Monday, September 14, 2015

IRRI appoints new head of plant breeding

After an extensive global search, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is pleased to announce the appointment of George Kotch as IRRI’s head of plant breeding. Dr. Kotch will assume this role on 19 October 2015.

George brings to the Institute more than 25 years of formidable experience in research and industry. His career has been driven by a combination of excellent leadership, team building, and communication skills. He had led the global R&D agendas of Seminis, Syngenta, and HM.Clause. More recently, he established his own biotechnology consulting company, George Kotch & Associates, based in California.

As regional vice-president of R&D at HM.Clause, he had established the One Company Strategy in the Americas, which revitalized the company’s regional R&D productivity and innovation. While serving as the Head of Global Vegetable Seed R&Dat Syngenta, he improved processes in order to prioritize crop investments and maximize market opportunities.

Dr. Matthew Morell, IRRI Deputy Director General for Research commented that “George will bring to the Institute his demonstrated capacity to provide global leadership in plant breeding as well as his experience in public-private partnerships toward a more demand-driven, efficient, and cost-effective breeding pipeline. We certainly look forward to welcoming George to IRRI next month.”

George Kotch received his PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MSc in Genetics from Pennsylvania State University, and BSc in Biology from the University of Scranton.

Dr. Morell recently announced that the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division (PBGB) will be reorganized from October this year, generating two new divisions, Plant Breeding (to be led by Kotch) and Genetics and Biotechnology. Dr. Hei Leung will serve as interim head of the Genetics and Biotechnology Division. In a recent meeting with IRRI scientists, Morell explained that the evolved organizational structure will enable focused disciplinary leadership at the research division level.

Dr. Eero Nissilä has led PBGB since August 2011 and has been instrumental in restructuring IRRI's breeding pipeline and for many progressive operational changes to improve target setting, efficiency, and use of modern breeding methods. An example of these initiatives is the Transforming Rice Breeding Project, which has set the direction toward a more demand-driven and cost-effective breeding pipeline, and is now used as a model in several public sector breeding programs.

“IRRI is deeply grateful to Eero for his many contributions to IRRI's efforts to deliver on its vision of ‘rice science for a better world’, and we wish him further success in his new endeavors,” says Morell.

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