Melinda Smale joined the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics and its Food Security Group in 2011. Prior to that she worked for a number of years with developing country researchers through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). From 2002, as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Economist at Bioversity International, she led a global research program about the impacts of biotech crops, agricultural biodiversity, local seed markets, and underutilized crops. She conducted extensive research in Uganda and Mali. From 1989 to 2000, while living in Malawi and later in Mexico, she analyzed the adoption and impacts of improved wheat and maize seed as an economist for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
During the 1980s, Melinda worked in Pakistan, Somalia, Mauritania and Niger on shorter-term assignments for CIMMYT, Chemonics International, Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), and USAID. She is an Honorary Fellow with Bioversity International, serving on the Advisory Committee of the Collaborative Crops Research Program of the McKnight Foundation, and on the editorial committees of several journals.