2016 WIT Winners announced

John Bakum
Friday, March 18, 2016

Before an audience at the CIMMYT Wheat Research Station in Obregon Mexico, the BGRI presented WIT awards to another cadre of diverse early career wheat reaseachers and a WIT mentor.

2016 Early Career Women in Triticum Award winners:

2016 WIT Award WinnersIrum Aziz, Pakistan, is a PhD student at the University of Sydney concentrating on the biofortification of wheat. She earned her graduate degree (M.Sc. Hons) in Plant Breeding & Genetics from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Aziz is particularly interested in helping women farmers improve their livelihoods and increasing the number of female agricultural researchers in Pakistan.

Mitaly Bansal, India, is a PhD student from Punjab Agricultural University, India and the John Innes Centre, UK as a part of the collaborative project.  Her research focuses on developing tools to deploy rust resistance genes from wild wheat to commercial cultivars. She received the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug scholarship in 2013.

Elfinesh Shikur Gebremariam, Ethiopia, received her PhD in Plant Pathology from Ankara University, Turkey in 2015. Her PhD work focused on national survey of wheat crown rot in Turkey and her goal is to bring that knowledge to similar research in Ethiopia. Gebremariam was a Borlaug LEAP Fellow in 2013.

Mercy Wamalwa, Kenya, is a PhD student at Egerton University, Kenya, focused on the characterization of stripe rust isolates in Kenya and mapping of resistant genes in wheat which will lead to incorporation of the resistance into local adapted varieties. She earned her graduate degree in Plant Breeding from Egerton University in 2013 and was an AWARD fellow in 2014.

Amy Watson, New Zealand, is a PhD student in Plant Breeding and Genetics at the University of Queensland, Australia. She is studying rapid generation advance using controlled conditions, known as ‘speed breeding’, which enables up to six generations per year in wheat, thus leading to greater rates of genetic gain by reducing the breeding cycle duration.

2016 Women in Triticum Mentor Award:

Ronald M. DePauw, Canada, is a research scientist in Wheat Breeding at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. His distinguished career has produced over 200 scientific manuscripts, 50 cultivars developed and culminated with election to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2015.  He has served as mentor to many female researchers, including three Women in Triticum Early Career Awardees, Arti Singh (2013), Samia Berraies (2013), and Silvia Barcellos Rosa (2011). Dr. Berraies said “His progressive and encouraging attitude influenced greatly the trajectory of my research work and reminded me of the true reason behind wheat research. With the cereal group. Dr. Ron's attitude towards the technical staff is gender-unbiased both in and out of the field, and he strives to deliver as much information as possible to his staff. He accomplishes that not by saying many words but simply by treating everyone the same, assigning the same tasks to women and men and generally expecting great work.”