ILRI Emeritus Fellow Susan MacMillan led public awareness and advocacy commuications work at ILRI for nearly 33 years. Her career at ILRI (and formerly ILRAD), lasted from October 1988 through April 2021. She started with science writing for ILRAD and, beginning in 1995, expanded her communications work at ILRI to include public awareness and advocacy work in print, web, news and social media and film. Susan has a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Before moving to ILRI, she worked as head of the ICIPE Science Press at Nairobi’s International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE); as an editor for Stellagraphics, publishers of Kenya’s Weekly Review magazine; as associate editor for Fine Print and University Publishing, two quarterly reviews, one for the arts of the book, based in San Francisco, and the other for university press books, based in Berkeley, USA. In the mid-1970s she taught English at Nyakach and Kapropita girls' secondary schools, in Kenya’s Nyanza and Baringo districts, respectively. Her interests lie at the interface of literary and science writing, how each informs, and resonates in, the other, e.g., how cultural assumptions drive science and scientific paradigms infiltrate lay discourse.

Previous employment

1995–2021: Science, awareness and advocacy c ommunications, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya

1988–1994: Science writer, International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD), Nairobi, Kenya

1986–1988: Head of ICIPE Science Press, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, Kenya

1984–1986: Editor, Stellagraphics, Nairobi, Kenya, publishers of Weekly Review, Kenya’s leading politi­cal and financial review, edited by Hilary Ng’weno

1981–1983: Associate editor, promotion and advertising Manager, Fine Print, A Quarterly Review for the Arts of the Book, San Francisco, California—a letterpress journal reviewing the typography, printing, paper making, bookbinding and graphic arts of limited-edition books printed by hot metal type and published by fine presses worldwide

1980–1982: Associate editor, advertising and business manager, University Publishing, Berkeley, Califor­nia—a quarterly review of scholarly books in all disciplines published by the 100-plus uni­versity presses of the English-speaking world

Copy editor and proofreader, Wilsted & Taylor Publishing Services, Oakland, California—type­setters and designers of scholarly books for the University of California Press; Scolar Press, London; and North Point Press, California

Copy editor and manuscript evaluator, Harper & Row Publishing Company, San Francisco, California

1975–1978: Head of the English Department, Kapropita Girls’ Secondary School, Kabarnet, Kenya

1973–1974: Head of the English Department, Nyakach Girls’ Secondary School, Sondu, Kenya

Areas of expertise: writing, editing, information design

1995–2021: Wrote and designed ILRI’s public awareness materials, including institutional blogging and social media engagement, multimedia products (videos, slide presentations, posters), annual reports and newsletters, and products for news media (op-eds, backgrounders, releases)

1988–1994: Wrote, designed and typeset ILRAD's scientific annual reports, annual highlights, quarterly newsletters and other main institutional publications

1986–1988: Editor of ICIPE’s annual scientific reports, newsletters and proceedings

My Blog Posts

Tony Barbet (left) and colleague

Tony Barbet, ILRAD, University of Florida tickborne disease molecular biologist, dies

Tony Barbet (left) and colleague

Tony Barbet, ILRAD, University of Florida tickborne disease molecular biologist, dies

Delegates at the FAO conference


FAO conference on livestock transformation: Some 'quotable quotes' from ILRI's partners

Mounir Louhaichi's presentation


FAO conference on livestock transformation: Mounir Louhaichi says 'It's not the cow; it's the how'

Invited delegates to the FAO conference


FAO conference on livestock transformation: Shirley Tarawali on 'the production imperatives'

Jimmy Smith's seat at the FAO conference


FAO conference on livestock transformation: Jimmy Smith on 'three animating ideas'

Picture of Charan Chantalakhana and Lindsay Falvey in 1996


Charan Chantalakhana: Leading Southeast Asian livestock researcher


Veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace receives the Peter Ellis ISVEE Award for her work in developing countries

18 livestock investments to take One Health to scale and prevent new pandemics

Delia Grace wins Arrell Global Food Innovation Award for Research

ILRI/livestock science leader named to EAT-Lancet 2.0 Commission

Celebrating the world’s enduring, resilient, nature-friendly and productive rangelands and livestock herders

