monsanto's beachell-borlaug international scholars program


A distinguished panel of internationally acclaimed scientist will review all proposals and select the candidates to receive the fellowships. The members of the judging panel are:

Program Director and Chair, Dr. Ed Runge – Dr. Ed Runge has been one of the most visible agronomists in the last half of the 20th century. He served on the faculty at Iowa State University and the University of Illinois, and was Chairman of the Agronomy Department at the University of Missouri prior to becoming Head of the Soil & Crop Sciences Department at Texas A&M University. He has served in top leadership roles as President of the Soil Science Society of America in 1985 and as President of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) in 1989. He received the Texas A&M University Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Administration in 1988 and received the Agronomic Service Award from the ASA in 1995. Additionally, he has been a major advisor to and reviewer of the TROPSOILS, INTSORMIL and Peanut CRSP projects funded by USAID and has served on numerous college, university, agency and National Research Council committees and review groups. He has advised 19 graduate students, 10 of who were from foreign countries. He has lived or worked in more than 60 countries of the world with longer-term assignments in New Zealand and Indonesia.


Dr. Gurdev Khush – Dr. Khush is a plant breeder currently serving on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and as an advisor to the International Rice Research Institute. Dr. Khush spent most of this career at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines as a plant breeder and was appointed a Head of Plant Breeding Department in 1972. He retired in February 2002 as Principal Plant Breeder and Head of Division of Plant Breeding Genetics and Biochemistry. During his 35-year career at IRRI he spearheaded the program for developing high-yielding and disease- and insect-resistant varieties of rice, which ushered in a green revolution in rice farming. More than 300 rice varieties developed under his leadership have been released in Asia, Africa and Latin America. For his contribution to food security, Dr. Khush received the Japan Prize (1987), the World Food Prize (1996), the Rank Prize (1998), the Wolf Prize in Agriculture (2000) and numerous honorary doctorate degrees. Dr. Khush was elected to the Indian National Science Academy, Third World Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society of London.


Prof. Peter Langridge – Professor Peter Langridge was awarded a PhD in 1980 from the Australian National University. He worked as a post-doc for four years in Germany with Professor Feix at the University of Freiburg before joining the University of Adelaide in 1984. He became a Professor in 1996 and from 1998 was the inaugural Research Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding. In 2003 Peter became the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) when it was established. ACPFG is a major research Centre based in Adelaide set up by the Australian Federal Government through the Australian Research Council and the Grains Research and Development Corporation. ACPFG works to improve the tolerance of cereal varieties to environmental stresses; particularly, drought, heat and salinity. He has supervised over 50 PhD students and published over 300 scientific articles and book chapters in his field. He is on the editorial panels of several agriculture and genetics journals and is Editor-in-Chief of Agronomy. Peter’s research group is involved in joint research programs with scientists in the European Union, USA, Canada, China, Mexico and India. He sits on several international scientific boards and advisory groups. Peter’s main research interests are in cereal breeding and genetics with a particular focus on tolerance to environmental stresses.


Dr. Jan Leach – Jan E. Leach is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and an Adjunct Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She is an authority on the molecular biology of plant– pathogen interactions. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of durable disease resistance, particularly in rice-pathogen interactions. Other projects currently underway in her laboratory are related to bioenergy (genetics of biomass production), improving health benefits of crop plants, and the development of novel tools for detection and monitoring of microbes associated with plants. She is a Fellow and a past President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). She currently chairs the APS Public Policy Board. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), served as Chair of the AAAS Section O (Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources) in 2007, and is currently a member of the Section O Steering Committee. Leach is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Prior to her appointment at CSU, Dr. Leach was named a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University in 1998. She served as President of the International Society of Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions. Leach has served on or chaired advisory committees for a number of national and international projects, programs and institutions, including the U.S. Rice Genome Sequencing Project, the Research Core for Interdisciplinary Science (RCIS) at Okayama University (Japan), Rural Development Agency (Korea), and a National Research Council (NRC) study. She was recently appointed to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). She is currently Associate Editor of the Annual Reviews of Phytopathology, and has served in various capacities on numerous editorial boards, including service as Editor in Chief of the APS journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.


Dr. Ronald Phillips – Dr. Phillips is Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota. His postdoctoral training was at Cornell University. Dr. Phillips has advised more than 60 graduate theses and taught a course in plant genetics as a faculty member in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics for more than 40 years. Dr. Phillips received the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture in Israel (2007) for “ground-breaking research in service of mankind.” In 1991, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Other awards include: an honorary doctorate from Purdue University; Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America; the Purdue University Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award; the DeKalb Genetics Crop Science Distinguished Career Award and the Crop Science Society of America Research Award. Dr. Phillips served as Chief Scientist of the USDA (1996-1998) in charge of the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program and chaired the Interagency Working Group that wrote the plan for the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Initiative. He served as President of the Crop Science Society of America in 2000 and Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in 2006.


