Welcome to the 30th installment of the You Should Know Series. Each week I give my own #ScholarSunday salute to Scientists, Engineers, Science Communicators, and Science Educators. I'm in Tanzania for field research and I am expanding this series to highlight the innovators from Africa and those doing research on this great continent. This is the second edition in the #AfricanSTEM series.
Introducing… Dr. Segenet Kelemu
Dr. Segenet Kelemu has a very impressive CV that includes many well deserved accolades from colleagues from around the world. In 2014 was named Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi and was also awarded L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2014.
She studies the microorganisms that live inside of plains plants. This research helps us understand how these plants endure so many challenges - drought, herbivores, pests, and climate change. With this information we can understand how to use biotechnology to aid the region - East Africa to feed its people and perserve its ecosystems.
I especially love how Dr. Kelemu embraces her entire experience and her affinity for her home region to inspire her research. It is something I write about often -- who we are and our relationships with places and events shapes our scientific interests and missions.
In her own words
“I’d observed how the people around me spent their time concerned with how to feed themselves. So I felt a calling to do something to help. I saw how two university students had made a direct difference in a village they had been sent to teach by helping the people improve their farming practices, and I decided to study agriculture.” from an interview with her published in The East African, May 30, 2014, Dr Kelemu’s rise: From climbing trees in rural Ethiopia to excelling in science
She earned her graduate degrees in the United States and also completed a post doctoral research assignment at Cornell University (I'm convinced that everyone has a Cornell connection). From there, Dr. Kelemu has been on a stellar trajectory. She has served as Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for Green Revolution African, Director of Biosciences at the International Livestock Research Instirture. She was a Senior Scientist, then later named Leader of Cropr and Agroecosystem Health Management the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
As a result of her very hard work and scientific contributions she was awarded the Friendship Award from the People's Republic of China and she is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.
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