. As of Dec, 2014, he published more than 12 peer-reviewed papers in high impact journals and 24 more papers as conference proceedings, book chapters and newsletters.

Sandeep Sharma

Sharma.jpgMr. Sandeep Sharma obtained his M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology from Kumaun University, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. Currently, he is pursuing Ph.D. degree from the same university and working as Research Fellow in the VFRC collaborative project at ICAR-Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi, India under the supervision of Dr. Renu Pandey. His work focuses on “Identification of Proteins Involved in Absorption of Nutrients Applied to Foliage in Rice and Soybean through Proteome Profiling.”


Dr. Roelf L. Voortman

Dr Roelf L. Voortman has 35 years of experience working in the fields of land resources and agriculture in tropical developing countries. He is a land resource ecologist by education and his main research interest is agro-ecological characterization and assessment for agricultural development planning with emphasis on the relationship between soil parent material-climate-soil-vegetation and how this is expressed in soil chemical properties. On this basis, while also paying attention to secondary and micro-nutrients as well as the antagonisms and synergisms between nutrients, he aims at the development of site-specific fine-tuned fertilizer technologies that combine affordable low doses with effectiveness (yield).


Dr. Jason C. White

Jason C. White, Ph.D. is Vice Director and Chief Analytical Chemist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Dr. White oversees research on nanoparticle fate/effects and phytoremediation; he has published 91 papers and 5 book chapters. Dr. White received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University (1997). He is Managing Editor for the International Journal of Phytoremediation, and is on the Editorial Board Advisory Boards of Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology Letters and the Editorial Board of Environmental Pollution. He has secondary appointments at the University of Texas-El Paso and Post University and is President of the International Phytotechnology Society.