Mike Pumphrey receives 2015 BGRI Mentor Award

Linda McCandless
Friday, September 18, 2015

Sydney, Australia — Michael ‘Mike’ Pumphrey, associate professor of wheat breeding and genetics at Washington State University (WSU), was awarded the 2015 Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum Mentor Award during the 2015 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) Technical Workshop in Sydney, Australia, on September 19, 2015.

“Mike Pumphrey embraces the BGRI mission to improve rural livelihoods through sustainable and secure global wheat production, and promotes gender parity and equity among all students pursuing careers in agriculture,” said Lesley Boyd, head of National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) International, the 2011 mentor awardee who presented the award.  

In his lab and with partners abroad, Mike works to develop a strong network built on collaboration and support regardless of race or gender. Female scientists working in wheat research cite Mike’s lab and greenhouses as “fantastic learning environments,” and praise Mike’s ability to hold young scientists accountable to the rigors of excellent research while empowering them to reach their individual potential.

“For me, this award further validates that I have been very fortunate to work with and guide excellent early-career female scientists,” said Pumphrey. “Watching their skill and commitment to agricultural research develop is the real reward.”  

The WIT Mentor Award is made annually to nominees who have demonstrated excellence in mentoring women working in Triticum or its relatives and has been awarded since 2011.

Mike is mentor and major advisor or post-doctoral advisor to three Women in Triticum Early Career Award winners — Esraa Alwan (2010), Yukiko Narouka (2012), and Kaori Ando (2013) — as well as many other past and present female undergraduate students, graduate students, visiting scientists, and colleagues.

Members of Mike’s team work regularly with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, and have contributed practical expertise in applied field breeding, germplasm characterization, and staff training across wheat and pathogen borders.

Pumphrey plans to donate his WIT mentor award funds to the Dr. Virginia Lee Change the World Fellowship at WSU. The fund was created in 2011 in honor of Pumphrey’s first graduate student at WSU who died from a rare and aggressive cancer in 2010. The fund supports female Ph.D. students who pursue Dr. Lee’s fundamental interests in integrative, equitable and sustainable food systems through advances in plant sciences.

Pumphrey received his B.S from Oklahoma State, his M.S. from the University of Minnesota, and his Ph.D. from Kansas State.   

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