IITA research fellow awarded Borlaug LEAP Fellowship
Ijeoma Akaogu, a PhD research fellow at IITA, Ibadan and Senior Scientific Officer at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has been awarded the prestigious Norman Borlaug LEAP Fellowship funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Ijeoma completed her course work at the University of Ghana under the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) program and is presently conducting her field research at IITA with Baffour Badu-Apraku, IITA Maize Breeder, as her in-country supervisor as well as CGIAR mentor.
She is studying “Linkage mapping for Striga resistance genes in early maturing tropical maize lines” as part of her PhD thesis research project. Her goal is to locate the regions in the maize chromosome conferring the Striga resistance alleles in her mapping population for validation, and easy and speedy transfer of the resistance alleles into farmers’ preferred varieties using marker assisted backcrossing (MAB).
This would boost maize production and productivity in Striga endemic areas of West and Central Africa and contribute to poverty alleviation, and improved livelihoods of resource-poor farmers.
Commenting on the award, Akaogu said, “The fellowship will go a long way in helping me to realize my dream of using new and high throughput technologies in plant breeding to enhance and complement the conventional tools of crop improvement”.
The fellowship will provide an excellent platform for collaboration between Cornell University, IITA, University of Ghana, and NABDA.
Akaogu will study at Buckler’s Laboratory, Cornell University, for 5 months with her USA mentor Ed Buckler.
The Borlaug LEAP Fellowship honors Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug who has been hailed as the father of the Green Revolution. Borlaug’s work virtually eliminated recurring famines in South Asia and helped global food production outpace population growth. His distinguished career epitomized the qualities of leadership, scholarship, scientific achievement, international cooperation, mentoring, and passion. Akaogu is one of only a few outstanding graduate students who are being recognized for their promise and potential.