Dr. Sanjay Rajaram – Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram is the owner and director of research and development for Resource Seed Mexicana (RSM), a small company engaged in the development and promotion of wheat varieties in Mexico, India, Egypt and Australia. Prior to establishing RSM in Mexico, Dr. Rajaram directed the Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Program (BIGM) of ICARDA, based in Aleppo, Syria (2005-2008). Dr. Rajaram spent most of his career at CIMMYT as the Director of the Global Wheat Program from 1996–2002 and as lead of the Bread Wheat Breeding Team from 1973-1995. While at CIMMYT, Dr. Rajaram trained more than 400 international scientists and authored or co-authored more than 400 scientific publications. He has received more than 80 awards nationally and internationally. He is a Fellow of American Society of Agronomy, Fellow of Crop Science Society of America and recipient of the Rank Prize Award, Friendship Award and Padma Shree. He is also a 2014 World Food Prize Laureate.


Prof. Huqu Zhai – Professor Huqu Zhai has been President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) since 2001 where he is responsible for the development of strategic objectives for CAAS. Prior to this appointment, he served as President of the Nanjing Agricultural University. While serving in that role, Dr. Zhai established the first national key laboratory in crop breeding. His major research areas include: quantitative genetics and crop breeding research, rice hybrid sterilized gene location and genetics, capacity building for crop breeding programs, and science innovation work.


Honorary Members and Former Judges

Dr. Catherine Feuillet – Dr. Catherine Feuillet is research director and leader of the group “Structure, function and evolution of the wheat genomes” at the INRA, Clermont-Ferrand (France). She was educated at the University Paul Sabatier (Toulouse, France) as a geneticist and molecular biologist and received her PhD at the University in 1993 on the isolation and characterization of a gene (cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase) involved in lignification in eucalyptus. She then moved to the group of Beat Keller in Switzerland, and after three years of postdoctoral studies at the Swiss Federal Institute for Agroecology in Zurich, she was hired as junior group leader at the University of Zurich (Institute of Plant Biology) where she continued to develop projects on the genetics and genomics of disease resistance and the evolution of the wheat and barley genomes. In 2004, she was appointed by the INRA as research director in Clermont-Ferrand (UMR Genetics, Diversity and Ecophysiology of Cereals) to lead and develop wheat genomics projects. She started a pilot project to construct the first physical map of a wheat chromosome (3B) and exploit it to better understand the structure, function, and evolution of this large and complex genome as well as to develop new tools for wheat breeders. She is one of the co-chairs of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), the International Triticeae Mapping Initiative (ITMI), and the European Triticeae Genomics Initiative (ETGI). In 2009, she was awarded as female researcher of the year by the "Femmes en or" committee, and she received the "Prix Foulon" (for integrative plant biology) from the French Academy of Sciences for her commitment and achievements on wheat genetics and genomics over the past 15 years.


Dr. Mike Gale – Dr. Gale passed away on July 18, 2009. The judging panel was honored to have worked with a man so dedicated to the future of agriculture. We cherish his memory and recognize his intellect, humor and outstanding contributions to cereal genetics and plant breeding.

Dr. Mike Gale was a John Innes Foundation Emeritus Fellow, a Professorial Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, and a Member CGIAR Science Council. From 1968 through 2003 he worked as a plant geneticist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich and its predecessor, the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge. Dr. Gale is a recipient of the Royal Agricultural Society of England Research Medal (1994), the Rank Prize for Nutrition (1997) and Royal Society Darwin Medal (1998). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Dr. Gale authored more than 300 publications, mainly on wheat and comparative cereal genetics.


Dr. Monty Jones – Dr. Jones is a breeder by profession and currently the Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa based in Ghana. He is co-winner of the 2004 World Food Prize for the development of the New Rice for Africa (NERICA), which is the interspecific progenies bred by traits of the traditional robust African rice varieties (O.glaberrima) with the productive Asian varieties (O. sativa). This true interspecific hybrid has important morpho-agronomic traits for weed suppression and higher levels of resistance and tolerance to major biotic and abiotic stresses, while also improving yield and taste. Dr. Jones is also the recipient of other awards, including an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham, Insignia of the Grand Officer of the order of the Rokel from Sierra Leone, National Order of Merit of Cote d’Ivoire and the King Bedouin award given to WARDA by the CGIAR. He has been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2007. Monty served on the Judging Panel from March 2009 through March 2012. Due to conflicts with his schedule he resigned and is now an Emeritus Member of the Judging Panel.