World Food Prize

Agronomy faculty and graduate students had the opportunity to sit down with World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Rattan Lal for an informal conversation about agronomy and soil science. Tuning in virtually from the Ohio State University, faculty and graduate students had the unique opportunity to engage in discussion with the world renowned scientist.

Dr. Rattan Lal, native of India and a citizen of the United States, received the 2020 World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.

Chase Krug, a sophomore in agronomy, has learned the importance of the preservation and protection of the world's agricultural crop germplasm through the World Food Prize youth programs. 

Chase became involved in the World Food Prize as a freshman in high school when he wrote an essay on plant science solutions to food insecurity issues in Peru and then participated in the Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) in 2015. After IYI, Chase received an acceptance letter to participate in the Global Youth Institute (GYI) later in 2015.

Growing up, Megan Kemp just wanted to fit in with her peers in Durango, Iowa. At Iowa State University the junior in agronomy and global resource systems, says she found a place where she feels comfortable embracing and celebrating her differences.

“My mom is Filipino,” says Kemp. “She and my dad met as pen pals while he was serving in the military. He went to visit her in the Philippines, and that’s where they fell in love. It’s honestly the stuff movies are made of.”

Kemp’s extended family are involved in dairy and beef operations in northeastern Iowa. While she lived on a dairy farm, she didn’t do chores.

“My mom’s heritage instilled very traditional ideals about gender roles,” says Kemp. “So I spent more time in the kitchen.”

Using science to address food insecurity is Catherine Leafstedt’s passion. It’s a passion that’s driven her for the past four years and it’s one reason she’s been accepted to the University of Cambridge in England to pursue graduate school.

Leafstedt, who has a double major in agronomy and global resource systems, has had many internships and experiences both in the United States and around the world.

Norman Borlaug was an Iowan who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for improving crop productivity and saving more than one billion people from starvation. Reading Borlaug's biography started Catherine Leafstedt, senior in agronomy down a path to fight world hunger.

“It was such a cool experience to learn about someone who applied science and was able to have such an incredible impact,” Leafstedt said. “His biography got me interested in the World Food Prize programs and the use of science to grow food and help others.”

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