50 CFANS Hunger Fighters

May 17, 2021
Grid of 50 CFANS Hunger Fighters

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) takes immense pride in our many researchers, students, staff and alumni working to alleviate food insecurity issues around the world, whether by creating pest and disease-resistant varieties of crops, enhancing climate resilience in crops, increasing nutrition in foods (both plant and animal), identifying ways to reduce environmental pollution, ensuring policies and practices that promote food access, and many more. 

In conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Borlaug receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the College solicited nominations for 50 CFANS Hunger Fighters, from current students and recent graduates to seasoned professionals, in all work force sectors across the globe.

CFANS also would like to recognize and honor all farmers throughout Minnesota, the U.S., and the world for producing the food that sustains and nourishes our families and communities. Farmers are the backbone of the food system, and we are so grateful for the tireless effort and compassion they put into their work every day to grow a more food-secure future.

Thank you to those who submitted nominations. Read the press release here.

Norman Borlaug, alumnus of CFANS, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contribution to world peace by reducing food insecurity. He is one example of many who are working on global hunger issues, and together they are the hunger fighters.

Lahsen Ababouch

Nominee: Lahsen Ababouch (PhD '87, Food Science and Nutrition) 

Title and Organization: Senior Advisor and Former Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Economics and Policy Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome Italy

Reason for nomination: Lahsen Ababouch's work has focused on the safety and quality of fisheries products and the introduction of systems that have helped developing countries to meet the sanitary requirements of international fish markets. As a result, these countries have seen an increase in earnings and technological developments within the fish processing sector to improve fish safety, quality and reduce post-harvest losses, which have also been a benefit to local fish markets. Named a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals of the University of Minnesota, Ababouch is considered a distinguished leader in the world of seafood safety, quality and value chain development.

Eugene Allen

Nominee: C. Eugene Allen

Title and Organization: Professor Emeriti, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: From his initial role as professor of Animal Science in 1967 to his roles as Dean, VP, Provost and Assoc. VP for International Programs, he has had an amazing 43-year UMN career. He is very proud of teaching 3,600 students, his leading research program and his work over many decades in Morocco and 18 other countries. He recently published his memoir, "Unexpected Adventures - Farm Kid to Professor" summarizing his life and career.

Rob Bertram

Nominee: Robert Bertram (MS '78, Plant Breeding)

Title and Organization: Chief Scientist, USAID's Bureau for Resilience and Food Security

Reason for nomination: Rob Bertram is the chief scientist in USAID's Bureau for Food Security, where he serves as a key adviser on a range of technical and program issues to advance global food security and nutrition. In this role, he leads USAID's evidence-based efforts to advance research, technology and implementation in support of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. He also represents USAID in the CGIAR global agriculture research system, which grew out of the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Norman Borlaug. Bertram's academic background in plant breeding and genetics includes degrees from University of California, Davis, the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland.

Bonde, Bruggen, Cochlin






Nominees: (Left to right) Meredith Bonde (MS Nutrition student), Jessica Bruggen (Dietetics student), and Brianna Cochlin (BS ‘20, Nutrition)

Titles and Organizations: Nutrition students and co-creators of the UMN Food Resource Website at the University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Meredith Bonde, Jessica Bruggen, and Brianna Cochlin are all University of Minnesota nutrition students who worked together to create the UMN Food Resource Guide website to address student food insecurity, connecting UMN-Twin Cities students to the food and nutrition resources necessary to be healthy and successful in college. The project began in Len Marquart’s Food Service Operations Management course with the help of nutrition students Tatum Byhre, Aaron Day, Kelsey Mueller, Faith Rasmusen, and Mara Whiteaker. Meredith, Jessica, and Brianna continued to work on the website beyond the course. The website is maintained by Meredith Bonde and undergraduate nutrition student Alexandra Weisshaar. Meredith Bonde is a first-year graduate student in Nutrition, Jessica Bruggen is a nutrition student working on Didactic Program in Dietetics coursework while finishing an MS in Chemistry, and Brianna Cochlin is a graduate of the Nutrition BS Didactic Program in Dietetics.

