September 12, 2011

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture will host internationally acclaimed plant breeder Gebisa Ejeta at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding and International Agriculture from Purdue University and the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize , will present a talk titled “Feeding a Growing World Population: A Tough Job Got Even More Formidable” during a public seminar in Seay Auditorium in the Agricultural Science Center North on the UK campus.

“We are so fortunate that Dr. Ejeta is able to speak with us. He is a world-renowned scientist whose work is having a measurable impact on food security for many of the world’s poorest people,” said Rebecca McCulley, associate professor in the UK Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “We are honored to have the opportunity to learn about the complexities and future challenges in providing world food security from this authority on the topic.”

Ejeta grew up in a small rural community in Ethiopia and received his bachelor’s degree in plant sciences from that country’s Alemaya College in 1973. He continued his education at Purdue, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in plant breeding and genetics. After receiving his doctorate, he worked in Sudan with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, a nonprofit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research in some of the poorest areas of the world.

According to their website, the organization challenges the view that dryland agriculture is hopeless. They believe that backing up scientific innovations with adequate policy, marketing and other support services allows dryland farmers to increase their productivity and incomes.

After five years, Ejeta returned to Purdue to lead the sorghum breeding program, with an emphasis on African agricultural research and development. His research focuses on explaining the genetic and physiological mechanisms of important traits of sorghum, including nutritional quality, drought tolerance, cold tolerance and resistance to pests, diseases and the parasitic weed Striga.

Ejeta received The World Food Prize for his research that lead to improved sorghum varieties in Ethiopia and other African nations. Since 1986, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.

Ejeta is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. The president of Ethiopia awarded him that country's national Medal of Honor.

A reception in the lobby of Seay Auditorium will follow the seminar. For more information, contact David Van Sanford at 859-257-5020, ext. 80770 or dvs@uky.edu.

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