Thursday, November 24, 2016

Abdel Ismail to lead IRRI’s Genetics and Biotechnology Division

Abdelbagi Ismail has been appointed as the head of the Genetics and Biotechnology (GB) Division of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) starting 1 January 2017. Dr. Ismail will succeed Dr. Hei Leung, the interim GB head, who will focus on guiding IRRI’s research initiatives in China and Japan.

Dr. Ismail, a Sudanese national and plant physiologist by training, brings 24 years of professional experience to lead the GB division. Currently serving as the coordinator of the project, Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), he has spent a significant part of his career developing rice varieties that can withstand harsh environmental conditions such as flooding, salinity, and soil problems.

“Indeed, it is an honor to serve as the GB head and to follow and build on the dynamic leadership of Hei Leung,” said Dr. Ismail. “I am delighted to take up this responsibility and to work vigorously with our colleagues towards a more productive, results- and impact-oriented research. We need to continue tackling current and future challenges and ensuring secured food and wellness of rice farmers and consumers.”

Aside from STRASA, Dr. Ismail has provided leadership to more than 20 projects at IRRI since 2005. He has been involved in the generation and management of major research grants totaling more than USD100 million. His research work aims to improve the lives of marginal farmers in different parts of the world who are most vulnerable to climate change adversities by sustainably increasing their rice productivity and income.

Some of his research has focused on refining screening methods, identifying tolerant donors, and establishing the genetic and physiological basis of tolerance. He has also assisted in developing tolerant breeding lines using standard and molecular methods and then evaluating and selecting them in farmers’ fields. He has developed and validated sets of best management practices for different abiotic stress conditions to maximize expression of genetic tolerance and mitigate stress effects.

His research leadership spans many countries in South and Southeast Asia and Africa as he works with national research and extension systems, nongovernment organizations, the private sector, donors, and other members of the international R4D community.

Dr. Ismail’s work has been recognized through awards from partners such as the Government of Vietnam's merit medal in 2010 for the cause of science and technology development of Vietnam. In 2007, he received a gold medal from the government for his “contribution to agriculture development in Vietnam."

Dr. Ismail graduated from the University of Khartoum in Sudan with both bachelor and masters degrees in agriculture. He earned a PhD in botany from the University of California, Riverside, majoring in environmental plant physiology, stress physiology, genetics, and breeding. He is married and a father of four.

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