Doctors Ken Sayre and Silvia Restrepo were awarded the Agropolis Fondation's Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize Distinguished Scientist and Young Promising Scientist, respectively in a ceremony held during the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) on 29 March in Montpellier, France.
The two winners each received €20000, a glass trophy and a diploma. This year's Prize is also supported by the Languedoc Roussillon Region.
"Working with farmers has made me
Dr. Ken Sayre's career has been driven by his determination to see science applied for the benefit to the poor and the hungry. This led him to seek his activities in farmers' fields in developing countries.
His most extensive work in agronomy deals with the development and extension of bed-planting technologies for both irrigated and rain-fed crop systems.
He first implemented permanent bed-planting methods for wheat in Mexico, and further demonstrated their high efficiency: 20 to 40 % decrease of irrigation water use, 10 % decrease of nitrogen fertilizer use, minimizing erosion and increasing soil fertility.
Ken traveled extensively all over the world to train both farmers and agronomists and help them implement these new technologies. As a result of his tireless efforts, these methods are now being widely used in many Latin American and Central Asian countries as well as in India and China.
He is also deeply involved in conservation agriculture, conducting field experiments in Mexico and delivering many international courses.
He worked for various CGIAR centers and is currently the Regional Agronomist for Asia of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
"This Prize makes me feel
- Dr. Silvia Restrepo
2010 YOUNG PROMISING SCIENTIST AWARDEE
Dr. Silvia Restrepo is a highly motivated young scientist. Her work as a plant pathologist is focused on most important diseases that attack cassava and potato, studying the genetic and phenotypic diversity of the pathogens and their molecular interactions with their hosts.
She is constantly in search for alternative methods of disease control such as the use of natural compounds produced by enemies of pathogens. At the same time, she established close contact with Colombian farmers, thus allowing her to better understand issues they face, the limitations and strengths of Columbian agriculture that could be addressed and harnessed to improve production.
Silvia is also a passionate teacher. She gives courses on basic sciences (cellular biology, plant pathology, fungi biology, genomics and bioinformatics) both at undergraduate and graduate levels. She carries weekly discussions with her students on assigned research articles.
She is currently an associate professor at the University of Los Andes in Bogota.