Mary Buschette

Nominee: Mary Buschette (BS ‘87, Agricultural Economics)

Title and Organization: Director of Alumni & Constituent Relations, University of Minnesota CFANS

Reason for nomination: Since 2008, Mary has served as a Minnesota Youth Institute - steering committee member and has coordinated for the Institute since 2019. In her current role as the CFANS Director of Alumni & Constituent Relations she focuses on engaging with alumni and supporters of the college and connecting students with alumni and professionals who can guide, connect, and inspire them to find their future career passions.

Macey Chelstrom

Nominee: Macey Chelstrom

Title and Organization: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Undergraduate, with minors in Global Studies and Health and Wellness at the University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: As a young self-proclaimed "foodie,” Macey wanted to know how her love for food could be made into service work. Macey serves as an ambassador for AmeriCorps and worked full-time with the PRISM food shelf helping provide food to 400 families a week during the COVID pandemic last summer. Currently, Macey works with her mom selling organic handcrafted goods on Etsy where they donate the proceeds to local food shelves throughout the Twin Cities.

Lisa Chou

Nominee: Lisa Chou (MS '21, Food Science)

Title and Organization: Food Science master’s graduate from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition Dept., University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Lisa Chou is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota in Food Science and Nutrition, with a minor in Environmental Health. Lisa currently works at Fairlife as the Product Development Scientist and with MN350 as the Food Systems Team Organizer. Lisa’s passions include community organizing, food justice, reducing food waste, and climate justice.

Steve Clarke

Nominee: Steve Clarke (MS ‘75, Agriculture)

Title and Organization: International Agricultural Development Specialist, Independent Consultant

Reason for nomination: Steve Clarke earned his Master’s Degree in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota in 1975. Steve has spent most of his 50-year career working on food security issues with smallholder farmers in Africa. Multi-year country residencies include Peace Corps (rural development/Benin), ICRISAT (millet-sorghum improvement/Mali), and CFANS/OIAP (bean storage and quality standards/Rwanda). Long-term project management and technical support include projects in Morocco (UMN/institutional development, MCC/olive and date production), Malawi and Senegal (CTI/groundnut and millet post-harvest technologies), and Kenya (MAF/farmer training-extension). Steve’s passion is helping smallholder farmers transition from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented, income-generating farming.

Nominee: Edward Cruz II

Title and Organization: Undergraduate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Nutritious U Food Pantry Coordinator, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Edward Cruz II is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota studying Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Edward also serves as the Coordinator for the Nutritious U Food Pantry on campus, a food pantry available to all students that provides free and healthy food options.

Benjamin Davies

Nominee: Benjamin Davies (PhD ‘18, Land and Atmospheric Sciences)

Title and Organization: Food Security Analyst, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) at Chemonics International

Reason for nomination: Benjamin Davies is a food security analyst and crop and soil scientist passionate about strengthening farming systems across the world. He is currently a food security analyst for Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) at Chemonics International where he conducts integrated food security analysis in Eastern and Southern Africa and delivers reports on ongoing and anticipated food security crises to USAID and other humanitarian relief agencies.

Nina Domingo

Nominee: Nina Domingo (BS ‘17, PhD ‘21, Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management)

Title and Organization: PhD student at the University of Minnesota and graduate research assistant for an EPA-funded research group that studies air pollution from energy, transportation, and agricultural systems and its disproportionate impacts on public health

Reason for nomination: Nina Domingo is a current PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota in Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering. She conducts research that seeks to advance understanding of the air quality-related health impacts of individual foods, dietary choices, and agri-businesses across different populations in the US. Outside academia, Nina seeks to advance local food security as a board member of Twin Cities Food Justice, a local nonprofit that seeks to reduce food waste and hunger in the Twin Cities by being a link between those willing to help and those in need; and as the climate lead of Minneapolis Global Shapers.

