MSU student wins prestigious award for scientific excellence

Gerardine Mukeshimana, MSU doctoral student

Gerardine Mukeshimana, doctoral student in the Department of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, a doctoral student in the Department of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology at Michigan State University (MSU), was recently awarded a prestigious international award.

The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development awarded Mukeshimana its 2012 BIFAD Award for Scientific Excellence in a United States Agency for International Development Collaborative Research Support Program.

Mukeshimana is being recognized for her significant contributions to the breeding of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in her home country of Rwanda for drought tolerance and disease resistance. Mukeshimana has not only identified the key components of bean genetic trait inheritance, including the genes that make up the drought tolerant mechanisms in common bean, but has also developed a fast and cost-effective method for screening these components. This method can now be used by other scientists and will have broad application in other breeding programs.

Beans are a major crop in Rwanda for food and nutrition security and sustainability, and provide income for smallholder farmers. Drought, due to insufficient and unpredictable rainfall patterns, is one of the major constraints to expanding bean production in Rwanda.

The Graduate Program in Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology is an interdepartmental program at MSU, involving collaboration between faculty members from the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Forestry, Horticulture, Plant Biology and Plant Pathology.