International wheat community recognises outstanding researcher

An outstanding early-career wheat researcher has received international recognition for her achievements. 

Isabel Faci a third year Ph.D. student at the John Innes Centre is one of five leading young scientists worldwide to receive a Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum (WIT) award for 2024.  

The WIT award, established in 2010 under the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), provides professional development opportunities for early-career women working in wheat.  

It is named after Jeanie Borlaug Laube, a renowned scientific mentor and daughter of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and wheat pioneer Dr Norman Borlaug.  

Isabel’s research focusses on understanding genetic mechanisms that govern responses to temperature and photoperiod in wheat.  

Previous John Innes Centre recipients of this award are Dr. Marina Millan-Blanquez, (2023), Dr Anna Backhaus  (2020),  Dr Sanu Arora (2019) and Dr Sreya Ghosh (2018.)  

I feel very honored to receive this award. I want to relish the opportunity to extend my leadership training and broaden my relationships with strong, like-minded researchers worldwide.” said Isabel. 

“I would like to highlight the support from my mentors throughout my career in wheat. I found it crucial to have my support network, especially after moving from Spain to the UK,” she added. 

Isabel is a member of the of the Rosalind Franklin Women in Wheat Champions initiative which has provided her with training, tools, and motivation to pursue ambitious goals. 

Since the WIT awards were founded, the BGRI has recognised 76 early-career award winners from 32 countries. 

Professor Cristobal Uauy, a former winner of the WIT mentor award, said: “I am delighted that Isabel has been recognised for her many achievements. Isabel has a myriad of human qualities, which when combined with her scientific excellence, passion and commitment provide a great foundation for leadership in the field.”  

Jeanie Borlaug Laube, chair of the BGRI, said: “These exceptional women exemplify the spirit of excellence and innovation that drives progress in wheat research and ensures a resilient future for global food security. My father’s legacy, rooted in tireless dedication to feeding the hungry and improving lives through agricultural innovation continues through the potential of these five amazing scientists.” 

The WIT Early Career Award offers the opportunity for additional training, mentorship, and leadership development. The 2024 awards are made possible thanks to the support of the BGRI and the Accelerating Genetic Gains in Maize and Wheat (AGG) project led by CIMMYT.   

Maricelis Acevedo, director for science for the BGRI and research professor of global development in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said: “I am continually inspired by the passion and drive exhibited by our WIT early-career award recipients.” 

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