Decades of foundational animal health research showcased in new book

Adrian Hill, of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, on the platforms and progress of global health vaccines

New report from UN Nutrition untangles risks and benefits of food from livestock for sustainable healthy diets, focusing on challenges linked to both abundance and scarcity

Hot topic

Fauci, Doudna and Doherty offer 'pandemic science guide' at the Nobel Prize Summit last week

Opinion and analysis

COVID-19: 'A terrible thing to waste'—One Health policy seminar


The One Health research-for-development agenda: Enhancing the holistic health of people, animals and environment


Squaring the circles: Feeding a world in a pandemic and climate change

Opinion and analysis

A no-meat diet everywhere will not solve the climate crisis

Opinion and analysis

A blind spot in global health surveillance: Africa's nomadic pastoralist communities


A woman for all livestock seasons—ILRI’s Shirley Tarawali

Breeding bull


Excursions of a biochemical kind: ILRI hosts CUNY–Regeneron ‘power couple’ working to improve the health of African cattle and COVID-19 patients

How viable are schemes to give poor people making and selling ‘informal’ milk greater market access?

‘Genomic time travel’ for better African cattle—New paper describes a ‘rich mosaic of traits’ and an ‘evolutionary jolt’

ILRI’s Kapiti Research Station to serve as conservancy and critical wildlife corridor for Nairobi National Park

More on why outright banning of ‘wet markets’ (while ‘giving virologists the heebie-jeebies’) won’t work

Making gender equality in food systems the ‘new normal’. For a more equal, and better, world. For all.

Ivan Morrison, of the University of Edinburgh, formerly of ILRAD, awarded the inaugural Plowright Prize for his lifelong research towards a vaccine for East Coast fever

The geometry of disease: A longitudinal calf cohort study in Kenya has yielded a unique database and biorepository

Chicken intervention in Ethiopian households improved the nutrition and growth of young children

New alliance for better dairy animal nutrition in Kenya will work to advance ‘human nutrition, success and progress’

Wildlife markets in the pandemic: Prohibit or preserve them? Ban or promote them?

Improving animal health in southern Africa—Why it matters and what to do

Getting beyond ’empty signifiers’—Food policy expert Corinna Hawkes asks: What are food systems for?

A call for a holistic view of meat eating by Lawrence Haddad, of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

The seven deadly drivers of zoonotic disease pandemics

Millions of new social groups are delivering better agricultural and land management

Do Kenya’s camel handlers face a threat from MERS? What we found

Building gender sensitivity into the next generation of livestock scientists

Meat, milk and more for Africa: Four countries with successful livestock policy innovations to emulate

A One-Health approach is needed to protect both people and the planet—ILRI and UNEP leaders

Joint UN-CGIAR assessment explains how animal-to-human pandemics like COVID-19 occur and how to prevent them in future

Australian body calls for RENEWABLE FOOD (aka ‘regenerative agriculture’ or ‘circular food economies’) as well as renewable energy

World’s largest public agricultural research network launches COVID-19 Hub to support global scientific response

Scientists stress need, amid COVID-19, to maintain focus on everyday zoonotic diseases of the world’s poor

FOOD SAFETY: In support the traditional—and essential—food markets of low-income countries

FOOD SAFETY: A point of departure for preventing diseases originating in the world’s food systems

Twitter Moment: ILRI-UNEP explore ‘One Health’ at the Global Landscapes Forum

Happy World Environment Day!

COVID-19 gives the ‘One Health’ approach to tackling epidemics ‘global celebrity status’. Again.

A bridge not too far: To prevent pandemics, close the human and animal health divide

The good and not-so-good news about the state of COVID-19 vaccine development: A primer from ILRI

East African dairy under COVID-19: How is this vibrant sub-sector faring? Join us for a webinar 28 May

Poor communities: Ground zero for emerging animal-to-human diseases—and for the existential crises they beget

Garlic—A potent (if pungent) ‘Gas X’ methane reducer for cows?