Ruben Echeverria

Nominee: Ruben G. Echeverria

Title and Organization: Director General Emeritus, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT-CGIAR)

Reason for nomination: Ruben Echeverria has served in leadership roles with the Science Council of the CGIAR (at FAO, Rome), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB, Washington DC) the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT, Cali, Colombia), and the Latin- American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP, Santiago, Chile). He currently chairs the global Commission on Sustainable Intensification (CoSAI) and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Catalan Institute of Agri-Food Research and Technology (IRTA). He is a member of several international councils and professional associations. Echeverria studied agronomy in Uruguay and agricultural economics at the University of Minnesota in the US and has professional experience in agricultural innovation, sustainable food systems, capacity building of national agricultural and extension systems, monitoring and evaluation and financing and management of agricultural research for development. Ruben is currently a Sr. Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute based in Washington DC.

Kay Ellingson

Nominee: Kay Ellingson

Title and Organization: Former Minnesota Youth Institute Coordinator, Executive Assistant to the Dean, CFANS

Reason for nomination: Kay Ellingson is a former coordinator for the Minnesota Youth Institute, a program that engages high school students in solving local and global hunger issues. Between 2008 and 2018 she served as a co-founder and organizing committee member for the Institute. 

Shenggen Fan

Nominee: Shenggen Fan (PhD '82, Applied Economics)

Title and Organization: Chair Professor and Dean of the Academy of Global Food Economics and Policy at China Agricultural University

Reason for nomination: Shenggen Fan has devoted most of his research, management and leadership on finding policy solutions to end hunger and malnutrition.  He was IFPRI’s Director General from 2009 to 2019.  IFPRI has been helping developing countries improve policy making capacity in fighting hunger and malnutrition.  He returned to China in 2020 and established the Academy of Global Food Economics and Policy to build a bridge between Chinese and global communities to end hunger and malnutrition sustainably.

Geoff Graham

Nominee: Geoff Graham (MS ‘91, Agriculture and Horticultural Plant Breeding)

Title and Organization: Global Plant Breeding Lead, Corteva Agriscience

Reason for nomination: Geoff Graham is the current Global Plant Breeding Lead at Corteva Agriscience. Geoff’s work focuses on incorporating new technologies into applied breeding programs through the application of genetics, statistics, engineering, molecular breeding, and traditional breeding methods.

Mike Graham

Nominee: Mike Graham (BS ‘82, Agronomy)

Title and Organization: Head of Plant Breeding, Crop Science at Bayer

Reason for nomination: Mike Graham is a third-generation plant scientist discovering new ways to increase agricultural productivity through plant breeding innovations. He received his BS at the University of Minnesota in 1982 and went on to pursue a MS and PhD in Plant Breeding. Mike oversees the plant genetics and breeding program at Bayer Crop Science, leading a global team to develop seed with better genetics for farmers.

Paul Hugunin

Nominee: Paul Hugunin (BS ‘89, Ag Business)

Title and Organization: Director of Ag Marketing & Development Division, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Reason for nomination: For more than 20 years, Paul has worked with or led the Minnesota Grown Program. The program works with farmers, garden centers and farmers markets to promote locally grown foods and plants, publish the annual Minnesota Grown Directory and create awareness of locally grown products through press releases, paid advertising and the Minnesota Grown website.

Arif Husain

Nominee: Arif Husain (’92 Applied Economics, MS ’96 and PhD ’97, Ag & Applied Economics)

Title and Organization: Chief Economist, Director of Research, Assessment and Monitoring, United Nations World Food Programme

Reason for nomination: Arif joined the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2003 and since then he has served in many senior positions both in the field and at Headquarters. Arif’s work focuses on analyzing food security and welfare conditions in developing countries to inform humanitarian response. His research interests include application of information technologies to improve humanitarian response; understanding linkages between poverty, hunger, conflict and migration; and analysing how global economic shocks impact food security, social protection and emergency and development assistance. 

