Behind the science

January 19, 2010

david ndungu4Who is CIMMYT? Our center would not be the successful institution it is today without the dedication, expertise, and remarkable perseverance of our diverse staff. This year, the Informa will feature members of the global CIMMYT community in a special section titled: “Behind the science.” Email suggestions or profiles to c.castro@cgiar.org or l.yates@cgiar.org.

Meet David Ndung’u, a visiting scientist at CIMMYT who is currently working as a plant breeder with the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project.

“I have always lived on a farm, in the highlands of central Kenya, surrounded by tea plantations. My interest in plant breeding is rooted from this, which formed my earliest experiences. I wanted to learn more about what makes plants tick.”

And learn he did. After an undergraduate study of botany and zoology, Ndung’u joined CIMMYT in 1992, initially as a research assistant. His remarkable diligence did not go unrewarded—CIMMYT awarded him a scholarship to pursue a Master’s in Agronomy at University of Nairobi. This was followed by a Ph.D. scholarship— financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF) through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)—for a doctorate in Plant Breeding, at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

It would be several years, but eventually Ndung’u returned to CIMMYT. Now he can often be found out in the field collecting data from experimental plots, setting up experiments, and managing experimental trials. Ndung’u also analyses DTMA data and writes scientific papers.

An optimist by nature, and a jovial one to boot, Ndung’u sees a bright future in seed systems and believes this is the next frontier in food security