ILRI computing capacity made available to COVID-19 vaccine developers

Domestic livestock not a source of the COVID-19 disease—ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Eric Fevre

Disease outbreaks linked to degraded ecosystems: A problem ALL of us are driving and ALL of us need to solve

Why shutting down Chinese ‘wet markets’ could be a terrible mistake

Food—a ‘hyper-local issue’—needs to keep MOVING, ‘from farm to fork’, says the World Bank’s Juergen Voegele

From sledgehammer to scalpel: Scientists say a ‘moonshot effort’ is needed to end social distancing and this pandemic

Vaccines against this year’s novel (and world-changing) coronavirus are already in development and being tested—Good news from Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty

What keeps Bill Gates up at night? A (highly prescient) 2015 article spells out our COVID-19 challenges today

Four tools ILRI is using to help livestock systems transform to greater gender equality

Celebrating the ‘WILD’ (‘Women In Livestock Development’) at ILRI on International Women’s Day—Video

Four (very) short stories of ‘Aha!’ moments—when the central importance of gender issues really hit home

US nutrition experts say limits on saturated fats should no longer be recommended to reduce heart disease

(Enteric methane) greenhouse gas emissions in cows are cut 25% with feed supplement (3-NOP)

Viral flash points? Poor urban settlements are highly vulnerable to the risk of the new coronavirus

Addressing Africa’s deteriorating food security should be Africa’s top priority—World Bank

On vegan diets and brain nutrients—some unsettling research reports in a (surprisingly) still murky research area

What changes in temperature mean for Africa’s tsetse fly

The meat wars: A backlash is occurring on the backlash to meat dietary recommendations published late last year

Tribute to Azage Tegegne, leading Ethiopian livestock scientist

Livestock story-telling at ILRI—Part 2: Ekta Patel, Maasai ‘Fly Girl’

Inalienable imperative—More, and more sustainable, meat, milk, eggs and fish for more than one billion people

Livestock story-telling at ILRI—Part 1: Introduction, ‘Descending into the particular’

Two animated shorts on practical steps to improve animal welfare and reduce drug resistance in poor countries

On why the EAT-Lancet’s ‘Great Food Transformation’ will require a ‘Great Economic Transformation’—and more

Happy New Year! Here’s a baker’s dozen of ILRI’s top livestock communications in 2019

A tribute to Jean Ndikumana, a ‘gentle giant’ in African livestock research for development

University of Illinois bestows its 2019 International Alumni Award on ILRI chief Jimmy Smith

More vaccination, not antibiotics, needed for Kenyan livestock—Straight talk by Sidai Chair Christie Peacock

Deadline for submitting abstracts for the Joint International Grassland/Rangeland Congress extended to 23 Dec 2019

ILRI holds a livestock symposium at the International Tropical Agriculture Conference this week

This is ‘Livestock Month’ on Agrilinks: USAID’s Andrew Bisson on sustainable livestock for sustainable development

ILRI Board Chair Lindsay Falvey, 2019 Crawford Fund Medal awardee, calls on ‘NextGen’ researchers to complete the battle against hunger among the world’s poor

CGIAR and Somali officials and donors come together at ICRAF to support agricultural development in Somalia

Sustainable livestock systems for sustainable lives

Confused about the meat/milk/diet wars? That’s OK. It’s complicated. And poorly fact-checked. And under-studied.

India establishes separate ministerial livestock portfolio, a sector outperforming crop agriculture

Enlarging on the EAT-Lancet planetary diet report—A fresh look by CSIRO’s Mario Herrero, one of the authors

‘Drylands and Rangelands: Harnessing Change’ at Global Landscapes Forum in New York

Donors commit USD790m to help smallholder farmers cope with climate change; Global Commission on Adaptation calls for doubling of investments in CGIAR

ILRI opinion piece in the Financial Times on the place of ‘alt-meats’ (aka ‘meat without feet’) in poorer countries

