Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Distinguished Purdue professor Gebisa Ejeta appointed to U.N. advisory board

Purdue University professor Gebisa Ejeta has been named to the United Nations secretary-general's Scientific Advisory Board. / File photo/Journal & Courier
Purdue University professor Gebisa Ejeta has been named to the United Nations secretary-general’s Scientific Advisory Board. / File photo/Journal & Courier
October 14, 2013 (Jconline) – A distinguished Purdue University agronomy professor and World Food Prize laureate has achieved another international honor.
Gebisa Ejeta was appointed to the U.N. secretary-general’s new Scientific Advisory Board, which will give advice on science, technology and innovation regarding sustainable development to United Nations organizations.
The board, which is comprised of 26 members representing natural, social, human and agricultural sciences, aims to make sure that scientific findings are reflected in policy decisions made throughout the U.N. Ejeta is the agricultural scientist on the board, according to Purdue.
“It is a great honor and responsibility to have the chance to work at the highest level of global science policy and diplomacy,” Ejeta said. “I will try to be a good ambassador of agricultural sciences to uphold the indispensability of food and agriculture, and to impart that feeding humanity sustainably in the foreseeable and unforeseeable future is the ultimate responsibility of all nations. I hope to make a difference.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the advisory board in September at a High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meeting, which was designed to implement the vision laid out by the U.N.’s 2012 Rio+20 conference.
“The forum can be a catalyst for a strengthened global partnership for sustainable development, providing political leadership grounded in solid science,” said Ki-moon in a UNESCO press release.
Other members of the board include a University of Massachusetts-Boston professor, a Berkeley engineering dean and a senior scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute.
Ejeta, who was born and raised in rural Ethiopia, has focused his research on plant breeding and genetics, specifically zeroing in on sorghum. Ejeta is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.
The agronomist won the World Food Prize in 2009 for his work in developing sorghum hybrids that are resistant to Striga, a deadly weed that is estimated to plague about 40 percent of farmable savannah land. Sorghum is a crucial cereal crop worldwide.
Ejeta also is the director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security, which hosts graduate students each year to learn about the challenges surrounding food security and possible solutions. Ejeta told the J&C in May that Purdue’s pool of interdisciplinary talent makes the university uniquely positioned to address food insecurity.
“For global peace and stability, food is very important,” Ejeta said. “We can pool expertise from all over the campus … and share it with students.”

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