World Food Prize Laureates to visit UI

World Food Prize Laureates to visit UI

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Three scientists will present public talk Oct. 15

The University of Iowa will host the 2013 World Food Prize Laureates for a public lecture Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton, and Robert T. Fraley will speak at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. The UI visit precedes the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue, Oct. 16-18 in Des Moines, where the laureates will officially be honored. The World Food Prize Foundation arranged for the laureates to visit the UI and Iowa State University prior to the conference.

“We are honored to welcome these three distinguished scientists and leaders,” says UI President Sally Mason. “Drs. Van Montagu, Chilton, and Fraley demonstrate how scientific discoveries lead to everyday solutions for Iowa and the world. That’s the reality that drives our university’s work.”

Portrait of Marc Van Montagu
Marc Van Montagu

The 2013 laureates each have made breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology, improving crop yields and resistance to insects, disease, and climate variations.

Van Montagu is founder and chairman of the Institute for Plant Biotechnology Outreach in Ghent, Belgium. He and colleagues developed the first technology to stably transfer foreign genes into plants, launching an international drive to enhance crop performance. Today he helps developing countries access plant biotechnology and foster independent research institutions.

Portrait of Mary-Dell Chilton
Mary-Dell Chilton

Chilton, founder and Distinguished Science Fellow for Sygenta Biotechology Inc., helped build on Montagu’s work, developing techniques to refine gene transfer and demonstrating that plant genomes could be manipulated more precisely than possible using traditional plant breeding methods. She also established one of the world’s first agricultural biotechnology programs.

Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Monsanto, developed additional methods for gene-transfer systems. Having grown up on a family farm, he worked directly with farmers to identify problems and offer solutions, including seeds that make it easier to counter insects, weeds, and drought.

Portrait of Robert Fraley
Robert T. Fraley

Downing Thomas, UI associate provost and dean of International Programs, will welcome the laureates and facilitate a discussion after their talk. A public reception will follow in the Old Capitol rotunda at 2:30.

The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of the world’s food.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend this event, contact the UI Office of the President in advance at 319-335-3549.


Laura McLeran, Office of the President, 319-335-3549
Lin Larson, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0042


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