Yue Jin

Nominee: Yue Jin

Title and Organization: Research Plant Pathologist and Adjunct Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota; Siehl Prize Laureate

Reason for nomination: Yue Jin currently is a Research Plant Pathologist and Adjunct Professor for the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. His main research interests are in population biology of cereal rust fungi and host resistance to rusts in cereal crops. Yue’s work focuses on detecting and monitoring significant virulence in global stem rust populations and conducting research to improve stem rust resistance of cereal crops by evaluating critical breeding germplasm, identifying new sources of resistance, and investigating the genetics of resistance.

Bryant Jones

Nominee: Bryant Jones ('21 Plant Science)

Title and Organization: Undergraduate in Plant Science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Relief Initiative Co-founder

Reason for nomination: Bryant Jones is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in Plant Science. Bryant helped co-found the non-profit organization, the Twin Cities Relief Initiative,  which grew out of a need for nutritious food in the South Minneapolis community after George Floyd was murdered by police and grocery stores were damaged and closed in the aftermath. Bryant loves to cook and is often on-site making hot meals for the community that the organization serves. Read more >

Jacob Jungers

Nominee: Jacob Jungers (PhD '14)

Title and Organization: Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Jacob Jungers currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Jacob has also completed extensive research with the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative into the development of Kernza®, the first perennial grain commercially available in the United States that allows farmers to grow economically viable crops that store carbon, protect water quality and build soil health. Recently, Jacob led a multi-state team that was awarded a $10M NIFA Sustainable Ag Systems CAP grant to further the development and implementation of Kernza® in the US. 

Margaret Krause

Nominee: Margaret Krause (BS ‘14, Applied Plant Science)

Title and Organization: National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology: National Plant Genome Initiative

Reason for nomination: Margaret Krause currently works as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico. Margaret’s work focuses on integrating remote sensing technologies and genomic prediction methodologies to improve breeding program efficiency and to develop high-yielding, climate-resilient wheat varieties. In July of this year, Margaret will begin as an assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics at Utah State University, where she will lead a small grains improvement program. 

Jeanie Borlaug Laube

Nominee: Jeanie Borlaug Laube

Title and Organization: Chair of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative

Reason for nomination: Jeanie Borlaug Laube is the Chair of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, an organization focused on training the next generation of scientists and engaging with farmers for a prosperous and wheat-secure world. Jeanie is also the daughter of Nobel Laureate Norman E.​ Borlaug, a University of Minnesota alumnus credited for starting the Green Revolution which provided food security globally. Throughout her career, Jeanie has inspired hundreds of young people through the Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum Award for young career scientists and the Jeanie Borlaug Laube Mentor Award for those scientists, male or female, who are valuable mentors of young wheat scientists. 

Rebecca Leighton

Nominee: Rebecca Leighton, MPH, RD, LD

Title and Organization: Health Promotion Specialist, Boynton Health

Reason for nomination: Rebecca Leighton currently serves as a Health Promotion Specialist with Boynton Health at the University of Minnesota. Rebecca received her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and later went on to pursue her graduate degree in Public Health Nutrition through the School of Public Health. During her time at the University of Minnesota, Rebecca launched the Food Recovery Network and founded the Nutritious U Food Pantry. Rebecca works to implement, manage, and evaluate policy, systems, and environmental changes on campus in order to help students meet their basic needs.

Allen Levine

Nominee: Allen Levine

Title and Organization: Professor Emeritus at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Former CFANS Dean, Vice Provost and Vice President; co-founder of the World Food Prize Foundation Minnesota Youth Institute

Reason for nomination: Throughout his research career in behavioral science, Levine has focused on how the brain regulates food intake. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and other sources for more than 35 years, Levine’s research explores how neural circuitry influences feelings of hunger, as well as the reward people experience from eating foods.This research led to his position as president of the Obesity Society, a national nonprofit that works to expand research into the prevention and treatment of obesity and to reduce the stigma and discrimination affecting those with obesity.