#ThrowbackThursday Video—Misku and Gebremichael’s stories

Joint Grasslands and Rangelands Congress will be held in Nairobi in Oct 2020

Kenyan livestock sector to grow ‘exponentially’—Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

A ‘caloric calculus’ with big consequences—healthy foods are expensive in poor countries, unhealthy foods cheap in rich countries—New IFPRI paper

Research approaches required for supporting the empowerment of pastoral dairy women

Today is World Food Safety Day—Watch why safe food matters are life-and-death matters to poor people worldwide

On a frugal continent of ‘economic vegetarians’, consuming more meat means longer, healthier lives—Economist

Eating stories: On the contested future of meat–with, and without, feet

A ‘Livestock Master Plan’ is MISSION CRITICAL for India’s state of Bihar

Kenyan agriculturist Su Kahumbu on the need for ‘pro-smallholder’ and ‘pro-soil’ policies

The many gifts of livestock—A view from Kenya

The ascent of women: A replay of a few of our favourite feminist pieces

Take a look at some of ILRI’s WILD women (aka ‘Women in Livestock Development’)

Women in Data Science conference to be held at ILRI’s Nairobi campus on 8 Mar 2019

A world where livestock are part of the solution—Ethiopia state minister

African livestock: A terrible thing to waste

Press release: Urgent action needed to close the ‘livestock data gap’ to address poverty and food insecurity

A move away from ‘grain fundamentalism’ to higher quality milk, meat and egg calories to fight malnutrition

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate

New World Bank report says food-borne illnesses cost USD110 billion per year in low- and middle-income countries

World Food Day in Ethiopia: Achieving food and nutritional security—and better lives—through livestock

ILRI’s Jimmy Smith on farm animal diversity for more sustainable and resilient global food systems

Dairy: A tool to fight poverty—An interview with IFCN’s Torsten Hemme

‘High-yield’ farming costs the environment less than previously thought—and could help spare habitats

FAO on the common but flawed comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and transport

Belgium confirms two cases of African swine fever in wild boar

Squaring the meat vs veganism circle

German agroecological livestock research investments are benefiting both people and the planet

Deadly African swine fever arrives in China, the world’s largest producer of pigs

The British High Commissioner to Kenya visits ILRI’s Nairobi livestock labs and campus

Aspen New Voices Fellows Andrew Mude and Jemimah Njuki tell of the moments their ag careers ‘took off’

When ‘Do no harm’ is harder than ‘doing good’

One-size-fits-all ‘livestock less’ measures will not serve some one billion smallholder livestock farmers and herders

How changing the world’s food systems can help to protect the planet

From New Zealand to the US, Kenya to Colombia, scientists are on a mission to make livestock less gassy

Sustained progress made in global work to reduce the rise of antimicrobial resistance—but major gaps remain

A ‘milk start-up’ aims to modernize India’s massive informal dairy economy in Odisha State

Reducing use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock in low-income countries: Two scientists reflect on options

Win in old ‘real-world’ markets by capturing mind shares (claiming bandwidth) in the new ‘narrative markets’

Is promoting vegetarianism for all the world’s people a form of colonialism? just Euro-centric?

Why livestock belong on the table—whether we eat meat or not

India’s northeast Bihar State gears up to approve and implement a ‘livestock master plan’

A better way for vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters and livestock herders alike—By ecologist Ian Scoones

Livestock-enhanced diets in the first 1,000 days of life: Pathways to better futures in low-income countries

Northern Kenya-southern Ethiopia dryland livestock traders gathered in Marsabit for better livestock trade and market links

It’s not enough to go vegetarian to fight climate change

Checking the facts behind the ‘livestock facts’ we think we know

How closing livestock yield gaps can enhance incomes, food security and the environment in Ethiopia and India

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘the single biggest way’ to harm poor livestock herders

Africa RISING looks back at what the project achieved in ‘intensifying’ agriculture in its first five years

Why milk, meat and eggs can make a big difference to the world’s most nutritionally vulnerable people

ILRI and its partners celebrate World Milk Day at Tanzania’s first Livestock Expo and Milk Week

