An ethiopian receives the prize “for women in science”
Dr. Segenet Kelemu is being honored by L’ORÉAL-UNESCO for her research on how microorganisms living in symbiosis with forage grasses can improve their capacity to resist disease and adapt to environmental and climate change. Her work is providing new solutions for ecologically responsible food crop production, especially by local, small-scale farmers.
Dr. Kelemu grew up in a remote village in Ethiopia. Although she bore the unequal burden carried by rural African women, she had an uncommon determination to overcome any obstacle to achievement and to help her continent’s farmers. Defying strong cultural norms, she became the first woman from her region to attend what was then Ethiopia’s only university. She excelled in her chosen field, plant sciences, and after obtaining her PhD in the United States, she went to Cornell University as a post-doctoral fellow. In 1992 she joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia as Senior Scientist and was eventually appointed Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Management of the Center.
Dr. Kelemu returned to Africa in 2007 to help establish the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) Hub laboratories, hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, and is currently Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology.
She came back to her home continent with far more than expertise. She returned with a passion that she is transmitting to a new generation of scientists working for a better Africa : “Set your goals and pursue them relentlessly. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do it. Science is not reserved for the privileged few or the super smart or the especially crazy! If I can do it, so can you!”.
The French embassy congratulates Dr. Segenet Kelemu for this prestigious award.