Lieberman Family

Nominee: Lieberman and Okinow Families

Reason for nomination: For the past three generations the Lieberman and Okinow Families have supported sustainable disease management research in wheat and other small grains, protection of valuable genetic resources, and international collaborations between UMN and Tel Aviv University. Their generosity has supported the development of scientists and enabled international experiential learning opportunities for students.

Yizhou Ben Man

Nominee: Yizhou Ben Ma (BS '17, Food Science)

Title and Organization: Food Science Researcher and PhD Candidate, Wageningen University

Reason for nomination: Yizhou Ben Ma received his Bachelor’s degree and also worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota. Ben is currently pursuing his PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and also works as a Food Science Researcher. Ben is the co-creator of Food in the Hood Podcast, a podcast about the science of food, its current practice, education, and future development. 

Persephone Ma

Nominee: Persephone Ma (MS '20)

Title and Organization: PhD candidate in Land and Atmospheric Science, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Persephone Ma is a PhD candidate studying soil chemistry and soil fertility in the Soil, Water, and Climate department at the University of Minnesota. She is currently conducting research on ways to safely recycle phosphorus from sewage sludge ash as a means of sustaining food production for a growing world. Persephone served as the graduate student representative on the President's search committee for the Vice President of Diversity. Persephone was also the department representative to the college's 3-Minute Thesis competition, where she went on to place first at the college and win grand prize at the University competition.

Tessa Mahmoudi

Nominee: Tessa Mahmoudi (BS '15, Plant Sciences)

Title and Organization: Reaching Roots, Founder

Reason for nomination: As a high school student, Tessa (Ries) Rose Mahmoudi participated in the Minnesota Youth Institute, and was selected to be a delegate to the Global Youth Institute. She traveled to Turkey to work for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) as a World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Intern, screening wheat for resistance to cereal cyst nematodes and dryland root rot. As a two-time Wallace-Carver Fellow, she worked at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory and at the USDA Cereal Disease Research Laboratory, analyzing the effects of micronutrient deficiencies on STEM Rust resistance in wheat while working with Matthew Rouse. While completing her Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science at the University of Minnesota, Tessa was the president of the Project Food Security Club and she assisted in coordinating the Minnesota Youth Institute for several years. Tessa graduated with a master’s in plant pathology at Texas A&M University in 2019. Today, Tessa is the founder of Reaching Roots, an organization developing learning resources to make plant science available to as many people as possible through her Youtube channel and website.

Eugenia Maiga

Nominee: W. H. Eugénie Maïga (‘10 PhD, Applied Economics) 

Title and Organization: Associate Professor of Economics at Université Norbert Zongo in Koudougou, Burkina Faso 

Reason for nomination: Eugénie Maïga is a renowned academic in Burkina Faso who focuses on issues related to agriculture, education and health, particularly of women and girls, and their connections to family well-being and economic development in Africa. She is the lead author of a systematic review of  interventions targeted at boosting youth employment  in agriculture. This review along with seven others is part of Ceres2030: Sustainable Solutions to End Hunger, a project administered by Cornell University, USA and was published in 2020 in Nature Food.

Tamara Marcus

Nominee: Tamara Marcus (‘15)

Title and Organization: Sustainability Manager, Linn County in Iowa

Reason for nomination: Tamara Marcus currently serves as the first Sustainability Manager hired by Linn County in Iowa and leads the County government’s efforts towards developing an equitable climate action plan to meet the county’s seven targets for addressing the climate crisis and advancing sustainability. Marcus is also active in local community organizing as one of the co-founders of the grassroots group Advocates for Social Justice. ASJ has organized protests against police violence in Cedar Rapids, organized the local Black Lives Matter movement, and worked with the city on plans for police reform, as well as organizing derecho relief and food and humanitarian assistance efforts in Cedar Rapids when the natural disaster occurred earlier this year. She is also a current candidate for Cedar Rapids City Council.

