NC State Borlaug Cohort Shines at 2022 World Food Prize

NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was well represented at the 2022 World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue with four Borlaug fellows, two faculty mentors and one administrator in attendance. This was the largest cohort that NC State has sent in recorded history and the group was rewarded with an agenda-packed week of USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) sponsored events in addition to the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue lineup of impressive speakers. 

Adriana Sánchez, Assel Yessimseitova, Dilip Panthee, Sofiane Abdelhamid, and Pablo Delgado stand outside of the Iowa State Capitol, which is decorated for the World Food Prize.

The World Food Prize Foundation hosts an annual event in Des Moines, Iowa centered around addressing food insecurity.  Each year a new World Food Prize Laureate is nominated based on their work to address global hunger and carry on Norman E. Borlaug’s work, of which the World Food Prize was inspired.  Norman E. Borlaug is often called the “Father of the Green Revolution” due to his work in wheat breeding to successfully develop disease resistant and high yielding cultivars throughout Mexico and into Latin America and Asia.  Dr. Borlaug’s work and humble nature are still honored today throughout the world and throughout the World Food Prize and they’re modeled by every new Laureate.   The 2022 World Food Prize Laureate was Cynthia Rosenzweig from the United States who works to predict the impact that climate change will have on global food systems. 

The USDA-FAS Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, which is also part of Norman E. Borlaug’s legacy provides research fellowship opportunities for low to middle-income country scientists to promote food security and economic development in their home countries.  Fellows are competitively selected and matched with faculty mentors at US universities to conduct 12-week fellowships in the US.   The mentors then conduct a reciprocal visit to the fellow’s home country to maintain the long-term research collaborations.  In the most recent application round, NC State was awarded eight Borlaug Fellowships, which is the most it has ever received.  Four fellows’ fellowships coincided with the timing of the 2022 World Food Prize and they included: 

  • Adriana Sánchez Espíndola from Mexico with mentor Katie Jennings, Department of Horticultural Sciences
    • Research topic: Detection and Identification of Pesticides and Determination of Pathogen Contamination of Fresh Vegetables
  • Assel Yessimseitova from Kazakhstan with mentor Dilip Pathee, Department of Horticultural Sciences
    • Research topic: Screening Tomato Lines for Disease Resistance with Molecular Markers
  • Pablo Delgado-Sánchez from Mexico with mentor: Oliver Baars, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
    • Research topic: Modified Light Spectra to Improve Phyto-remediation of Heavy Metal
  • Sofiane Abdelhamid from Tunisia with mentor: Hamid Ashrafi, Department of Horticultural Science 
    • Research topic: How Genomic Resources Provide Insights into the Improvement of Tunisian Olive Oil

The USDA-FAS scheduled events brought together Borlaug fellows and mentors from across US universities to participate in team building discussions and to hear from invited speakers including the World Food Prize Foundation President, Barbara Stinson; 2022 World Food Prize Laureate, Cynthia Rosenzweig; 2009 World Food Prize Laureate, Gebisa Ejeta; Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Ramin Toloui; and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.  During all these sessions, the fellows interacted with the presenters to share their research programs and its importance to their home countries and US bilateral relations.  

Borlaug Fellows with past World Food Prize Laureates and Jeanie Borlaug Laube.


The fellows also prepared posters to participate in a research poster symposium where they highlighted their research at their respective collaborating universities. 


Adriana Sánchez, Borlaug Fellow.
Pablo Delgado, Borlaug Fellow.
Sofiane Abdelhamid, Borlaug Fellow.
Assel Yessimseitova, Borlaug Fellow.









The World Food Prize is often a culminating event for USDA-FAS Borlaug fellows and their fellowship program, which allows them to network with other Borlaug fellows and mentors to further expand their professional network within the US before they return to their home country.  Likewise, the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue provides the platform for discussing global food security problems and innovative solutions with leaders from governmental, non-profit and private sectors across the globe. 


Adrienne Tucker, Katie Jennings, Pablo Delgado, Sofiane Abdelhamid and Adriana Sánchez at the Laureate Award Ceremony in the Iowa State Capitol Building.