Roadmap for metrics to enhance food safety in low- and middle-income countries

Graça Machel wins this year’s World Prize for Integrated Development

Accelerating the development of agricultural value chains in Kenya—AVCD Conference Highlights

‘INCUBATED WORLDS’: Highlights of a unique art+poultry facility launched in Addis Ababa

Ethiopian native chickens are bred with Belgian ‘cosmopolitan chicken’ for greater prosperity in rural Ethiopian poverty

Art and science bring poultry genetics to life in Ethiopia while celebrating local diversity in all its forms

Researchers join artist in quest to create the perfect chicken for Ethiopia’s farmers

On the need for expanding sustainability frameworks and veterinary vision in developing countries

Ethiopia sets out the futures for its growing poultry, dairy and meat subsectors

Earth Day, Animal Day

Shirley Tarawali on convergence in consumption of milk, meat, eggs at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

Mobile pastoralism—A 10,000-year-old practice still robust, if threatened, in the Mediterranean today

Cleaning up assessments of livestock-environment systems in developing countries with CLEANED

Investigating fodder as a cash crop—a micro-enterprise for Indian dairy women

Kenya’s Robin Mbae on livestock and climate change at Berlin’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

Ugandan Emma Naluyima describes her thriving pig+crop farm at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

Lora Iannotti on livestock and animal-source foods at Berlin’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

GASL’s Fritz Schneider on livestock and the SDGs at Berlin’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

BMZ’s Stefan Schmitz on sustainable solutions for the livestock sector

Germany and ILRI intensify scientific cooperation to protect consumer health in Africa and Europe

Is climate change a risk to global grazing lands?

Cereal straws and stovers for sustainable livestock futures: When crop biomass becomes livestock gold

Beef cattle grazing on American rangelands—not feedlots—could be net carbon sink

Variability in rainfall is increasing on global pastures important for food access and economies—Nature Climate Change

‘Legacy Award’ bestowed on Jean Hanson, ILRI’s forage genebank gatekeeper for the last three decades

Towards a sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock sector—Jimmy Smith at the Berlin Global Forum for Food and Agriculture

Livestock are taking the limelight in global policymaking fora

​’If you care about agriculture, you care about livestock’—Bill Gates

DFID/UKAid fund British, ILRI, African genetics research to advance African livestock development

DFID/UKAid provides £4 million for genetics and health research to aid sustainable livestock production in Africa

Illegal land sales imperil unique treasure—by Jimmy Smith

Sustainable livestock futures—BMZ, GIZ and ILRI at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture this week

ILRI’s Kapiti livestock research station—and Kenyan and global public goods—imperiled by land grabs in Kenya

Gates Foundation grants Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems USD8.7 million to improve human nutrition in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia

Jimmy Smith speaks in Australia on the pursuit of a ‘low-emissions cow’ and other livestock matters

Award-winning paper establishes links between women’s empowerment and crop seed improvement and governance in pre-war Syria

Thinking ‘beyond the farm’—On Germany’s longstanding commitment to agricultural research for development

Celebrate World Antibiotic Awareness Week by updating yourself on why health experts are so concerned

Agriculture can rein in greenhouse gas emissions ‘immediately’, say UN and CGIAR

A 360-degree ‘immersive dive’ into Uganda’s smallholder pig sector

Better smallholder dairying for better incomes and climate resilience by and for the poor

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco

ILRI and Farm Ink ‘Facebook project’ to track livestock diseases in Kenya among five winners of research grants

In pursuit of low-emissions cows—ILRI’s Jimmy Smith and John Goopy on transforming ‘idling’ cows to climate-smart animals ‘zooming down the highway’

India’s Nagaland State launches AI scheme for pigs following the state’s landmark pig breeding policy

Why people believe in conspiracy theories—and how to change their minds

New research initiative to boost the health and productivity of farmed animals in Africa

On the heels of the 2011 eradication of cattle plague (rinderpest) is a new ‘frieze-dried’ vaccine that could eradicate goat plague—The Economist reports from ILRI

Nigerian agricultural economist and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina wins World Food Prize