Phil Minerich

Nominee: Phil Minerich (MS '90, PhD '02, Food Science)

Title and Organization: Retired VP Research & Development, Hormel Foods

Reason for nomination: Phil Minerich received his MS and PhD degrees in Food Science from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and 2002. Phil retired as the Vice President of Research & Development at Hormel Foods in 2013. Throughout his 37-year career with Hormel Foods, Minerich developed expertise in food science and technology, packaging and application of food safety intervention technologies and systems. Phil was recognized in 2009 with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Packaging and Distribution by the National Science Foundation International, and in 2013 when he was awarded the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture by the University of Minnesota.

Glen Morris

Nominee: Glen Morris

Title and Organization: Master’s Student, Purdue University, Department of Agricultural Biology and Engineering

Reason for nomination: Glen Morris is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Rochester, along with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he received his Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences, and also Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Glen first set out on his journey in agricultural studies at the 2012 Minnesota Youth Institute, where he later was able to attend conferences on behalf of the World Food Prize Foundation (WFP). He has had several prominent opportunities including studying in Changsha China at the National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center, and also researching as a Wallace-Carver Fellow at various United States Department of Agricultural Locations (USDA). Glen is currently a master’s and PhD scholar at Purdue University, studying the impact of biosecurity on rural agriculture and how the best disease prevention strategies can effectively be implemented into education, policy, and practice.

Pablo Olivera

Nominee: Pablo Olivera

Title and Organization: Research Assistant Professor at University of Minnesota, Department of Plant Pathology

Reason for nomination: Pablo Olivera contributes to international research and training in food security.  His impacts in East Africa are especially noteworthy. Pablo leads international efforts to race type and characterize rust pathogens of wheat and other small grain crops, to identify disease resistance, and to support breeding of disease resistant varieties. His training programs for international scientists have expanded wheat rust research capacity globally.  Pablo is an excellent graduate advisor and graduate instructor. Pablo Olivera received his PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Minnesota in 2008. Pablo currently works as a Research Assistant Professor for the University in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Gigi Otten

Nominee: Gigi Otten

Title and Organization: CFANS undergraduate student in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and CLA undergraduate student in Anthropology. 

Reason for nomination: Gigi Otten is co-president of UMN Chapter Swipe Out Hunger. Covid-19 halted their normal distribution system of 1000 student-donated meals from the University dining halls each semester. Gigi and her co-president Trey Feuerhelm reassessed existing partnerships to implement a new program providing students with 150+ to-go meals each week in addition to meal vouchers for local BIPOC restaurants. Gigi advocates to local and federal policymakers for innovative, anti-hunger initiatives. Gigi also volunteers with Nutritious U Food Pantry and BrightSide Produce who strives to eliminate food deserts in urban areas by bridging communities through people and produce.

Phil Pardey

Nominee: Philip Pardey (PhD '86)

Title and Organization: Professor of Science and Technology Policy with the Department of Applied Economics, and Director, GEMS Informatics Center at the University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Philip (Phil) Pardey’s career at the University of Minnesota and in international agricultural research is dedicated to understanding the drivers of innovation in the agri-food sciences, and to informing, and thereby influencing, decisions that shape global investments in agricultural R&D. He is driven by the conviction that sustainable agricultural productivity growth is the most significant way to improve the livelihoods of food poor people the world over. The GEMS Informatics Center he now leads places Minnesota at the forefront of the digital and data revolution in the agri-food sectors worldwide. GEMS uses smart data access and analytics to reimagine public-private innovation partnerships in the agri-food sectors worldwide

Silvia Pereyra

Nominee: Silvia A. Pereyra (MS ‘00, PhD ‘05, Plant Pathology)

Title and Organization: Principal Research Scientist, Uruguay’s National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA)

Reason for nomination: Dr. Silvia A. Pereyra has emerged as a leader in agricultural research in her native Uruguay. Her career has delivered tangible benefits to farmers in South America and has had significant impact in many parts of the developing world. Dr. Pereyra is globally recognized for her research on the diseases of barley and wheat, in particular her work on Fusarium head blight of wheat and Ramularia leaf spot of barley.

