Sir Gordon Conway was born in the United Kingdom and was educated at Bangor University in Wales, the University of Cambridge, and the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, before going on to pursue a Ph.D. in agricultural ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Throughout the 1960s Conway worked in Malaysia developing agricultural programs in integrated pest management. In 1970 he returned to England to become a professor of environmental technology at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. While at Imperial College he also established the university’s Centre for Environmental Technology in 1976.
Following his work at Imperial College, Conway lived throughout Asia and the Middle East and worked for a number of organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. He also went on to direct the Sustainable Agriculture Program at the International Institute for Environment and Development.
In 1998, Conway became President of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF). At the RF, Conway worked to extend the benefits of the “Green Revolution” to Africa. Conway also took an interest in issues of urban poverty, most notably through the “Living Cities” initiative, which included measures to develop low-income housing solutions. His tenure was also marked by an increasing number of private and public partnerships, including the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Mother to Child Transmission Plus Initiative, which focuses on providing long-term care to HIV-positive women in Africa and Asia.
Conway retired from the RF in 2004 and was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor for the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom. In the same year he was also elected President of the Royal Geographical Society.
Conway is currently teaching at Imperial College. He also leads the Agriculture for Impact initiative, which is aimed at increasing support to smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.