IITA has welcomed its new Director for the Eastern Africa, Dr Leena Tripathi, who will be based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Dr Tripathi is the third hub director and succeeds Dr Victor Manyong, who retired at the end of December 2020 after 11 years of leading the hub. Due to his extensive experience in economic research and management, Dr Manyong will remain at the Institute as an Emeritus Director based at IITA in Dar es Salaam.
Dr Tripathi, an Indian national, has been with IITA for 21 years serving in various capacities in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. Her latest position was as the Deputy Director of the East Africa Hub and Country Representative for IITA in Kenya. She has also served as the Country Representative of IITA-Uganda.
While addressing the IITA-Tanzania staff in a town hall meeting, Dr. Tripathi said she was looking forward to learning from and working closely with all staff and partners at the hub for impactful research in Eastern Africa.
“The agriculture sector is facing more challenges now than ever, including the impact of climate change and a rapidly increasing population. We, therefore, need to all work together and harder than ever before, and with our partners, to ensure our research-for-development activities address these challenges and deliver impact,” she informed the researchers at IITA-Tanzania.
Dr Manyong said, “Leena has been an excellent award-winning scientist and a highly valued member of IITA for many years. She has done an excellent job of managing the IITA country office in Kenya and previously in Uganda and guiding the research during challenging years.”
Dr.Manyong noted he was happy to be stepping down after 11 years as hub director for Eastern Africa and had seen the hub grow from 94 staff members (7 international and 75 national) in 2009 to 191 (41 international and 150 national) in December 2020. He wished her all the best in her new position.
As an eminent scientist, Dr Tripathi is leading Biotechnology research and support to the CGIAR Research Program for Root, Tubers and Bananas (CRP-RTB). She is a faculty member of various institutions, including an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, and a Faculty member of Biosciences eastern and central Africa at the International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) hub. She also serves as an Editorial Board Member for Plant Biotechnology Journal, Frontiers in Genome Editing, Scientific Reports, and Plant Cell Reports.
Dr Tripathi’s primary research focuses on genetic improvement of banana/plantain, cassava, and yam for disease and pest resistance. Her scientific contributions have been recognized internationally through awards and honors, such as excellence awards for Outstanding Scientist and publications. She has been honored as an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for contributions to Agriculture.
Her team’s research outputs have been published in about 100 articles in refereed journals with high impact factors like Nature Biotechnology or book chapters. Her research has been featured in more than 200 national and international news articles and documentary films like CNN’s Earth’s Frontiers and Food Evolution.
Dr Tripathi has global collaboration, including advanced labs in the USA, UK, Australia, and National partners in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, and regional partners. She obtained her PhD in Plant Molecular Biology and MSc in Molecular Biology & Biotechnology.
For more information
Catherine Njuguna, Regional Corporate Communications Officer for IITA Eastern Africa
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, poverty, malnutrition and natural resources. Working with various partners across sub-Sahara Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity.
It is one of 15 top-class international research centers forming CGIAR, a global partnership working towards a food-secure future for all. IITA works across sub-Saharan Africa with its headquarters in Nigeria and through its four regional hubs—Central, Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa and offices in over 18 countries. IITA has nearly 2,000 national and international staff.
IITA was the recipient of the 2018 Africa Food prize for its role in leading the effort to “change the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive to a business that strives.”
Learn more at www.iita.org