2016 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Ethiopia

Segenet Kelemu

Passionate about solving ecological food-crop production challenges through science, Segenet Kelemu has experienced all aspects of African agriculture first-hand, from tending crops to directing world-class laboratories. The Ethiopian agricultural scientist, a specialist in molecular plant pathology, today heads one of Africa’s largest insect research institutions, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya. Raised in a village with no running water or electricity, Kelemu learned to be resourceful from an early age. An outstanding student, she moved from studies in Plant Sciences at Addis Ababa University to the US where she earned an MSc and PhD in Plant Pathology from Montana and Kansas State universities, respectively. Following a post-doctoral research position at Cornell University, in 1992 she joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia, where she worked in various research and management roles until 2007. After 25 years of studying and applying cutting-edge science outside Africa, Kelemu returned to contribute to the continent’s development. She served as Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi for five years before working briefly for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and assuming her current position in 2013.  Celebrated with many honours, Kelemu was elected a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences in 2013; named the African Laureate in the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards; and listed as one of the 100 most influential African women in Forbes Africa (2014). Recently, she was chosen as one of the top 10 influential African women in agriculture by the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security. Another accolade of which she is proud is the 2006 Friendship Award from the government of China for her contributions to the country’s economic and social development. Kelemu continues to publish widely in scientific journals and mentors graduate students.      

Other 2016 Jury Members