Ronald Phillips

Nominee: Dr. Ronald Phillips (PhD '66)

Title and Organization: Regents Professor and co-founder of the WFPF Minnesota Youth Institute

Reason for nomination: Dr. Ronald L. Phillips is Regents Professor Emeritus and former McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota. He earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota. Throughout his career, Phillips has coupled the techniques of plant genetics and molecular biology to enhance our understanding of basic biology of cereal crops and to improve these species by innovative methods. He is a founding member and former Director of the Plant Molecular Genetics Institute, as well as, the Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, which merged in 2005 to form the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Phillips also co-founded the WFPF Minnesota Youth Institute. 

Mary Rogers

Nominee: Mary Rogers (BS '03, Environmental Horticulture; MS ‘08 Entomology)

Title and Organization: Associate Professor in the Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Mary Rogers currently serves as an associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota. She also conducts research on organic and urban food systems as well as research on biological control for spotted-wing drosophila, development of IPM plans for hydroponic vegetable growers, and brassica production in high tunnels. In her current position as associate professor, Mary teaches courses in organic vegetable production, urban agriculture, ecology of managed systems, and the professional experience internship for the plant science major. 

Matthew Rouse

Nominee: Matthew Rouse (PhD '10, Plant Pathology)

Title and Organization: Research Plant Pathologist, Adjunct Associate Professor, USDA

Reason for nomination: Matthew has had several achievements throughout his career including being the World Food Prize Borlaug Field Award Winner in 2018 by the Rockefeller Foundation for his essential leadership efforts to contain and reduce the impact of Ug99, a devastating new race of the stem rust pathogen that poses a serious threat to the world’s wheat crops and global food security. Rouse is the current Research Plant Pathologist at the United States Department of Agriculture. 

Nominee: Mohamed Sadiki (PhD ‘90)

Title and Organization: Secretary-General, Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fishing, Rural Development, and Forest, Morocco

Reason for nomination: Mohamed Sadiki served as Secretary-General, Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fishing, Rural Development, and Forest, Morocco. When he was in college, Mohamed studied at the University of Minnesota through the Minnesota Project, a partnership between the University of Minnesota and Morocco committed to helping international students study agriculture and apply their knowledge to their home country. Mohamed Sadiki also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research and a member of the Scientific Council of the International Center for Agricultural Research and Development.

Adynn Stedillie

Nominee: Adynn Stedillie

Title and Organization: Undergraduate in Plant Science with a focus on horticulture and minors in food systems and French, University of Minnesota

Reason for nomination: Adynn Stedillie is an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota studying Plant Science with a focus on horticulture and minors in Food Systems and French. Throughout high school, Adynn had several prominent experiences in research that focused on the water crisis in Cambodia, wastewater and its profound impact on the food people ate, and how lack of sanitary infrastructure in rural regions creates economic issues. Adynn was also selected among 200 high school students to attend the Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Oct. 2020 and currently works with undergraduate research program, RAP, where she hopes to study nutrient cycling and sustainable crop systems around the world.

Tiffanie Stone

Nominee: Tiffanie Stone (BS '12, Applied Plant Science)

Title and Organization: Graduate Research Assistant, Iowa State University

Reason for nomination: As a high school student at the Academy for Science and Agriculture (AFSA), Tiffanie participated in the World Food Prize Minnesota Youth Institute, was selected as a delegate to the Global Youth Institute and went on to be chosen for a prestigious 2009 Borlaug Ruan Internship at the China National Hybrid Rice Research & Development Center (CNHRRDC) in Changsha, China. Working with World Food Prize Laureate Yuan Longping and Dr. Chen to improve seed purity for farmers and companies across China, she undertook a research project on the Identification of the Super Hybrid Rice variety Guangzhan. She was selected for a 2012 World Food Prize Wallace-Carver Fellowship at the USDA ARS North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, IA. Tiffanie is now completing her PhD at Iowa State University. Future research will incorporate assessments of equity within food systems.

