The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Foundation Announces the 2020 Borlaug-Ruan International Internship Award Recipients


The World Food Prize Foundation announced today Donald Gee as the recipient of the 2020 John Chrystal Intern Award and Andie Pinga as the recipient of the 2020 Elaine Szymoniak Award during the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony. Gee and Pinga were honored for their exceptional research achievements as 2019 Borlaug-Ruan International Interns.

“The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship is designed to give the high school students involved an intense scientific and cultural experience that will inspire them to lead their generation in confronting hunger and malnutrition,” said Barbara Stinson, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Norman Borlaug and John Ruan would have been so pleased by all of the reports compiled by our 24 Interns from 2019, and especially the two recipients of the John Chrystal and Elaine Symoniak Awards.”

The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship was created in 1998 by Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. to provide research opportunities for exceptional high school students and to foster the next generation of agricultural scientists. Since the program was founded, the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship has sent 358 students to 34 of the top agricultural research centers around the globe. 

This unique study abroad experience allows students to participate in original research projects with acclaimed international scientists while witnessing first-hand food security and nutritional problems in the developing world. Throughout the course of the program, students spend time in the lab as well as days or weeks at a time in the field to conduct research and gather data.

Gee is the recipient of the 2020 John Chrystal Award for his research on improving springshed management and reviving springs with the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal. He is originally from Des Moines and studies civil and environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

“This experience opened my eyes to how impactful it can be when research and policy work come together to make our world more sustainable, all while inspiring myself to continue my focus on water," said Gee. “Without water, nothing is possible.”

The John Chrystal Award was established in 2000 in the spirit of John Chrystal's commitment to enriching Iowa's relationship with the world and his belief that everyone is entitled to a sense of dignity and adequate food. The award is presented annually to the Borlaug-Ruan Intern who most strongly reflects Mr. Chrystal’s commitment.

Pinga is the recipient of the 2020 Elaine Szymoniak Award for her research on barriers preventing mothers with children under two-years-old from consuming diverse diets with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. She is from South Burlington, Vermont, and studies economics and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

“Because of MSSRF’s incredible flexibility and resources, I had the freedom to design my own research project in any topic under the Food Security program,” said Pinga. “I actually couldn’t believe it at first—I have a chance to dive into anything I’m truly interested in and passionate about, and the extensive knowledge of experts in all types of fields a door knock away? A literal dream, and an opportunity that I may not have again for a long, long time—if ever.”

The Elaine Szymoniak Award is named for the former Iowa State Senator, Des Moines City Council Member and hearing and speech specialist known for her dedicated public service and great efforts to save the World Food Prize. Established in 2001, the award is presented to a Borlaug-Ruan Intern who exemplifies Senator Syzmoniak’s commitment to meet the needs of the community and dedicated efforts to promote education, health, economic development, equality and justice.

Gee and Pinga were among a group of interns selected to travel to Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines and Taiwan. Prior to their selection for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship, they attended the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute. Youth Institute participants present research papers and interact with World Food Prize Laureates and renowned experts to discuss issues relating to food security throughout the world.

For more information on the Borlaug-Ruan Internship, please visit:

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 50 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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