Segenet KELEMU

Director General, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)

Dr. Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi, Kenya. She is the fourth Chief Executive Officer, and the first woman to lead ICIPE.

Dr. Kelemu (a native of Ethiopia) is a molecular plant pathologist with emphasis on elucidation of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions, development of novel plant disease control strategies including biopesticides, pathogen population genetics and dynamics, endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. She has experienced the challenges and successes associated with African agriculture first-hand, from tending the field to directing a world-class laboratories.

Following her post-doctoral work at Cornell University, USA, Segenet joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a Senior Scientist in 1992. She was later appointed Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Health Management at CIAT until her departure in August, 2007, to become Director of BecA. CIAT recognized her numerous contributions to the centre and its mission with the Outstanding Senior Scientist Award.

After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development.  In 2007, she became the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. Under her leadership, the BecA initiative has transformed from a contentious idea into a driving force that is changing the face of African biosciences. BecA’s research capacity, staff, facilities, funding, partners and training programs have expanded at an ever accelerating pace. She has assembled and inspired a scientific and technical team bound by a common passion for using science to enhance Africa’s biosciences development.

Prior to becoming the Director General of icipe, she has been the Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for about a year.

She is one of the five Laureates of the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards. She is also one of the 2013 elected Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences. She has also received other awards, including the prestigious Friendship Award granted by the People's Republic of China. The award is granted to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China's economic and social development. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is awarding the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences. She is the first African to win the prize for Agricultural Sciences since its inception. TWAS Prizes are awarded to individual scientists in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding contribution to knowledge in eight fields of science: agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.

Segenet has published widely in refereed journals, book chapters, manuals, conference/workshop papers, working documents, and others. Segenet has served on a number of Governing Boards, Technical Advisory Panels and Steering Committees of key organizations and major science and technology initiatives. Segenet is also an innate teacher and has supervised and mentored a number of BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. students.