Dr. Godfrey Asea, Director of Research at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), is one of the 2016 recipients of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences’ International Alumni Award. Dr. Asea is a 2005 graduate of the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, where he received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics. The award will be formally presented on March 5th at the annual CFAES Recognition Luncheon.
The nomination of Dr. Asea was made by Dr. Mark Erbaugh, Director of the Office of International Programs in Agriculture and former principal investigator of the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Project (IPM-CRSP) in East Africa – a USAID-funded research project responsible for supporting Godfrey’s initial research stint at Ohio State from 1999-2000. It was as a visiting scholar at Ohio State under IPM-CSRP that Dr. Asea researched partial resistance to Cercospora zeae-maydis, a fungal pathogen that causes Corn Grey Leaf Spot in maize, as a part of his master’s research at Makerere University.
“Godfrey has maintained his ties with Ohio State University over the past decade since graduating and his contributions to research and to society in East Africa have projected our college favorably in that region and beyond,” says. Dr. Erbaugh, who has continued to worked with Godfrey and other Ugandan colleagues at Makerere University and NARO for the past few decades.
Dr. Asea was mentored during his Ph.D. program by several CFAES faculty members based at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), including Dr. Richard Pratt, Professor Emeritus, and Dr. David Francis, Professor, in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.
Upon completing his doctoral studies at Ohio State studying how molecular markers can simplify and speed up breeding for disease resistance, Dr. Asea served as a visiting scientist at the International Center for Maize and Wheat Breeding (CIMMYT) in Mexico. He then returned to Uganda in 2006 to work as a Research Officer for the NARO, from which he was promoted in 2007 to be Head of the Cereals Program at the National Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge, Uganda.
Over the past decade and a half, he has championed substantial infrastructure improvements and hired a core of competent agricultural research staff at the National Crop Resources Research Institute. As a research scientist he has supervised over 15 students in their graduate degree research and attracted over $20 million in research funding that complemented core research station funding.
His innovative research activities have contributed to Uganda’s economic development, primarily through a focus on maize and rice, the two major staples in the diet of Ugandan and other East African citizens. His research contributed to Uganda’s 60% increase in maize production from 2006 to 2014, captured in additional earnings of $51 million dollars in exports. Dr. Asea’s professional goal is to continue to build strong international research teams an effort to alleviate food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Asea’s interest in agricultural research developed from his early exposure to and hands on experience with farming as an enterprise in Uganda. It resulted in a lifelong commitment to improve levels of food security by helping to increase levels of agricultural production in Uganda and the East Africa region. He will undoubtedly continue to contribute to Ohio State’s reputation as a strong global institution of higher agricultural education, research and outreach, dedicated to the continued development of Sub-Saharan Africa and the world.