News: Kansas State Univ. selects Dr Segenet Kelemu a 2019 College of Agriculture Alumni Fellow

Dr Segenet earned a PhD in molecular biology and plant pathology from Kansas State University in 1989

Addis Abeba, April 23/2019 – icipe Director General, Dr Segenet Kelemu, has been selected a 2019 College of Agriculture Alumni Fellow of Kansas State University, USA.

“The Fellows are chosen based on their high levels of professional accomplishment and distinguished service in their respective careers,” said Andrea Bryant Gladin, K-State Alumni Association, Assistant Vice President of alumni programs and organizer of the Alumni Fellows program.

In 2019, 12 individuals were honored, with Dr Segenet being one of five women and the only international awardee.

Since 1983, selected alumni return to K-State as distinguished guests, mentors, friends and counselors to students and faculty in classroom and informal settings. Dr Kelemu participated in the 2019 Alumni Fellows week between 10 –12 April, with an impactful schedule of ceremonies, presentations and addresses. Her activities included an interview on ‘Insect-Borne Disease Issues’, by Agriculture Today, a Kansas State University radio program featuring specialists and experts, which is distributed to radio stations throughout Kansas and is available as a podcast. The Director General also delivered a seminar titled ‘Transformative Technologies for Pest Management’. She also met with graduate students, faculty, staff, etc. in the various departments of the College of Agriculture, and held in-depth discussions.

Driven by an enduring vision

“It is a great honor for me to return to K-State, an institution where I benefited from, and learnt the value of partnerships in science,” Dr Segenet noted. “I remember attaining my PhD with the same aspiration that formed my choice of agriculture as a career path; to make a change in people’s lives. Having grown up in rural Ethiopia, I witnessed the daily struggle of communities trying to eke a living from their land while fighting a losing battle with pests and other factors. My vision was to acquire knowledge that would lead to solutions for such constraints.”

Dr Segenet described icipe as an outstanding institution that strongly epitomizes her ideology of science, observing: “While icipe generates high quality, world class knowledge, the Center’s most authentic strength is the development of environmentally friendly, effective and accessible technologies, as well as the success in reaching numerous end users including farmers, agricultural extension officers, health professionals and policymakers.”

Close to 50 years since its founding, icipe has a well deserved reputation, not just as the only Center in Africa working primarily on insects and other arthropods, but as a global center of excellence, the Director General emphasized.

Dr Segenet highlighted the up-scaling and commercialization of icipe’s innovative tsetse repellent collar technology, and the expansion of the Push-Pull technology across Africa out of a range of achievements since she commenced leadership of the Center in November 2013. In addition, icipe has made tremendous progress in resource mobilization, strengthening of its teams, and broader presence across the continent.

Further, Dr Segenet discussed the Center’s ongoing re-direction of its research programs, including the mainstreaming of insects as a more affordable protein source in the animal feed sector, and the search for new, more effective tools for malaria.

“Recent reports rightly indicate a decline in malaria. However, the disease still remains a major challenge especially in Africa. Clearly, more innovative approaches are necessary to ensure progress does not plateau and that, indeed, the ultimate goal of malaria eradication is achieved,” noted Dr Segenet.

As an example, icipe studies have identified microbes of considerable interest as they can block and prevent the mosquitoes from transmitting the malaria parasite.

It takes a (global) village

On her growing list of international accolades, Dr Segenet stressed: “I feel extremely fortunate to be recognized by many organizations from different parts of the world. However, I am always aware that my personal efforts have been backed by immense support by researchers, graduate students, other staff, partners, my family, and global partners.”

The Director General concluded by attesting that the saying “it takes a village”, in this case a global one, is applicable to science; to herself; and to icipe as an institution.

Dr Segenet earned a PhD in molecular biology and plant pathology from Kansas State University in 1989, after attaining an MSc at Montana State, USA, in 1985, and a Bachelors degree from Addis Abeba University (AAU), Ethiopia, in 1979. icipe

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