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  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) announced its 2021 Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum (WIT) Early Career and Mentor awardees honoring wheat scientists working to protect food security around the world.

Ella Taagen, a Ph.D. candidate in the field of plant breeding at Cornell, was among this year’s winners.

The WIT awards recognize talent and dedication from both early career women scientists and those who have exceled at mentoring women working in triticum and its nearest cereal relatives. This year’s winners are pioneering new approaches to wheat and hail from parts around the world: Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, the United Kingdom, U.S. and Zambia.

The BGRI is a project in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Global Development.

“One of the greatest highlights serving as chair of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative is announcing each new group of Women in Triticum award winners,” said Jeanie Borlaug Laube, daughter of Nobel Prize-winner Norman E. Borlaug. “I have great confidence this cohort will continue the excellent work of the previous winners and continue to strive towards my father’s goal of food security across the world.”

The WIT Early Career Award provides early career women working in wheat with the opportunity for additional training, mentorship and leadership opportunities. The WIT Mentor Award, first awarded in 2011, recognizes the efforts of men and women who have played a significant role in shaping the careers of women working in wheat and demonstrated a commitment to increasing gender parity in agriculture.

“This past year was challenging, but this group of early career scientists continued their important work overcoming many obstacles. This kind of resilience displays the type of leadership that exemplifies the WIT award,” said Maricelis Acevedo, director for science for the BGRI and research professor of global development.

Since founding the WIT awards in 2010, the BGRI has recognized 60 early career award winners and 11 mentors from 25 different countries.

“The long-term challenges facing wheat production, whether biotic stresses or climate change, are global in their threat and solutions will require collaboration of a global community of scientists,” said Acevedo. “The 2021 WIT winners take their place among the previous winners and the BGRI is proud to continue to foster cooperation among this group of exceptional scientists.”

Along with Taagen, the other 2021 WIT Early Career Award winners are: Elina Adhikari, Reem Joukadara, Mehnaz and Batiseba Tembo. The 2021 WIT Mentor Award winner is Cristobal Uauy.

This article also appeared on the Cornell Chronicle.

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