The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Recognizes American Researcher as Winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application

08/30/2018

Research scientist at the USDA is named the seventh recipient of the most prestigious global agricultural award for scientists under the age of 40

To the more than 700 persons attending the Sustainable Development Goals Conference at Wageningen University in the Netherlands today, the World Food Prize Foundation announced that Dr. Matthew Rouse, a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is the winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

President Louise Fresco of Wageningen University, Dr. W. Ronnie Coffman and Dr. Shenggen Fan, all members of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors were present at the announcement.

“Over the past six years, the World Food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application has emerged as the premier recognition in the world for young agricultural scientists under the age of 40,” said Amb. Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “The presentation of the award in this its seventh year to Dr. Matthew Rouse of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for his remarkable achievements in fighting the stem rust pathogen further reinforces the significant global importance of his accomplishments and the award itself.”

Dr. Rouse is a Research Plant Pathologist at USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St. Paul, MN and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota. His work, which aims to prevent cereal yield losses, focuses on wheat and barley resistance to stem rust and physiologic specialization of the barley leaf rust pathogen in the United States.  

Dr. Rouse has played an essential role in the control and continued eradication efforts of Ug99, a devastating race of the stem rust pest that currently threatens the world’s wheat crops. Over Dr. Rouse’s past 10 seasons, he has scored between 40,000 and 80,000 infection types each season, supporting over 20 breeding programs around the world and more than 15 international wheat genetics programs working on characterizing stem rust resistance genes. His work has led to the release of several successful varieties resistant to Ug99, including ‘Linkert’ in the U.S., ‘NARC 2011’ in Pakistan, and ‘Kingbird’ in Ethiopia. In addition to these accomplishments, Dr. Rouse has authored or co-authored 75 research papers pertaining to the sources and genetics of stem rust resistance.  Dr. Rouse represents many of the attributes embodied by Dr. Norman Borlaug, including persistence, innovation, communication, education, research and leadership.

“When I learned that I was selected for the Borlaug Field Award, I was humbled by both the legacy of Norman Borlaug and by the fact that any impact I made was a part of collaborations with talented and hard-working individuals at USDA-ARS, the University of Minnesota, CIMMYT, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, and other national programs. I feel greatly honored to receive this award commemorating the legacy of Norman Borlaug,” Dr. Rouse said.  

Dr. Rouse earned a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Minnesota, a Master’s in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Oklahoma State University. In 2017, he was named University of Minnesota’s Emerging Leader in Applied Plant Science.

“The Rockefeller Foundation remains humbled by Dr. Norman Borlaug’s contributions to ending global hunger,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “His discoveries as a young scientist working in the lab as well as in the fields alongside poor farmers saved millions of lives and made life possible for millions more. Today, we honor the work of Dr. Matthew Rouse of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for his important work to contain and reduce the impact of the devastating Ug99 wheat stem rust pathogen. Through his contributions to science and food security, Dr. Rouse upholds the same values demonstrated by Dr. Borlaug—namely, that food is the moral right of everyone born into this world.”

ABOUT THE NORMAN BORLAUG AWARD FOR FIELD RESEARCH AND APPLICATION: An independent jury of experts chaired by Dr. Ronnie Coffman selected Dr. Rouse from an impressive group of candidates who were evaluated based on the attributes and accomplishments that reflect those demonstrated by Dr. Norman Borlaug during his work, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, in developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat in Mexico in the 1940s and 50s and subsequently introducing adaptable wheat varieties into India and Pakistan during the 60s, as both countries faced imminent widespread famine. For these achievements, Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. More details about the award and previous recipients are available at www.worldfoodprize.org/borlaugfieldaward/.

ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 48 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger.

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