Borlaug LEAP Fellow Elfinesh Gebremariam, hopes to serve as a role model for female scientists. Her work as a lecturer and head of the gender office at Dilla University in Ethiopia has given her leadership experience but her tenure as a production manager at a flower farm emphasized the importance of mutual respect, both for the employees and for the company. Modeling, influencing, inspiring others, and respecting the values and expectations of the organization are some of the leadership qualities she appreciates.
Ms. Gebremariam is attending Ankara University in Turkey on a scholarship from the Turkish government. Her research is focused on identifying aggressive strains of Fusarium (crown rot disease) and screening wheat lines for pathogen resistance. Wheat is the second most widely grown cereal in sub-Saharan Africa and Ethiopia. Soil-borne pathogens limit yields and results in high economic losses for farmers. After she completes her PhD, Ms. Gebremariam plans to return to Ethiopia and continue her research with a broader focus on soil-borne pathogens in general.
During her Borlaug LEAP fellowship, Ms. Gebremariam will be working with mentors from CIMMYT and Washington State University. At CIMMYT–Turkey, she is working under the supervision of Dr. Amer Dababat, leader of the soil-borne pathogens program at CIMMYT. She is learning isolation, identification and pathogenicity of the Fusarium species. As part of her fellowship, she will travel to Washington State University for three months to work with Dr. Michael Pumphrey and a team of experts on Dryland Crown Rot disease, including Dr. Timothy Paulitz, US Department of Agriculture. The team works collaboratively with the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research and hosts numerous international students in their lab at Washington State. Ms. Gebremariam will be learning molecular techniques and methods of evaluation resistance/tolerance. Washington State University is a world-leader in wheat research.