The USDA-FAS Borlaug Fellowship Program provides research opportunities for mid-career scientists from middle and low-income countries to advance food security and economic growth. Fellows spend 3 months at NC State to conduct research with a faculty mentor and will often travel either to a professional conference or the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa. The faculty mentors later conduct a reciprocal visit to the fellow’s institution to maintain the research collaboration.
Assel Yessimseitova, Research Scientist, National Center for Biotechnology, Kazakhstan.
Assel is highly skilled in various methods of plant biotechnology, microbiology, and plant molecular biology. She has extensive experience in microclonal propagation o f woody plants. She is interested in developing new disease resistant and stress tolerant varieties and identifying plant germplasms using molecular markers.
Assel arrived at North Carolina State University in the summer of 2022 to work at Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center (MHCREC) under the supervision of Dr. Dilip Panthee. The main object of the fellowship was to identify new genes related to tomato disease resistance. During this fellowship, Assel collected and analyzed the phenotypic data of fruit quality and a few other horticultural traits, identified molecular markers associated with tomato diseases such as late blight and tomato spotted wilt virus resistance, interpreted the disease screening results, and learned QTL mapping using R/qtl2 and QTL Cartographer. Also, she attended the American Society for Horticultural Science Conference in Chicago, Illinois and participated in Tomato Field Day at MHCREC.
Dr. Kemal Melih TASKIN working on plant reproduction-development and biosynthetic pathways. He earned his BSc in Biology from Hacettepe University, Ankara. He studied on in vitro regeneration and transformation of sesame in his MSc thesis (Akdeniz University). He took his PhD lectures in Akdeniz University and completed his laboratory studies in the University of Bath (UK) through Chevening Scholarship program. Dr. TASKIN is working with natural apomicts plant species. Apomixis, an asexual mode of reproduction, results in embryo formation without fertilization of the egg. He investigated the morphogenic potential of various tissues to establish an efficient regeneration and genetic transformation system in natural apomicts. He is also interested in the effects of epigenetic modulators on the apomictic seed development. He is now collaborating with Dr. Vladimir Brukhin (St. Petersburg State University, Russia) to study the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control apomixis. Dr. TASKIN recently also working with Olive (Olea europaea L.) widely cultivated important Mediterranean plant with high quality of oils and rich compounds. His works on Olive involve in both the biosynthesis of metabolic pathways including phytosterols, strigolactones, Vitamin E and root development. Dr. TASKIN arrived at NC State University at the beginning of July, 2022 to work with both Dr. Hamid Ashrafi and Dr. Kedong Da in their labs. The target of the fellowship was to determine the function of the genes involve in one of the components of apomixis through complementation analysis. While at NC State University, Dr. TASKIN learned the basic Linux terminal command system, NGS library preparation, bioinformatic analysis of NGS data and floral dipping transformation method. During the program, he attended to the Plant Biology Conference and had a chance to meet scientists in his area.
Fatma Gül Maraş Vanlioğlu, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Field Crops Central research Institute, Biotechnology Research Center – Turkey
Fatma Gül arrived at NC State University at the beginning of 2020 to work with both Dr. Hamid Ashrafi and Dr. Gina Brown-Guedira in their labs. The target of the fellowship was to integrate the Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) pipeline to the breeding process of Turkey. While at NC State University, Fatma Gül learned the basic Linux terminal command system, and then she investigated GBS library preparation, bioinformatic analysis of GBS data and SNP determination for specific quantitative traits. After GBS data analysis, she studied the KASP primer design for determined SNP regions of specific traits. During the program, she attended to the Plant and Animal Genome Conference and had a chance to meet the most important scientists in her area.
Dr. María-Elena Cazar Ramírez, Head of the Biotechnology and Biodiversity Group, Universidad de Cuenca – Ecuador
María-Elena Cazar Ramírez is a chemist, with a main interest in bioactive secondary metabolites from plants and fungi. She earned a B.S in Chemistry from Escuela Superior Politécnica del Chimborazo (Ecuador) and a Ph.D in Natural Products Research in Universidad de Talca (Chile). María-Elena Cazar developed scientific stays at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (Germany) and Leiden University (The Netherlands). At the Chemical Sciences Faculty from Universidad de Cuenca, she leads the Biotechnology and Biodiversity Group, creating a space for research focused in the bioactivity of plants and microorganisms from Southern Ecuador. In this group, cooperation and scientific exchange is a strategy towards the excellence in research. Besides, she is a faculty member of the University Council of Universidad de Cuenca and Vice President of the Latin American Society of Medicinal Plants.
María-Elena Cazar develops collaborations with Universität Osnabrück (Germany) and Universidad de Chile (Chile), among others. These strategies allowed the exchange of academics and students from the Chemical Sciences Faculty at Universidad de Cuenca and the networking institutions. On 2019, she was selected for the Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program. North Carolina State University is the venue for her fellowship. Currently, María-Elena Cazar works with Dr. De-Yu Xie, professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, in a project focused in the characterization of bioactive secondary metabolites from Ecuadorian cacao. The aim of this project is to increase the value of Ecuadorian cacao accessions by the characterization of polyphenols, and monitor polyphenols changes during artisanal cacao processing. María-Elena Cazar values this magnificent opportunity to work with Dr. De-Yu Xie, a renowned scientist in the field of natural products. This experience will be the first step in a fruitful scientific collaboration.
Hamilton Chiango, Assistant Lecturer and Researcher, Universidade Eduardo Mondiane – Mozambique
Hamilton arrived to NC State University in Spring 2019 to work with Dr. Tom Sinclair in Crop and Soil Science. During his fellowship, Hamilton investigated phenotyping of maize inbred lines for expression of two water-conservation traits: sensitivity to soil drying and to atmospheric vapor pressure deficits. Through greenhouse experiments, Hamilton was able to phenotype at 25 of the major inbred lines used in Mozambique in response to soil drying and vapor pressure deficit treatments.
Dr. Anne Njoroge, Research Associate, Crop and System Sciences Division, International Potato Center, Nairiobi – Kenya
Anne is a CGIAR Borlaug Fellow with Dr. Jean Ristaino as her NC State faculty mentor. Anne is conducting research on Phytophera infestans population structure and pathogen evolution in eastern Africa. Anne has has mapped the pathogen population in five eastern Africa countries as a basis for P. infestans surveillance in the region. Additionally, she has generated pathogen data for the potato national breeding programs interested in a particular European potato variety as well as CIP’s potato biotechnology breeding group, that can be used for future deployment of the 3R transgenic potato for Africa. Anne is also a PhD student finalist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU-Uppsala) and defended her dissertation in Plant Pathology in January 2019.
Dr. Ahlam Hamim, National Institute of Agriculture, Research of Tangier – Morocco
Dr. Hamim came to NC State University in the spring of 2018 to work with Dr. Hamid Ashrafi in his blueberry genetics and genomics lab. The overall objectives of Dr. Hamim’s fellowship work was to aid in the development small fruit berry crops in Loukkos, Morocco. While at NC State University, Dr. Hamim was able to investigate micropropagation techniques for blueberries and other small fruit berry crops, conduct field blueberry breeding research, assess small fruit berry varieties, and conduct quality tests. In addition to Dr. Hamim’s research experience, she was able to interact one-on-one with North Carolina blueberry growers during the blueberry field day.