Nominee: Julia Strautman (BS ‘20, Food Systems, Technical Writing and Communications)

Title and Organization: Basic Needs Site Manager for Keystone Community Services

Reason for nomination: Julia is passionate about food security. markets. During her time at the University of Minnesota, she was a member of several on-campus groups devoted to food and sustainability, including U Students Like Good Food and the Minnesota Student Association. A long-time lover of both food and politics, Julia aspired to pursue a career in food justice and safety policy advocacy for a government agency or independent think tank organization after graduation.  She has prioritized learning about organizations and frameworks to mitigate food access issues during her time at the University of Minnesota and Vermont Law. Currently she serves as the Basic Needs Site Manager for Keystone Community Services.

Addie Thompson

Nominee: Dr. Addie Thompson

Title and Organization: Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Reason for nomination: Dr. Addie Thompson is an Assistant Professor of Maize Genetics & Genomics at Michigan State University. Prior to joining the faculty at MSU, Addie completed her PhD at the University of Minnesota and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota and at Purdue University. Addie researches maize genetics and genomics, quantitative genetics, plant morphology, drought stress, and high-throughput phenotyping. She served as a member of the organizing committee of the World Food Prize Minnesota Youth Institute hosted by CFANS for several years, and has participated as a panel expert at the Purdue and Michigan Youth Institutes. As a high school student, Addie was selected for a Borlaug-Ruan Internship to work at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, Philippines. For her work examining the accumulation of starches in genetically unique rice varieties she was awarded the Ahmanson Award for research excellence by the World Food Prize Foundation.

Priscilla Trinh

Nominee: Priscilla Trinh

Title and Organization: Undergraduate student in Sustainable Systems Management with minors in Food Systems and Management

Reason for nomination: Priscilla is a third-year student in Sustainable Systems Management with minors in Food Systems and Management at the University of Minnesota. As a high school student, she participated in the Minnesota Youth Institute hosted by CFANS which led to greater opportunities and time spent in the Philippines working with Indigenous farmers at IRRI. Priscilla was a featured speaker at the 2020 World Food Prize International Borlaug Dialogue and has worked to coordinate the Minnesota Youth Institute for two years. She is involved in food sovereignty organizing, food recovery efforts, and hydroponics research on campus as well.

Snow Xiaochun Wang

Nominee: Xiaochun Wang (Snow) (MS '13, Nutrition)

Title and Organization: Clinical Nutritionist & Associate Director of Nutrition Department, New Century International Health Group in Beijing

Reason for nomination: Xiaochun Wang (Snow) received her Master’s in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota in 2013 where she managed research on whole grains. Xiaochun Wang (Snow) also has experience working for Kerry Ingredients as a Nutritionist and Food Scientist responsible for researching functional ingredients by applying nutritional science into new food product development. Since her return to Beijing in 2015 she continues to serve as the Clinical Nutritionist for New Century International Health Group where her work focuses on clinical nutrition care in pediatric and maternal nutrition, in order to prevent malnutrition and other nutrition-related diseases.

Mohamed Yakub

Nominee: Mohamed Yakub (PhD ‘15, Plant Biological Sciences)

Title and Organization: Scientific Outreach Manager, SciLine at AAAS

Reason for nomination: Mohamed Yakub worked for the University of Minnesota as a coordinator for the Minnesota Youth Institute, an organization that challenges high school students in solving local and global hunger issues. Today, he serves as the Scientific Outreach Manager for SciLine.



Contact cfansaro@umn.edu with questions or inquiries.