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Catherine Larochelle

Associate Professor
Catherine Larochelle
250 Drillfield Dr.
315 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

The overarching goal of my research program is to examine the effectiveness and impacts of agricultural technologies and programs. Specifically, I focus my research on two major themes of inquiry.  The first one aims to shed light on mechanisms that stimulate the adoption of new agricultural technologies and practices. The second theme of inquiry is to rigorously assess the impact of agricultural programs on farm productivity, income, poverty, and food consumption, among others.


Food and health economics; international development economics; rural and regional economic development


Ph.D., Virginia Tech – Applied Economics.
Graduate Certificate, Virginia Tech - Future Professoriate.
M.S., University of Maine - Resource Economics and Policy.
B.Sc., Université Laval, Quebec, Canada - Agricultural Economics. 

Current Funded Projects

Title: Transforming seed systems to respond to bean variety demand through multi-stakeholder platforms in Malawi. 3/22-6/23 Funding Agency: FtF IL for legumes Systems Research, USAID Description: This project is led by CIAT and aims to improve coordination between private seed companies and farmers to demand consumers and their demand for bean varieties.

Title: Improving incomes and nutrition security through development and commercialization of consumer-preferred processed legume-based products in Malawi and Zambia. 5/22-6/23 Funding Agency: FtF IL for legumes Systems Research, USAID Description: This project is led by CIAT and aims to develop new nutritious legume-based processed products that will meet consumer preferences.

Title: Bee-friendly Beef: Integrating Native Wildflowers into Southeastern Grazing System (with O’Rourke, Tracy, and Pent). 1/1/20 – 12/31/22. Funding agency: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service-Conservation Innovation Grant Description: Pollinators have experienced precipitous declines in recent decades due, in part, to changing land. Integrating native wildflowers into pastures has the potential to conserve pollinators while maintaining cattle production. In partnership with the University of Tennessee and Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes, this project will develop and assess methods for the establishment of wildflowers into conventional grazing systems. As the agricultural economist on this multidisciplinary project, I will oversee the profitability assessment of wildflower-enhanced grazing systems and consumer perceptions and willingness to pay for bee-friendly beef.

Title: Bee-friendly Beef: Developing Biodiverse Grazing Systems in Virginia (with O’Rourke, Tracy, and Pent). 5/19-4/23. Funding agency: USDA– National Institute of Food and Agriculture Description: Grasslands provide valuable ecosystem services including erosion protection, food for human use, and habitat for wildlife and pollinators. But its capacity to provide these ecosystem services its limited by the lack of plant biodiversity. This especially true of grasslands in the eastern US that are dominated by tall fescue, a non-native, cool-season grass that is typically toxic to cattle. To increase plant biodiversity available to beef cattle and bees, this project will establish grasslands that contain native warm-season grasses mixed with diverse wildflowers. In this project, I will lead the socio-economic analysis to evaluate beef producers willingness to adopt biodiverse grasslands and their profitability.

Title: Building Analytical and Global Competencies through Agricultural Research Internships in Ecuador (with Alwang, J., Norton, G.W., Chen, S., and White, K.). 1/19-12/23. Funding agency: USDA– National Institute of Food and Agriculture Description: This is an international experiential learning program that builds data analytical skills and strengthens the global competence of undergraduate students. The research program involves coursework at Virginia Tech and a six-week research internship in Ecuador, where students collect farm and household data with our Ecuadorean partners.

Title: Impact assessment of technological innovation and dissemination under the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) in Southeast Asia (with Alwang, Norton, and Mills). Funding agency: International Fund for Agricultural Development Description: This project assesses the effectiveness of CURE programs in meeting its poverty and food insecurity reduction goals and focuses on three countries in Asia. I contributed to the research program in Nepal that aims to: i) quantify the impact of drought tolerant-rice variety adoption on yield; ii) examine the spillover effects of rice seed producer groups on technology adoption in surrounding communities, and iii) assess tradeoffs between questionnaire length and impact estimate precision.

My goal as an educator is to equip students with the foundational economic tools and global perspective to critically analyze agricultural and food issues.

Courses Taught
AAEC 3004: Agricultural Production and Consumption Economics (3 credits, every spring)
AAEC 3204: International Agricultural Development and Trade (3 credits, every year)
ALS 3954: Ecuador Study Abroad (3 credits, cotaught, every spring)
AAEC 4994: Ecuador Research Internship Analysis (1 credit, cotaught, every fall)
AAEC 4344: Sustainable Development Economics (Past)

Graduate students are central to my research program and most of my awards include funding to support graduate students. I dedicate myself to excellence in advising. My graduate students routinely present their research findings at international conferences. Former advisees have published in leading journal in the field of applied economics. 


  • Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, Dec. 2015 - Present
  • Research Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, Dec. 2013 - Nov. 2015
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, August 2011 - Dec. 2013


  •  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Global Faculty Scholar (2021).
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Global Opportunity Initiative Faculty Fellow (2018).
  • Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week, May 12-16, 2014.
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award. Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities Category, Virginia Tech, 2012. 


Selected Publications (* denotes graduate student)

1.          Vaiknoras, K.*, & Larochelle, C. (2021). The impact of iron-biofortified bean adoption on bean productivity, consumption, purchases and salesWorld Development, 139, 105260.

2.          Alwang, J., Norton, G.W. & Larochelle C. (2019). Obstacles to widespread diffusion of IPM in developing countries: Lessons from the field. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 10(1),10.

3.          Vaiknoras, K.*, Larochelle, C., Birol, E., Asare-Marfo, D., & Herrington, C. (2019). Promoting rapid and sustained adoption of biofortified crops: What we learned from iron-biofortified bean delivery approaches in RwandaFood Policy, 83, 271-284.

4.          Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., Travis, E.*, Barrera, V.H., & Dominguez, J.M. (2019). Did you really get the message? Using text reminders to stimulate adoption of agricultural technologies. Journal of Development Studies, 55(4),548-564.

5.       Katungi, E., Larochelle, C., Mugabo, J., & Buruchara, R. (2018). The effect of climbing bean adoption on the welfare of smallholder common bean growers in Rwanda. Food Security, 10(1), 61-79. 

6.       Farris, J.*, Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., Norton, G.W., & King, C. (2017). Poverty Analysis Using Small Area Estimation: An Application to Conservation Agriculture in Uganda. Agricultural Economics, 48(6), 671-681. 

7.       Alwang, J., Larochelle, C., & Barrera, V. (2017). Farm Decision Making and Gender: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Ecuador. World Development, 92, 117-129.

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