Hemali Batra of West Des Moines, Iowa, was awarded the Ahmanson Intern Award during the World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony on October 16, 2008 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.
She received the Ahmanson Intern Award for her outstanding work as a 2007 World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Intern at AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center in Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan.
Hemali worked under the mentorship of Molecular Geneticist Dr. Robert C. de la Peña, to undertake a risk assessment of Bt-transgenic vegetable Brassica. Her projects included analysis of the effect of Bt on susceptible and non-susceptible insect pests, the use of outcrossing to introduce Bt genes into Brassica species, and investigation fo cross-compatibility and outcrossing potential of various B. oleracea subspecies by assessing genetic relationships in the C genome with DNA markers.
A graduate of Valley High School, Hemali attends the University of Iowa and is studying biochemistry and international studies.
The Ahmanson Intern Award was created in 2001 and is named in honor of former teacher and journalist Roberta Green Ahmanson, for her generous endowment of the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute and Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program.
Hemali was selected as a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern after participating in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in 2006. The Global Youth Institute provides high school students the opportunity to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates, connect with other student leaders from around the world, tour cutting-edge industrial and research facilities, and discuss pressing food security and agricultural issues with global leaders in science, industry and policy.
Hemali received her award prior to the awarding of the 2008 World Food Prize to former United States Senators Robert Dole and George McGovern.