CALS Faculty Selected as Borlaug Fellowship Mentors

Iowa State Capitol building with World Food Prize banners in Des Moines, Iowa
WRITTEN BY Jennifer Terlouw,

Starting in 2021, CALS International Programs is pleased to host a new group of  the USDA-FAS Borlaug Fellowship Program award winners. In recent years, Borlaug fellows from Ecuador, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, and Turkey have come to NC State to work with CALS faculty to further international research efforts.

Borlaug Fellow Dr. Maria Elena Cazar and Dr. Deyu Xie from the department of Plant and Microbial Biology, NC State, smile together at the World Food Prize in Iowa
Borlaug Fellow Dr. Maria Elena Cazar and Dr. Deyu Xie from the department of Plant and Microbial Biology, NC State, smile together at the World Food Prize in Iowa,2019.

Last year, in 2019, CALS IP was able to host Dr. María-Elena Cazar Ramírez, Head of Biotechnology and Biodiversity at Universidad de Cuenca in Ecudaor, and Hamilton Chiango, Assistant Lecturer and Researcher at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique. In spring of 2020, CALS IP hosted Fatma Gül Maraş Vanlioğlu from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Field Crops Central Research Institute and Biotechnology Research Center.

Borlaug Fellow, Fatma Gül at the Plant Animal Genome Conference in San Diego, California, January 2020.

The Borlaug Fellowship Program’s aims are to connect established researchers from developing countries with international collaborative opportunities to promote economic growth and food security. This incoming class of fellows will continue pursuit of those aims while representing Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Sri Lanka on NC State’s campus.

Dr. Ekin Demiray, Research Assistant from Ankara Üniversitesi in Turkey, will be working with Professor Deyu Xie to edit wheat genes using CRISPR technology to improve on biofuel production. This continues several years of research that Dr. Demiray has been doing on biofuel and bioethanol.

Assel Yessimseitova, from the National Center for Biotechnology, will be representing Kazakhstan in work with Dr. Dilip Panthee to analyze wheat genes in pursuit of those specific genes associated with grain quality. This will be a continuation of wheat research begun in Kazakhstan and CALS’ genomic technologies will allow for new levels of analysis to contribute to that work.

The next two fellows will both be representing Sri Lanka:

Dr. Ganga D Sinniah, Principle Research Officer of the Plant Pathology Division at the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka, will also be hosted by Dr. Deyu Xie. Their work will focus on blister blight in tea, continuing Dr. Sinniah’s existing research into blister blight, for which a conference paper was published in January of this year.

Dr. Chandima Hanchapola Appuhamilage, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Botany at the University of Peradeniya, will be working with Dr. Colleen Doherty to study genetic saline tolerance of rice. Dr. Appuhamilage is also continuing her existing research on developing drought and salinity-tolerant rice varieties to assist in rice production globally, as it’s a staple food both in Sri Lanka and in many other countries around the world.

This article will be updated to reflect any future awarded Borlaug Fellowship Program participants coming to NC State in 2021.