Horticulture professor to speak at World Food Prize event in Iowa on Oct. 16

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Siela Maximova, senior scientist and professor of horticulture in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, will speak Oct. 16 at a side event at the 2014 Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, the annual symposium at which the World Food Prize is awarded.

The session, co-hosted by CRDF Global and the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora  -- known as AAAPD -- is titled "Responding to Africa's Greatest Challenges: Promoting Science and Technology Innovations, Human Resource Capacity and Policy Advocacy." Presentations will focus on policies aimed at meeting Africa's future food and economic needs and building functional partnerships for impactful agricultural development on the continent.

The event will include a panel discussion addressing empowerment of Africa's youth, women and communities. Maximova will participate as a panelist and will announce the joint effort of CRDF Global and AAAPD to establish new fellowships for African women in agricultural science and technology.

Earlier this year, Maximova was named the inaugural Henrietta H. Fore Women in Science Fellow by CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration. She is focusing on expanding opportunities for women scientists around the world to collaborate in science and engineering.

Maximova also is researching opportunities and impediments to international collaboration involving women scientists, advising CRDF Global on ways to strengthen existing program opportunities and making recommendations for possible new programs.

Maximova, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural engineering and horticulture from the Agricultural University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and a doctoral degree in plant physiology from Penn State, has conducted basic and applied research in crop improvement to increase food and fuel availability. She was born in Bulgaria, and speaks English, Russian and Bulgarian.

"I am excited to take part in the Henrietta H. Fore Women in Science Fellowship because I am passionate about helping other women scientists and all women from around the world to succeed in their careers," she said.

"As someone who has lived and worked as a scientist in Eastern Europe, the U.S. and many developing countries, I have seen the challenges that women are facing worldwide, particularly in the field of agricultural sciences."

In addition to Maximova, five students from the College of Agricultural Sciences will be attending what has been referred to as the "premier conference on global agriculture in the world," according to Deanna Behring, director of the college's Office of International Programs. The students were selected competitively from the International Agriculture minor, the International Agriculture and Development dual-title graduate degree program and the Global Teach Ag! program.

"They will have the opportunity to hear from the world's top leaders on the challenge of feeding 9 billion sustainably," she said. "The college supports the participation of students in this event as a way not only to build awareness of the issues, but to provide them with additional tools and ideas to inspire them to think creatively and passionately about being part of the solution." 

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Last Updated October 15, 2014